"Kids Test Sleds"
Although I'm "a word
guy," I'm a strong conceptual thinker with a good visual sensibility.
(I work well with art directors, illustrators, and photographers, too.)
For this web feature adapted from a Zillions magazine article,
I came up with the idea of the title "Let it Slide" dropping
in over a snowy background three times, as if the tune "Let it
Snow" was playing in the background. (Sleigh bells jingling would
have been a nice addition.) The Art Director animated the image of the
boy riding down the slope.
Creating a website feature
from "repurposed" materials is like whipping up a tasty meal
out of leftovers. I took artwork from a Zillions magazine article
and TV special, then made it "interactive" by having kids
construct a fast-food commercial burger. Kids deconstructed additional
food-ad tricks by playing a kind of game where they went behind-the-scenes
matching "after" and "before" photos.
"Earth Day Challenge"
Long before "interactive"
became an online buzzword, kids' magazines frequently employed techniques
to actively involve readers. In this feature adapted from my original
magazine piece, kids are asked to spot the daily, earth-unfriendly gaffes
committed by the Wastelotz family. Click on an eco-error and a pop-up
window with a tip for making the Wastlotz's more earth-friendly appears.
Funny art and humor gets kids to participate. Having kids point out
someone else's mistakes is an empowering and effective way to get a
point across. Plus, the web's ability to deliver information with a
mouse-click meant kids did not have to flip to the back of the magazine
to find the correct answers.
"New Board Games"
This is an example of a typical
product test, like the dozens (make that hundreds) I conducted during
my long tenure as a Zillions staff writer-editor. But publishing
the results online opened possibilities beyond a basic review. No longer
limited to one static image of each game, I could go "deep"
-- offering a detailed, visual tour of how each game is played.
My editor kept harping, "Let's
make the web site interactive in a community way!" So I came up
with this weekly feature where kids submitted captions to funny photos
from Consumer Reports' archive (going back to the 1930s). I picked out
the kids' better lines and posted these winners the following week.
Some of them are a hoot!
Kids sent in ideas and sketches
for over-the-top or just plain silly products. I picked a few that had
potential then worked with illustrator-writer David Boelke who developed
them into overblown spoofs of commercial hard-sell techniques.
sample features that show the range of my writing and conceptual skills: