Paper Doll Subjects: Randomness Reigns

Some years ago, I made a paper doll of Frank Merriwell, a character from a late 19th century nickel weekly called Tip Top Weekly. It was a lark: I liked the idea more than I liked the character. Frank himself was insufferably righteous and his stories were invariably pretty standard fare. Though he was incredibly popular at the time and survived into the radio days, I was pretty much done with him after reading half a dozen adventures. The appeal for the paper doll was mostly that he was playing some new sport every week, so always had a new uniform which was kind of fun.

Frank notwithstanding, I have had a long love affair with nickel weeklies. These trashy things predate comic books and though they were a moral bore now and then, some were quite gruesome. There was no “code” so often you had characters meeting all sorts of murderers and opium addicts. Painted ladies were mostly out, though–that remained a taboo.

Last year, while I was taking some time out in the Pacific Northwest, I dug up my copies of Young Klondike. For sheer appeal, this was one of the more interesting of the weeklies for me. It didn’t have the steampunk travel-around-the-world fantasy of Frank Reade’s Library or the crime-solving hard boiled noir of Nick Carter, but it had something far more attractive: snow! For me, an adventure in Alaska was way more exotic and exciting than gumshoes and robots.

Young Klondike ran for 39 issues, 27 of which are available online. I haven’t read them all because they’re obviously a finite resource. So I like to savor them–as much as one can savor what amounts to pulp trash. Objectively they aren’t great, but I started thinking about re-purposing the text. If Young Klondike were written today, what might it look like? Last summer I took the text and began appropriating it into something new. I kept the basic plot and left its quirkiest character untouched for the most part. But I re-imagined the other three central characters for a modern audience. Three hundred pages later, I might have something that could be a book, but that’s not the point. I’m telling you this because I idly started sketching paper dolls for the characters and I thought to myself: this is so completely random.

But then, really, all my paper dolls always are.

I don’t know what the appeal is for half the stuff I make. But I make things for my own amusement and if they amuse others, three cheers! I just know there are lots of paper dolls for fashion models or popular personalities/characters. I enjoy those as much as anybody (and I make them too!). But I’m also probably that one person who, if I saw a paper doll book of Klondike explorers from 1898, would go completely nuts for it.

So, like it or not, you’re probably getting 19th century Klondiker paper dolls in the coming months. It’s just the way this blog rolls. To be fair, I warned you from the start about my esoteric tastes ~ ha!

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 8

Here it is! The final Volume 31 Judy Tuesday plate. It’s definitely a doozy, too!  Took me forever given all the details, but was so worth it. I especially love the insane plumes on that hat and the sunflower designs on the sleeves. It was fun to do all those textures!

I haven’t made any progress whatsoever on the next volume. So I guess you can expect a little break on the Judy front for a while.  I’ve actually been too busy to do much of anything exciting paper-doll-wise for the last couple of weeks, which is kind of a bummer.

I have buffer for Catwalk Couture, but it’s all black and white, which I am tempted to just go with. I really am so bad at color most of the time. And I’m even worse about it when I’ve already finished something in black and white and later face the prospect of having to go back and color it. Which makes no sense–I do like coloring (maybe when it’s someone else’s work-ha!).

Maybe if I leave the black and white plates alone long enough, I’ll be able to come back to color them as if they aren’t my own.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 7

Today’s Judy Tuesday theme is…skinny skirts that can fit facing one another on the page with room to spare?  Also, big ridiculous hats.

This is officially the most number of plates I have made for a Judy volume. Usually I only make 6 at most. This set will have eight. And there were still two plates worth of costumes that I just decided not to render. We’ll see how future volumes yield.

One final Judy post next week and then there might be a break in Judy for a spell since I haven’t even started on Volume 32. Peeking ahead it looks like the costumes in the next volume are a little less fanciful overall–but lovely all the same.

Don’t know if that means I’ll drag my heels with the drawing–or maybe I will get really ambitious and plow right on through to the next one in a mad rush.

It’s always a roulette spin here for me. Either way, you know I’ll always come back to Judy eventually.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 6

Clockwise we’re going backwards this Judy Tuesday, but the designs seem apropos for an unseasonably warm February. Since it feels like spring outside, here are some spring-themed outfits to enjoy!

I’m not sure I did Chasemore’s Butterfly costume justice. But I do like the way the headpiece came out with the little butterfly earring. The headpiece with the grapes also had a leaf earring, but for some reason I didn’t draw it.

I work on Judy when I’m too tired to do anything else. That means I can sometimes be sloppy about it. In this case I was overall kind of lazy about the September costume grape dress–I’m frankly amazed I managed to finish it! There were four additional outfits I originally selected from this volume that I ultimately weeded out. They had their charms, but somehow seemed more effort than they were worth to actually render. I always try to pick only the best for my readers!

So there are two more plates for this volume of Judy and I promise we’re going to end with a great big bang!

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

 

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 5

I know it’s still winter, but we’re ready for the beach this Judy Tuesday!

I think my favorite thing on these two designs is the crustacean on top of the shell hat.

