Monday, August 17, 2015

The latest fad

What an idiot! When I was nine I threw away my unfinished Crusader Rabbit coloring book. I thought I had outgrown it. And this is my problem. I can never guess trends, even ones as obvious as this. According to a recent article in the NY TIMES (so it has to be true), the latest fad is adult coloring books.

They’ve occupied as many as eight of twenty spots on Amazon’s Best Seller List. 1.3 million adult coloring books have been sold. Just think how many more books I would have sold if I had drawn my memoir instead of written it! All that effort trying to make it funny and weave in current events when people would rather just color in a page of me attempting to folk dance or the Watts Riots.

Why are adult coloring books so popular? They relieve stress. At least that’s the theory (probably first discovered by the Crayon company). It’s a distraction, it’s fun, and you can post your finished product on the refrigerator. I’d like to think that as middle-agers your drawings will kick ass over your five-year-olds’. You can finally take down that crappy Spongebob scrawling and replace it with an eye-popping rendition of Ned Stark being beheaded from GAME OF THRONES. (Have plenty of red.)

I am course am being a facetious blogger (and jealous author), but does this method work? Do any of you color? I will say this, adult coloring books are a lot cheaper than Xanex (I assume you can buy them without a prescription), safer than alcohol (I’ve yet to see any signs that say: “Don’t drink and color.”), and you don’t need your kid to install it and teach you how it works.

This fad has really taken off. There are coloring clubs, coloring contests, and if you’re an AARP member you can probably get senior discounts on crayons.

So what are examples of adult coloring books? “Creative Cats,” “Game of Thrones” (you thought I was joking), “Stress Relieving Patterns,” and landscapes. I wonder if restaurants that provide coloring books for kids will now also have adult selections. “What would you like? We have the Adventures of Chuck E. Cheese or Scenes from Guantanamo.”

I’ll tell you where adult coloring books would really come in handy – sitcom writing rooms. Practically every writer I know doodles in the margins on his script. Usually they’re angry renderings. And in most rooms there are three or four writers who don’t contribute. At least if they’re coloring in Prague Ghettos they’re not chiming in with stupid punctuation corrections.

So my question again is: does this art therapy work? Is it an inexpensive fun way to relieve anxiety or another one of those chic fads like water bars or toilet cafes? Weigh in, dear readers. And if any of you happen to have an unused Crusader Rabbit coloring book please send it to me. Thanks.

46 comments:

Stoney said...

And, just in time for the fad, Kristin Chenoweth covers the old song made famous by Barbra Streisand and Sandy Stewart.

https://youtu.be/UE0UWwanPag?t=64

Bill Jones said...

This reminds me of an old cartoon from the late, great Bloom County comic strip, when Opus reluctantly gets transferred to the "Lifestyle" section of the local paper (the Bloom Picayune). He's given the responsibility of identifying the latest "trend" so that the paper has something to write about. His answer: an eggnog craze, captured by his headline "America's agog over eggnog." Another article he incredulously has to work on has the headline: "Eating brie while watching 'Cheers'--a new trend?" Great stuff.

MHSweb79 said...

I am an adult-colorer. There, I said it. I don't buy coloring books but just do a google search for "adult coloring pages" (no, nothing like that!) and find patterns to print out. Colored pencils have replaced crayons (I do have my pride!). While I do find that coloring relieves stress, it does tend to flare up the arthritis in my hand. Also, my husband has other ideas for relieving stress, which don't include coloring, and that can sometimes be a conflict. Two issues I never had while coloring "Caspar the Friendly Ghost" as a kid in the '60s.

anon o said...

My niece has decided I'm her favorite coloring partner and so I've been coloring Dora and Frozen books with her - not quite Game of Thrones. My sister did catch me finishing one of the pages while my niece was having her snack. It is kind of calming.

Bill Avena said...

This has been "discussed" at length in places like the Onion AV Club, usually with loads of adware. Didn't Mad Magazine do some adult coloring books in the 60s?

McAlvie said...

I think a box of 64 colors makes all of us feel creative. All of us, however, do not have artistic talent; so coloring inside the lines is as close as we get.

