Thoughts and illustrations on living with Asperger's Syndrome.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet The Characters: Squishy Bird

Gather round, readers! Today, you’re in for a real treat. For today, I tell you the legend of the Squishy Bird.

The year, 1986. The place, a Marshall’s department store. My mom goes shopping and brings home a plush birdie for my two younger brothers, but not for me. As if, at ten years old, I was too old for a stuffed bird. Little did she know.

Squishes!
Squishy Bird, so named by me for his spongy texture, stood 5 inches tall and resembled a bright blue penguin. He had personality. From the permanent amused expression on his face, to the mischievious glint in his beady little eyes, it all seemed to invite you to take a squish.

Naturally, the birds became a hot commodity around our household. Enticed by the lure of the squish, I would habitually steal the Squishy Bird from my brothers. This led them to guard him closely, which made me covet him even more, in an escalating cycle. Truly, a squish in the hand was worth two aggravated siblings.

Skateboard Squish, Sept. 1986
Squishy Bird became popular among our neighborhood friends as well. He was known to join us on our skateboards, cuz that’s just the kinda bird he was. He also inspired us to wax philosophical, and was the subject of many a quote in the Sayings Book. “Around here, we call it a Squishy Bird,” declared Ian. Another time, he memorably pontificated, “Squishes. How few there be.” Truer words were never spoken.

First cartoon appearance of Squishy Bird, April 8, 1986
As a character, Squishy Bird’s storyline began not on paper, but on a tape-recording called “Bear Going Lunch’s Greatest Adventure.” In this project, my friends and I took a tape recorder and voice-acted the exploits of superhero Bear Going Lunch and his dimwitted sidekick Camel Dude as they battled arch villain Eggo Waffles. Squishy Bird, who was voiced by me, showed up to interrupt our heroes at every turn, wanting to help, but just being annoying. A typical exchange went like this:

Bear Going Lunch: “I’d better get over there right away!”
Squishy Bird: “Hi! I’m Squishy Bird, where are you going?”
Bear Going Lunch: “This is confidential, and don’t follow me. You might get hurt.”
Squishy Bird: “It’s always confidential with this guy.”

An Interview with Squishy Bird, Aug. 17, 1986
Bear Going Lunch finally punches Squishes out just to shut him up, but Squishes would always come right back. He did, however, have his useful moments, as when he reminded Camel Dude to use medicine to revive an unconscious Bear. And, in a display of bravery, Squishy Bird saved Camel Dude from a burning building, getting caught in the flames himself. This led Bear Going Lunch to exclaim, “I’ve gotta save him, even if he gets on my nerves.”

In cartoon form, Squishy Bird’s major storyline came in “Piggy Parties, The Book.” Mimicking events in 1986’s Transformers, The Movie, Squishy Bird falls down a hole to find the leader of the News, Party Piggy, dying. In his last moments, Party Piggy urges him to take the Matrix of Newsyship and carry on his responsibilities as leader.
Squishy Bird takes the Matrix of Newsyship. From Piggy Parties, The Book, Fall 1986

Squish E. Bird. Fall 1986
Upon taking the Matrix, he assumed a new identity, Squish E. Bird, along with long orange legs and new feather markings. He served as leader for a short while, but the more mature Squish E. proved to be a boring character, quite in conflict with the zany roots of Squishes. I thus retconned him back to Squishy Bird.


Today, I’ve found the perfect role for Squishes in Dude, I’m An Aspie as the overly friendly, perpetually cheerful and well-adjusted NT. His personality is a bit of Barney, a bit of Pillsbury Dough Boy, a bit of Tigger, and a bit of the Walmart greeter we all want to punch out. Naturally, Fuzzy hates his guts. You can see him take out his aggression in such cartoons as “Instant Moron-Maker” and “Twitter.”

Squishy Bird is still a meddling buttinsky, prone to do more harm than good in his attempts to be helpful. But as often as he gets knocked out, he’ll pop right back up with that amused smile on his face.

Hold on… who’s that? Somebody just came in… Hey, leggo of my keyboard, you!

Hello! I’m Squishy Bird!

Squishy Bird, get out of here. I’m writing a post!

I have a message to the peoples! Hellooo, peoples in the Internet! This is very important! You need to reset your linkee linkees to dudeimanaspie.com, for more cartoons about meeeee!

Oh. Well, that’s actually very helpful. Thank you, Squishy Bird.

And may I say too, also, a Squishy New Yeeeaar!1!! I give to you, a big squooshy hug! And…

POW!

Oooof...

Sorry about that, folks. Sometimes, you just gotta do that. As I was saying.

Oh, yes. He’s the indestructible, the inscrutable, the squishable. The legend. You cannot resist the Squish.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for introducing us to Squishy and giving us his origin story.

    And I love the way you repurposed him. We do need cheerful people in our strips!

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  2. Thank you Adelaide. You don't seem like you're from around here, but we have lots of DuPonts here in Delaware!

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  3. Squishy!!

    Hmmm. Wonder if I can find me a blue Squishy around here somewhere!

    Would you happen to know where one might be found?

    Yay for Squishy! Don't ever let anything happen to him!

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  4. Oh, I wish I knew where all the Squishy Birds went! There must be some out there, out of all the people who bought them at Marshall's 25 years ago. But I'm sure they call him something different. Funny to think he might be sitting in someone's closet right now, and they don't even realize it!

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  5. Oh my goodness, Matt! My mom bought a yellow bird for my son, Zachary (aspie) when he was just 6 months old. Zach lovingly, and accurately, named him "Birdie". Birdie went everywhere with us. If we got lost, I found him - I mean, I had to! He WAS Birdie after all. If Birdie got dirty, he had "crumbs" and we washed him. Birdie is still somewhere in Zach's room. Hugo The Rock eventually replaced Birdie (a character Zach made up all on his own) and his stories were a part of the family, school friends, and Zach's imagination. Zach is nearly 14 now and Hugo has been "put on a shelf", but both and Birdie live in our hearts. I love Squishy Bird! How cute and how special for you. If you ever want to see "The Adventures of Hugo the Rock", just let me know. I'll have Zach draw up a few and send them to you.

    As always, keep up the good work!

    Heather :)

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    Replies
    1. P.S. Birdie came from Marshall's too!

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    2. Whoa, must be something about the birds... and we even like them Angry... Yes, please share Hugo with us!

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