Thursday, March 19, 2009

Zortians! @=(:)

Ever wonder where my crazy sounding AIM/Hotmail name (amongst others) comes from?

Once upon a time, when I was a youngin', my neighbor, Sandy, bought me "Ed Emberley's Big Green Drawing Book," since whenever she saw me, I was always drawing. I had never heard of the illustrator, who used simple shapes to teach one how to draw just about anything.

I flipped through the dragons, animals and other green things, until I reached the section on "Zortians." Zortians were really just a conglomeration of green circles in the shape of an alien, with three stick legs, a pig-like snout and seemingly one large eyeball. I was immediately hooked.

Why do I draw funky green space creatures all the time as a signature? Is it "zort" (as in the Pinky exclamation) or "zortian" (like "martian")?

I started drawing zortians (or "zorts" as I quickly shortened it to, after their home planet's namesake) on EVERYTHING. First it was mimicking Emberley's drawings. Then I started to imagine what a Zortian world would look like, and even came up with a story about visiting the planet "Zort" myself.

When I started middle school, I would draw them during class, on tests and worksheets, as they took on human personalities by sarcastically mocking writing samples, pointing out math equations and rules, and generally keeping me occupied during lectures. One time I did get in trouble (History class...Ms. Barnard had no sense of humor), but for the most part they either went unnoticed or were gleefully encouraged by teachers who knew I was a [weirdly] imaginative girl who always did well, and just wanted to express herself.

And that's what it really became for me: an expression of my moods, ideas and thoughts. Zorts were my alter-egos, springing to life in pencil on the page, and saying what most of the time, I was too afraid to say myself. Middle school was a shitty place, and as I retreated into my quiet world, I let them speak for me. To exhibit those things I so desperately wanted (and needed) to convey, in order to prove that even though I was labeled "sensitive" and "shy," there was a real Tara inside just waiting to burst out, with all the humor and zest of a cutely precocious little green alien.

Why am I still using this simply, childhood drawing in my life today (at the old age of 23)?

Zorts are a symbol to me, in a way, of my childhood, of my humor, and my ability to express myself. When I draw one, it's as if I'm saying, "This can only be from Tara." I'm sure many people draw or have drawn zorts before. It's a popular book, and I always worried that by using someone else's drawings, I wasn't being myself at all.

But the important thing is that I have made them my own, bestowed a personality on these whimsical creatures that only I could have crafted. And now that I am older, I have learned that I can show my true colors to anyone.

It's an ongoing process, and I'm not completely there yet. But these little guys only reinforce that growth, and stand as a reminder that I will always be unique in my own odd, alien little way.

(Emoticon zortian)
[Stay tuned for more Zortian photos in the near future!]

3 thoughts:

Robbie said...

Wow, I didn't think I'd find another person who was as inspired by the Zortians as I was. I'm 22 myself now but I can still remember the day I discovered them back in 5th grade. Our school library had some other Ed Emberley books with new aliens. The orange book has Erts & Kreegors while the purple one had a small section on "Ginsfortwoozlefimms".

Tara Rose Stromberg said...

No way! And all this time I had no idea there were others....

Now I really want to look those up. >sigh< If only there were more site devoted to zortians! I plan to post more, if I can, once I dig up the ol' remnants of my past.

Thanks for sharing the memory! :)

Patrick C said...

I still draw Zortians on everything too! And Woofler's adn Rok's and Fwaap's and the rest. I think I first discovered the book when I was in 5th grade, I'd love to look at it now.

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