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Illustration Keeps Going And Going, But Alas, Batteries Do Not

July 17, 2014

I just finished an assignment for Connecticut Green Guide, which covers energy, green technology, waste management, and other environmental issues.

The subject: Connecticut is poised to become the first state to require that all batteries be recycled. “Beating the drum” on this issue is Governor Dan Malloy. Drum? Batteries?
A famous advertising personality came to mind. Here’s the finished illustration.

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Connecticut Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy as Energizer Bunny banging Recycle drum, leading old batteries to recycling center

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The Energizer Bunny is an American marketing icon. I was surprised to learn that he began life as a parody of the Duracell Bunny.

I found a couple of photo references. I flipped one of them horizontally so he’d be facing stage right.

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Photos of Energizer Bunny, famous marketing symbol and icon, mascot for Energizer batteries, featured in TV commercials that claim Energizer batteries keep on going and going and going

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I wasn’t familiar with Governor Malloy. Here’s what he looks like.

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photos of Connecticut governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy

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When I hear the word “battery,” I think of flashlight batteries, or AA batteries for cameras. There’s a wide variety, however, which allowed me to include an interesting mix in the illustration.

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photos of different kinds of batteries used in cars and electronic devices

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I struggled a bit with Malloy’s caricature. His eyes should probably be a little beadier.

Batteries are pretty small in real life. Fortunately, they can be a lot bigger in an illustration. They can even have faces.

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detail image of Connecticut Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy as Energizer Bunny banging Recycle drum, leading old batteries to recycling center

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I’ve always been fond of sneaking small jokes into a drawing. Probably comes from reading too much Mad Magazine when I was a kid. Here we see a battery being used as part of a directional arrow.

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detail image of Connecticut Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy as Energizer Bunny banging Recycle drum, leading old batteries to recycling center

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I must speak to my tailor about a furry pink suit. Or perhaps not. Here’s the final again.

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Connecticut Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy as Energizer Bunny banging Recycle drum, leading old batteries to recycling center

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Do you recycle batteries where you live?

Ever had your flashlight fail during a power outage so you couldn’t find the spare batteries?

Have you ever had occasion to wear bunny ears??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2014 6:04 PM

    I am but a tiny battery following mr. Mark in awe of his talent! 🙂
    I remember the Duracell bunny. We even have a saying here when someone is unstoppable, we say: ‘he’s working like a Duracell Bunny’!! Horrible thing ads! 😉
    Batteries usually fail you at the most crucial times BUT we’ve learned our lesson and this house is full of batteries [many of them hidden …just in case]. While other people prepare for nuclear war, we are battery preppers!!!! 😉 Oh, and yes, they all go in special battery recycle bins!


    • July 27, 2014 5:36 PM

      A tiny battery?? Impossible, my dear Marina!– because your delightful comments always give me a huge charge… : )

      Hare, hare now! We really must do something about all these electronic rabbits– they’re taking over the world!!

      Good to know you’re prepared for a power outage– inspiration might strike, and you’ll need your electric paintbrush!! : )


  2. Steven L Campbell permalink
    July 17, 2014 6:09 PM

    I love the bunny battery pun. It keeps going, and going, and…

    Now that I’ve batter-ied you with my bad puns, I’ll go read my latest issue of Mad Magazine. 🙂


    • July 27, 2014 5:41 PM

      Batter-ied– ha! That was painful, my dear fellow, but still, I’d have to classify it as an AAA pun… : )

      Good ol’ Mad Magazine! It warped a lot of minds during its golden age– and we’ve got the cerebral cortexes to prove it!! : )


      • soul . to . earth permalink
        July 30, 2014 3:47 PM

        Me thinks a diet of MAD actually kept me sane.

        Btw, your blog is truly M.A.D = Mark Armstrong Design. Hee, hee…..’coz your work and humour are just as crazy, funny and out of this world! 😀


        • July 31, 2014 8:49 AM

          Yes, yes, it’s coming into focus, my dear Radhika: I can see you as a teenager, sitting in your room, chewing gum, sucking on candy cigarettes, surrounded by stacks of MAD magazines– no wonder you’re such a model of serenity and sanity today… : )

          M.A.D. = Mark Armstrong Design–!! Ha!! How do you come up with these wonderful ideas?? Oh, right– from reading MAD Magazine!! Well, that– and your lovely compliment– put such a big smile on my face, my mustache was stretched to twice its original length!! I suppose I’ll have to trim it now– but it’s worth it… : )

          Thank you, my dear Radhika, for driving me MAD in the very best sense of the word!! : )


  3. July 17, 2014 10:31 PM

    And the beat goes on …. and so do the spot-on illustrations by Mark Armstrong. I think you nailed Governor Dan Malloy – beady little eyes and all.

    It’s so nice to know that the cultural touchstone for many of us, aka Mad Magazine, has been such a defining force in your life. Warped, yes … but also extremely funny. (I was influenced by the same wild and crazy guys in Mad Magazine.) Connecticut Green Guide should be very pleased with your creativity and ability to hone in on what’s important. 😉


    • July 27, 2014 5:52 PM

      The Beat Goes On… ha! Sonny and Cher thank you, my dear Judy, and I thank you… : )

      You think the caricature scored high enough on the Beady Index?? Eye am very pleased to hear it… : )

      I had a feeling you were a fellow graduate of Mad U. Those chaps have a lot to answer for– most of it good!! Thanks as ever for your kind and very good-humored support!!