But seriously, if you think waaay back to when you were a kid and how many hours you could happily spend with a coloring book and all those colors to yourself, you might understand the trend a little better. It isn't just that it takes you back, there is something a bit zen about it. It doesn't cost a lot, it's portable, you can spend as much or as little time at it as you can spare, no batteries, no bells, buzzers or whistles, no scorekeeping ...

Bill Avena said...

And thus the Brony Revolution was born.

David P said...

Re: The late, great Bloom County. It's no longer late: there are new strips being posted on facebook on a semi-regular basis; Berkley Breathed has resumed drawing.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

If I were going to go for something like that as a stress-reliever I think I'd pick knitting or some other craft that might eventually produce something useful. Knitters say they find it very soothing and it's definitely highly portable. Plus: colors.

wg

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

...another trend I don't get...

If my wife found me coloring instead of feeding the horses, mowing the pastures, cutting wood, or doing any of the zillion chores around this ten acre ranch, she'd make me sleep in the barn...

Tar Baby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Kruh said...

Where's the "Cheers" or "M*A*S*H" Coloring book? The M*A*S*H coloring book could come with army fatigue green crayons.

Chris G said...

We bought one of these for our seven-year-old. She loves it.

When she was smaller, I would color with her a lot. I knew I needed to get out more one day when I was really pleased with myself for using a different color on Buzz Lightyear than on Andy, because I figured Buzz's plastic skin would look different from Andy's real live person skin.

Pumphouse said...

A side topic, but thank you for the "Crusader Rabbit" reference. I have fond memories of this "Rocky and Bullwinkle proof of concept".

Rashad Khan said...

I don't remember enjoying coloring books even as a child.

H Johnson said...

Wow, those folks at Crayola are marketing geniuses. Good luck and stay in the lines!

Aloha

Diane D. said...

I had not heard of this trend and didn't believe you were serious at first, but I looked it up. It's true. Well, to each his own, but I haven't even been able to understand the graphic novel trend.

I guess it's therapeutic in the same way that knitting is, but with knitting your result is something useful (and sometimes beautiful), and it's not embarrassing.

If your goal is to temporarily escape the unsolvable or painful or mundane problems in your life, I have found the best way is to spend a couple hours in a dark theatre absorbed in a great story that has required enormous effort by many creative people to produce. Can't get to a theatre or drive at night? You can get the same thing by watching a few episodes of CHEERS in the comfort of your own home, or to a lesser extent, many other TV shows or movies from the past.

i could be a bob said...

I picked up "It's Gone, ... No, wait a minute" back in April at the start of the baseball season. I finally started to read your story of the minors and majors this weekend. (The Red Sox season pretty much collapsed 2 months ago, I needed "escape.")

This will complete the Levine trilogy for me, as I've read "Where the hell am I?" "Growing up in the 60s" and the fictional "Must Kill TV." PLUS being an Angeleno I used to hear you years ago on the Dodger post-game while trying to get out of the stadium parking lot.

I guess what I'm getting at- so when does your coloring book drop? Or perhaps a paint by numbers booklet of Natalie Wood photos is more up your alley?

Bryan L said...

I color on my iPad. I'm not joking.

Bill Jones said...

Sorry, I couldn't resist adding a link to the aforementioned Bloom County strip mentioning "Cheers": http://www.thecomicstrips.com/store/add.php?iid=83401

Anonymous said...

Those adult coloring books can be really pricey. $14.95 and up. I'd rather just go to the store & pick up the latest kids book and color. When my family went on the first of only 3 vacations we EVER had, I bought two coloring books at the local market. Heckle & Jeckle and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. This was 1962 or 63. The cartoon I get, but Dickens/Fenster? That was a bit random, lol.

I do find it very relaxing. Until I can't decide to use Sky Blue or Middle Blue Green for the sky. That ramps the stress up just trying to choose.

Pam, St. Louis

Johnny Walker said...

I believe it's sold as a form of meditation these days. I've not tried it myself -- I'm skeptical, plus I can draw (something that IS incredibly therapeutic -- and I'd only feel I should be drawing instead of colouring). I'm interested to know if there's any science behind this.

YEKIMI said...

