Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Scary Scarry

Childrens' illustrator Richard Scarry has populated the imaginations of millions of small children with his detailed, busy illustrations of anthropomorphic animals doing human things: bears driving trucks, the Rabbit Family in their well-appointed house, young cats, frogs and foxes at the playground, a whole menagerie of creatures going about their daily tasks in bustling cityscapes and so on.

The Offspring's had a few Scarry books from an early age, which were quite fun and rather engaging. He's also got a cushion in his bed, featuring a Richard Scarry drawing of a school bus. The passengers and driver are, of course, cartoon animals, and it's all very cheerful and innocent. Except, that is, for the bus driver:

What, in the name of Cthulhu, is that supposed to be? It looks like some sort of shaggy pig-gorilla-beaver hybrid with insanely dilated, red-rimmed eyes and an evil grin, revealing a fearsome set of incisors and a lolling red tongue. Something very wrong seems to have escaped from The Island of Dr Moreau.

Some of Scarry's other illustrations are a bit off the wall, (like the pig driving a car shaped like a giant toothbrush in Cars, Trucks and Things That Go), but I can't find anything else in his oeuvre that comes close to being as disturbing as scary bus creature. I've got three theories:

1. It isn't an original Scarry illustration, but a copy 'in the style of' Scarry, by an unknown artist who was far less accomplished.

2. The anonymous illustrator wasn't incompetent, but was in dispute with his client and slipped this monstrous apparition in as a form of revenge for not being paid, or something.

3. Maybe it was Scarry and he just happened to be totally out of his tree on some well serious shit when he drew it.

Despite us leaving this abomination on his bed, The Offspring doesn't generally wake screaming in terror in the night, so I guess that makes us Good Parents. Well, that's what we plan to tell the Child Protection Officer, when social services come round for a chat about the unfortunate incident when he was given The Human Centipede on DVD to watch before bed. How was I supposed to know it was unsuitable for children? I just thought it was some wholesome bedtime story about friendly creepy crawlies, a bit like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Honestly, you've got to be so careful these days...

In the interests of strict accuracy, (and of not attracting the professional attention of any passing social workers), I  should point out that the events related in the penultimate paragraph of this post never actually happened and were entirely a product of the sick sense of humour which helps me get through the day.

Honestly, you've got to be so careful these days...