Monday, June 25, 2012

Alphabooksbeasts: F is for Ferdinand

My non-Dungeon entry for Alphabooks this week knows just what it means to stop and smell the flowers. Ferdinand is a bull in Spain, where bulls go to the bullring, but Ferdinand, like Bartleby, would prefer not to.

I have to admit that I hadn't read The Story of Ferdinand since I was a little kid, and I bought a cheap copy last week to get ready for this drawing. And I was struck, when I read it, by the way the shade of death hangs over the book.

Ferdinand, who just wants to smell flowers under a cork tree, is drafted for the bullring because some bullfight handlers see him immediately after he's stung by a bee. As the story goes, when he's turned out into the ring he just sits, and the various picadors and toreadors are so embarrassed by his torpor that they send him home. But if a bee would make him angry, wouldn't a half-dozen sharp lances also do the trick? Isn't the whole point of the long lead-up to the final matador getting the bull into a position of seeing red? I don't actually know, but I have the feeling that Ferdinand is a little generous with its plot devices.

Anyway, I started overthinking this, and considering recasting the story so that is was centered around a rodeo instead of a bullfight—that way, at least Ferdinand wouldn't be threatened with death—and then I started considering breeds of bull (Hereford, Longhorn, Brahma, etc.) that you'd be likely to see at a rodeo. And then someone reminded me that I was supposed to be drawing the character in the book.

So I pushed aside my overthinking and clumsily drew a bull sniffing flowers under a tree.

I'm still not sure I got the horns or the hooves right, but they look close enough that I am not kicking myself about the drawing. That means that people who didn't grow up on a ranch will probably have no problem at all with the bovine details in the drawing.

Next week: a fuzzy little dude.

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