You’d think that Stanley Squirrel is the first character created for Jeff Balke Studios. Well you’re pretty much right. However, there was another character created well before the studio even started when I was coloring comic books full time.
The Balkenator. Yes, it’s a cartooned version of me. I introduced him into some of the superhero prints I had and even came up with a storyline for him vs. the Gremlins (yes, the little cute fluffy guys). The Balkenator got popular enough, that I decided to put him in his own prints and sell them at shows. Here and there when I first started introduced him fans would ask if he had his own series. Which got me thinking. Maybe I should do more with him and expand his friends. So, the Balkenator got a best friend (who was pretty easy to think of), named B. B is the cartooned version of my husband Brandon.
What makes these characters so life like, is that, yes they were cartooned versions of us, but we actually have the outfits the characters are drawn in.
From the Balkenator and B, I started creating backgrounds for the characters and stories including the first villain. I haven’t introduced her yet but you will be seeing her coming around soon. She’s going to be introduced in an episode of Stanley and Friends.
With the Balkenator and B getting a lot of smiles and fans really enjoy them, I thought right then and there, I need to something big with them. Animation, comics, comic strips. Something off the wall…at least for me. It came to me early in the morning of one of my favorite conventions, MegaCon.
I had just woke up from sleeping and about to start getting ready for my day at the show. I sat up and blurted out, “I’m going to start my own animation studio”. B looks over to me with his eyes still pretty much closed, hair everywhere and says, “huh”? And that’s how the studio actually got started.
We were in Orlando so of course, the smart thing to do was go to Disney World and get my creative juice’s flowing.
So yes, Stanley Squirrel is the first character created IN the studio (even though I had him in my head since I was a kid), but the Balkenator started everything off and planted that seed. Needless to say, the Balkenator is very personal to me. A little bit later I was talking with a friend of mine who knew of a few Disney animators and introduced me. One of them being Rick Farmiloe (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, etc.). Rick was awesome enough to “cartoon” the Balkenator and B even more, and make them ready for animation. This is the first cartooned version Rick did of the Balkenator. I’m so honored and extremely proud of it.
So if you’re wondering WHY I’m giving this piece away with a purchase of any Original Hand Coloring, it’s because it IS very personal to me and I wanted to give it as an extra thank you. Yes, I could have just picked some random picture to give you, but I wanted something original and unique for you.
So please, check out all the Original Hand Colorings on www.balkestudiosart.com, pick out your favorite(s) and place your order. With every order you’ll receive this FREE Balkenator Hand Coloring by Rick Farmiloe and hand colored by me. I only have 6 of these available, so don’t wait too long.
Thank you in advance and also, thank you for letting Jeff Balke Studios become an actual studio, not just an idea.