Posted by: lordkyler | May 18, 2013

Penguins… In Hats

Penguins in Hats

Penguins in Hats

Penguins in Hats is a simple story about the exploits of flightless waterfowl wearing headgear, but beneath the surface, it’s a metaphor for the tendency in modern society to define ourselves by labels, such as our occupation, interests, and possessions, rather than things like our beliefs or character. On a third, even deeper level, its about penguins that wear hats.

Penguins in Hats came as a moment of straight up inspiration. I was literally lying in bed doing nothing in particular when the thought occurred, not as some inkling of a idea but as a full concept. It probably had its origins in a little doodle I’d done a year ago as part of random drawing (and possibly the Linux logo), and it still needed some development as to story and characters, but the core premise came into being all at once.

See, penguins are very unusual birds, but at the same time present the model of uniformity. An individual penguin is virtually indistinguishable from any other penguin and in fact is rather generic. But were you to place, say, a fireman’s hat on that penguin, it becomes a fireman penguin. It doesn’t even matter if that penguin has had any fireman training or even seen fire before, that’s what it is now.

Hats work for this labeling trick even better than other objects would. Following the example of the fireman penguin above, a penguin holding a hose or fireman’s axe is simply a penguin holding a hose or an axe rather than a fireman penguin. Even a fireman’s jacket doesn’t pull it off nearly as well. If he happens to be holding such objects along with the hat, that’s just an added bonus, but it’s the hat that really pulls it off.

This also allows the citizens of our fictional be-hatted penguin colony to change their roles and status at any time as long as they can get the appropriate hat. Whoever wears the crown IS the penguin king, even if they were an unrelated construction worker penguin just seconds before.

This, of course, plays into the aforementioned social commentary layer lurking underneath. We usually alter our behavior towards people based on their appearance and status, and the penguins are a rather silly and hopefully funny vehicle for carrying that message, one that I hope will be entertaining in it’s own right even without the subtext.

In another post I’ll explain more about our protagonist, the albino penguin Lucky, and the story I hope to tell about him. In the meantime, enjoy some concept art.

[P.S. Although presented here in comic format, I think Penguins in Hats would really be at it’s best as a cartoon, probably released as a web series.]

Possible opening page for Penguins in Hats, depicting the rise of the Penguin King.

Possible opening page for Penguins in Hats, depicting the rise of the Penguin King.

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