Thursday, July 03, 2008

A VISIT TO AN AGRICULTURAL FAIR COLORING BOOK


I was over at the Maine Welcome Center, which is three miles from the ME/NH border on I-95 North. I was just going to wander a minute and look around. Since moving to southwestern New Hampshire, we haven't done nearly enough exploring. I picked up the above Maine Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources AGRICULTURAL FAIR COLORING BOOK just to look at it. The drawings were so wanting that I just could not believe that this was out there, representing the same state that boasts Wyeth and McCloskey.

This book will inform your child about agricultural fairs and it will then break your child's heart, if your child is (God help him/her) a budding cartoonist.



Above is the first image of Gabriella and her cousin Mason who is "fours [sic] years old and loves John Deere tractors ...." You can see right away, that Mason's torso is too long for a 4 year old. And there's the beginner's cheat of hiding 2 of the 3 possibly visible hands.



I don't like the look of these characters. Maybe I'm in the minority. I didn't like any of those E.T. plush toys either.

It's hard to put 100% of the blame on the uncredited artist. I know whoever drew this had to submit roughs. Many roughs. State employees sat around tables, ate donuts and drank coffee, and probably fussed over the content for some time. If there was an intriguing original vision, it was watered down through the committee process.



Above is a typical page. You can see that Mason just doesn't look "right." By placing Gabriella's head in the foreground, the artist did not have to draw the cow's legs. I find this lazy.


And finally, a call to the kids to submit their own art!!! What fun!!! But, look here, kids -- you are assigning your rights to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources and there will be no compensation even if your art is a HUGE hit and people are wearing it on t-shirts or it's a catchy new bumper sticker or if it'll be used in a BIG TV ADVERTISING BLITZ. All you get is glory. Well, you may not get that. The person who drew the drawings in the coloring book certainly went uncredited. Isn't this all heartbreaking? Well, there's a little life lesson learned, eh, kid?

Related: Tom Richmond writes eloquently in What's Going on with the Orphan Works Actl?

6 comments:

Marek Bennett said...

Oh god, thanks for this nightmarish tour of a truly orphaned work of art! I will have to keep an eye out for this book, and I hope they do more in the series:
-- A VISIT TO A HOG FARM
-- A VISIT TO A SOUP KITCHEN
-- A VISIT TO A MUNICIPAL LANDFILL
-- A VISIT TO AN AGING NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
-- A VISIT TO A RURAL DAYCARE CENTER IN AN ECONOMICALLY DEPRESSED REGION PLAGUED BY ALCOHOLISM, UNEXPLAINED CANCERS, AND VIOLENT CRIME

...

Mark Anderson said...

"This book will inform your child about agricultural fairs and it will then break your child's heart..."

That is the funniest sentence I will read all day.

Kyle Miller said...

Not to mention A VISIT TO THE STUDIO OF THE RELATIVE OF A FRIEND OF A MEMBER OF THE MAINE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

holensock said...

I gave all my crayons away.

Mike Lynch said...

Gee whiz, thanks for all these comments. Just like I never can tell what gag cartoons of mine will sell, I can never tell which blog entry will resonate.

This coloring book, while a good idea, was executed just so terribly that I was cringing right there in the Maine Welcome Center when I first saw it. Add to that that the State of Maine will pretty much destroy the dreams of a young, aspiring cartoonist by taking any submissions from any creative child that sends them in, and then the State will use them without compensation -- well! -- add all THAT up, and one MUST shine the blog light on this.

Jeff said...

Mike:

I have an idea that may be of some benefit to you. If you are familiar with the work of R. Crumb, it would be right up your alley.

If you have a moment, write me back. We are in Maine and I have some rough sketches. This may indeed be an opportunity to come up with a great new idea.

Thanks for your consideration.