My friend Meg wrote me yesterday. “You know how sometimes daycare centers like to paint murals of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and while you can tell who they’re meant to be, they end being so off that they look demonic? Almost like they are actually acid-laced paper?”
I knew exactly what she meant. I specifically remember a mural in my home town of Mickey and Donald at my day care center. I was always disappointed that they weren’t inside as if the crude day care mural was actually painted by stoned entry-level Disney artists and that they were really giant map markers indicating where you could hang out with the live-action versions of the cartoon characters. The interesting thing is that drug-influenced children’s art knows no geographic boundary. I grew up in middle Georgia, she in Tennessee.
Boys love to draw superheroes. It’s one of the first things that any artistic male child is drawn to sketch, right after explosions and right before nude breasts. It’s in the DNA.
While unpacking a steamer trunk that her mom packed years ago, Meg unearthed a true treasure, a Batman drawing given to her by her high school aged brother. She said that this particular picture hung in her bedroom for years. Who wouldn’t want the first thing that you see in the morning to be a caped-super hero wishing you a good morning?
I happen to think that this drawing is better than any demonic Disney character. It’s also ahead of the time considering that her 14 year old sibling was obviously influenced by the Neal Adams-styled Batman and the writings of Naomi Klein way before “No Logo” had even been written. Where’s Batman’s emblem?
Seeing this Batman drawing reminded me of one of my early drawings of Superman that my mom kept. I came to a new realization while looking at this out of proportion masterpiece of markers and construction paper. I loved many of the heroes of my generation, but none like Superman and I think it may have been for one major reason. As much as I liked He-Man, Luke Skywalker and Bo Duke, they couldn’t hold a match to the Man of Steel. It’s not because I sported Underoos in public places like TG & Y with a homemade cape, but because Superman had dark hair just like me. Sometimes it’s the simple things that help us relate to imagined greatness. Even now as I enter my mid-thirties and my hair is thinning, I still sometimes think of myself as the kid in the superman t-shirt running down the aisles of the grocery imagining that I can do great things.