Saturday, August 30, 2008

Leif Drawing & GI Joe - December 1983 - Nearly 9 years old

Until Leif started playing video games for hours on end or working at a call center where he was stuck on a phone in a cubicle, it was hard for him to sit still for long. If he was on the phone, he would pace. If he was doing homework or drawing, he would change positions constantly. This is a series of photos I took of him while he was thinking and drawing in one of his favored spiral notebooks. We were living in Honolulu, Hawaii at the time.

In these small photos, you can't tell what he was drawing, but in the original photo, you can clearly see that the drawings are of space ships, some rather "technical" drawings, and some shown in motion with a battle going on, weapons firing. Most of what he drew was either space ships, weapons, or robots, the same things we began drawing again in the late 1990s when he got into gaming with Cyberpunk.

In Hawaii (summer 1983 to summer 1986), Leif, like his friends Joey and Michael, was also a big fan of GI Joe. He had quite a collection of GI Joe figures and vehicles. They played with them, and also got into their own gear and went out into the brush to pretend they were GI Joes themselves. Joey and Michael actually know how to play imaginatively, but there were other kids that got Leif so disgusted because theyd didn't know how to play and didn't know how to cooperate. They would decide to get together to "play GI Joe" but all they would do was set up all their figures and argue. No actual playing took place. Leif soon learned to avoid those kids.

Michael was quite a talented artist and I think he inspired Leif's to draw. Maybe if he'd had more encouragement at school and with friends after he moved from Hawaii to Chicago, he would have had more interest in continuing with art.

I saved Leif's large GI Joe collection to give to a son of Leif's someday. Last year, he said to give them to his nephew, Marcus, along with his collection of Japanese robot toys, but I don't think Marcus has taken the interest in GI Joe that Leif did.

Leif would get some money, as a gift, or earn a little, and he would want to go to either Long's Drug Store in Pearl City or to the post exchange and buy a new GI Joe figure. Then he would stand and stare at the huge selection and be paralyzed by the necessity of making a choice. Invariably, he would want at least two or three different ones, but only have enough money for one. If he bought one, it meant giving up the others. He couldn't decide.

I would try to help him by asking which one he liked best. That was the problem. He didn't know. Then I would tell him that if he liked all of them equally, it didn't matter which one he chose, that he would enjoy is choice equally, and could get another of them next time. That didn't help. He sometimes was so paralyzed by having to make that choice that he would go home in tears without any of them, though usually he did choose one after much consternation and didn't seem very happy about it at the time, as you would think a kid would when getting a new toy.

The GI Joes and their vehicles were some drawing inspiration as well, though instead of trying to draw them as they were, as usual with Leif, they were a springboard for new ideas and designs.

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