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Evolution, Part Three

Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Dave!At long last... PART THREE of the story of how my DaveToon blog mascots came to be! If you haven't read Part One yet, you'll probably want to do that first... and then Part Two is right here.

Okay. Okay. I know. I made a promise that yesterday I would reveal for the first time anywhere NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D. But, because of some kind of technical problems with a software upgrade, I couldn't render them into 2-D pictures. So last night I made a few phone calls to get that sorted, and here we are.

   
But before I reveal the images, you're probably wondering exactly WHY Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would be rendered into 3-D in the first place. That's a very good question. There's actually two reasons...

  1. I wanted to create vinyl dolls of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey to sell at the Artificial Duck Co. store. The company in China I was working with needed a 3-D model of them in order to create the molds.
  2. A guy who was in school studying video game programming wanted to make a game with my characters for his graduation project. If I could get him 3-D models of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey and then design texture maps for all the backgrounds and in-game items, he would compile the game for Mac and Windows when he was done, then let me distribute it for free on Blogography.

Now, you have to admit that either of those reasons were awesome enough for me to want to get 3-D models made. Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey dolls? AWESOME! A Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey video game? AWESOME!

And so I paid a very talented computer animator a lot of money to make the models.

Unfortunately, neither of these awesome projects came to be. I'll explain what happened in a minute, but let's get to the 3-D renderings, shall we?

   
First up... BAD MONKEY! Note that his tail is sticking straight out. This is on purpose, because it would be animated bouncing up and down as he walked in the video game, and it was easier to do this if it were starting from a straight position. The animator would curl it when he defined how it would move in the walk cycle...

Bad Monkey 3-D Image ONE.

Bad Monkey 3-D Image TWO.

Bad Monkey 3-D Image THREE.

   
Pretty sweet, huh? It took a LOT of back-and-forth with the animator to translate a 2-D character into the third dimension, but I was very happy with the results. He looks exactly like Bad Monkey should look. And really cute too. I wanted a vinyl doll of him to sit on my desk really, really bad.

And then there's Lil' Dave. Who needed to start out naked with no hair for video game reasons I'll explain later...

Lil' Dave 3-D Image ONE.

Lil' Dave 3-D Image TWO.

Lil' Dave 3-D Image THREE.

And here he is with clothes. The hair wasn't finished exactly right at this point, but it was getting close...

Lil' Dave 3-D Image FOUR.

   

So the models look great, what's the story?

   

THE DOLLS.
The dolls were going to be very cool. VERY cool. Their arms and legs would move. They would have fun accessories. They would have awesome packaging. They would come in three versions (called "Colorways" in the biz)... 1) Classic Dolls, 2) ZOMBIE Dolls, and 3) Limited Edition BLANK "Paint Your Own" Dolls. Unfortunately, the company handling the job went out of business. My dream of having Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey vinyl dolls (along with an $800 deposit) vanished overnight.

   

THE VIDEO GAME.
If the loss of the vinyl dolls was tough on me, the loss of the video game was devastating. In addition to being out the money I invested in having the models made, I was out hundreds of hours in pesonal time. I wrote the game story. I helped design game levels. I designed the level maps. I drew hundreds of concept sketches. I painted hundreds of object textures. I invested time working on things like "walk cycles" and "cut scenes." Then one day I got The Call. The school was converting to some kind of learning internship agency. The theory was that this would be better for the students because they'd be getting hands-on experience at real gaming companies. The reality was that there wasn't enough internship positions to go around. So even if the guy working on my game could get an internship, he would then be working on the company's projects and not mine. Instead he lost his education financing and had to stop working on the DaveToon game so he could find a new school.

This was a real shame, because it would have been a pretty cool game. It was designed to be relatively easy, so young kids and adults with no gaming experience could play. But it was still funny enough that even a gamer would want to play to see what happened. The story revolved around Lil' Dave trying to avoid an invasion of robot monsters and solving puzzles so he could find his way home. Along the way, Bad Monkey would show up to help... and sometimes hinder... his progress. Lil' Dave replenished his health by finding chocolate pudding cups hidden around in the game. You couldn't really "die" while playing, but you could get thrown into "Zombie Mode" if your health ran out. If you couldn't get out of "Zombie Mode," you'd turn into a ghost (with no hair or clothes... just a glowing outline), fly back to the beginning of the level, grab a new body, then have to start over.

   

And there you have it. The NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN images of Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey in 3-D!

And the really sad story as to why you never saw them.

Maybe one day somebody will come along and want to work on the game again. Or maybe I'll get bored sometime and write a blog entry with the NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN sketches, paintings, bits and pieces that I spent a big chunk of my personal time working on in 2009. The good news is that you might finally understand what I was trying to say with this entry. And this entry.

So what's next for Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey?

Well... there are always possibilities. I definitely plan on new T-shirts. There will absolutely be more DaveToons on Blogography. And there are other things... secret things... I've got ideas for which may or may not happen.

When it comes to Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey, you just never know.

Comments

  1. Geekytaitai says:

    Oh, Dave, that’s a real shame! Still, you’ve got the hard part completed. Maybe someone else can help you finish the projects.

