Two of my earliest artistic influences were Garfield and Looney Tunes, so when I was eight and was tasked with creating a character, I produced something of a combination of those two influences: Daffy Duck as filtered through Jim Davis’ style as interpreted by an eight-year-old’s drawing ability. The end result was Drendel.
1989 - Drendel's first appearance in "Drendel and the Ice Skating Adventure"
“Drendel Duck is a very short duck. His eyes are gigantic and also very drowsy. Drendel is also slightly plump.”
From “Drendel and the Ice Skating Adventure” by Jamie LeMosy, age 8
In “Drendel and the Ice Skating Adventure,” our hero spends the entirety of the story evading all manner of obstacles – exploding cars, speeding traffic, malicious hunters and an angry bear – while making his way to an ice skating rink, and still manages to win an ice limbo contest once he gets there. Another early influence of mine, Disney’s DuckTales, is also evident in the story: Drendel’s home is stated to be in Duckburg (where, it’s been said, life is like a hurricane).
Clothes make the duck
1990 - Early version of Drendel's sweatshirt.
1991 - First appearance of Drendel's blue sneakers
After achieving literary success with “Ice Skating Adventure,” I continued to draw and write characters and stories. Drendel quickly became my favorite subject, and within a couple years he’d evolved into a somewhat recognizable version of his modern self – mainly through his acquisition of clothes. His signature red sweatshirt came about as part of a well-intentioned, but ultimately overzealous claymation project that I attempted at 9 or 10 years old, during the Great California Raisin Craze of the late Eighties/early Nineties. The blue sneakers were another direct Garfield influence: in an attempt at the sincerest form of flattery, I copied them from either a Garfield coloring book page or Trapper Keeper folder – I forget which.
Somewhere along the way I must have deemed pants unnecessary. To this day, Drendel follows in the grand “pants optional” tradition of anthropomorphic characters throughout history.
1994 - Drendel begins to closely resemble his final form
As I continued to develop Drendel, he began to take on more of his own distinct style as I began to rely less heavily on imitation and experimentation. Changes to his design became more subtle as the years passed, but Drendel had the curious habit of growing vertically at nearly the same pace that I did. What started out as a “very short duck” became taller and taller as years went by.
Along the way, I created a family for Drendel, the members of which went through their own series of changes. Drendel’s family grew to include a sister, parents, and a niece and nephew. Other aspects of his identity went through changes as well: “Drendel Duck” became Drendel McFeather, and his hometown moved from Duckburg to a city called Checkerpeak Bay. Drendel’s occupation became an inventor, and he has utilized his skills to engineer and build a flying minivan called the DukTruk.
Ready for another adventure
Drendel as he appears today
Drendel’s current incarnation is how I’ve drawn him for several years now, and is what I think represents the end of his evolution. But this is in no way the end of Drendel’s story! I’ll be sharing more details about Drendel’s family, the DukTruk, Checkerpeak Bay and more in upcoming posts – along with continuing updates about the development of the next great Drendel adventure! There’s way more in store for Drendel this time around than a trip to the skating rink…