Comic strip artist and Wisconsin Dells native David Guess keeps a diary without words.
It’s entirely visual, but nevertheless a daily record of his experiences, he said. He’s kept one for 20 years.
It recently gave birth to a gigantic giraffe.
“I could take a stack of these pictures and sit down with anyone and tell them exactly what happened to me, every single day, just by looking at the visuals,” Guess said of the diary he started as a student of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000. “They’re all dated.”
His diary drawings always have been “crude,” Guess said, and so are the drawings in “Giraffesaurus,” his first children’s book available now in paperback and digital forms on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
“If you didn’t know my work, you would probably think, ‘My kid could have done that,’” Guess said of the illustrations in “Giraffesaurus.” His art professors in Chicago, however, helped Guess understand that it takes talent to draw crudely.
So he stuck with it.
“They were blown away by it, actually,” Guess said of the style he employs in the children’s book. “I eventually realized it’s kind of like unlearning the wheel. Once you learn how to draw well, it’s difficult to revert back to what are basically childlike drawings.”
“Giraffesaurus” is the third book for Guess, his others being comic books for adults. He’s a 1997 Wisconsin Dells High School graduate and longtime cartoonist for the Baraboo News Republic who now lives near Orlando, Florida.
The book is 29 pages long, rhymes and is written for children ages 3-6, Guess said.
“It’s about the things we are good at and the things we don’t do so well, and how at the end of the day, it’s important to always keep a positive attitude,” Guess said of the values shared by Jerry, who is part-giraffe, part-dinosaur.
“The line, ‘Remember to wave and always smile’ pretty well sums it up.”
Jerry, who eats greens but nothing that’s blue, is one of countless “out-there” ideas in the mind of Guess — “an idea I just had to put somewhere,” he said.
Guess already is at work on his next “Giraffesaurus” story, this time featuring the adventures of Jerry’s dog — a terrier named Oliver.
“It’s his dog but also mine,” the author said with a laugh. “I got Oliver as a rescue three years ago, and he’s just been my life since then.”
“It’s another Giraffesaurus story, but you’ll only see his feet.”