  2. Sarkawt says:

    Great parts! Loved reading them all albeit I was DEEPLY moved by the long(er) hours you spent on Lil Dave and Bad monkey, money, the Dolls, and the Video game; all just went for nothing :( So sad! Don’t give up, though! I hope you get them all done in the future. As for the T-Shirt with Dave Toons, you gonna have to do something and send one for me :-)

  3. jenny says:

    I want ‘Lil Dave and Bad Monkey dolls, and I want them NOW! SNOZZBERRRRIIIEES!

    And I can’t wait to hear about the new secret things happening… :)

  4. the muskrat says:

    I’m pretty sure I would spend a day vomiting with depression if I lost hundreds of hours on anything. That sucks.

    Thanks for sharing the evolution, though, and I hope that, somehow, some of these ideas put in motion finally come to some sort of fruition one day!

  5. Poppy says:

    Very sad about the deals falling through. I like that you’re revealing your secrets, I feel like I’m watching a Blogography Biography.

  6. i don’t even like most games, but i think i would have loved yours. and i totally would have purchased the dolls. truly sad.
    thanks for sharing all of this, dave.

  7. Beth says:

    What a great series of posts – so fun to get a little further inside that crazy head of yours. I am mourning the loss of the dolls – that would have been fabulous! Can’t wait to see some new t-shirts, my others are getting worn out!

    You are so talented – I’ve saved my Johnny Rockets Bad Monkey doodled doilies in a special place, someday they’ll be worth millions. MILLIONS! I’m certain of it!!

  8. Sybil Law says:

    You know, I know several guys from school who make toys for a living, right? One guy (and his dad) is extremely successful – they design all kinds of stuff for all the big name toy people.
    I want a Li’l Dave and Bad Monkey doll!

    • Dave2 says:

      Awesome! Coming up with toys seems like it would be a very tricky business. For me, it was a little bit easier because they were meant for adults and I didn’t have to worry about choking hazards and the like. The problem is that having a custom toy made is very, very expensive. I would have lost money big-time on the project because there was no way I could sell enough units (even with catering to the collector market with a “paint your own” variant) to break even. But, it was worth it because I wanted the dolls so bad! Lil’ Dave was 6-inches tall, so they were going to be a nice size. And I loved that they were going to have “gripper hands” so they could hold on to included accessories (Chocolate Pudding, Banana, Gun, etc.). Ah well. Maybe one day!

      • RW says:

        Believe it or not I did it for a while before ‘puters. And it turns out it’s very high pressure. You go to work in basically a playroom with clay and yarn and all kinds of stuff. cardboard. paint. And you play all day. Meaning, invent stuff.

        The catch is if you don’t come up with something you don’t get to stay. It sounds like it would be all Willy Wonka, but it’s business.

      • Sean says:

        Dave, have you checked out shapeways.com? They’re a web-based 3D printing company.

        If you’re only interested in a one-off to adorn your computer desk, and you can get your 3D models into STL format, they could print you a Lil Dave and Bad Monkey for you.

        Their strong nylon material would be a good candidate for hand painting.

        Not a perfect solution… but a solution.

        -S

        • Dave2 says:

          I haven’t checked out that particular 3-D printer, but I was supposed to get a 3-D model as part of my toy order package for proofing. The problem is that the models in the form I have them are not suitable for printing. They’d have to be posed, adjusted, and balanced so they would stand up. Unfortunately, I’m not skilled enough to do any of that. My luck, I’d have them printed and they’d fall over or something!

  9. Lisa says:

    I would love Lil Dave & Bad Monkey dolls! I hope someday you can revive these projects because they are full of awesome and you worked so hard.

  10. walt says:

    that’s amazing! Such great work with everything. The 3D images are awesome. It would be great to see them as an animation series. It could be the Seinfeld of cartoons! No matter what happens you’ve done some really great things with your time and given us some really big laughs over the years. Good stuff!

  11. delmer says:

    I’m glad to hear you have new shirts in the works. One of my Bad Monkey shirts suffered a horrible washing-machine accident last week.

  12. claire says:

    Wow, the 3D is great, Dave! So sorry those awesome plans fell through. I WANT TO PLAY LIL’ DAVE AND THE INVASION OF THE CYBER MONKIES! (Well, I assume the robots were monkies… that just seems right somehow. ;)

    Also a Lil’ Dave and Bad Monkey doll to keep watch on my desk would be cool.

    I know I’ve said it before, but I really do appreciate all of your drawing process posts. I find them fascinating. With my own minor forays drawing my bear toon, I totally appreciate the difficulties of expression and perspective even when you’re trying to keep things simple.

    Maybe I’ll take another crack at it this year. I’ve learned a few more things in Photoshop since my last attempts.

  13. claire says:

    And of course I meant “monkeys” not “monkies.” Not sure why my brain glitched on that.

    Nothing like seeing a typo in your comment in that brief moment after you’ve clicked submit.

  14. Tina says:

    I like dolls. I want Lil Dave & Bad Monkey.

  15. kapgar says:

    While vinyl dolls would have been cool, I still think we need stuffed toys!

  16. Whit says:

    I can’t believe I’m the first one to mention the attention to detail on Little Naked Dave’s penis area. Did you model for that yourself?

    Yeah, I’m 12. So what.

    And that does suck about your time and money. I totally would have bought your free game.

  17. martymankins says:

    Those 3D images are great. Would love to see the dolls go to production someday, but for now, just new t-shirts will work just fine.

    As always, great history in the world of Blogography.

  18. You were right about needing the kleenex. The dolls and video game would have been SO AWESOME!!! :(

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