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And Lo– A Miracle In The Desert

August 20, 2015

My assignment: an illustration for The Delicious Dozen: The 12 Best Coca-Colas I Ever Tasted.

Here’s the opening line:BlankVertSpace.4pixels

The best one – ever – was handed ice cold and dripping through the window of a car so beaten-up by Texas that I couldn’t tell the make or model.BlankVertSpace.4pixels

Here’s the final:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

illustration final car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

The assignment was for Coca-Cola Journey, the company’s online magazine and social media site. It’s a beautiful example of a brand using content marketing to win fans and engage followers.BlankVertSpace.4pixels

Writer Charles McNair‘s essay had me laughing from start to finish. He started out as
a baby, and claimed he was actually weaned on Coke (“I followed her like a shark. After months of constant pursuit, Mama needed relief. Coke was it.”)

Childhood memories included his grandfather bringing him a little green snake in a Coke bottle (he didn’t drink that one), and surviving junior high football practice in August (“I drank two after each practice. I didn’t make the team, but I didn’t die.”

I made a few sketches as I read through his entertaining memoir.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Coca-Cola sketches baby prefers Coke to milk bottle football player kid cooling off in Coke cup baseball bat Coke bottle Tower Of Pisa leaning snake charmer kid snake emerging from Coke bottleblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Wait– what’s the Leaning Tower Of Pisa doing in there?? (“I played baseball in Italy. Third base. Verona Arsenal.”)BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

But it was that opening vignette that cried out for attention: marooned in the Texas desert, while hitchhiking to New Orleans…BlankVertSpace.4pixels

After five hours, vultures circled… When a vehicle got close, I stepped to the asphalt, stuck out my thumb. I gave a cheerful I’m-not-an-escaped-convict grin… After eight hours, I finally thumbed a ride…

As the Samaritan pulled his anonymous make and model to a blessed stop, I hustled up to jump aboard. A hand with a cold bottle of Coca-Cola appeared out the window. He’d already popped the cap. That was the best one. Ever.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
guy in desert dying of thirst buzzards on cactus car stopped hand emerging from window with ice-cold Cokeblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Here’s another take. The rescuer “sold Beltone hearing aids for a living, the inventory
piled around his ankles in the floorboard.” There were tell-tale signs of other stranded hitchhikers who’d used rocks to spell out their names. Maybe they thought the rocks “would help notify next of kin.”blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Editor Jay Moye and I agreed the sketch was too busy. Here’s the revised sketch, which dramatically improved the focus.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
revised rough sketch car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

The final had to fit into a 604 by 337 pixel space. That’s a long horizontal and a very tight vertical. I needed to make some adjustments.

I made the car longer and used two cacti instead of one. I also left myself generous margins so I could fine-tune the fit.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
uncropped flattened illustration car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

I used a thin black rectangle, set to the desired dimensions on a separate layer in Photoshop, to help me center the image before cropping it.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
preparing to crop illustration car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Here’s the final again. The cacti create the illusion of height, even though they’re quite short. The size of the Coke bottle is exaggerated, but in a pleasantly comic way.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
illustration final car stopped in desert hand from window offering cold Coke thirsty guy gratefully kissing bottle cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactusblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Ice-cold Coke to the rescue– now that’s branding and social media at its best. Mmmwah!blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
thirsty guy kissing cold Coke bottle detail image car stopped in desert hand from window cow skull snake hot sun buzzards perched on cactus

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Ever tried to promote your brand by asking fans to share a story about it?

Do you have a vivid memory that involves a well-known product or service?

Ever looked up and seen vultures circling overhead– and you’re the only one around??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you’d like to buy prints or greeting cards, click on any of the large preview images in the sidebar below the Get Updates button.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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The Tomato Effect: It Won’t Work Because It Won’t Work

August 7, 2015

Sorry to be so long between posts. Today, I’m writing about tomatoes, because I need to ketchup…  : )BlankVertSpace.4pixels

Well, you learn something new every day. In theory, anyway.

I recently learned about a phenomenon called The Tomato Effect. And no, it’s not about acid reflux. It’s the brain acting up, not the stomach.

It all began when I came across an old sketch, and decided to finish it. What prompted this drawing? Dunno. I’ve heard of the film Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, but I’ve never actually seen it. Perhaps hearing about it was enough. Here’s the finished illustration:blank vertical space, 24 pixels highMan frightened panicky because tomato has come to life baring its teeth angry swearingblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

One interesting note about color: Our tomato is clearly using some bad language. Originally I put a cloud of blue smoke around the little swear word symbols. That’s because the color blue is associated with being risqué. A blue joke is a dirty joke.

But the blue cloud didn’t work. It looked all wrong. Gradually, through trial and error,
I found the right color combination. When tomatoes swear and cuss, they do it in red, orange, green, and yellow. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure of it… : )blank vertical space, 32 pixels highMan frightened panicky because tomato has come to life baring its teeth angry swearing compare blue cuss cloud to red-orange cloudblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

I’ve been doing a lot with quotes lately. I tell clients that illustrated quotes are ideal for social media marketing. People share them for both the humor and the quote itself. Add your website URL at the bottom, and your name will get around.

So I went looking (googling) for a “tomato quote,” and found this charming thought from writer Lewis Grizzard:blank vertical space, 32 pixels highMan with killer tomato baring its teeth and swearing Lewis Grizzard quote about pleasant thoughts while eating homegrown tomatoblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Here’s where my new learning experience comes in: I was shocked to discover people
once feared tomatoes. They considered them poisonous (tomatoes are part of the nightshade family).

Legend has it that, in America, anti-tomato prejudice was finally overcome when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson publicly consumed a basketful on the courthouse steps
of Salem, NJ, in 1820, before a large crowd. When he failed to collapse and die, opinions began to change. Since this dramatic historical event did not appear in print until 1948, it probably never happened. Great legend, tho.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

Which brings us to The Tomato Effect: people refused to eat tomatoes because “everyone knew” they were poisonous. It was common knowledge– and it was wrong.

Dr. James Goodwin is credited with coining the term in a medical journal article in 1984: “The tomato effect in medicine occurs when an efficacious treatment for a certain disease is ignored or rejected because it does not ‘make sense’ in light of the accepted theories of disease mechanism and drug interaction.”

In other words: a treatment is rejected because everyone knows it won’t work.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Here’s the sad part: The Tomato Effect isn’t limited to medicine. We embrace it every day. All of us.

We don’t take a course because we know it’ll be boring. We don’t sign up for that tuba lesson because we know it’s hopeless, it’s too hard, we’ll never get it. We don’t say hello
to someone because we know they won’t say hi back. And on and on. Missing out on who knows how many opportunities because we know, just know, it won’t work.

Sigh.BlankVertSpace.4pixels

And on that cheerful philosophical note, here’s a detail image. Here’s lookin’ at you, my fine tomato!!blank vertical space, 32 pixels highdetail image Man frightened panicky because tomato has come to life baring its teeth angry swearing

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Do you eat a lot of tomatoes?– or does your stomach tell you to just say no?

Ever seen Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes? Did it give you a morbid fear of salad bars??

Now that you know about the Tomato Effect, will you be open to trying something new?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you’d like to buy prints or greeting cards, click on any of the large preview images in the sidebar below the Get Updates button.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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