I blanked out, staring out the window while admiring the beauty of the fairly new Hollywoodland sign. I had a nice, clear view of the sign as my room was in its perfect line of sight. I remembered when it used to light up, it would make my room glow even when it was pitch black outside. Since the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression hit, no one bothered to light it up and take care of it anymore. It was quite a tragedy. It used to such a beautiful sight.
It was a beautiful sunny morning in downtown Los Angeles. I always knew that I was blessed to live in such a beautiful city. It was an up and coming city and I knew that it would be somewhere where people dreamed of one day going. I snapped back to reality, took a deep breath, and tried to focus on the sketch of a little dog in front of me. I drew long curvy ears, a cute little nose, and elegant little paws. It was coming out quite nicely. I finished shading in some parts and it brought my sketch to life. I dated the drawing and signed the bottom in tiny letters with my full name. Queen Ophelia Chanelle Aquila, March 7, 1930. My boss, Max Fleischer, would be quite happy with what I created with his idea. I still thought making his cartoon dog into a person would be better, and I knew that it would attract more attention.
After three years of being his assistant, and helping him build his career, he still failed to learn to listen to me and my ideas. I knew him better than he knew himself. He was a brilliant man, yet he always had his head in the clouds. I think that was how he was so creative. I was the rock that kept him from going broke or making bad decisions, the realistic part of his fantasy. He always said I made him, without me, no one would have known him. He underestimated himself, and at times, underestimated me.
I put my sketchbook into my bag and began to get ready to go to work. I went into the bathroom, turned on the shower, and waited until it got hot. I stepped in and closed my eyes. I began to think about my drawing that I had just done, and I began to imagine what my little dog would look like as a person. I would keep the cute, little button nose, and other similar designs, but still make it different. I dried off, put a little bit of makeup on, and went downstairs to make breakfast for myself. As I arrived, my older brother, Marcel, was there eating a Good Humor Ice Cream.
“Great to see you’re eating a nutritious breakfast!” I said sarcastically.
“Of course, you know I eat only the best of the best,” Marcel answered me with just as much sarcasm.
“I’m going to make an omelette, would you like one?”
“Yes please!”
“Too bad.”
“I hate you Ophelia,” he said with a frown. “Why do you always do this to me.”
“I’m kidding, Marcel, I’ll make you one.”
I made breakfast for the both of us, we sat down at the dining table, prayed, and began to eat. Marcel began to tell me about all his cases and how well they were going in court. When he began his work, he noticed low income families who could not afford top dollar lawyers, so he opened his practice exclusively to them. Marcel wanted to represent the people who weren’t able to find a honest representation. As a result, he reputation boomed and his business grew. Most other lawyers would overcharge these families. They would take advantage of their limited money, while they had these poor clients end up serving time for a crime, which in most cases, they did not commit. King Marcel Demetri Aquila was a fitting name for him.
“Enough about me, how are your drawings going? I know you are making a character based on me,” Marcel said with a smirk.
“Maybe one day I will, but not at the moment. Right now I’m working on the drawing I told you about a couple of days ago.”
“You’re right! How’s that going?”
“The drawing is going well! I think it turned out nice, but I also think the whole idea will be better off if we made the little poodle into a cartoon person. I want to tell Max about my ideas, but I’m conflicted to do so. What if he doesn’t like it?”
“I think you should talk to him about what you’re thinking. Actually, I think you should make a separate drawing with your twist on his idea. Make a new drawing, and this is time make it into a person. To be honest with you, he’s a fool not to love your ideas, they’re always so beautiful. If worse come to worst, if I have to, I’ll knock some sense into him if you need me to,” he finished with a slight hint of a grin.
I thought about what Marcel said and I thanked him for his advice. Maybe I would make a new drawing and show it to my boss. There he goes again, showering me in his continuous wisdom, yet always showing his protective side. He’s always been overprotective of me ever since we were kids.
