Believe it or not, Daryll just happened to be holding this when we approached him for an interview.
Daryll Collins helped set the look of the revamped GLC newsletter with his swell drawings. Let's look in on this young man and find out what makes him tick!
CB: Are you working on anything at the moment that's, um --
DARYLL: -- that's absolutely setting the world on fire? Right now my biggest project is a series of "Stink Squad" books, the fourth of which is coming out next month.
CB: For those of us who aren't in the know, what is "Stink Squad?"
DARYLL: Stink Squad is a series of stories about an odorologist by the name of Sniffton Shroeder, his nephew Gilbreath and his dog, Whiff, who solve crimes using their scent detection devices. The writer is Katherine Pebley O'Neal.
CB: How do the two of you work?
DARYLL: Actually, I've never talked to the author. Everything is funneled through my editor at Simon and Schuster. The editor sends me the manuscript and I work up the sketches. They take a look, see what they like and what they don't like. They try to have one or two illustrations per chapter. I usually end up doing more sketches than they have room for.
CB: How are the stories?
DARYLL: They really work for the first through third grade kids, especially boys. Anything that has to do with bodily functions and smells is right up their alley, humor-wise. So I think Katherine did a great job tapping into that.
CB: Do you hear from the kids who read the books?
DARYLL: Yeah, there's a little bio in the front of each book, and it's got my web site, and I have had a few kids send me an e-mail saying they like the illustrations and whatnot. I just got one from a little girl, ten years old, who wanted to know if I'd illustrate her book. So yeah, I do hear from kids occasionally. I'm going to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in a couple of weeks to sign books, meet and greet.
CB: I seem to recall that you did something like that before.
DARYLL: That was a three-day speaking engagement, a summer reading camp in Southwestern Ohio. Basically I just went to three different elementary schools in the area and presented a program on how I create the illustrations for the books -- A little bit of background about how the stories were developed.
CB: How was that experience?
DARYLL: It was all right. It was part of a summer school program, so -- Needless to say, these kids were kind of a captive audience (laughs). You'll get some groups where the kids are very attentive and some groups that are eighty percent knuckleheads, picking their noses and looking out windows, punching each other in the arms.
CB: What else is are you up to?
DARYLL: The majority of the stuff I do is for the kid's market -- Kid's magazines, and a couple of advertising jobs. I just did one for the State of California having to do with not dumping your Port-O-Lets into their waterways when you're boating (laughs). It was a really fun project to work on because I got to do all these really wacked-out cartoon animal characters taking their Port-O-Lets and dumping them overboard. Last year that campaign won an ad award in California.
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Above: From Daryll's "It's the Stinky Guy!" presentation.
Left: Uh, like it says -- "Public Safety Turtle."
CB: You have a very particular style that reminds me of old-school Hanna-Barbera...
DARYLL: Oh yeah, definitely. That late '50's-early-'60's limited animation from Hanna-Barbera and the Jay Ward studio. I was really into those cartoons when I was a little kid and to this day I can still see the influence in my style.
CB: Have you done animation work?
DARYLL: Five or six years ago, when animation was booming, I was getting calls at my humble studio in Maineville, Ohio, because there were so many animated projects in the works that they didn't have enough people in the Los Angeles area to work on these things. They were farming out a lot of work.
I worked with a writer at Hanna-Barbera on one project called "Public Safety Turtle." For that one I actually went out to Los Angeles and worked in the studio a while, fine-tuning it, and then presented it to Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network at a pitch session, but it didn't get green-lighted. Hanna-Barbera was behind it a hundred percent and they wanted to make it, but Cartoon Network thought the humor was a little more adult than their target group.
But they wanted to see if I had any other projects I was interested in pitching or submitting for their consideration. I did one about a suburban barbarian. The premise of that one was, if you had any neighborhood in middle America, and all of a sudden some Wild Man from Borneo moved in next door to you, what would that do to life in the neighborhood?
Then I had another one called, "It's the Stinky Guy!" This guy was just like a human Pepe' LePew, he just smelled bad! (laughter) The feedback was, "This is damn funny and would make a very funny one-shot seven minute cartoon, but there's no way we could continue this as a series." It's just this guy who has horrific B.O., totally oblivious to it, you know. He's walking down the sidewalk and there's these little birdies in the tree, singing. And he looks up there in his stench and he whistles up at them with his bad breath, the same tune that the birds are whistling, and the birds just collapse right out of the tree! It was just sound effects and sight gags. Not necessarily pantomime, but it wasn't driven by dialogue. A big goofy guy that stunk, just walking around, and all the reaction that everybody has to him.
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Above: Daryll risks his drawing hand in Sarasota.
CB: Tell us about baseball camp -- How long have you been going?
DARYLL: Cincinnati Reds Baseball Heaven -- I just went to my seventh in February. The first year, I didn't know what to expect. So right after Thanksgiving I didn't eat a piece of cake, a Christmas cookie or anything 'til I went down to baseball camp in February. And then I found out the talent was good but not overwhelming. So I found out I didn't really need to swear off the sweets for three months beforehand.
CB: What's it all about?
DARYLL: You have former Cincinnati Reds acting as your coaches and managers for the week. There's usually about a hundred guys who sign up for this thing. You go down there, you go to different stations and do different drills, you'll have infield/outfield pitching; hitting. The former pros have clipboards with everybody's name on 'em, so they're making notes about everyone, then they have a draft. The next morning you'll see your name on the team roster and that's who you'll be playing with the whole week. So that's how it works.
CB: Just gets easier every year, I'm guessing? (laughs)
DARYLL: I think it's a little easier in the sense that, although I'm getting older, I know what to expect and what the talent level is. So I know where I have to be to prepare myself to play for a whole week of double headers every day.
Because of what we do -- it's a sedentary profession, you're just sitting on your can eight, twelve hours a day -- I feel like you've got to find something else that you like to do, hopefully something of a physical nature, and for me it's baseball.
Also during the summer I play on the over-thirty baseball league. I feel like I need that because, like I said, you're sitting on your ass all day long. You need some release, whatever it is, if it's bike riding, golf, whatever your thing is. You have to get out of the studio and recreate a little bit.
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Above: Storyboard frame from Daryll's proposed next-door neighbor from hell cartoon.
CB: You work out of your home studio?
DARYLL: Right. Slowly overtaking the whole house. We have the master bedroom, and the second-largest bedroom is my art studio. Then I've taken over a third bedroom with all my computer equipment.
CB: Is all your work done on computer?
DARYLL: I do all my color work on computer. In fact I've got boxes and boxes full of paints sitting in the closet of my studio that I'll never use again unless I need to make signs for a garage sale or something. Those paints are just sitting in jars and stored away. Everything colorwise is done digitally. I still do my linework with pen and ink. I scan it in and then I usually bring it in to Illustrator to do the color work. Sometimes I'll bring it into Photoshop, but mostly Illustrator. I tend to work in flat color anyway, so...
CB: Any closing thoughts?
DARYLL: My work in any given year is just a mixture of a lot of different things. I've worked in advertising, greeting cards, comic strips and illustrations for magazines -- A little bit of everything, but nothing with the name recognition. Not one project that you can attach my name to and say, "Oh yeah, he's the guy that does..." -- Uncle Squiggly, or whatever. [rant mode on:] I don't get enough credit! I should have an international fan club! I should be a household name like Leonard J.Pelszwick!, etc.
All art © 2004 Daryll Collins
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