Roger Bradfield (a.k.a. "Jolly" Roger Bradfield) is one of the most gifted writers / artists of our time. He has written and illustrated a slew of imaginative and playful children's books such as Benjamin Dilley's Thirsty Camel, Pickle-Chiffon Pie, The Flying Hockey Stick, and many others. From 1972 to 1978 his daily comic strip Dooley's World was syndicated by King Features. He's a world traveller. And, he has created dozens of vivid and beautiful paintings many of which have documented his travels. I was lucky enough to correspond with Bradfield recently and the following words I've found provide great insight into the artistic world of "Jolly" Roger.
Tommy: What was your childhood like?
Bradfield: I was raised by my divorced mother and my grandma. We were quite poor, but since the whole neighborhood was too, I didn't realize it until much later. I loved baseball and football (no Little League in those days!) along with ice hockey and skiing. A big deal was going to the Saturday afternoon cowboy movie for a nickel and yelling as loud as we could when the hero was chasing the bad guys.
Tommy: Of all the things in the world why did you choose a career in art?
Bradfield: I had won several competitions and also had a wonderful art teacher in high school who encouraged me.
Tommy: What influences your work?
Bradfield: Damn near everything.
Tommy: You write wonderful children's books filled with wildly playful imagery. How do you go about creating them?
Bradfield: I try to imagine what I would enjoy reading about if I was again a kid. More authors should do that.
Tommy: In Benjamin Dilley's Thirsty Camel Benjamin has a vivid and colorful imagination. How close is he to you?
Bradfield: VERY close. Benjamin's dreams are my dreams.
Tommy: What was your experience like creating a daily syndicated comic strip?
Bradfield: Ideal. I would ride my motor scooter down to town (in Santa Barbara) to a rather fancy restaurant, have my breakfast outside under an umbrella and write ideas in a notebook for an hour or two. Then it was back home to draw the daily strip- or maybe a few if I had a good day.
Tommy: Tell me one of your favorite stories from being a world traveller.
Bradfield: One time when leaving Mexico with two friends in a tiny
plane we crashed on takeoff. Only one of us was hurt and not too
badly. Before taking off I had distributed quite a lot of bubble gum to
a crowd of youngsters who had gathered to see us off. The plane's wing
tanks began to drip gasoline. Afraid of an explosion, I gathered the
kids around, and made them give back the already chewed-on gum, with
which I plugged up the holes in the wings.
Turned out I wasn't so smart after all. The gas eventually melted the gum and dripped out anyway. Nothing exploded, since I am here writing this.
Tommy: You work a lot with watercolor. What draws you to that medium?
Bradfield: It seems to be easier for me than oils or acrylic.
Tommy: What would you like to see happen in your future?
Bradfield: I'm hoping to have one of my books (Pickle-Chiffon Pie) made into a movie.
Tommy: Do you hear that Hollywood? You have a gold mine just waiting for you! Thank you, Mr. Bradfield. And, I seriously hope to see that movie too.