feature: young cartoonist calyn pickens-rich shares her story

November 12, 2014

Apparently, someone writes Dill’s comics. I am Calyn, a young Paris-dwelling-afro-wearing-temporary-tattoo-sporting full-time artist, part time mad scientist and occasional technical captain. I am the creator of Dill. 
When I was one of those drooling discombobulated speech patterned six years olds, I came up with a character. At the time, he was all I used to ever draw, to the point of general teacher frustration. So, my mother introduced me to Charles Schulz. He, you see, even as a fully-grown-tax-paying individual, would always draw the same characters. Better yet, that was his job. In the shake of a barbecued lamb chop, Dill’s world developed into an ever-expanding two-dimensional universe inhabited by “the dills”, representing the ultimate American child extract replete with a mind which questioned processed values within a utopic suburban imaginaria. On a certain level, we understood each other.

By Calyn Pickens-Rich, AFROPUNK Contributor

Being born in France to American parents, raised on sticky Southern shmooveness and mathematical muzak, I somehow developed my own idealized view of the United States as being at once the land of 0% trans fat as well as home to Dante’s third inferno – “Chuck E. Cheese”. At some point, seeing my French was restricted to “Bonjour, comment allez-vous?” my mother transferred me and my brother from a small American school to a strict French Catholic Hogwarts-type institution. There, Dill encountered race, religion and sub-zero grades. He grew self-aware and politically opinionated, developing “It’s Hard Being Dill”, a set of comics about life’s lemons and the search for aid.

Several grueling school years chugged by. I went on to get my Baccalauréat in Applied Arts. Somewhere inside of there came my first website, “Stick Men Creation”, a community where artists help artists. Then, it occurred to me that it was time to leave the sandbox and hit the Sahara to focus on taking my creative projects even further. While hiking up the dunes of my mind, Undead Machinery emerged with online interactive stories and activities “for the living, deceased and undead” with series such as Dear Grim Reaper, Tea Time of the Dead and Depression Bunny. After that, Dill found himself getting published. He somehow snuck his way into Arludik, the world’s first gallery for the entertainment arts.

Always seeking to ink out uncharted territories, Dill and I packed it up for a programming school called École 42 to begin our quest to merge art with programming. We were among the 1st pool of 900 accepted out of 65 000 applicants. My ongoing case of mathemalogico phobia made embarking on this path all the more challenging. So typically, as opposed to coming up with functional programs, I compiled the functional programmer, Denver the developer. Denver was penned into a webcomic about life at École 42 via “Born 2 Crash”, a take on the school’s motto “Born 2 Code”. He also helped to co-create and run a comic workshop. The “kid with a funny head” was used for school posters and designs, paving the way for yet another webcomic, “Dill’s page”.

“It’s Hard Being Dill” finally got the home-in-a-box it needed. Tagging along, another dill character appeared before readers: Dana, a fat bat who blogs about gothic subculture through comics, musings, tutorials and various media. She is none other than Dr. Dillipede’s daughter, Dill’s neighbor, and the protagonist of “Dining with Dana”.

Currently, Dill is working on a project to teach children through “dillustrations”. He now creates educational comics. As he continues to revolt against two-dimensional norms, he forever remains determined to bring power to the pen and break that fourth wall…