  4. July 17, 2014 10:31 PM

    I love the illustration, especially how the Malloy Pink Bunny leads the batteries off to the recycle center like a version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Battery recycling is something that should seem logical (mostly because they shouldn’t end up in landfill), but unlike paper or plastic recycling, the collection and disposal of batteries has an element of potential hazard. I know friends who have slightly injured themselves with AAAs (one carrying a few loosely in his pants pocket, talk about hot pocket), In my province, beverage containers are charged a deposit when purchased, and when the same container is returned to a bottle depot, the deposit is refunded. The same deposit/refund system would certainly encourage consumers to return their batteries to the recycle centers. There’s more I’m inspired to write, but I’m sure I’ve already broken comment etiquette with my lengthy rambling.


    • July 27, 2014 6:09 PM

      What a great comment! Thanks very much, Lane. It’s nice to meet you, and I sincerely appreciate your stopping by. I do apologize for my late response here.

      I’d never heard of batteries “going off” in someone’s pocket. I shall certainly think twice about treating them like loose change!

      Your idea about charging a deposit on batteries to encourage their “redemption” at recycling centers makes a lot of sense. Since household batteries are so small, I suspect many people just toss them in the trash. A deposit would encourage people to do the responsible thing, and recycle them. No worries re comment etiquette– many thanks for an excellent thought! : )


  5. Lily permalink
    July 18, 2014 4:34 PM

    This picture makes me think of the Pied Piper but with batteries!

    I’ve often wondered why battery companies like having bunny mascots. I mean, battery? Bunny? Who would’ve thought it! 😛


    • July 28, 2014 10:34 AM

      The Pied Piper… I wonder how many times cartoonists and illustrators have used that motif?– must be up in the millions! Poor guy– just another musician who keeps getting ripped off, and never sees any royalties… : P

      Bunny mascots– yes, you’d think they’d be promoting organic carrots instead of batteries– weird! The world’s a strange place, Lily, but fortunately your good influence helps compensate– always good to see you! : )


  6. July 20, 2014 10:00 AM

    I go wild! The ‘Duracell Häschen’ is obviously spread all over the world! That pink fur dress looks really cool. I’ve already start to imagine how you will look in. The fluffy rump is my favorite.

    Recycling is a highly particular thing in G-Land. You must study it or you get slamed at the junk jard. Thats why people prefer throwing it in the forest…

    Your suggestion is genious!

    I vote we establish the junk- jard- workes wear furry bunny suits… 😀


    • July 28, 2014 10:46 AM

      Yes indeed, my dear Tutti– I always wear my Pink Bunny Suit to the recycling center. The workers take one look, and hide in the closet. I can hear them whispering: “He’s a loonie! Just stay back and let him do whatever he wants– and hope and pray he leaves soon!!” Yes, it always pays to get dressed up– it causes people to treat you with respect… : P

      Aren’t Germans famous for being very neat and tidy?? I can’t believe they’re throwing their old bratwurst and sauerkraut wrappings in the forest!! Just goes to show, junkyard regulations are enough to drive even the most law-abiding citizens over the edge… : )

      Thanks for your lovely comment, dear Tutti– my fluffy rump and I are always happy to see you!! : )


  7. July 21, 2014 11:19 PM

    I was surprised to learn that he began life as a parody of the Duracell Bunny.

    Ah yes, especially now that I’ve looked it up, I remember the Duracell commercial with a few dozen bunny toys beating on a drum, with the one with the Duracell battery lasting the longest. They looked more like snare or field drums… I think the Energizer parody– the character looking more like a rabbit, and with Wayfarer sunglasses and a bass drum– was meant to be over the top.


    • July 28, 2014 11:00 AM

      Hi Jak, nice to see you.

      Yes, according to the Wikipedia entry for the Duracell Bunny:

      The Duracell Bunny was originally trademarked for use in the U.S. and other countries. Duracell failed to renew its U.S. trademark of the bunny… Energizer, seizing an opportunity, trademarked a new bunny for its use.

      Good ideas get stolen all the time, and this is certainly (ahem!) a hare-raising example. Glad you got, er, a charge out of it… : )


  8. Margie permalink
    July 30, 2014 10:45 PM

    I love the looks on the faces of the batteries – amusement, trepidation, fear, even a hint of anger. Simply amazing how you convey those emotions with a few simple strokes of the pen… or pencil… or crayon. Or is it all done digitally? Then it would be a stylus, I suppose. Point me to the blog post that explains how you work!


    • July 31, 2014 9:10 AM

      Ha! I’m flattered you would notice that, Margie. I can’t claim to have given it a lot of thought, but it did occur to me as I was sketching it out, that it would be more interesting if the batteries didn’t all have the same expression. They’re marching into the unknown, reflecting various emotions. Battery psychology: it’s a very obscure– and decidedly weird– field… : )

      I do all my line drawings by hand, then scan them into my computer, and finish them (color and effects) in Photoshop. So I am drawing facial expressions (and everything else) on paper with a pencil, then inking them with various markers. Don’t think I’ve ever done a step-by-step, start-to-finish blog post– I probably should! Thanks for the suggestion, and for all your support! : )



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