Sunday, 13 November 2011

Jeff Universe

Back in the long, long time ago in a land populated by college students, dreamers and Placebo fans, I read about a new animated series called South Park. It seemed to have a lot of comedy potential, but what made it stand out for me was the idea that it was seemingly possible to have a popular animation using crude, almost rudimentary artistic skills. Wow! I only had a rudimentary artistic skill at the time, so suddenly this opened up a whole mess of options!

I could be the creator of a brand new animated comedy show, written and designed by me (but with the animation handled by experts, I would decide later - delegation was an art I mastered when I was nineteen). How hard could it be to put together a winning show and get it broadcast on primetime TV? Okay, so that was a leading question which doesn't really require an answer. In any case it would inevitably come in the form of a punchline. Fortunately, my teenage slacker nature rendered the point moot and I never got past the concept stages. No harm done.

What I came up with, however, was Jeff Universe. Via a dozen or so filters applied to the core concept to ensure I didn't just create South Park, the characters formed and became something my brain won't allow me to leave alone. The central character - the eponymous Jeff - wore a coat which he bought at a charity shop and which was in fact donated in error by a wizard's housekeeper. The coat could teleport Jeff and others to crazy alternate universes, which would allow for varied episodes, experimental art techniques (I suppose you could argue that Family Guy eventually did this in their Road to the Multiverse episode) and ridiculous situations. There was a recurring antagonist; the coat's former owner and evil wizard, Wendal. Other characters included Beth (Jeff's girlfriend), Marcus (a vampire), Mister Mackranakan (a less-than-pleasant college tutor) and Phoebe (a bohemian art student).

The reason I bring this up is that today I drew Jeff for the first time in five years. Now I want to bring the guys back (this happens to me a lot, you may have noticed), maybe not as a potential animation but in some form or other. We'll see. Anyway, here are the 2006 models, followed by the 2011 model. I hope you can see improvement...



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