Thirty years ago in a snug kitchen of formica and linoleum I proudly showed my grandmother a picture of Snoopy on his doghouse that I had copied from the front cover of a book she had given me the Christmas before. I thought it was one of my best efforts but she just smiled and pointed at a doodle of a rocket on the bottom corner of my page.
"I like that much better," she said.
I was shocked and confused. Snoopy looked like Snoopy. The rocket was bent and looked more like a tube of toothpaste than something capable of propelling adventurers into space.
"Yes, but that rocket is you," was her response. "Those are your lines. They came from your head. That is your ladder and your raygun."
"That's an engine," I grumbled.
For a long time I thought my grandmother was nuts. Not crazy-go-nuts but sweet- doesn't-understand-art-nuts. On her next visit I showed her a picture I had copied of Huey, Dewey and Louie. This one was a masterpiece. I was convinced it looked as good as the real thing. She agreed it looked like the original. And then she asked if I had drawn any rockets recently. I decided at that point not to show her anymore drawings.
Thankfully, the penny dropped not long after when the thrill of creating authentic copies of other people's artwork faded and was replaced by the heady rush that accompanied explorations of the imagination.
Since then I have not been happy unless I have had a pencil in my hand and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.