Gary Baseman

What someone believes to be a good character is entirely unique to them.

The work of Gary Baseman has always spoken to me on some level, with its style and the physical characteristics of the characters themselves. As a child obsessed with the ‘Cranium’ board games, I found his characters to be an essential part of the experience; they evoked the feel of creative thinking. But now that I’m older, his work now speaks to me with a sense of nostalgia too, so it’ll be somewhat difficult to speak of him without some essence of bias.

One character of Baseman’s that I had come across recently, Toby (as seen above), I believe to be one of his strongest. Toby seemed to blend together the lighter characters I had grown up with of Baseman’s, with that of his darker pieces (which at first I was unsure if I liked). Toby is a kind of feline creature, with a goofy smile and elongated eyes bearing enlarged ellipse pupils; very hard not to love. He is also consistently drawn wearing read attire, which makes him stand out, also adding to his devilish attitude.


Toby represents the suppressed juvenile identity that lies beneath the adult psyche. Toby is the alter ego for Baseman to explore those transgressive concealed urges. This is effective as it allows the viewer to see a different side to the character, as an intimate depiction of drives. Wherever he is and whatever he’s doing there’s meaning behind it. He is also a very caring natured guy, who will “listen to your problems” and “embark on any journey with you”. By seeing the situations Toby has been illustrated amongst, I doubt he will judge you, no matter what problem you share with him.


 Baseman’s style also helps add a characteristic of softness to Toby’s personality. The cartoonish hand painted appearance gives him a sense of childishness, no matter what he’s doing (e.g. being eaten by a large girl). The thick outlines also allow the colours within to stand out, giving everything definition.


Toby resonates with me both as an exploration of the human mind, in physical features, and the manner/medium of which he’s illustrated.




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