Ed Emberley Helped Me Draw This Penis

We here at Olivia Waite spent a lot of time recently thinking about libraries. (The short version: go libraries!) And then we read this morning's xkcd and had a flash of memory: there was one set of books we requested and checked out over and over as a kid in the Sno-Isle Regional Library System. Those books were the addictive and life-changing drawing books of a gentleman known as Ed Emberley. Here is his lovely website, which features the dragon I spent entire months drawing all over my school notebooks—a dragon that is almost certainly a direct ancestor of Trogdor the Burninator. Here is how Ed Emberley changes the lives of kids everywhere: if you can draw a circle …

A black circle on a white background

… and a triangle …

A black triangle, point-down, on a white background

… then you can put them together to make an ice cream cone …

A triangle beneath a circle, to suggest an ice cream cone… or a bird …

A circle bird head with two smaller circles for eyes and a triangle for a beak

Or anything else you like.

And thus the terrifying idea of drawing a complex, living, moving creature—bird, snake, dragon—is reduced to a simple question of lines and shapes. You take things apart into circles and squares and V-shapes and U-shapes, and then you put them back together! You draw anything you can see! And if you're a total nerd, which I definitely was, you can whip out your ruler and your compass and you can make those circles and straight lines precise to the point where others question your mental stability.

And now, for the first time ever, please allow me to introduce the hero and heroine of my forthcoming Ellora's Cave erotic historical romance "Generous Fire":

A stick-figure man in a top hat and cravat. Text reads: Frederick Topper, headmaster, quietly commanding.Side view of a stick-figure woman with chignon, high-necked dress, and a downcast face. Text reads: Caroline Tisdale, Latin instructress, hiding her passionate nature, good luck with that.

It's a wonder they didn't ask me to design the cover, eh?

The trouble, of course, is that I never lost the habit of dividing things into circles and squares and lines as I grew older, which makes for some doodles that would never make it into one of the vaunted Mr. Emberley's books:

A half-circle and lines that look like a penis, with two circles for balls.Happy Monday, everyone!