The Adventures of Daring Didi Darling is a webcomic that chronicles the life of the rescued Sato puppy Didi Darling–a collaboration between illustrator Lloyd W. Meek and writer Valerie R. Meek.
Our puppy, Didi, has captured our hearts and imaginations with her daily hilarious antics. Shortly after adopting Didi, my wife, Valerie, and I started talking about sharing Didi’s antics with everyone, and we settled on creating a webcomic. I sat down to come up with the look for this new cartoon. I went through many sketches and approaches to find the right style and tone–experimenting with realistic, very cartoony, and something simple. I thought about what what I read and liked as a kid, and I drew inspiration from the comics of my childhood. I love the less-than-perfect printing process, where the colors and ink lines didn’t always quite match up, so I carried that style over to The Adventures of Daring Didi Darling.
Recently we decided to play with a superhero persona, one that she believe to be true in her head. I drew from another icon of my childhood, Snoopy. My favorite scenes from the Peanuts cartoon were when Snoopy would pretend to be the World One Flying Ace, shooting down the Red Baron. I wanted to give Didi a world of her own in her head, imaging what is really going on in that head of hers.
Valerie and I went back and forth about what her hero style would be–traditional superhero with cape, or something more like a princess, playing with the “Darling” aspect. The more I sketched and worked up some comps, I thought about the women I look up to, and I thought about Amelia Earhart. I drew a sketch of Didi wearing goggles and a scarf, and her final look grew from that initial sketch.
Each week, we brainstorm a story, fleshing it out as a sketch. Then I create the illustrations in Adobe Illustrator. When the illustration is complete, Valerie adds the text and publishes the webcomic to Meek Manor.
For Throwback Thursday, I am posting a project that I did about 11 years ago. I was hired to design a series of trading cards, with a total of over 40 cards. I was given full creative control over this project. Each card featured a character conceptualized in appearance even their names were creations of mine. The cards ranged from heroes and villains characters, heroes in civilian clothes, to scenic cards showing battle and rescue scenes. Each card began with several traditional pencil drawings that were then scanned into the computer and inked and colored with Adobe Photoshop, which I now use Adobe Illustrator for. This project was extremely fun for me as an artist. I was hired to create pretty much everything, the characters, their personalities and even their world.
For Throwback Thursday, I want to talk about the time I was given the honor of teaching art and illustration to both children and adults. I originally fell into teaching to supplement my freelance design work. My classes included comic book illustration, cartooning, perspective drawing, and figure drawing. I created a curriculum with a foundation on the basics. The use of basic shapes, squares circles, triangles and rectangles is what I built my classes on.
I offered these classes to the local community starting first at the Art Center of Chelmsford, then grew to the Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, which led me to the Westford Public School system, where I was involved with the after care program teaching basic cartooning. I also taught at the Sgroi Art Gallery in Billerica, and Middlesex Community College’s summer camp program. My cartooning students ranged in age from eight-years-old to 16-years-old.
The figure classes were taught to adults for obvious reasons, that I hired models to come and pose for my classes. I don’t mean to sound conceded but my classes were very successful, and I am proud to say that I have former students who have gone on to start their own art and design careers. I don’t think I’ll ever teach professionally again, but not because I don’t love it, it’s because I feel I can dedicate the time my classes deserve.
Writer Octavious Ramos hired me to create a total of 42 illustrations for a zombie-style trading card game, a fairly extensive project. I was given a brief description of the characters, which included both zombies and heroes, then gave me free range on the illustrations.
I sat down with a sketchbook and let my mind go wild. Everything from clowns, waitresses, rap stars to an Elvis Presley impersonator was depicted in these illustrations. The sketches were drawn in a traditional black and white pen & ink style, which added to the darkness and grittiness of the subject matter
Underdog captured my imagination as a child, becoming one of my childhood heroes. BearManor Media INC. offered me the position of Design Director for How Underdog was Born’s book cover.
I worked with Underdog creators, Buck Biggers and Chet Stover. My concept was designed with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon as the focus. The black and white sketch was the rough I used to develop the final design. Then a color draft was created for final approval from the publisher.
The other color concept was a optional design, it was passed over for the one you see as the final. Designing this cover, and working with the Underdog creators, fulfilled both the fan and designer in me. I saw the concept sketch through fruition, and the positive feed back from Mr. Biggers and Mr. Stover inspired me as an artist.