I would like to introduce my comic strip debut here today. Meet Oliver Oscar, to your left.
I had an idea about a year ago to create a comic strip/mascot for The Oscar Spot, a website that is run by a friend of mine. I had a working title in mind, the names of a couple of characters but not much else beyond that. I started sketching character designs, constantly revising them but was never really satisfied with what I was coming up with, so in frustration I would abandon the project only to come at it again with a fresh approach by wiping the slate clean. I worked on this on and off for the past year never really getting past the point of a rough outline for a strip. I still needed to figure what kind of setting the comic would be placed in, what the relationship of the characters would be and what the tone of the humor would be. This is always the hardest part of the creative process.
Last week, I was designing something for another project when I accidentally stumbled upon the character design I was looking for. It was pure luck or maybe it was fate, I dunno, all I know is I immediately saw the potential for a cartoon character in what I had just sketched. I immediately abandoned the project I was working on and proceeded to refine the character's look. Within about a half hour, I had my star character, Oliver Oscar. I decided that two other Oscar fish characters would look identical to Oliver, since as in real life, all fish pretty much look the same. The only way to distinguish them is by their colours. Oliver, as you might guess, is olive in colour. The next two characters I created were Red Oscar and Olivia. I think you can guess their colours. Red and Oscar are the best fish friends in the whole underwater world. Olivia is the sister of Oliver and is the object of Red's affections. So here is the first panel to be published.
The setting is obviously in an aquarium where we will be able to witness the daily (weekly?) ongoing lives of the core group of characters and their habits. Originally I was going to simply call the comic, "The Oscar Spot". Then I thought maybe something different would be less confusing from the website. I considered "Red and Oliver." Finally I settled on "Ri'cichlid'ous!", a play on the words, cichlid and ridiculous.
In this first comic, Oliver refers to Hole In The Head disease or HITH. HITH is a condition that can afflict Oscar fish and other cichlids, causing pitting of the head and erosion of the body. It is also known as HLLE, head and lateral line erosion.
I was fortunate enough to receive a TBA (Today's Best Art) ribbon award from Zazzle for this poster print of "Ri'cichlid'ous!" of which I am very proud and had the honor of being featured on their front page along with a dozen or so other Zazzle artists. That really made my day. Click on the image above and you will see the little red ribbon to the lower right.
You have already met Oliver. Oliver is pretty much a regular kind of guy type fish who tries not to make waves (get it?) and is a good friend to Red. Of the two, Oliver is the more level headed and considerate but even he sometimes succumbs to his natural Oscar tendencies. He is the big brother to Olivia with whom he shares his olive complexion. Although Oliver can go through a range of emotions, you'll find most of the time he will have the same blank fish-eyed stare. Along with Red, Oliver will be part of the duel mascots for The Oscar Spot website.
Oliver's best friend and partner in mischief. Red is not only his name and colour, it is also the reflexion of his temperament, which sometimes gets the best of him or gets the best of others actually, specifically smaller, defenseless fish. Despite these flaws, overall, Red is a good fish and loyal friend to Oliver, acting as his confidant and sometimes bodyguard. Red has a crush on Oliver's sister, Olivia. He is the other half of the Oscar Spot mascot duo.
Olivia is the little sister of Oliver. She likes to wear blue eye-shadow and lime green fish lipstick. She also has long thick eyelashes. She is still in fish school and loves to hang out with her girlfish friends.
Pedo (Pee-doh) is an orange pike cichlid. Not much is known about him at this point except that he prefers the company of Oscars rather than other pikes and he sometimes likes to butt heads.
That is all the character designs I have done so far. I have more characters, I just haven't had a chance to design them yet. That will come with time and as the comic evolves, more characters will be added.
The gang's favourite hangout is The Oscar Spot, a fast seafood restaurant, where many of the young cichlids like to go.
In case some of you don't know what an Oscar fish looks like, have a look for yourself.