I was about to start a series of posts that each give some basic background info on a few of the lesser characters I’ve created over the years, but in compiling that first group I realized there was one character I might be able to devote an entire post to, and that is Winnie.
No, Winnie isn’t a Pooh, or a silly old bear who lives in the Hundred Acre Woods with a bunch of other creepy animal characters. My Winnie is a flying squirrel…. or to be more precise, he’s a Sumatran flying squirrel. And if you’ve already clicked on that link before reading on (and good for you if you did!), then you may see where Winnie’s name comes from.
But first, a little explanation of how Winnie came into being….
Back in December 2010, I received the little guy you see above as a gift from the ever thoughtful Rafferbee, who you kinda met in the poetry post a few weeks ago. He is a Xeko product, which you can find out more about by reading up on their Wiki page. The Sumatran flying squirrel is one of the endangered animals featured in the Xeko trading card game, and they apparently also make little stuffed versions of their species. My online friends send me all kinds of interesting squirrel-related curiosities, and this is one of my favorites.
I wanted to commemorate him with a character, and drew this ES version of the Sumatran flying squirrel as an avatar:
And I mentioned before that my creative juices don’t seem to extend to the naming department, so I opened the floor up to suggestions for the new guy’s name. One of the first suggestions of Winston came from the scientific name for the species, which is Hylopetes winstoni. I thought Winston was a bit too stuffy, though, and modified it to Winnie.
Winnie was one of my early attempts to introduce a secondary male lead to the ES universe (a role which was eventually filled by Buster Possum), but he never really caught on. He still managed to make a few additional avatar appearances over the following year, and some of them proved to be quite significant.
Here is Winnie along with ES in one of my favorite “trick shot” avatars I drew in March 2011. To create the symmetrical box cutter duel between ES and Winnie, I drew the outline of ES, flipped it, then copied and pasted it opposite the original. If you look real close at this avatar, you’ll notice that the only symmetrical differences between ES and Winnie are the colors (obviously) and the minute physical differences between the characters (i.e., Winnie’s notched ears and tat).
Here is Winnie and ES again six months later. This avatar was inspired by a discussion about one of our forum members who is a government employee engaging in the time honored tradition of “painting bullseyes” to make it look like the actual results were exactly what was originally projected, even if they were not (Shoot at a wall, then paint a bullseye around it). That is exactly what ES is doing to poor Winnie in this avatar, though I’m not sure this will go over well with those groups who care about the survival of endangered species….
Lastly, there is Winnie’s finest performance:
One of the members of my forum, in accordance with the sciurine mania I helped create, began updating us on the travails of one of his regional minor league teams, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The amazing story of their epic playoff battle with the Bowie Bay Sox last year is one I will likely recount when I introduce the other guy in that avatar above, who himself became something of a message board phenomenon himself. His name is Stinkerball, and he was inspired by an actual scoreboard graphic used by the Flying Squirrels at their home games featuring the Squirrels’ mascot on the mound…. though it looked more like a skunk (here is the graphic, you can judge for yourself). Anyway, after Richmond lost a few games, I thought it was time to relieve ol’ Stinkerball from the mound, and naturally used my only flying squirrel character to act as the team manager. Winnie’s seemingly cold attitude towards giving the poor little guy the hook, and Stinky’s completely dejected looking walk off the mound really resonated with everyone in this drawing, making it one of the best of the entire year.
And sadly, the five drawings you’ve seen in today’s post represent the entire catalogue of Winnie’s appearances in my artwork. Hopefully it will be added to in the future, as he certainly has potential as sort of a rival to ES, with additional use as the group jerk. With any luck, maybe today’s post can save the Sumatran flying squirrel…