I created Henry while a student at Williamstown Bible College in Williamstown, West Virginia. This would have been sometime between the fall of 1980 and the spring of 1982. No one was particularly the inspiration for Henry. I was studying to be in the ministry, and I was surrounded by preachers or men who wanted to be preachers, so I suppose it was natural that when he hit my brain, I made him a preacher.
I’ve always enjoyed drawing, although, unlike my daughter Angela, I don’t think I’m particularly gifted. I simply enjoy creating and one way to do that is the art of drawing. In one brief moment of inspiration, I realized that most of my favorite comics were made up of a few specific strokes of the pen that are easily repeated. (Take a close look at Charlie Brown, Blondie or even Mickey Mouse, etc.) A short while later, Henry was created—his face anyway. I’ve never been particularly good a drawing the human form, and hands completely escape me, but I created the face.
Soon, Henry the Preacher began to show up on the various chalk or white boards around the Bible College, and its little sister school, the Williamstown Christian School. Invariably, I included some little cute remark to make folks chuckle. I’ve been drawing him ever since—most times he’s a preacher, but he has occasionally taken a job as a bearing salesman. He still randomly shows up on whiteboards or chalkboards. If the inspiration hits me, I draw the dude.
I also created a little family to go along with Henry. He has a brother named Cosmos, who sports sunglasses (regardless the time of day or the weather), a leather jacket, and a goatee. Henry’s wife is Henrietta. His dad is Hank. There’s a couple others. I’ve never done much with the crew. Cosmos does show up once in a while, when I’m looking to rock a boat.
Over the years, Henry hasn’t changed much. He nearly always wears a tie, but rarely sports a jacket anymore. I had some notepads made up one time with his face at the top. I wish I still had one of those around.
Once, while attending Indiana Business College, I had a guy who thought he could get an investor to back me so I could try to syndicate Henry into a weekly strip. He needed a “portfolio.” That was a big problem. I couldn’t get his face right when I was trying to draw him for a serious purpose. For another thing, I could never draw him in any direction except looking straight ahead. Forget trying to add some form of movement. Years later, I did finally succeed in turning his head to one side. Hmm. Maybe there’s still some hope.
I still draw him sometimes, just for fun. The picture you see attached at the top of this blog was done a few years ago when I decided to create some more detailed, single-frame comics. I recently gave the original away as a prize in the Facebook New Year’s Party contest sponsored by my publisher. I asked a question and stated that I’d randomly draw a winner of the original drawing from among those who answered the question. I fully expected that question to go unanswered, but to my amazement, there were many entries. Seems Henry is a likeable guy.
I have a few more original Henry drawings lying around. Maybe he will make some future appearances. For now, though, he waits back there in my psyche. I still have my drawing pad of comic boards. Eventually, he’ll grab my creative brain by the ears and force his way out again.
See you soon, Henry.
I’ve been trying to get my mind wrapped around creating a new blog. I used to blog all the time. I was creating new postings every week. I loved it. I was excited about it. Then, well, it just ended. I came to a full stop. I’m not sure why, but apparently, I ran out of steam.
After I published my first novel (Abandon Hope), I found myself putting all my energy into trying to market it. I’m still working on that. From there, I moved right into writing my devotional book (Loving Out Loud), consuming more time. Finally, I had to get going with the upcoming sequel (Nozomi’s Battle), which will be released very, very soon. All of this was going on while I was changing roles in my 8 to 5 job.
Along the way, my agent and others said, “You need to create an email list.” Then, “You need to be writing a monthly newsletter.” On top of all that, I heard: “Hey, writers need to be blogging.”
All of the above is about creating a “platform.” In other words, a readymade set of followers who would want my books. Are you part of that group?
Now, I’m trying to buckle down and get those things done. Thus, my new blog…which you are reading. Thank you for indulging me.
Now, what to talk about?
That was one of my issues. It was a major question. I don’t want to focus on politics. There’s enough of that out there already. I could share my thoughts on spiritual matters, which would fit with my Loving Out Loud book, but that didn’t light my fuse either. What would be interesting? To me and to you? I finally settled on an idea. Something I’d try.
I will focus my blog posts on a picture. I will pick an old photo or interesting shot, and I’ll tell you a story about it, the people, or how the picture makes me feel. I hope you enjoy the concept because that’s what I’m running with—at least for now.
This first picture is of me and my sister and it makes me smile—just like I did when it was taken. Kay was seventeen years old when I was born. As this shot was snapped, she wasn’t yet eighteen. As a little dude, I pretty much adored her, and I can say without much hesitation that she adored me right back. I was Sissy’s Little Darlin’ (she still calls me that) and she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
This picture was taken on my folks’ front porch in Muncie, Indiana. (It just occurred to me to try to recreate the picture. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? But there is a problem. Someone else owns the house now. I’ll think about that.) We used to do a lot on that little stoop, but it mostly involved sitting, talking, and watching the traffic go by, sometimes late into the evening, past my bedtime.
It looks like she’s holding a stuffed animal. I don’t remember that one. I don’t think it’s the little mechanical beast she brought home one time and scared the living daylights out of me. I scampered up to the top of my mom’s sofa to get away from it. That little trauma is locked into my memory bank. Someday, when I can’t remember who I am anymore, I’m sure that event will come back in my nightmares.
We had a lot of fun when I was little. She would rock me. She sang to me. She took me downtown on the city bus. When I got a year or two older, she pushed me into a professional singing career. She had me sing The Birds and the Bees, a recent single by Jewel Akens, in a downtown diner. People gave me dimes, nickels, and quarters. It paid for our little lunch. My singing career ended the same day it started, though. I was a one-hit wonder.
On another trip, she took me to the downtown Sears & Roebuck store. I was on the go and she lost track of me. When she found me, I was “making a deposit” into a toilet on display in the plumbing department. Let’s just say we made a beeline to the exit.
I only had one real fault with her in those days: she smoked. She smoked a lot.
I used to beg her to quit, but she didn’t listen. Then again, almost every grown up I knew smoked in those days. I could probably count on one hand the number of people I remember who didn’t, so she was right in line with society. I hated it.
But I loved my sister. Still do. I have many good memories with her. I have some bad ones, too. That’s life, right? She made me laugh, a lot. She always made me give her a kiss. I guess she still does. She used to pick me up and smear lipstick on my face. Now, I have to stoop down so she can plant one on my cheek.
Siblings are the real deal. Hug ‘em while you got ‘em.
Michael DeCamp is a husband, father, uncle, son, and brother. He built a career in industrial sales while maintaining an spiritual life in pursuit of a love for God. He has published one fantasy thriller and one devotional book. (There are more on the way.) He also produces a podcast (The Cutters Notch Podcast) that provides new episode approximately twice per month.