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Lars Dakota: The lost original character

Career day. It's an important time in school when you're slapped some sense into the reality of what your future holds. You're not ready for it but at the same time you want to see yourself succeed, but what if the career you just so happen to pick doesn't meet your expectations or interest? This is how my journey into drawing cartoons unfolded, but it was a road taken in years of development.

As far back as 1993, this is where my curiosity in doodling started. The vast creativity of Saturday morning cartoons began as my starting point. I was intrigued by not only what I'd grown to watch, but the action figures that were based on them. I would spend days on end trying to capture the bouncy, charming characters, but wasn't even close to drawing them properly. The eyes would be different sizes from one another, the arms too short, and the legs drawn like a couple of broken sticks. I knew I needed a ton of practice, but I never gave up despite my errors.

My unimpressive doodles didn't go unnoticed though, they were looked upon from my teacher, but it also became an obstacle when focusing on my classwork. This became a habit even through the next year as my grades were going from great to average and my time with growing attached to drawing simple shapes and stick figures was cut short. Fast forward to 1998 and this is where I was finally given a chance to let my artistic freedom shine.

1998 was the year when I'd first gone into middle school. it was a rough start getting used to the changes, but when I'd learned what kind of class I'd be going into for my first semester, I was in for a surprise.

My school I.E.P. record gave plenty of examples that I needed more time for homework, and little info was put about my drawings interrupting my work. Still, the third class I got put in for my first semester was Study Hall, where taking care of loose ended homework was key. Thankfully though the guy monitoring the room was laid back and questioned very little about what everyone was doing. The plan for me though was to whiz right through my work so I could use the second half of classtime to draw. Luck was on my side as well, because our desks had wall cover-ups to prevent the other students from watching me goofing off.

What came to realization about a month later, was that I could finally put some time into developing a character of my own. No longer doing a slipshod job trying to draw copyrighted characters that I'd seen on television. So days turned into weeks as one failed idea led to another until something clicked. It wasn't the best character to start off with, but it was the stepping stone to what creative ideas I could branch to.

Created in October of 1998, Lars Dakota (or "Lars the Indian" as I named in concept) was the first of many original characters I'd drawn. Here is the first designed sketch that thankfully stayed preserved after all this time. If you look closely you can see another drawing from the other side of the paper!

As you can see I had a long way to go with detail. The fingers were tiny, the arms and legs, beefy, and his hair looked way off from what I wanted it to look like. He was supposed to be no older than seven, and an adventurer being raised in the wild (think Mowgli or child Goku and you get the picture). The thing with Lars' development though was the lack of a good story. While I was getting better in time with drawing him closer to how I saw fit, it did leave question to fellow friends and teachers. How did he get separated from his parents? What motivates him to go out and explore? What does he have for a future?

As 1999 moved forward, I changed Lars' design up a little, but it was the last time I'd even draw him in school anymore while I tried to focus on different projects. I gave him a headband and a vest, and removed any relation to Indians and native wear to his character. And this is where my time working on him ended as I didn't care for him anymore.

Not only was my first character a failed attempt, it was also a year long break for me before I started working on more characters. I'm not sure what the future holds for Lars, whether he's still an abandoned kid looking for discovery in the woods or if some new concept comes around. But with the years that have passed since then, there's still a chance that I could make something work after how I've matured to what I've become to this day.
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Hoju Koolander Posted on Sep 14, 2017 at 09:33 PM

I was always jealous of kids who could draw in that anime/cartoon style, so you would have definitely made "The List"! But seriously, I feel you on the doodling issue, I know for a fact that's why I was a C student from about 6th grade on. Learning? Just let me draw, teach!

Superman Posted on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:16 PM

I love the design for Lars Dakota.

Benjanime Posted on Aug 24, 2017 at 01:36 AM

i'm still scratching my brain to figure out what could work for him as far as a story would go. in the end though i do have the creativity to thank for bringing me so far into this little hobby, just as vaporman nailed on the head.

vkimo Posted on Aug 23, 2017 at 12:02 AM

I'm digging the Lars Dakota name, its catchy. Maybe put him in a story where he wreaks havoc on the big oil's pipeline running through his home turf.

Vaporman87 Posted on Aug 22, 2017 at 08:08 AM

I think we all found inspiration in some form of cartoon in our youth. For me, it was He-Man and various superheroes, but for some it is something more humorous and childlike. Whatever the case may be, those first characters always seem to leave the biggest mark, even if they aren't exactly our best efforts.

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