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Scribbles and Ink and Ethan: Ethan Long Takes Us Inside The Contest

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Scribbles and Ink are two artists with two styles – in one book that may not be big enough for both of them. In Scribbles and Ink: The Contest by Ethan Long, released September 10, Ink is excited for the pals to enter a “Draw a Dinosaur” contest. The prize is two tickets to a mud-themed amusement park. But Scribbles is secretly scared of drawing a dinosaur.

Ethan Long knows that he and every artist can relate to Scribble's fears. “Charles Schulz said one of my favorite quotes: 'Creativity is on the other side of anxiety.' It's so true,” says Ethan. “If you can just conquer that anxiety and get over that hump, there are so many great things on the other side. And that's what Ink learns.”

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The origin of Ethan's buddy pair comes from an unlikely source: a friend's website WeScribble.com. “Every time I heard that word 'scribbles,” an image of a scribbly cat popped into my head,” Ethan explains. “It kept happening again and again – this cat! So I said, 'I'm going to do something with that.' And I didn't know where I was going with that, but I just started.”

Ink came along later. “A cat's natural foil is a mouse. But I didn't know what to name that mouse. One day, I was taking my art supplies and splattering them around, making a mess. And it came to me: Ink.”

Ethan originally wrote Scribbles and Ink with similar personalities, until the television show Tom and Jerry inspired him to make them opposites. “Over time Scribbles has become more insecure and emotional, and Ink is more bossy.”

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Television wasn't Ethan's only inspiration. “I used my son and his frenemy as models for these characters. How they talk to each other, how they compete, is very much like Scribbles and Ink. Most kids have a friend they like and want to beat at the same time.”

Ethan poured pieces of himself into both characters. “Scribbles and Ink are two parts of my personality that are always in conflict. Some days I'm around people and I'm very boisterous and fun like Ink. Other days I'm very quiet and sensitive and my imagination plays tricks on me like Scribbles.”

“I do relate to Scribble's nervousness about drawing a dinosaur. Every time I get to a new sketch, I get anxiety. Sometimes I close my notebook and go eat or go for a walk. But lately I've been pushing myself to sit there and get through that anxiety and work through it. The impulse is to look at the piece and 'oh that's going to be so hard.' The solution is to just start. That's what Ink would do.”

“I hope the Ink part of my personality wins out, and that it would win out for a child who is getting into art. The book teaches us not to be afraid of criticism, which is a challenge for any artist.”

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The Contest ends with Ink draws...an egg--and insists there's a dinosaur inside it. He's right! As the egg-drawing hatches, a baby dino crawls out, wailing for his mommy. Realizing that they won't win the contest, Ink creates a "Best Buddy" trophy for Scribbles.

“It's important that Scribbles and Ink don't actually win the contest, because you don't need to win to be successful at art. They don't need first place because they already know that they've succeeded at making something great.”

At the end of the book Scribbles and Ink seem closer than ever. Is their rivalry over? “No!” Ethan laughs. “I don't want them to be gooey friends with each other and only say nice things. That's just boring. I want them to help each other grow and learn about art. They're still learning, so I want them to continue to challenge each other.”

“The first book was about turning a disasterpiece into a masterpiece,” Ethan says. “I hope there are a few more disasterpieces to come.“