Karen Romano Young

From the desk: Doodlebug: My Novel in Doodles and Humanimal Doodles, a science comic in print and on the web.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Richard Scarry and other giants of doodling

Thanks to Grace Lin for pointing out that yesterday's Google Doodle honored the birthday of Richard Scarry.

My little brother Bill was born six years after me, and I spent a lot of my early years "reading" Richard Scarry to him. I've heard that some parents (or adult sibs, or whoever's doing the reading) would rather read something that has more words or story or something, but for Bill and me, Scarry was the bomb. Plenty of story there, and we made up our own words whenever necessary. We pored over the pages of tiny drawings, scoping the big picture but also looking closely to find the little accidents that were always happening in the details, as well as repeat characters such as Bugdozer, Bananas Gorilla, and my favorite, Lowly Worm. No wonder I'm good at finding Waldo. I learned about the visual story -- and scanning -- from Richard Scarry.

I've been thinking about Scarry and how he put together those big spreads of pictures, back in the day before Wacom boards and Adobe this-and-that. While googling (naturally) Scarry illustrations, I came up with this piece of art being offered for sale. It seems to be an early drawing (maybe a draft, or something from early in Scarry's career) about a bunny going to the doctor.

Those things flying through the air are band-aids -- all that might be required to fix a hurt bunny. I love thinking of Scarry sitting drawing those zillion band-aids, and wonder at the mind that created those giant spreads full of minutia. Yes, Scarry was brilliant at his drawings, but what I loved the most was the sense of humor that came through. Example: the pie faces in the book cover here:

Once in a while I revisit something I used to read and realize in one of my DUH moments that this old thing must have given me an AHA moment as a kid. As in "Aha! It's cool to be whacky and insane and smart all at once" -- like Scarry. And it wasn't an easy trick, either -- take it from someone who has tried.

Thanks to Google for encouraging Scarry's kind of whacky, insane smarts -- through their ingenious logos. Some favorites of mind are here (for the 94th birthday of cartoonist Will Eisner)

here (for Japans' Girls' Day celebration)

and here, my very favorite ever, for Jules Verne's birthday:

I appreciate Google's competitions because they encourage people to explore the visual side of a story or celebration. A wonderful writer friend, Debbie Duncan, sent me this link to a story about Matteo Lopez, the young doodler who won the Doodle 4 Google logo contest. May it inspire more doodling! Here's his winning logo:

Doodle on, dude!

1 comment:

  1. I loved Richard Scarry books! I too had younger siblings but in truth I may have just enjoyed all the details all by myself. There was always so much more going on on each page than the words! Thanks for the reminder...I'll have to look for a Scarry book for my grandsons so I can pass it down to the next generation!