Sunday, July 19, 2009

Life’s a Doodle, Dude

                                                read article relating to image above        

The Gene-isis

Do you doodle? You do? Great! I do, too; and so we do.. and we wonder of its whys and origins.

Primordial doodles perhaps were the impermanent sand drawings made by ghost crabs and by my great, great uncle Hominid; and when the surf was up, the drawings were transferred and redrawn on cave walls; and the crabs got eaten.  Then agriculture was invented, wheat grew..and ET doodles (e.g. crop circles) were born:)


Eons may have long been gone but what if we looked down thru a biological lens and find the past-time of doodling still well-preserved in our genes or DNAs? I like to think that doodles are visual manifestations of something behavioural and the phenomenon betrayed by a very mobile sperm cell that first etched the fleeting swim paths in the soupy albumen of Life.

Like a simple, animated doodle with own volition and sentient, the spermatozoa’s head was the penhead nib and the tail a hand that steered; and when the tadpole exploded in delight as it victoriously made contact with the huge egg cell of a canvas; the headstrong wild oat (incidentally it's tao if read backwards, meaning human to Filipinos) was instantly rewarded with a chance to evolve into something more complicated yet simply designed, beautiful, magical, interesting and precious. Perhaps a painting.... perhaps a human being.

 (above image) "keeping-in-touch"  doodle I've sent my family in Manila in 1984

Doodles, I might say,  are manifestations of both the conscious and the subconscious mind. They maybe dysfunctional and functional; and could lend well to reverse engineering; like sometimes I doodle for no reason at all and if I like what I saw, I chuck it into the scanner then enhanced in Photoshop. Sometimes the doodle ended up to be a fine reference image for a future painting; or a finished art for framing once printed out on those glossy photopaper or even faux canvas vinyl sheets (Ugh! Hate them, it's aesthetic deceit. I say leave the photo alone as a photo and a painting as a painting; and never the twain shall meet).


(Sorry, I lost the plot there for awhile:) Okay guys, this might need a little eye-rubbing but try to imagine the first doodler pick up a charcoal from last night’s reptilian roast, still drunk with dinopiss, crudely and rudely doodled on the cave wall the next day’s quarry to a very much impressed, excited and unshaven Cro-Magnon hunting mob. Then a few eons later some smarty-pants Neanderthal guy barged in the cave and asked “Ugh-ugh..hey boss, ‘aven’t ya ‘eard of Wacom Cintiq? Snort..ugh-ugh.”

Could it be that the significant, historical past of doodling is the unseen soul of softwares programmed inside all those much- glorified doodle hardware?

Call it a victory for vectors and lossiness for jpegs but we do owe charcoal sticks of the ancient Past and our brains may still be hard-wired to it.

We call professional and clever doodlers craftsmen while some seemingly mock plain doodlers as draftsmen. Drafts, rough studies, doodles, nothing more and some guys believe they can't evolve. Too bad, the latter's belief shall only push our potential talents and capabilities back to the Stone Age.

There's also this perception that artists are born; not made. How wrong! How unfair to judge ourselves in such a simplistic manner. We can make artists of ourselves, no matter the age. Just acknowledging life and love are actually colours that could fill in the voids inside lifeless doodles.

A great majority of us landed on earth with full -growth potential, mind and body; and nobody's going to devolve nor get stuck in idle mode. No such thing. Life is always active, the heart beating even if we're asleep; and the hand doodling even if we don't think about it. It's similar to but not auto-writing. We just enjoy the spontaneity of pen-skating.

No Fine Art involved here,  just a natural thing when trapped by situations; (e.g. time-killing, boredom, hunger, stress, etc.) Doodles are beadless worry beads. Some guys in orange robes might agree with me..when we doodle, we are actually in meditation, even for a brief moment.

Kids' drawings we call doodles because as adults  we perceive their creations as..err..childish. But no matter, their concepts are pure and pristine albeit technically challenged. Their doodles betray their pure desires that are inaccessible due to their age. But the intent is there. Therefore that kid's lopsided house, ovate sun and cars with weird wheels have potentials to become a mansion, a sun accurately drawn with flares and spots, and a nice Foose Chevy, respectively.

 So let the kids in us come out of the closet because..

Even Presidents do!

Take for example that famous Obama doodle (above image) that the media spun as being sold to someone for more than $2,000. Yeah right. Of course it was not about the doodle, it was  the doodler afterall, and the money went to charity while the doodle collector guy had a guilt-free tax deduction. 

Why even a doodle could appear treacherous like this guy who doodled something that looked like a design for an iron gate.  Who did da doodle? (above image;  flip image for answer)

This one (above) by another U.S. president. It looked like a battleship heavy on the waterline. I think it's an overworked doodle. Poor sailors.

