My son started preschool this year, and I wanted to do something special for his first day. I’m no master chef (and he’s a notoriously picky eater) so a super fancy/fun/creative lunch was out of the question. And he already had his Spider-Man backpack and Superman lunch bag and Batman t-shirt — so he was set accessory-wise. Yet I wanted to do something truly, uniquely* Designer Daddy-ish to celebrate this milestone.
That first morning was pretty hectic, as it was a new schedule for all of us. Between making breakfast and getting JJ dressed and brushed and toothbrushed and backpacked, all I ended up having time to do was write “Daddy Hearts U,” on a Post-It note, added a quick doodle of The Flash and snuck it into his lunch bag. I pictured him discovering it at school, being reminded of his dear, old Dad, and bragging to all his new toddler pals how cool I am. Or more likely how cool The Flash is.
He loved it. And so the next day I did another, thinking I would do one each day of his first week and leave it at that. However, if you’ve ever had a preschooler, you know how THAT turned out. Toddlers are not known for their flexibility with a routine.
So here we are… 68 or so days later, and I’m still getting up a few minutes early each day to make JJ a note. But I gotta admit, I’m having a blast. It’s a great way for me to hone both my doodling and pun-making skills. It’s also been pretty cool having JJ’s teachers tell me how thoughtful and creative I am. But really — and not to get too heavy here — it’s all about my legacy. I’m never going to be my son’s sports idol. I don’t have vast carpentry or mechanical or bronco-busting skills to pass down to him. What I have is my love of superheroes and my talent for doodling. This is my way to instill in him a love of those things, and to keep being his superhero for as long as possible. Or until all my Sharpies run out.
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You can view all 68 (and counting) superhero lunch notes on Instagram. I’ll also be mixing them in on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure and let me know where you see them, and which are your favorites!
*While I haven’t found anyone else doing this particular thing, I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to David Laferriere, whose awesome series of sandwich bag doodles definitely inspired me.
Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!
Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach more here >>
Like many other third installments of a trilogy, the finale of Dora The Explorer and The Destiny Medallion was a necessary — and muy disappointing — conclusion to the watered-down joke that started out so promising.
How do you say “LAME” in Spanish?
So what film trilogy conclusion is YOUR least favorite? Tell me in the comments.
As promised, here’s Part 2 of Dora The Explorer and The Destiny Medallion! Still not as good as the original concept trailer, but it was fun to see Benny the Bull in human form, and the explanation of B.A.C.K.P.A.C.K.’s acronym was worth a chuckle. Yet while Part 3 looks promising with an appearance from Grumpy Old Troll, if The Map never shows up I’m afraid this whole exploration was por nada.
PRECAUCÍON: As with Part 1, this installment is a tiny bit NSFW/NSFT (not suitable for toddlers).
In somewhat related news (and a subject I’m SURE you’ll read more about on this blog in a week or so) our family will be attending the annual White House Easter Egg Roll! This is a pretty freaking huge/exciting/awesome deal. The Mother of all Easter Egg Festivities. Plus, our gal Dora is gonna be there, so that will be muy egg-celente.
Hop on back next week for the (hopefully) thrilling conclusion!
You might remember a video I posted a while back — a trailer for a hilarious (but disappointingly fake) live-action Dora the Explorer movie. Well, it’s one step closer to fake reality, as College Humor has posted part 1 of the 3-part saga, Dora The Explorer and The Destiny Medallion!
While it lacks some of the first-time funny punch of last year’s Infinity Orb, it’s great seeing Dora, Boots and (swoon) Diego back in acción. And I can only hope Horatio Sanz will return as the annoying and abused The Map. (BTW, have you seen him lately? ¡Aye chihuahua!)
ALERTA: this installment is a tiny bit NSFW. And certainly NSFT (not suitable for toddlers).
COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR PART 2!
As with any toddler, JJ’s moods tastes shift like the wind. Make that a whirlwind. But these ten things stood out in 2012 as being particularly popular with our breezy little boy…
JJ and I spent part of a rainy, Sunday afternoon in one our favorite places — snuggled up together transfixed by the soft glow of my iPad. I try not to expose him to it for too long in one sitting (especially when playing games) and never let him have it alone. I know how hard it is for ME to put it down, so I get how traumatic it is for a toddler to have his fix suddenly cut off. I also try to make every experience just the tiniest bit educational. Sometimes it’s miniscule.
