Play Ball! Again!

...Work has been extremely busy of late. I created this image with much haste and I sent it to the page designers as a placeholder. Once they had an idea of what kind design changes they needed to accommodate text, I was going to snazz it up and incorporate the team logos somehow.

...Other projects took up my time and I didn't get around to inquiring about the status of the illustration until deadline day. "How's that illustration going to work out?" I asked. "It was fine," they replied. I still had this notion of taking at least an hour or two to polish it up, and just as I was about to mention my plans they said something along the lines of "We sent it to press yesterday. Looked great!"

I bought a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots toy a couple of years ago. I saw it in a store and I had this weird reaction-- almost a spasm of gleeful nostalgia-- and I know why.
...Imagine a time when there were no video games, no cartoons of any satisfying level of violence, and then you, a ten-year old boy, get this toy. Suddenly, you are in an arena against a friend, against your sister, against your father and, with a bit of coordination and dexterous thumbs, you "knock their block off!"
...A ferocious punch is delivered to the jaw, the head pops up and there is a distinctive mechanical whirring sound-- a recognizable clarion call that meant a gladiator had claimed victory. Take that, Dad! Whew. What a terrific outlet that was.
...The new toy just isn't the same. It's different. It's smaller, the robots are made out of thicker, stiffer plastic and the sound of the heads popping up is nothing like it used to be. Sadly, my disappointment may have something to do with my age-- I'm older now than my father was when we met as fierce rivals in that big yellow ring-- and I'm disappointed because my wife (otherwise a fine woman) was less than impressed with it and will not spar with me.

During a brainstorming session at work the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots were mentioned as a possible concept to illustrate the baseball special section cover. The topic was the rivalry between the A's and Giants-- apparently there is a history of off-the-field gamesmanship and hi-jinx between the two clubs-- and at the end of the meeting I had finally found a use for that impulse buy.
...I wasn't going to get the time to do a complex illustration so I simplified my ambitions and set my heart on doing a fight poster. As I drew the robots, and became lost in the strange wanderings that the brain takes when I draw, I wondered if they were too obscure. They were huge childhood icons for me, but would anyone else even remember them?
...One quick look around the web let me know that they had become a well-known and possibly even over-used motif. I didn't see any Rock 'Em Sock 'Em fight posters, but they have gotten around. Well, I was too busy and it was too late to try to come up with something else.

Last year's baseball special section cover was better, I think...

The End.


  1. Yeah, not to detract from your illo, but the "rock-em sock-em robots" idea has been done to DEATH in the newspaper world. It's kind of like when I did the "superhero athletes" version. we're just a biiiit late to the game...