Bob is a tiny doll with a large head.
He (and his family) were made by Mattel in the 1980’s. My grandmother gave me several dolls and furniture for a few years. I’ve collected a few pieces off of Ebay as well. I began to pose him in photos in 2003. Then…
In 2004, I participated in the first-ever Blogathon which was open to any blogger. The Blogathon was a 24-hour event in which bloggers selected a charity, and then were to blog every half hour without stopping or setting up their blog to do anything automatic (cheating). For that first event, I drew a little picture for each half-hour posting. It was during that Blogathon that I developed the cartoon character Zombie Cat (before zombies were a popular thing, mind you!) which became somewhat popular with some readers, but was something I never developed much further.
In 2005, I decided to try something a bit more ambitious, and I used the little dolls (.5″ scale, and quite tiny) and doll furniture my grandmother had given me many years ago as a child. I envisioned incorporating a fiction writing challenge along with a kind of photography illustration challenge, using the different doll setups and scenes prompt what I would write next. I set constraints for myself: I could not plan the story out one iota, and had to wing it as I went along. It was quite stressful by the end of the 24 hours — and tiring — but the end result was a kind of quirky (and often poorly) written story about a character I called Bob. That first effort I put into a little book, Of Rats and Men.
In 2006, I decided to participate again, and use the Bob concept with the little dolls. I had gotten some buzz on the blogosphere from the previous year’s efforts, and I rather appreciated the challenge the project presented. For my second round, however, I chose to use a western theme, culling references from well-know western movies and books. This time around, the story was called The Last of the Last. My constraints for this effort were only that I could choose the theme and collect and build possible props, as well as have a list handy of reference material (western movies, books, quotes, etc.). I could not at all plan a story and I had no idea if the props would even be used as the story progressed.
In 2007, I once again dusted off the little dolls and went with a scifi theme with the same kind of constraints from the previous year, borrowing a friend’s extensive Star War toy collection as extras, and telling the story of Bob Rogers and The Final Frontier Final. I gleaned scifi references from Star Trek, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, et. al. to complete the story, making a space ship interior as a set and using a lot of aluminum foil for doll costumes. I created two YouTube videos to give blog readers an idea of how I created these 24-hour fiction-and-doll monstrosities, Blogathon 2007: Backstage Tour and Blogathon 2007: Setting up a Scene (both done after staying up for 24 hours, so I’m a little drowsy in making them).
In 2008 I was set to participate again, and I was going to do a kind of film noir theme. However, the Blogathon didn’t happen that year. The organizers took a year off and in the end, I don’t think it really rebounded like it had. I went ahead and shot the film noir photos anyway, deciding to put that Bob story together for the fun of it. It wasn't until 2014 and 2015 that I finally used the noir photos for a story in the Lone Prairie Magazine as a serial mystery.
ABOUT: Julie R. Neidlinger Artist, writer, and pilot. Based in North Dakota, USA. Contact Julie here.
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