February 14, 2013
Valentine's Day and George Ferris' 154th Birthday
Romance and amusement parks often go hand in hand. In many places a carnival, fair or circus is a popular destination for a thrilling and action-packed date. Coincidentally, George W.G. Ferris Jr., the creator of the Ferris Wheel was born on Valentine’s Day in 1859. This year seemed like a golden opportunity to combine our celebration of love with the birthday of the engineer whose mechanical invention has filled so many hearts with wonder.
Early in the process we decided on depicting a scene with two, side-by-side Ferris Wheels among a landscape of other amusement park rides. Then when two Ferris Wheel carts happened to stop across from each other we thought that was the perfect moment for two characters to have a love at first sight moment. We thought this would be the best way to highlight the Ferris Wheel in its natural habitat and provide a clever way to introduce some valentines to each other. Plus, we thought it would be fun to push a big button to generate a whole series of combinations.
The greater challenge turned out to be determining who would be riding these Ferris Wheels. What pairs would we create? How silly should we be? Chocolate and peanut butter? An astronaut and an alien? A blog post and a troll? After they see each other, would they jump out of their carts and ride the roller coaster? Or would we show their life story from youth to old age?
We ultimately decided that our cast of characters should all be animals and the result of their initial encounter should be a date. At first we assigned circus jobs to all the animal characters. For example, the monkey was a clown, the bear was a trapeze artist, the frog was a sword swallower, and so on. But why would they be riding the Ferris Wheel? Shouldn’t they all be performing? And would people understand that the turtle was wearing a helmet and goggles because he was in the cannonball act? In the end, we simplified the characters and focused on making the animals as engaging, colorful and personable as possible without worrying about their day jobs.
For the resulting dates, we used newspaper comic strips and their 3-panel composition as inspiration for style and narrative structure. The comic strip format gave us room to tell a wide variety of stories and the horizontal format worked nicely in our layout. Once we decided on comics, the date scenarios really just starting writing themselves. As always, we had more ideas than time to illustrate and animate.
We hope you enjoyed the final interactive doodle and perhaps learned a little bit about love, life and Ferris Wheels.
- Brian Kaas, Doodler