Sometime in the last eighteen to twenty-four months I was doodling at work because I had nothing else to do, and the old characters emerged: Mr. Mini Midget, Atom Man, and Hot Dog Man. (Such inventive names, I know.) Mr. Mini Midget was basically a pudgy, short stick man. Atom Man was a dot. Hot Dog Man, however, was a hot dog with arms, legs, and a face--not anything artistic, mind you, as the arms and legs belonged to a stick figure, but the face let him show expression.
Later I invented martians, who--despite being stick figures--nonetheless had a surprisingly large range of expression. I could (and still can) make a martian look angry, disgusted, worried, embarassed, happy, skeptical, cheerful--whatever I needed, because they had visible eyes and eyebrows. So the other characters fell by the wayside, and were replaced with stick-men. Smoker, distinguished by the lit cigarette, and his NoSmoke lighter (which is basically just a mini flamethrower that burns your lips off when you try to use it, helping you to quit smoking); Kano, the immortal hero of the universe and his midget sidekick Tino; and several unnamed stick guys. (And gals, distinguished usually by long hair and boobs.) Kano and Tino and their various nemeses pretty much ended their run after high school. And there were the twin space explorers, Pastor and Collux, who traveled the universe in the Astro, a Lunar Lander knock-off.
Any-dang-way: while doodling at work I remembered the old characters and dragged them out for a little reunion, and to my surprise, I was able to draw Hot Dog Man better than I ever did before. I realized that because of my foray into drawing manga, my skills have improved, and it's actually harder for me to draw Hot Dog Man the way I always used to, which was primarily in profile. And not only that, but the poses and such were more dynamic. In this new incarnation, though, he's treated like a clueless pest by the new cast. When he shows up, everyone groans inwardly.
Drew a picture of him running and saying, "Better hurry! I don't RELISH being late!" He then stops and looks from side to side, grinning, "Ha? Ha?" And not getting the reaction he wants, he says angrily, "Oh, c'mon! That's COMEDY GOLD!" Then a heckler throws relish on him and he says, "Real mature! You guys are DICKS!"
I did not say it was art for the ages.
...one recurring joke in the latest notebooks is a cloud of dust labeled "Extreme Violence". It's meant to evoke the scenes in some comics where there is a brief fight between two characters...except in this case it's an actual character. Extreme Violence's first appearance was when two characters were arguing over something, and the next panel showed Extreme Violence hanging there, only to have the other two characters (in the panel after that) tell him to go away and decide to go get a beer.
Somehow, Extreme Violence turned out to be a communist, and every time he popped up they'd tell him to leave--until the most recent one, where he appeared and the two arguing characters just glared at him until he left.
But it turns out that Extreme Violence has a family--at least, Normal Violence, his father, who works very hard to send Extreme Violence to college and is disappointed by his foray into radical politics. All this came out because two martians were fighting ("That's disgusting!" "YOU'RE disgusting!") over, it turns out, hentai Pokemon doujins.
A: That's not canon!
B: It is in my HEART!
...and between exchanges they fight--"Actual Violence"--and AV argues with his son EV in those panels (well, until the martians tell him to handle his family drama on his own time).
This kind of thing is why I started to number my notebooks, or date them one way or another, 'way back in high school: the doodles end up being serial. What was originally intended to be a one-off gag turns into a running joke, then gets a backstory, and a complex narrative emerges.
All of this happens on lined notebook paper which does not scan at all well--I've tried--and my handwriting is so bad it's practically a one-way cipher, so to present any of it on-line would require extensive rework. What I do want to do, though, is to get one of those fancy Aura book scanners and scan all my notebooks.
You know: that has been a desire of mine since the early 1990s. My original idea was to scan the notebooks and save the images to Bernoulli Drive disks. As time went on it went from that to Zip disks to CD-Rs; now I could probably fit the entire collection onto a single DVD-R.
But once I have that digital archive, then I could pull out the comic elements and paste them into a collection; furthermore, given the right tools I could replace the text with something legible. I'd still have to be careful of copyright concerns but as long as I wasn't making any money off the thing it all would fall under "fair use".
So just add that last bit to the list of stuff I want to do, I suppose.