Thursday, March 21, 2013

Where Koobish Come From

by Adam Rex

First, a little background: in my novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, there is a kind of alien livestock called the koobish. Here are a couple of them in a photo with one of the story's protagonists, J.Lo:

Their favorite food is chlorine.

I'd like to explain how the koobish came to be, and to do that I first have to tell you about a very bad tattoo I got back in 1991.

I was eighteen, and away at college, and four of us decided on a whim to get tattoos. What, you may be thinking, could possibly go wrong. If memory serves I believe Liza got a Tazmanian Devil. Kim got some sort of dolphin/rainbow/Earth combo. I can't remember what Brad got, but based on these previous choices I'm going to go ahead and guess it was the Chinese character for "stupid."

I had begun writing a bit at this point, and I fancied myself something of a humorist, so I got a jester on my ankle. Like so:

I was not drunk.

I don't think I'm giving away too much at this point in the story if I tell you I no longer have this tattoo, but that sketch above is how it looked to the best of my recollection. Like Bea Arthur. I didn't even draw the original design myself. I picked it off the parlor wall. I was an art student AND I PICKED MY TATTOO OFF THE PARLOR WALL.

Anyway, years passed. I quickly grew to hate the tattoo, but it was on my ankle, and I almost always wear socks, and literally months could pass where I didn't think about it at all. It was so inconspicuous that I dated my wife for a whole summer before she noticed it was there. We managed to pull through and it only made us stronger as a couple.

Eventually I realized that while I would never pay to have it removed, it might be worth one or two hundred bucks to get it covered up with something else. So I designed this little fellow:

Here it is filled in:

And actually on my ankle:

I liked it, and I named it the koobish. And it occurred to me that I'd like it even better if it had some actual significance, so I wrote it into the novel I was working on.

Ta da.

Next year Smekday is going to be a Dreamworks movie.  They're just amping up animation right now; but I've seen the entire movie as a black-and-white animatic, and among the changes the've made to the original story is the omission of any koobishes.  I asked if there was still any chance they might pop up in a background somewhere, and the director wouldn't rule it out.

I'm really hoping they make it in there, and that the koobish becomes the first tattoo to grace a major animated feature since Walt Disney asked for a "pretty lady Donald" on his lower back in 1940. [citation needed]


  1. Wow! I hope the movie will turn out great. I could only imagine myself telling to my friends that (if ever) the koobish actually came from a tattoo of an artist. XD

  2. You, Adam, are a breath of fresh, well freshish, well anyway air. Thanks for making life funnier.

  3. This made me chuckle. I've always wanted tattoos, but never have gotten one (yet) because I'm so fickle that I change my mind every 10 minutes about what I like. I think as an artist, I must be very particular about it, ha!

    This story is really cute, and I can't wait to see the film. Just the little glimpse of the characters and the name 'Smekday' makes me think I'm going to love it. Best of luck!

  4. lol,great post!
    My wife and I love the book and the characters!
    She even calls me Koobish (in front of people) because she thinks it's cute.

    1. I love hearing stuff like that, Steven.

  5. What an amazing story. I'm glad you and your wife were able to "pull through" lol. Hope a koobish or two make it in there for you!

  6. Finding the koobishes was an intriguing discovery in the book. Hope they reconsider, and bring them to the big screen were they belong.
    Thanks for sharing the koobish origin story!

  7. Something about this makes me think of an Edward Gorey story. It could be called, "The Unfortunate Tattoo".

    Wonderful anecdote!


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