Well, I won't make it a secret that this image will be the foundation for my 900th JSVB Post Spectacular. Although this format is complete, I still have some work to make it look like a real book. I will show my results in nine posts from now. Unfortunately, that will likely be too late for Christmas. In the meantime, this will do.
There's a story behind this image, but it's not much of a story:
My wife wanted to create a whole Christmas theme with hamsters. If you know her, you'd know she's crazy for the sweet little furballs. She thought it would be a lovely idea to come up with a hamster-based Christmas story.
"Like 'The Hamster Who Saved Christmas?" I asked. I had some flashes of ideas of what hamsters are capable of during the holidays: sleeping, eating, flinging their droppings, and escaping. Since they are very short and stubby, a hamster makes a limited action hero. Sure, there's Rhino the Hamster in Disney's Bolt (2008), but he's a movie star. Normal hamsters aren't typically heroic.
So my wife floated a few ways on how a hamster could save Christmas. I shot them all down with easily-aimed bullets of simple logic. The hamster would have to be six feet tall. Everything happens around the hamster, but he's too small to have any effect on the other characters. Hamster needs opposable thumbs. At the North Pole, he'd get drowsy and hibernate.
My wife looked at me, and I couldn't tell if I was hurting her feelings. She seemed to accept my replies, though. Finally she said, "He could drive a sports car."
"Yeah," I agreed. "I'd draw that." And I did. Look at this cover and tell me what doe-eyed child would see this thing and not want to find out exactly how the hamster saves Christmas? Not any kid I would care to know, that's for sure.
I have no idea how the hamster could drive a car and save Christmas, though. My instinct told me to draw him carrying a tree ornament. I hate drawing them because they are perfectly round and that's difficult to render. I threw in a Santa hat to make the image more festive, but also to give a little more dynamic appeal to the sense of motion captured. I like the hat.
I did try to give the hamster a great car. I recalled the story of Stuart Little by E.B. White; Stuart was a mouse who drove a 1945 Porsche, and then very sadly wrecked it. This car is a 1962 Lotus 7, and I am going to make sure it stays pristine.
But that's all there is to the story. Maybe somebody wants to write it? I'll look at offers, but they would have to be good.