These were particularly fun to draw! Definitely representative of Chasemore’s more fanciful designs. He’s done a lot of beach themes in the past, but most of those were actual beach wear. These are fun because the dresses echo the beach itself.

The holidays always seem to sneak up on me. Then I think: aw gee, I should have done something for Valentine’s Day. One of these days I’ll work out a calendar. Or not. Maybe the Judys are meeting their sweethearts on the beach. How about that?

I have three more plates for Volume 31 of Judy (a couple of costumes which are quite outrageous). Then I might take a brief hiatus since I haven’t done any of the preparatory work for the next volume. Maybe that will have changed three weeks from now.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 4

Judy Tuesday brings you a variety of greenery as a little pre-welcome for the spring! These two costumes appeared far apart from one another in the original journal (July and October). But through the magic of themes (that occasionally make sense), we get to see them side-by-side.

Chasemore recycled a lot of ideas throughout his time producing costumes for Judy, but they typically had enough variation in them to make them each unique. Here he uses fern-like plants to decorate and to form features on two dresses of very different styles.

The bustle dress is pretty traditional for the time, but Chasemore seemed to enjoy a straight shift-like silhouette. A lot of his work features this style–which won’t become fashionable for another twenty years!

I didn’t realize how crooked I plated this set until just now looking at the thumbnail. Sometimes things will drive me crazy enough that I have to go back and fix them. Other times I just shrug and carry on. In this case, I think I’m shrugging.

[click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

 

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 3

Another somewhat modest bustle on this Judy Tuesday. I’ll get used to the new size of the dolls hopefully in the next round. Once again, I’m not entirely sure why I thought a Cattleshow costume went with something called the St. Roseline. Although, that weird headcovering on the St. Roseline reminds me of French milkmaids for some reason.

The St. Roseline likely refers to the saint herself, but also the Chateau where she lies in France, where there is a vineyard. As wine and beef go together, I’m just going to pretend that was my justification since it might make more sense than the milkmaid excuse.

These are December costumes, so I’m glad I got them out before we got too far into the new year. At least they are sort of right for the season.

I really need to get some work done on this volume of Judy!  In my distraction to revamp the catwalk dolls, I’ve sadly neglected poor Judy and have now run out of buffer.  I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

 

 

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 2

Judy Tuesday brings you some post-holiday (but still winter-ish) costumes to maybe keep you in the spirit even as we leave the first month of the new year behind.

I just mentioned last week that I was trying to group these thematically. Don’t really have a thematic reason for why the “Cairo” costume goes with the “December” costume, but maybe I was just thinking it looked festive. In other words, my idea of theme may be questionable.

I really love the “December” costume. I had initially planned to separate the hood from the dress as I have done with other attached pieces in the past, but decided against it. Sometimes the goofiness of the style “as-is” is just right.

I can tell already I drew the “Cairo” costume with a rather conservative bustle because I’m still used to squeezing the costumes in for the larger dolls. Hopefully I will calculate better as we go along so that these fanciful creations can really breathe.

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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Judy : Vol. 31, 1882 Plate 1

vol31_01_thumbIt’s Judy Tuesday!  Our first plate of the new era! I used to try to post the costumes in the order they appeared in the serial, but this go-round I’m going to group them in ways that maybe make sense thematically (sometimes). So the dates will likely jump around a lot.

Chasemore really hit a stride starting with this volume. The Judy designs, which previously had taken up a small corner (sometimes maybe no more than about an eighth of the page, were now commanding quarter pages. The fact that they were featured so prominently probably attests to their popularity.

We also begin to see Chasemore building on past designs. With more space to indulge in, previous ideas are recycled with more extravagant detail.

Weirdly, though, some of Chasemore’s offerings are just as lazy and uninspired. Could be the pressure of deadlines or maybe just a lack of motivation. I always the outfits that I felt were sort of “duds”, but far fewer in this volume that in volumes of the past.

[Click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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Revised Judy : the London Serio-comic Paper Doll

judy_2017_thumbIt’s Tuesday, so as good a time as any for Judy! Yes, we have two new dolls for the volumes going forward. They are agonizingly similar to the previous dolls. The main difference is that they are more petite (with smaller hands and feet), and have slimmer bodies. They also have much prettier faces, I think.

Much as I didn’t want to completely revise the Judy dolls, I needed to trim them down a bit to allow more room for the costumes as they get increasingly silly (particularly the hats and some of the bustles). I think we’ll be able to stick with these two until the end.

I’ll also try to wrap my head around making a Judy gallery since now we have four iterations of these dolls. It would be nice to keep them in a semblance of order.

Will be posting Judy on Tuesdays (or at least that’s the plan). She remains the easiest thing to produce in my lineup, so I really have no excuses. Well, I’m sure I have many, actually, but none of them are really legitimate.

Didn’t realize the Golden Globes were on until late last night when my sister texted me. I guess I better get my catwalk/runway/red carpet dolls posted! I will start them this weekend, I think. Did I miss any amazing gowns? Guess I’ll have to trawl the pictures to see.

[Meanwhile, click this link or the image to download a printable .pdf of these costumes]

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