Jarrod Fairclough Presents: The Ramblings of a Muppet Nerd – The Museum Of Jarrod Art
Jarrod Fairclough – Hello. Me again.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I’m studying animation, about to begin my third and final year. It means that I’m constantly doodling and drawing, and various times this had led me to draw Muppets, both of The Muppets and Sesame Street categories. Now, I am no professional by any means. I’m no Dave Hulteen, or Chris Smigliano, or anyone like that. I do this for a bit of fun, and I thought maybe I could indulge myself a little. Speaking of indulging myself, remember when I wrote that love letter to Jason Segel a while back? I have to admit I got a little self-conscious when I found out he reads this website. It means he read the letter. Do… do you think he likes me? Anyway, awkwardness aside, allow me to talk about each of the drawings, and look out for special comments by a mystery guest, which I’m pretty sure I already revealed was going to be Joe Mathieu ages ago…
This was a very quickly drawn picture while I was waiting for some tech guys to come fix the computer I was using. When I say quick, I mean maybe 3-4 minutes tops. Bert is a frequently drawn character by me, I just find his head shape to be really interesting to draw. Plus it’s great fun making different expressions just with his eyebrow. This one is nonchalance. I don’t really like drawing Ernie too much. His head shape is really confusing, and its delicate to draw, because if you don’t get the head just right, you’ll end up having Ernie look like a cross between Elmo and Stewie from Family Guy. You’ll also notice Ernie doesn’t seem to have a left hand. As I said, 3 to 4 minutes.
JOE MATHIEU: Cute, sketchy version of Ernie and Bert looking somewhat embarrassed about something. The Ed Koren line makes them appear insecure and a bit nervous. Their hair is exactly how I used to draw it in the early 70’s when I drew them with pen and ink.
I call this one “1930’s Cartoon.” I love the look of those old rubbery characters, like when Mickey Mouse used to have eyes like that. Also done in class between work, I started with Kermit, and went from there. To get the good grey look, I coloured each of the characters their proper colours, i.e. Kermit was green, Fozzie was orange, etc., and then I “grey-scaled” the layers, which turned them black and white and grey. Sam was a last minute addition. I loved this picture so much; I slightly edited it and attempted to enter it into the We Love Fine t-shirt contest. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, it was too much hassle to enter and I didn’t bother. Which is good, because much more talented people deserved to win.
JOE MATHIEU: 1936; the year Jim was born. The Muppets have a period, sort of Steamboat Willie, look about them. I have to admit that I first saw Sesame Street on black and white TV!
This picture was done while I was testing out a new drawing tablet I had acquired. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. n the final piece, I ended up editing Elmo’s eyes so they didn’t look so oddly proportioned. My sister really liked it, and the final piece got printed out and is now hanging in my little niece’s bedroom.
JOE MATHIEU: Very nice. I would still like to see everyone bunched together, though. Aren’t rainbows beautiful?
This one got done during class as well. It’s amazing I actually get anything done there. Originally I was going to just draw Gonzo. I was trying to find a good way to draw his nose. Then I drew Camilla, which, can I say, is my favourite part of this drawing. Then I drew the other two. I’m not 100% happy with either. Kermit’s top half of his mouth is a little too exaggerated, and I should change it, but meh. Fozzie’s too skinny, and he has a weird lover half of his mouth. I complain, yes. But I’m still happy enough with it to share it.
JOE MATHIEU: Everyone seems happier now that they are in color! I think they would be even happier if they were mashed closer together. Jim always liked the characters smashed together; look at all the group photos with Jim in the middle. He liked all the heads touching, making an all-over pattern. Where’s Miss Piggy?
This next one was done for a woman at work. She had asked me to find a good Sesame Street poster for her son’s room. His name is Rohan, and he’s now 3, I think. When we were talking about it one day, my best friend’s mum was there and said, “Why don’t you draw a poster?” So I did. But it wasn’t this one. Originally I started one with Elmo holding an R, Grover with an O, etc., but then I started doodling in class and drew the background you see here. And I loved it. You’ll notice that Grover, Cookie and Oscar look slightly blurry, as does the background. That’s because they were all done at one size, and scaled up to make the image the size of two normal pieces of paper together. I really like Oscar and Big Bird in this. And Cookie. Cookie looks dumb. And I love the Count. I love all of them but Elmo, and even then he’s pretty good too.
JOE MATHIEU: There’s a handsome group! I love the funky architecture growing out of a grassy field, especially with the addition of a medieval castle on the right! I always loved drawing the Count, but the underside of his cape always gave me fits; working digitally would have been a god-send. What exactly is Grover carrying?
Joe, Grover is carrying a cape.
I love this picture. I love this picture more and more every time I look at it. I love the effect of the lights, I love the crazy mouths. I should point out; the mouths were partially inspired by Evan Cheng, after I saw his zombie pictures on ToughPigs. Every time I’ve attempted to redraw this picture, I’ve failed. I’ve only just been able to draw Elmo’s head the same without the mouth looking weird. I’ll sound a tad arrogant here, but I just really like this drawing, it’s one of, if not my favourite one I’ve ever done!
JOE MATHIEU: I have no idea what this is about, but I love it! These drawings are a lot of fun. I can’t help but remember that when we started drawing the Muppets for books and products in the early 70’s, Jim did not want a codified style where everyone was forced to draw the characters in the same style with the same technique. He encouraged everyone to interpret the Muppets in their own way. I think it has gone a bit in the other direction these days, but that was how Jim liked it. Also, he didn’t think that the drawings had to be overly accurate representations of the puppets, either. I think he felt that the puppets had their physical limitations that the illustrators didn’t have to be hobbled by. Good job, Jarrod!
Okay, before we continue, two things. One, “I have no idea what this is about, but I love it!” may just be my favourite review ever. I’m currently getting a website together, and at the top of it I’ve put that line. Two, I’ve often thought that the characters are all looking too much the same in all the Sesame books lately. It’s nice to know that Jim loved a different look, and it may just be my delusional state, but I read that also as “Jim would have loved this drawing.”
Okay, now, next are a few images I didn’t get Joe to comment on, because I either forgot or I didn’t expect him to comment on it.
This one is Kermit working on his Jim Henson puppet. His pupils are a bit small. Other than that I really like this picture. But then on that Scandanavian fan art site I saw a much better Kermit-Jim Puppet picture, one I love so much I’m considering printing and framing it.
Fozzie’s Comedy Club. Just a really quick picture, don’t think I really even outlined Fozzie roughly first. I do these while listening to music, so I tend to zone out. I love the rubber chicken. Also, I want to point out, it was after these that I realized Fozzie’s hat flips up, not goes down.
Thanks again to Joe Mathieu. I genuinely cannot put into words how good he has been to me over the last year or so! We’ve traded e-mails back and forth, and he’s become a bit of a mentor in my eyes!
So that’s just some of my Sesame Street and Muppet drawings. I’m sure in another six months or so I’ll have enough to do another MOJA article. Next time I’ll be talking about the wait for The Muppets, and how I managed to see it so many times for free (and no, I didn’t download it).
Life is a happy song, my friends. And it’s also a fillet of fish. Yes it is.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com