Philadelphia Cartoonist Society Pages

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cancer Gremlin...The Evolution of a Character by Jeffro Kilpatrick

Recently, Marvin Bowe, Senior VP and Creative Director for the Navicor Group, contacted me with a really fun illustration gig. I was assigned to draw a little gremlinie-type monster to represent a certain kind of cancer that many doctors and patients overlook and forget to ask about. The character would have been used in ad materials for a medicine to treat that type of cancer.

The art team on the job liked some frog-like creatures I once drew in a Meathaus comic. They also gave me some very specific criteria and e-mailed over some microscopic photos of colorful cancer cells. The concept reminded me of the ads for Mucinex and even the Crest's Cavity Creeps and Raid's Bugs from past ad campaigns like that. They wanted a quirky character, but in a way, he needed to be sympathetic. Because we were trying to remind doctors not to forget to ask about him. Here were my initial pencil sketches:

They really liked Sketch A. It most resembled the characters that initially attracted the art directors to my work. I also liked the characters with less human proportions. The art team also asked me to make the character more mischievous and less sad. I took "neglected" to heart when doing these first drafts, but they wanted a character with a more "Tazmanian Devil" or "Gremlin" attitude. I was glad to hear that, because those guys are way more fun to draw. They also asked me to lose props like the signs. And since they liked the body shape on character B as well, they asked me to "Jabba the Hutt" him up a bit and add some horns.

So here are the final two drafts I came up with:
Unfortunately, the actaul concept was not used by the pharmaceutical company. However, it was a great job. It was fun and Navicor treated me really well. Also, I got to villify cancer (which I hate). All in all, it's been my favorite freelance gig this year.


  1. You got to vilify cancer AND get paid. How do I swing a gig like that? I love seeing the finishes. The sketches are great! I might use these in my Character Design class this Saturday!

  2. That's awesome, dude. Let me know how it goes! Thanx!

  3. The finishes turned out great. Glad they let you go with the meaner versions of these guys. It's a shame these never were used.