Friday, January 28, 2011

Awesome Dude Series: No. 1 - Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

     Beginning a biographical series on great "Dudes" in history with a fictional character might not seem like a good approach, but, dude, Jeff Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges), the star of the Coen brothers 1998 comedy film, The Big Lebowski, so much sets the standard of dudism that I had to put him in the lead-off position.
     Besides, according the Coen brothers, Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, was very much based on two real life dudes from their past, Jeff Dowd and Peter Exline (who now teaches at USC...dude).
     These were two dudes that lived by simple means, put out only enough energy to sustain a laidback SoCal existence, and were self-assured enough to walk to the slow-groove beat of their own drum, mostly Creedence, according to the Coens, and become, in my eyes as well, full-blown, self-made, dudes!
     What is a dude in my eyes?
     A dude is someone who can relax when everyone else is running around. He (or she) can find greatness in simple ideas and live life with an "Every day is casual Friday" attitude. They usually land on their feet, gain a loyal following of friends, and enjoy just being, or "abiding," according to Lebowski, who when asked who is "The Dude?" His answer was simply, "The Dude Abides," which is now a cult phrase to all Lebowski followers, of which there are many. Enough for Lebowski Festivals, so named "Lebowski-Fest's" to pop up annually across the nation and in Canada (even in Europe, I've heard).
     Though appearing to be laidback and apathetic, another key that draws me to a true dude is they can tend to make a name for themselves without really trying. And when they do try, they do it short spirts, as not to get over worked or "Sell out to The Man."    
     That's also the reason I went with Jeff Lebowski as No. 1 in this Awesome Dudes Series, because Jeff Bridges himself, in my estimation, is a dude. He approached Hollywood with an, "I'll work, and work hard, but only when I want to work and only play roles I want to play" mindset and even walked away from "career launching" roles only to have his career launch to super stardom anyway. If you get a chance to see his biography in the American Masters series (I caught it on PBS), you'll agree that this Academy Award-winning actor is a dude for sure. His home is his own Casa de Dude with a walking labyrinth and maze of hedges and mirrors in the backyard for him and his family to go and get lost in their thoughts, tune out, hang out and escape. The true makings of a real life dude.
     As the creator and cartoonist for my own comic strip, titled Dude and Dude (, you'll find that I consider myself somewhat of a dude also. A dude always looking for new material to use as ideas for the two dudes that star in my comic. Send your dude comments, dudisms, or let me know who you believe to be a full-blown, self-made, righteous dude and maybe they'll make it into one of the Awesome Dudes Series!
     Also, like a true dude, I'm always on the hunt for a great fish taco, so send me, and all of us, your favorite taco shack so we can score one too....dude.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dude and Dude - Creating the Comic Strip

     Having watched cartoons religiously as a child; enjoyed a well put together comic book collection, and dabbled in drawing cartoons for most of my life, I, like my blog title announces, seem to have always been “Character Driven”.
     So, when you decide to tempt fate and create your own voice in the comic world, you look to the masters for advise; and when they, Charles Schultz, Johnny Hart (B.C., Wizard of Id), Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury), repeatedly tell you to, “Write what you know,” you dig deep to find that one part of you that you know you could write about, share, and exploit with humor, everyday for the rest of your life.
     Dude and Dude, by process of elimination, have become the two characters that I believe will be that voice, or two of the voices, ready to be exploited at every turn.
     Partnering to help make this happen is United Feature Syndicate, who have decided to take the dudes to the cyber-world by distributing Dude and Dude world-wide through their online website…dude!
     Why Dude and Dude?
     Because they represent a large portion of the people, or kind of people, I’ve met, been friends with and/or hung out with all my life in the beach community I still live in today, Huntington Beach, Ca.
     Spend ten minutes in the older downtown area, or a couple of hours around the HB pier and you’ll hear the word repeated so often that you’ll leave not only having it ringing in your ears but also coming out of your mouth….”Dude!”
     It has become, in my world, the universal greeting label for anybody worthy of its status.
     Scott F. Kiesling wrote in his speech, entitled “Dude,” to the University of Pittsburgh, “dude has become unconstrained – a sign of inexpressiveness in which one word is used for any and all utterances.”
     Dude, this dude hit the dude right on the head…dude!
     At times, it represents, acknowledges, announces, confirms, recognizes and states our innermost thoughts and feelings, “Dude!” Then it flip-flops and does the complete opposite and announces our apathy, lack of drive and longing for a break from society, the day and “The Man”, “Dude!”

     Like the Coen brothers, who based the their character, Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (in their 1998 comedy, “The Big Lebowski,”) largely on a couple of guys they hung out with early in their career and in college, Jeff Dowd and Peter Exline, I too have based Dude and Dude on a combination of many people I either grew up around or hung out with that measure up (or down) to the level of an “official, flow blown, righteous dude!”
     I hope you’ll follow along, check in on, become a daily fan of, and soon relate to “the dudes”; if you’re not a dude already.
     Sign up and build your own personal comic page using Dude and Dude a variety of other favorites in the bullpen. They email your custom comics page to you daily, and it’s FREE…dude!
     I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions as you follow along and become part of the Dude and Dude community.
     Now, go take a nap. You’ve already read more than enough for one dude in a day.
     Then scrape together some change and go scarf and fish taco or two....dude.

Facebook: Keith poletiek
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