Clowns. Love them or hate them, they’re here to stay.
Most people I speak with can’t stand them, but I never really get a good reason why. It's usually some dry, boring response like "clowns are creepy" or something like that.
I think it’s time someone stands to fight the good fight and that’s why I’m here: to share with you the story of how I grew to love clowns and their shenanigans. For that, we have to go back to the very beginning of (my) time.
If you have the pleasure of knowing me in real life, you know I was born in Lima, Peru where many things including our entertainment were imported from different countries. However, we had the talent of our own too.
While most of my childhood is a bit of a blur, I do know that most comedy shows featured overtones of very “mature” topics and classic slapstick humor which most people nowadays wouldn't really understand. At least the ones that were actually entertaining had these elements.
Imagine being a kid and turning on the regular TV broadcast during daytime hours, and being able to watch this kind of stuff. If my young memory serves me well, the humor there was very “low budget”, and often had to do with inebriated characters, scantily clad models, making fun of indigenous Peruvians, and of course, a lot of clowns. Strange combinations, I know.
Remember this was the 90s meaning that you could get away with airing that type of material just whenever and to whoever had access to it. TV was still uncensored, you could walk down to the newsstand and see all kinds of questionable images accompanied by demeaning headlines, and a lot of things from an entertainment standpoint were a bit of a free-for-all.
What does this have to do with clowns? Well, for one reason or another, clowns were sprinkled all over these news articles, TV shows, magazines, etc. Which was odd, to say the least. But kind of refreshing.
Picture this: headline reads 'well-known politician cheats on his wife' and right on that picture, someone pasted a clown nose on them. Okay, it wasn't that excessive, but that's what I mean, they were so randomly placed in the weirdest places. And maybe this is what initiated the curiosity for the colors, the smiles, the honks, and the boops. Beneath the surface, they always represented to me the fun, slightly peppery, and much lighter side of life.
All of this when things and people weren’t as fragile; but of course like many other trends, I think this too faded with time. Well years later, that’s not an issue here! I think clowns are fabulous.
As a matter of fact, I encourage everyone to try having an argument with their spouse wearing clown noses and see how long you stay angry with each other. And if you’re not married then, well, wear a clown nose at work next time you're getting yelled at by your boss, I guess.
Honestly, I think if it wasn’t for clowns being around, I think I would be supremely miserable. No, maybe like, 20% miserable. One thing that would suffer for sure would be my sense of humor a.k.a my one and only coping mechanism next to a glass of good Scotch.
It’s A Clown World
Aside from all the nameless clowns I saw at my friends birthday parties, cartoons, and slapstick TV skits growing up, there are the obvious ones that always have a sweet spot in my charcoal heart. I feel like every good story has a clown somewhere in the mix. Contrary to popular belief, clowns don’t necessarily have to be all colorful, riddled with make-up, or do some sort of juggling act.
Without getting too philosophical, I think a ‘clown’ can be any character that simply doesn’t take things as seriously as everyone else. To provide a bit of relief to the great tensions of the world we inhabit. Even with that in mind, every clown’s individual purpose would be unique.
Take the Joker for example. Can the Joker be considered a clown? I don’t know but obviously, dark humor is present in his schemes so I’ll take it. That’s a great example of solid character design, despite his intentions being a bit twisted. All for the sake of a good story, right? I think that's one character that has become more popular with time, and for great reasons.
Who here remembers the 2016 "Clown Sightings"? At first it seemed like politicians just going home after work, so I didn't see the big issue. Okay no, but seriously, this clearly went from amusing to creepy really quick and it triggered the panic mode in most people.
I don’t condone being weird and creepy in real life. Especially a weird and creepy clown. I'm looking at you, Gacy.
However, if it’s for the sake of art, bring it on. I’m all in for the Pennywise, the Cloyne, and that Jigsaw doll thing on the tricycle. Is that considered a clown too? I mean it does that creepy laugh, so I’ll take it.
