You may know that Count Duckula was my favorite cartoon as kid, and still holds a special place in my heart. One of my first internet experiences was making a Count Duckula fansite on the old Talk City platform in the late 90’s.
I was excited when I saw that Danger Mouse was getting the Netflix revival treatment because it meant a chance to see Duckula again, and maybe a revival of his spinoff show. Funny enough, I was never a huge Danger Mouse fan as a kid, maybe because Duckula wasn’t on it enough, or because he was so different when he was on it. I finally got a chance to check out the new series with my kids a couple weeks ago and got to see the Duckula episode. And I liked it. A decent update to the character.
Afterward I foolishly went to search the net to see what other people thought about it, which is almost always a mistake. In truth I also wanted to see if there was any spinoff news and learn a little more about the current Danger Mouse deal. As was often the case with Duckula, I couldn’t find a whole lot. I did find one spinoff rumor and one guy who reviewed the episode on YouTube. I watched his review, and it wasn’t very well done. It had misinformation and a weird perspective and the reviewer didn’t come off as very intelligent. Then at the end of the video I did a double take as I realized it prominently featured my Count Duckula drawing as the closing image for the wrap up and slow fade to black.
It’s always weird when someone uses my art without permission. Fortunately it hasn’t happened a ton of times, but it does occasionally come up. I suppose it is somewhat flattering in way. But there is also the issue of someone making money off of your work without compensating you. Or even presenting your work as theirs. Those can be ugly situations. I did not think this particular occurrence was a big deal, though. The video didn’t have ads on it, and honestly didn’t have a ton of views. So stolen artwork aside, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.
What I did want to talk about was the quality of my drawing. As I looked at it closely, and it had been a couple years since I drew it, I was kind of surprised by how good it was. Let’s take a look.
It’s pretty impressive, if you ask me.
First off, I didn’t come up with the pose. I took it straight from the cover of my season one DVD collection. But I did a lot more than just copy that image, I updated it and fleshed it out in some really cool ways. Stuff that kind of surprised me looking back on it.
I gave the image a lot more detail and depth. Check out all the wrinkles in the fabric of the clothes. You can almost feel the weight of them. The way the cape hangs and pools on the ground. The single button struggling to hold the jacket together. The folds of the cuffs hanging over the sleeves. The buttons, cufflinks and creases. All highlighted by the use of shadow. I did good.
The same with the textures of the body as well. The webbing of the feet, fold of the bill, wrinkles on the hands and above the eyes. I was in the zone.
Then I even decided to add a couple things, like the coattails and the way the feathers extend down slightly at the top of the legs. Little things that give it a more unique flavor.
And beyond the character there is Castle Duckula in the background. If you haven’t seen the show, the castle was a pretty major component. So I wanted to get it right. And I wanted to capture enough detail without it become distracting since it is not the focal point of the drawing.
I remember it took a long time to do, just because it is a weird, complicated building. And I really liked the idea of making it two tone, so I went back and forth on those colors a few times. Ultimately I thought sticking with a green theme was very Duckula.
And lastly I have those painterly cloud-like strokes in the background. I’ve messed around with making paint-like effects in Photoshop before, but honestly I don’t think the results are usually that good. But I really like the way it turned out here. Somehow it just feels fitting and contributes another element to the overall picture. I like sort of abstract backgrounds, so this one is right up my alley.
I don’t normally toot my own horn when it comes to my art, but it was just kind of a funny shock to look back at this piece of fan art I did and think “This is one of my best drawings.” Too bad more people don’t know who it is!