Friday, October 15, 2010

Wory Woos: A NY Comic Con Tale

"In early 2000 I was living in London and I started sketching monsters while I was by myself, traveling quite a bit. I'd been sketching monsters through high school, through college and while I was alone I started realizing, 'Oh my gosh, these are my emotions coming out through these characters.'"

That would be artist Andi Green, discussing the earliest beginnings of the characters that became Worry Woos, adorable little monsters you can hug and squeeze and who deal with some surprisingly deep emotions for dudes made out of cotton stuffing.

I suppose I should start a little farther back. About a week ago I was chatting with my friend Carolyn who pulled a non-sequitur by linking me to the above site and proclaiming her burning desire for a Rue. I said that I, aesthetically, had something of a soft spot for whatever a Fuddle was, and that says a lot about be from what Carolyn told me next:

Worry Woos are the actual emotions they embody. They feel like that all the time, they are loneliness and insecurity and innocence. They have problems with these ethereal feelings, but they always have to accept them because that's who they are. They don't fix feeling sad or lonely like certain bagel-topping street puppets, rather they accept their feelings as valid and learn from them.

Rue has a big nose. He does not like his nose. He rues it. (Get it?) But it's his nose. No other one suits him. Eventually he comes to accept and even love his nose as a part of himself. Too often we tell children to stop crying because it's not helping. Sure, we should help break them of the habit of communicating only through tears after that point where their vocal chords and frontal lobes become capable of vocalizing thought, but sometimes it just feels better to let out a good cry.

Fast forward a couple days to Friday of last week. Carolyn and I are now wandering the Artists Alley section of New York Comic Con as our only guide and roving photographer/podcaster is off getting a plethora of comics signed by people I've never heard of (but whose artistic talent I do not remotely doubt).

I forget exactly I was saying to Carolyn at the time, but I do remember that I turned briefly and when I turned back she was ten feet away and completely engrossed in something that was not our conversation. It was Worry Woos.

You know that special kind of ADD young girls get when an otherwise calm, happy activity is interrupted by the arrival of an adorable, carry-on size puppy? The kind that spikes her voice up two octaves and instantly ends any previous mood or discussion? Yeah, apply that to a grown woman in a fishnet body stocking and tutu.

We probably spent twenty minutes just sitting around, talking with Andi about her creations. The doodles that started everything, the books that came next and ultimately the adorable plush dolls both children and adults find charming. We walked out of there with pretty much every freebie Andi's booth was offering, plus the Rue set Carolyn had been wanting. We also left with an invitation to come back the next day, which we gladly accepted.

Andi's characters are soaked in a kind of sad but uplifting validity you rarely see in children's characters. They don't talk down to children to make them feel like kids' feelings are small just because they are.

If you're looking for books to explain emotions to your child and get creeped out by codependent sentiments like "I'll love you forever" or perennially enabling foliage, give Worry Woos a look instead. You'll be shocked how well-adjusted your children can be, given the opportunity.
Cheers to the Worry Woos!

For the full interview with Andi Green and more on the full Comic Con experience, visit The Mild Mannered Podcast and check out episode 11!

Dave Zucker is a writer, blogger, illustrator, minister and just generally a stand-up guy. If you would like to pay him to do this kind of thing for a living, you can contact him at dzucker1 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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