There are plenty of others that I’d love to dig into but to name the best of the best for me? Art The Clown. If you haven’t seen any of the Terrifier films, you’re missing out on some prime, murder-clown-mime-thing time.
Now, it wasn’t all creepiness and horror though. I used to watch this show on Peruvian television called “Pataclaun”. I’m positive the entire show was geared toward a mature audience since the humor was kind of raunchy. Nonetheless, there were clowns and ghosts involved; both of which have my vote of approval.
I loved watching this show and others as a kid, and I’m pretty sure it was a combination of everything I had seen in those TV shows, visiting the circus, the carnivals, and in films that had a great influence on me and most importantly one of my greatest artistic projects to date; if not the absolute best.
I’m not talking about my books, songs, or even the terrible poetry. No, I had something much greater brewing in this interesting mind of mine. It took many years for it to blossom into its final form. Then, on a quiet March night back in 2009 the idea came. All of this while I worked my shift at a local gas station when I was still just a little baby Rogue Scribe.
I remember sitting there, writing on my iPod Touch, and pondering life. Aside from trying to figure out why people paid $4 per gallon, the other question was: how do I take everything I’ve ever loved and mash it into one big project? One big image, one big everything?
The Honkiest Clown In Town
This is the first draft of the mess I made. A blue-haired clown adequately named Ashley. Not because all 'Ashleys' are clowns, don't get me wrong. This was the very first 'version' of this character. It was rather innocent, in comparison to the upgrades.
Nonetheless, I was successfully able to squeeze all my little joys into one image, and that's all that matters. So, let me give you the grand tour of what became of this little doodle above. (Completed using Colors DS. Homebrewers, you know what's up.)
So right away you can tell there's something a little 'off'. The color, the horror, and sprinkles of fun are all there but something was still missing. So of course, it couldn't just stop there. It had to be bigger, brighter, and tastier.
I went through several different changes until we reached the final form - a combination of fun, cute, colorful, somewhat disastrous, and with just a little creepiness. Ever since then, it has turned into its own type of cult, which is probably one of the coolest things for me since this is over 12 years old now. It's like a meme but in clown flavor.
Comments range from "why is she so scary?" to "why is she dressed like that?" Well, you have to look at the bigger picture. Ashley is more than just a clown; she's a vibe, dudes. The whole idea behind this story is that clowns represent all the fun, irony, chaos, and vibrancy of our experiences. Prime example: trying to fix a burning car. I feel like deep down, we're all trying to fix our burning cars taking us wherever it is we want to go... I suppose we have to laugh at that somehow, right?
Just to prove my point, in recent years I've added new elements into the designs, attempting to make them more "edible" for the masses. I made an entire Ashley collection with just food, actually. I think we all like food, don't we? We kind of don't have a choice. So since I made funny food, it's an automatic win.
Creating this character has really brought a lot of things into perspective for me, mainly about how the world around me perceives things. It's all in good fun at the end of the day, and making new versions of her every now and then allows me to express things in ways that I otherwise couldn't be able to.
I actually have decided to exclusively make visual art involving Ashley and nothing else until... Well, forever? None of my long-time followers disagreed with my choice. Even if they did, I'll continue to bring colors and joy into an otherwise black and white world.
That's really all I got. There's nothing else to say besides thanks to everyone who has supported the work for so many years. I never really got to say that to anyone formally, so cheers for all the love.
I never even thought a little clown doodle would get this far for so long. Now you know why I like clowns so much. I grew up with them, they will always symbolize fun for me, and sure they may not be for everyone. I can live with that if you can live with the fact I'm often laughing at all of life's little misfortunes.
And if you look close enough, there's a little clown inside all of us... Hopefully not the super creepy ones, you know what I mean.
Oh! And whether you're discovering Ashley for the first time or have been a long-time fan, consider visiting the shop where you'll find stickers, pins, and other goodies you can slap around your surroundings. Here is the Spreadshop link: Ashley's Tent (Safe For Work)
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions