My personal badge – Minion #4238

Each year I try to take on some stupidly monumental creative task to push myself and drive myself just a little closer to the funny farm… This year I’ve so far tackled a few things including getting the past two years of comic strips published in a comic. While I am proud of that effort there has been another project I’ve been working on for a while and I think (hope) it’s finally done. I’ve created individual badges for Cecil’s MINIons for MINI Takes the States.

What am I talking about?  OK in 2006 MINIUSA started this crazy owner appreciation event called MINI Takes the States (MTTS), it’s a rally/party held every two years. What your car company doesn’t do this kind of thing?  If you’ve read this comic for a while you know a few things- I own a MINI (and a Mini), I actually did a comic strip in 2010 for MINIUSA in conjunction with MTTS.  So when MINIUSA announced in 2012 they were going coast to coast I created a small group on Facebook to help coordinate what we were going to do.  These were people Sue, Cecil, and I had met along our travels starting with MINI United in 2009.  I created a simple oval design for “Minions Take The States” and had magnet badges made for the handful of people in the group.  Skip to 2013 and MINIUSA announcing MTTS 2014 -San Francisco to Boston.  After a 2012 and many other MINI related events, our merry little band has grown to about 55 people and stupid me I say “Hey!  I’ll design MINIon badges for everyone- just let me know if you have a number (four-digit) that is significant to you and that can be your MINIon number.”  Kind of like the MINI JCW GP having unique numbers – I imagined sitting back and drawing a few generic minions- just a bunch of monkeys with fezzes, pretty simple.  I started a spread sheet and took names and numbers.

Then I did something really, really stupid… I did a special monkey.  I don’t remember which one I did first, but I opened the floodgates.  I started getting special requests for MINIons.  I was up for the challenge it was going to be  fun, and I had a bunch of time to get them done.  I had set up a bunch of numbers in the spreadsheet & special monkeys for those numbers (#1701- Star Trek, #2814- Green Lantern, #0451- a fireman, etc.) so doing ones for other people wasn’t much different.  It actually is, when you just play with an idea, it’s fun, and you don’t have anyone else tied to the idea.  When you start working on someone else’s idea it’s their vision, not yours.  Years ago someone suggested I contact a MINI enthusiast magazine about doing a comic strip for them (like I do for FTF Geocacher).  I actually had contacted them in 2009 when I first started out, and was ignored, but I tried again.  When I spoke to the guy in charge he basically wanted his characters, his ideas, I would just draw the pictures… Not my thing, I wanted to bring my characters to his magazine and he wanted nothing to do with it.  Like the old time comic industry the artist puts in the effort designing characters and in the end he owns nothing… work for hire- not my thing.  So I’m now working with friends who have ideas as to how “their Minion” should look, they know how they want it to end up, “I want Cecil dressed as a…” but for me I wasn’t drawing Cecil, I was drawing one of his minions- one of his numerous clones.  Cecil is unique- his clones are also, but in a different way.  I reminded myself that Cecil is my creation I know his backstory, I know things that unless you’ve read this comic from the very beginning you would be blissfully unaware.  Then the requests for changes came in.  “I love it! but…”  Most were simple, some required a complete redo.  Some were numerous… and reminded me why I’m not a professional graphic designer or an “expert”. I draw for fun, it keeps me sane… If I actually got paid to do this stuff I’d need to be locked away in Arkham.

Then as with any project you have a few Veruca Salt types… “I want it now!” I am sorry I was unable to get all of these badges done overnight, but I was trying to get them done in a manner that I would be proud of the final product.  Which I am.  In the end there are 44 unique badges, along with a special oval design for the event.  Each minion monkey was hand draw and then colored, placed on the badge and tweaked so that it looked good.  Throughout the process I ended up losing files and had to recreate them, layers vanished. I learned a lot about my friends and myself.  For those who pushed me with requests- I thank you, you helped me to be a better artist.  For those who didn’t push, I thank you for giving me the freedom to explore.  Either way it’s nice to have friends who help you to be a better person.  The generic oval was redesigned a bunch of times, until inspiration came one night… and was drawn the next morning.  The actual logistics now that the designing part is done is being taken care of by a couple of MINIons, which I appreciate.  Cecil’s Cafe Press Store has some generic items for MTTS if you are interested.

What’s my next project?  Nothing for the short term, I’ve got a classroom to set up and a comic to keep posting.  Then again, Lego is a sponsor of MTTS 2014 and the Mini Cooper Lego set is coming out in August… my worlds are colliding.

Here are the finished badges for 2014

Here are the finished badges for 2014, click to get a much, much bigger view