November 27th, 2006

A Sticky Situation

I’ve never really been a fan of the stick figure. Even when I was a kid, all my clumsily drawn people had sturdy legs (with sideways feet, of course—as any ancient Egyptian will tell you, straight-on feet are too tough to draw) emerging from the hems of their skirts or shorts or whatnot.


But that was before I saw the layout for a story I’d been editing. It’s a tips list for surviving the holidays, and fab layout guy Scott chose to illustrate the blocks of text with cheery holiday-themed stick figures: a stick Santa-hatted guy waving a bell next to a bowl with a “Give” sign above it; a squealing stick figure making a snow angel; a determined stick figure hefting a frothy beer stein; and best of all, an ohm-ing stick figure, stick legs tied into a skinny pretzel, levitating above a pillow as she practices yoga.


I must admit that layout is not my forte. I’ve done layout for a few publications, and they always look like I dipped my fingers in an inkwell and flicked them at the paper—all tiny black text, very few illustrations. (Hey, I’m a word person, not a picture person.) So I figure, if I take notice of a layout, it must be really spectacular. Logical, no?


Naturally I went on at some length about the fabulousness of the holiday tips layout, making sure Scott’s and my superiors knew the very many reasons why stick figures rock.


I don’t know, maybe I went overboard. I just can’t figure out why else our superiors would decide that the stick figures had to go.


Luckily for me, I had printed out an enlargement of a happy dancing stick guy, so at least I have him on my bulletin board to cheer me through my stick figure defeat. He will fuel my resentment and make me smile, all at once. Now that’s multitasking. 



But now I’m worried about another piece. It’s a collection of short newsy items, punchy, intended to draw the reader into the magazine. I was particularly excited by the image of California’s happy cows that Scott chose to illustrate an item about dairy foods preventing the development of Type 2 Diabetes—but my guess is, the cows are doomed to the magazine world’s equivalent of the slaughterhouse. (As you no doubt suspect, I enthused largely about this layout too.)


You can’t win them all, I know. Into each life a little rain must fall. The boss is always right, and all those other platitudes. Except I’m confident that I should have won this one, that no rain should have been strong enough to wash the little stick people away, and that the person who is right in this situation is absolutely me. Too bad I’m the only one who thinks so.  


RIP, little stick guys. Ye shall be missed.