These would cause me even more stress. Between the arthritis and non-essential tremor I would never be able to stay inside the lines. And I'd probably eat the crayons. Plus the fact that an art teachers in junior high and high school that criticized everything I tried to do as well as my color choices made me never want to pick up a crayon or attempt any artwork again. Probably why I played the crap out of this song on the radio [ya know, when DJs could actually pick a song or two they wanted to play] once I discovered it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cVpkzZpDBA

Cap'n Bob said...

When I dine in a restaurant with my granddaughter, she gets a coloring place mat. I usually color a couple of items, though having only four tones limits my range of expression. But it hasn't been the same since the p.c. police forced Crayola to eliminate their Caucasian flesh-colored crayon (while keeping black and brown I might add).

I have a number of old coloring books. Roy Rogers, Leave It to Beaver, and a generic cowboys and Indians. I also build plastic model kits, and express my artistic side by painting them.

Jerry Krull said...

I'm in a writer's group and 2 weeks ago a guy came in and pitched his "Make Money with Coloring Books for Adults" system. I couldn't take the bad sales pitch and had to leave the room (and probably will not return to that particular group again), but I did stay long enough for him to give the statistics of the sales on Amazon and how to find copyright free images. I left at about the 10 minute mark when he was about to reveal his handy-dandy image creator software which I'm sure was not $1,995, nor $995, but probably only $495 with these free bonuses...

Jean said...

I often do line renderings of quilt patterns and use colore pencils to try out colors to see what pops and what works and what doesn't and yes -- it's really relaxing. But I also find bejeweled and Plants and Zombies great for mini vacations from stress.

Tammy said...

Cap'n Bob: While I haven't seen a Crayola box in years, I would guess they kept the so-called "flesh" color and just changed its name to something more appropriate. I get that it seems silly to you, some PC things seem silly to me as well, but you should try to think of it from the perspective of people who are constantly made to feel like "The Other" (I'm white, but as a woman I get my fair share of this). Also, even subtle things can shape children's thinking, so it's nice that their coloring experiences no longer reinforce the notion that white people=default humans.

mmryan314 said...

Johnny Walker- Good question asking if there is"science" behind this. When I was teaching,I took several classes in Brain Compatible Learning and spent time employing some of the techniques in the classroom.To paraphrase an entire textbook- yes, there is scientific evidence that something like this might help.

I learned as part of the class that the human brain can take on about 8 to 10 minutes of new information before needing to process the information into long term memory. A few minutes of mindless activity helps the "hippocampus"consolidate and move info to long term memory.After that the brain is ready to take on more new information. Coloring books or doodling both fit the mindless activity bill. Knitting might not be mindless enough.

This theory fits in well with last week`s column regarding movies being too long and streams of jokes that get lost. The brain can only take so much.

Diane D. said...

Bill Jones
Thanks for the link; that was hilarious! I remember that comic strip, but I hadn't thought about it in years.

Diane D. said...

That's very interesting, mmryan. It makes me wonder however, why in the endless boring meetings I used to have to attend (in which I was learning nothing), all of my handouts and notes pages were covered with very elaborate doodles; but in classes where I was actually learning, I never doodled. I was either listening or taking notes.

If it is a substitute for meditation, that could also be a positive thing. Many people just cannot meditate no matter how hard they try. If you can get the same benefit by coloring, the problem would be solved.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Crusader Rabbit. Guessing that wouldn't be a big hit in the Middle East.

mmryan314 said...

Diane- I guess I`m not alone in my disdain of meetings.I spent much of my active working life trying to think up excuses to not attend them.I must have used the old "my kid is having her wisdom teeth out" routine too often when my boss questioned just how many wisdom teeth she had.

Heather said...

I colour. It's fun. It is relaxing. It's a hobby. What's the big deal? It's not that different from drawing or sketching except I don't have to have any artistic talent (which I don't have) to do it. I just fill in the lines that someone else has done. It's one of a few hobbies I have (I also knit and read and like movies). It's not the only one. Why do we have to only do one thing?

