I decided some time ago that I'd love to do a series of illustrations depicting the puppet characters of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. As I've said before, this show had such a huge impact on me growing up, and yet unlike most kids shows, I didn't ever see any merchandise for it. I found out later in my adult life that there was quite a bit of merchandise- books, toys, and records- for some reason I just never saw them as a kid. I was fairly disappointed in the quality of the illustrations though. The flaws ranged from total inaccuracy of the characters and places depicted, to more nit picky stuff like making the puppet characters more human sized. In short, I definitely had opinions about how I thought this sort of thing should be done.
So, in my illustration I wanted to be sure that the puppets were depicted fairly accurately. I'm not opposed to showing them walking around as they have in other books, using legs that they obviously didn't have on the show, but this should be kept to a minimum. Also they should be kept puppet scale. Another thing I wanted to depict were the human cast members interacting with the puppets, something that was never done in the books. I thought a quiet moment between Lady Aberlin and Daniel Striped Tiger would be a good recognizable moment to depict. This scene occurred countless times over the course of the programs run. Daniel's favorite way to show affection was to rub noses with someone and say "Ugga Mugga".
I'm not a caricaturist, so the one thing I really am not happy with is Lady Aberlin's face- I wanted a very stylized look for the humans, but someone more skilled at caricature probably could have gotten a better resemblance. But overall I'm quite pleased with it. It also confirms my theory that seemingly unimportant details like the colors of the wall, distant hill, and surrounding ground really do say "Neighborhood of Make Believe" just as much as Daniel's clock does. That's something that other books seem to have played a little more loose with. I guess those illustrators were trying to expand the Neighborhood beyond what the show could depict on it's limited budget, but to me it always reeked of disregard for the details of a beloved show.