Which brings me to the above comic strip. Among the numerous artistic endeavors I've endeavored to pursue, comic strip artist was once a fancy. When I was a page at Paramount Studios, I remember Herman the Ermin popped into my head one day when myself and some fellow pages were undertaking some busy work. Some mundane task like boxing files. Of course, I was doing everything I could to avoid this work and started doodling the little Ermin. I showed it to a wry fellow named Eric and he drew a poop with "stinky lines" next to the character. I thought this was genius. I started imagining Herman's world. Who his friends were. What his world was and what happened in it. Looking back, I suppose I took a lot of inspiration from "Pogo" (a comic strip I always felt cheated by as a child--I never understood it after having been lured in by the cute drawings) and of course, "Peanuts." The first strip I attempted, many years after the invention of Herman, is pretty much a recreation (homage!) of the first Schulz strip. It was a good ten years between inspiration and execution. Then I drew a second strip, seen here (this one inspired by the famous Tootsie Pop commercial):
So I guess this is about equating art with "old-age." Herman first popped into my head when I was in my mid-20's. Now I'm in my mid 50's and Herman decided to fall out of a file folder the other day to remind me of his existence; one, which--who knows--still may happen. Maybe I'll be happily turning out Herman the Ermin and his Forest Friends when I'm in my mid 80's. God willing!
I guess the ultimate point is: "F" ageism. If I'd hung up my keyboard because I bought into the myth that only young people can write, I wouldn't have two novels under my belt. Is some Hollywood executive really going to send his Vermeer to Valhalla because it's nearly four hundred years old? I think not. If Lawrence Kasdan had decided to put the kibosh on The Bodyguard being green-lit because someone scoffed that the script was long in the tooth, where would we be? Well, regardless of what you think of the film; we'd certainly be without Whitney Houston's sublime cover of Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman, now wouldn't we? And I don't think anybody wants a world without that!
Here was as far as I got with the conception and development of Herman's world. Don't ask me why there's a lady platypus. Maybe I was channeling Olivia Newton-John in Grease? Also, I've just realized that "ermin" has an "e" on the end of it. I don't know, I kind of like my misspelling.