I am a big fan of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, possibly more now as an adult than when I was a kid. Fred Rogers philosophy is something that continues to amaze me the more I learn about it, and requires much more delving beneath the surface than would ever have been possible for this mop-headed kid. Now as an adult who happens to go through obsessive spurts about things from his childhood, I discovered that the website for the Non Profit entity that Fred Rogers founded, sells merchandise based on the show, a really startling revelation because as a kid I didn't see a stick of merchandise- no Neighborhood of Make Believe playsets, no books, no Trolley's, no puppets- bupkiss. It was out there apparently but I certainly never saw any of it. Anyway.... I didn't particularly like the artwork for the merchandise on the site. A lot of it looked very generic, almost as if the artist had never even seen the show, perhaps working from a verbal description only. For a show with 40 years of iconic places and characters, and an audience that undoubtably is very detail oriented (who hasn't had a young kid blow you away with their attention to detail?), this seemed extremely unfortunate. Anyway it got me thinking about drawing the characters and places from the show. I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to devote to it, and as of this moment it's only resulted in one painting and a lot of sketches with some digital color. But below is one of my first and favorites.
For those who may not remember this fella, this is Cornflake S. Pecially. Corny to his friends. He works (and lives?) in a pink factory just to the right of King Friday's Castle. He touts himself as a man who manufactures, and his specialty is Rocking Chairs, which he calls Rockits, though he has been known to make just about anything that needs making: dolls, pretzels, trolley's, annoying talking horses. His museum caught fire once, and Lady Elaine once thought that they were engaged.
After drawing a couple of Mr. Rogers characters I think I'm realizing that Corny was always one of my favorites, though I couldn't really tell you why. His voice (as provided by Fred Rogers) was kinda funny, a sort of scratchy, high pitched "old man" voice, I always thought. He looked like some sort of chipmunk with his one tooth sticking out and his hair was always dissheveled. think he may have been one of the most capable of the puppet characters on the show. Besides Dr. Bill and Gran Pere', he was one of the few who didn't show too much dysfunction. He just went about his business and was friendly, unlike Lady Elaine or King Friday both who caused trouble in one way or another. Perhaps as a kid I liked his stability.
I did this drawing in under a minute (5 more for color), and I really like how effortless it looks. Many of the puppets on the show don't lend themselves to much expression (and my attempts at them weren't as successful), but Corny's grin and easygoing manner were easy to translate. Perhaps I'll post some of the other Mr. Rogers pieces in a future post.