Growing up, my parents were well off. My father was a thriving lawyer as well, and my mother was a nurse. Marcel followed in my father’s footsteps, and I took the more creative path. My parents grew up extremely poor, always on a limited budget. Through all the hardships they encountered, they powered through, and managed to get through school. They worked their way out of the poverty level, and every time I think about their past, I’m always amazed at how far they have come. When Marcel was born, they decided that they didn’t want us to grow up being spoiled children who didn’t value what they had. Our parents grew up in the church, and raised Marcel and I in church as well. We’ve never left. My parents bought a small, quaint house when we were growing up. They used to say it didn’t matter where we lived, as long as the family was together. My mother taught us to be humble and to always care about others. My father taught us to always be nice to others and to never flaunt our wealth. I’m glad they raised us like that. I would not have wanted it any other way.
After breakfast, I said my goodbyes to Marcel and left to work. I worked in downtown Los Angeles in a four story building with a beautiful view overlooking the city. I entered the building and saw my favorite secretary sitting at her desk typing away.
“Good morning Brooklyn!”
“Oh, Good morning Miss Boop,” she said happily.
“Oh stop with the ‘Miss Boop.’ Ophelia works just fine,” I said as I rolled my eyes and slipped into my office.
I unpacked my bag and took my sketch book out. Hmm, I guess I’ll try a quick drawing. If I just incorporate my ideas into Max’s idea, I think we will have a winner. I began to draw and before I knew it, I had a rough drawing of the new and improved idea. I thought of Brooklyn, listening to her type away, and I decided to call my drawing Betty Boop. Betty was Brooklyn’s middle name, and she had always called me “Boop.”
“Boop! Mr. Fleischer is waiting for you in the conference room,” Brooklyn called out from the front.
“On it!”
Just in time, here’s my chance. I brought the sketch that I had finished up this morning, and also brought the new sketch I had just made. I walked into the elevator, and asked the elevator operator to take me to the fourth floor. As I got closer to the door, my nerves kicked in. God, please calm me down and bless my encounter with my boss. I arrived, took a deep breath, and walked to the conference room.
“Good morning Mr. Max.”
“Oh Ophelia, hi! Come in, how are you?”
“I’m well, how are you?”
“I’m good, I’m good, I’m extremely good.”
“Any reason in particular?”
“I’m excited to see what you have done with my ideas! Did you draw anything? Are you done? Is it finished?”
As he continued to shoot out questions, I smiled and began to show him what I’ve created. He looked over it carefully and inspected it. He did not say anything and my palms began to sweat. I rocked back and forth on my heels and clenched my fists together. I felt as if he could see my hands damp with dew. I had the feeling that he was not going to like it. If he didn’t like the drawing I made of his idea, then he definitely would not like my interpretation of his idea. Max still hadn’t said anything, so I started to slowly accept my defeat. I started to think I would never be able to tell him what I had in mind. As he took a break from all inspection, I saw an opportunity to introduce to him my new plan. I gathered the courage to finally tell him. No more being scared. Mom named you Queen Ophelia for a reason, be strong .
“Max, I have been exploring with a couple ideas for this drawing. I was thinking, what do do think if we make it into a person?”
I handed him the drawing I had just made before the meeting. He began to look over the drawing and his brow furrowed. Does he think my idea is irrelevant? What if he hates it? Does he not like it.? I thought it was well made. Maybe I should have kept quiet about everything.
“Yes, yes! I love it! And I hate to say it, but I think you may be right. I think if we turn her into a person we would have more success,” Max said with complete and utter excitement.
My chest relaxed and I smiled and we began to discuss the future of our little creation.
August 9, 1930
The first appearance of my beautiful little creation was going to be brought to life today. She was going to star in the show Dizzy Dishes. Max loved my idea so much that he spent the next five months perfecting the drawing and writing script for Betty Boop. She was finally ready to be shown to the world. When she was finalized, I told Max that I did not want any recognition for contributing to the creation of Betty Boop. All I needed was to know that my creation was going to be successful, and that was all the thanks I needed.
Greenspan, Jesse. “8 Things You May Not Know About the Hollywood Sign.” A&E Television Networks, 15 July 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2018.
“Max Fleischer Biography.” A&E Television Networks, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2018.
Fleischer, Max. The Definitive Betty Boop: The Classic Comic Strip Collection. London: Titan Comics, 2015. Print. Staff. “The 1930s.” A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 12 Feb. 2018.