Followed by greatest hits from “The Wizard of Oz”:
“Follow The Yellow Brick Road”
“A Munchkin Welcome” (Lullaby League/Lollipop Guild)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
A little Wonder Woman tutorial:
Theme song (he’s heard it before, but it’s not memorized like Spider-Man or Batman. Gonna take a little extra work.)
How to spin (JJ had been swinging around a dog toy all day pretending it was Wonder Woman’s “wope” so I figured I’d show him how to spin like her, then watch him get dizzy and laugh. Like I said, it was raining—we were bored.)
Super Friends: Hawaiian Ice Mystery interactive book/game
This is a relatively new interactive story book from the DC Super Friends line of characters that heavily features my main man, Aquaman! You can go through the story with narration or without, and even record your own voice to tell the story! There are also several activities to choose from including coloring pages, puzzles and a Colorforms-type sticker page. $4.99, ages 4+ (JJ’s not yet 3 but it’s still keeps him busy and entertained. And oh yeah, educated)
If you’ve ever endured even a single episode of Dora the Explorer or Go, Diego, Go! then you MUST watch this hilarious (but disappointingly fake) movie trailer. From the frequent geniuses at College Humor.
Great job by Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, playing against nerdy-middle-child type. And I must say, Diego is looking muy hermoso.
Know of any other funny spoofs of annoying kids shows? Please share!
Superheroes have been an important part of my life for as long as I remember. When most kids were outside playing in the sunshine and generally being healthy, normal children, I was holed up inside watching or drawing the Super Friends. And each night I’d ask my little brother what he was going to dream about, but I really didn’t care… it was just an excuse to spin elaborate tales of how I was going to dream about flying with Superman, swimming with Aquaman, or riding in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. Even the first drawing contest I ever won was for a self-portrait wearing my Superman t-shirt.
Fast-forward a whole lot of years, wherein superhero cartoons begat comics collecting which begat a love of pop art which begat becoming a graphic designer. All these years later I’m still obsessed with bright colors, bold graphics, and lots of dots. In my office hangs a poster of Warhol’s Superman, an original Aquaman animation cell from the 60′s, and several shelves of vintage (and some not-so-vintage) comic-related books, action figures and other tchotchkes.
About three years ago, my love of comics even played a part in us becoming parents. As part of the adoption process, we created a Family Album from which potential birth parents would choose us. The album contained photos of us, our house, friends and family, as well as letters of introduction, places we’d traveled, things we liked to do. The birth parents that ended up choosing us were drawn to, among other things, the fact that I was a fellow comic book fan.
Fast-forward a couple more years, and you can imagine how proud I was the first time I heard JJ sing himself to sleep with the Batman theme song, how excited I was when he learned to pronounce “Aquaman,” and how tickled I am to watch him bound around the house in his Superman pajamas.
Yet sometimes I feel I’ve created a monster. Every ride in my now car requires multiple spins of both the Spider-Man and Batman TV themes, as does each visit to the internet and most times the TV is turned on. (Keep in mind it’s just the theme songs he wants to hear — not entire episodes.) While Spider-Man’s theme song is cheesy and dated, at least there are some fun lyrics (“Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood!”) But Holy Chinese torture, Batman! — that show’s titular tune has only one word in it! What’s more, JJ recently started insisting on being called Robin. Thus I’m Batman, Papa is Aquaman, and Cordi (the dog) is Wonder Woman. It was cute at first, but it can be hard to get your son’s attention (or get him to take you seriously) if he’s decided to answer to a different name.
Then just a few days ago, something happened to put JJ’s super-obsessions in perspective. As he and Papa headed out the door for daycare, for the first time I had to coerce a goodbye hug and kiss. Normally these are given with much exuberance, so I’ll admit it was a little heartbreaking. It reminded me that — if he’s anything like most kids — there might be days (or years) where my son may not be affectionate with or even speak to me. Everything is a phase, both the good and the bad. So while I enjoy the cuddly moments and hero worship, I can also endure the unending “Na na na na na na na na”s that are also a part of JJ’s current stage of development. I need to revel in my current identity of SuperDaddy, provider of all things cool and doer of no wrong — realizing that before I know it I’ll just be mild-mannered Dad.
Today is March 2nd, and whaddayasay?
It’s also NEA’s Read Across America Day!
So head over to Target, and plop down your kid.
They’ll hear a fun story, just like my kid did.
They’ll hear stories of fishes of hams and of hats.
Then they give them some goodies! What do you think about that?
If you think that’s a lot, there’s still more, so just wait…
Today Dr. Seuss turns one hundred and eight!
And oh yeah, The Lorax opens in theaters.