I have two colouring books both by Johanna Basford. She has sold millions of her books (not an exaggeration ) and has a third one coming out in the fall. And she's just one of many authors making these. So yes clearly there is a demand and market for these. And the ones for grown up have much more detailed pictures than the ones for children. Sure you could use the children's ones or you could use the ones for grown ups. Doesn't really matter which.

Just because you don't 'get it' doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it. I don't get watching sports on tv either but apparently lots of people enjoy it. I've heard there's something called a SuperBowl but I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than watch it. But to each their own.

Donald Benson said...

What I miss are Punch-Out Books (even then being redubbed Press-Out Books). Used to be, every respectable TV show had a lunchbox, a magic slate, a board game and a punch-out book as well as a coloring book.

No scissors, no glue, no tape. Just punch out the perforated pieces, insert tabs into slots, and you had little buildings and cars and stuff, plus those little figures with the two corners to fold back so they'd stand up if there was zero air movement.

Maybe that's the next big thing. You construct little office and towns, people them with effigies of jerks, then you smash them with your Godzilla paperweight (sold separately) or torch them in the parking lot.

Drive Thru Wench, CPhT said...

Yep, still color. It's just one more thing I never gave up on the way to adulthood. I use it as an in-between for staring at computer screens or during movies at home (blasphemy, I know).

Cap'n Bob said...

Oh, Tammy. I hope that joke didn't muss your hair as it zoomed over your head. Fact is, Crayola regularly changes shades and colors, or renames them, usually for the worst.

VP81955 said...

I'll have to remember to make coloring book rights part of any deal I work out for my screenplay.

Blogger i could be a bob said...
I picked up "It's Gone, ... No, wait a minute" back in April at the start of the baseball season. I finally started to read your story of the minors and majors this weekend. (The Red Sox season pretty much collapsed 2 months ago, I needed "escape.")


This Nationals fan is getting ready to join you.

BTW, MLB today announced its postseason schedule, and game 7 of the World Series would be held Wednesday, Nov. 4 -- the night before the scheduled third-season premiere of "Mom" (whose filming I attended July 31, a few hours after the trading deadline).

Matt said...

This is nothing new. Essentially this is just what Paint by Numbers was 40 years ago.

There is a lady in my office getting near retirement who has several nice watercolors in her office. A few years ago I complemented them and she said "Paint by Numbers is a godsend."

Mike said...

My Crusader Rabbit colouring book only has grey tones. But then we only had a black & white TV.

Ray said...

The memory this evoked for me was of something about as old as ol' CR:

Remember Winky Dink?

(No, that's not dirty.)

This was an audience-participation cartoon where you put a Magic Screen over your 10 inch diagonal, black-and-white, highly-radioactive television screen and Drew Along With Winky to save the day! Bad guy chasing the hero to the edge of a cliff? STOP! while you Kids At Home drew a bridge over the chasm on the Magic Screen!

Or, if you were born of cheap parents and were too short to reach the green pieces of paper in Mommy's purse? You drew on the picture tube.

Once.

Katie G. said...

I spent this summer studying for the bar exam. I was finding it incredibly difficult to wind down and turn my brain off in the evening. At the suggestion of my sister, I bought a "country landscapes" coloring book and some colored pencils. It really helped too. It was very relaxing and really lets your mind rest.

Jake Mabe said...

Well, the way the Tigers are playing, what the hell?

Nah, I'm more of a color outside the lines kinda guy.

Meanwhile, I'm going to hunt down "It's gone....no, wait a minute."

Gerry said...

I'm a cartoonist, so coloring is all in a day's work. And yes, it's super relaxing!

Btw, "flesh" isn't a color, any more than "hair" is.

Mam said...

I agree with Heather don't knock it until you try it - if you do fine if you don't fine :-)

Mitchy said...

I do colouring often, I buy cheap books of patterns called Altair Designs to colour in. It's soothing, I can listen to the radio or music while I'm doing it and I find it a great way to relax.

The annoyance of it being a fad is people say to me "Oh that's all the rage now, isn't it?" but I've been doing this for years before it was popular. Which I suspect means the prices of my cheap books are going to go up *grumbles*

BestKeptself said...

I like this a lot. What a fun card it will make for "missing you" Thank you for sharing your talent.