                                                       images from

What about this one (above) by an early American president who probably liked watermelons (refer to mouth and body) and what looked like a crude version of the Roadrunner cartoon (and what a good time for Wile E. Coyote to pounce on its nemesis:)

Make a Living out of Doodling? Mad! (Can we really?)

(Image from this site)

Mad! Remember the magazine? I was a kid fan of this famous American comics, its cultist influence almost evident on my face which slowly began to look like Alfred E. Neuman. I was an angry, pubescent, young man, ready to lose a tooth for the latest imported Mad monthly edition!

Copies were rare but available in Manila, mainly sold as pocketbooks. Tony Bautista, a beloved senior friend, Pasay neighbour and amateur doodler, introduced me to Mad owing to his vast collection. He read them during work breaks inside the Manila Bay Floating Casino where he worked as a card dealer. The diarrheaic Bic ballpoint pen playfully held by his doodling hand was replaced by playing cards.

                                                                                    image from this site    

    A cartographic doodle plan of Old Manila (+ 60's floating casino:)

Tony loved the graveyard shift and wearing his elegant and sleak work uniform--a couple of expensive and finely woven Barong Tagalog! Then boom! He suddenly died of a heart attack. I sobbed for days. I lost an older and favorite friend. Inside, I was fuming mad, angry for the  loss. I've now healed and each time I see a copy of Mad, it wasn't Alfred E.'s face; I missed my funny but soft-spoken friend.. and his crazy doodles.

                photo © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

My Pluralistic Namesake:)

One favourite Mad cartoonist was Sergio Aragones, a Spaniard who studied in Mexico, landed in America in 1962 with $20 in his carta y moneda, spoke little English and ached for a cartooning job. He heard of Mad, went to its Madison offices in New York; the editors liked what they saw and he was hired on-the-spot. Que suerte


His silent cartoons were a brilliant idea, no English balloon captions, no dialogues and no full-page drawings were assigned to him (at that time)...perfecto! That way he also avoided hiring translators. Clever Spaniard! He might be first in America (or the world) to make a lucrative profession out of doing little, silly doodles.


Soon blank white margins and panel dividers of the popular comic pulp became his playground and a new word was coined for his radical creations. Marginals!

This mad blogger posing proud in his equally mad XXL Mad straitjacket (very rare;-)

Truly a bleeding layout yet independent enough not to interfere with the regular comic frames.  What a bold move for Mad editors; and soon enough the page ed had to consider the page edge; while mesmerised young readers began inverting and flipping the magazine to make sense of his drawings. The magazine somehow symbolized free America. If its cheeky brand of humor were to appear in comic stands of non-democratic countries, the editors could easily become desaparicidos overnight.

 Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragones rubbing shoulders with this blogger Aragon;)

Back in 1991, a dream came true. Dios Mio! Como esta Señor Aragones?! He was guest during a gala night organized by the Australian Black & White Artists (cartoonist club) where I was a member.


The Mad artist defied the straitjacket of a formal occasion, a big guy and muy amicable. I was fortunate to have conversed with my Mad idol (albeit using my crooked Spanish) and to have shaken his legendary doodling hand.

Dengcoy Miel (editorial cartoonist of Singapore Strait Times) with Sergio Aragones (2002, Cancun, Mexico)

I (and Dengcoy) hope to see him again in Manila this October where I'll be one of guest speakers and exhibitors at the First Philippine International Cartoon, Comics and Animation (PICCA) festival. It runs from October 15 to 18, Thursday to Sunday at SM Megamall. Come!

During that time with Sergio, I also met Rolf Harris, a celebrity Australian, also known for his BBC tv portrait painting programs. Recently the ghost crab of his doodling past haunted him again for his controversial lyrics of his popular Aussie song Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. 

Rolf was sincerely friendly and even drew a caricature of me. What a great guy. (Argh, and now I couldn’t find his drawing..if ever, I shall update this blog entry). 

                            Australian Mad cover by Edd Aragon, 1989

Then Australian Mad was published sometime in 1989. Steve Lopes, then editor invited me to do a cover art for them, lampooning the movie Men In Black (MIB) (above image)

In the early Seventies, my doodles grew up  and became editorial cartoons for our college paper (PCC) under the editorship of Jimmy Flor Cruz (who is now anchorman for CNN’s Beijing Bureau). Doodling earned me an automatic scholarship in college, plus a spare academic one. Perfecto!

Then I animated my doodles for animation projects of Nonoy Marcelo. In '77 and '78 my comic strip doodles were published in major Philippine papers (Phil. Bulletin Today and Phil. Daily Express). 

In the eighties I landed in Australia and quickly found a newspaper doodling job; was given a break by The Australian; then later I moved to The Sydney Morning Herald.

I guess I'll be doodling 'til the day I die. Why, only last night I dreamt I was famous than Jackson Pollock, was big-headed and brandished a squiggly tail!;)

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