PERSONAL: Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
CAREER: Artist. Co-founder of OXO ART Publishing, Topango Canyon, CA; executive producer of Sitting Ducks animated television series; creator of animated television film The Santa Claus Brothers, 2001.
AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy Award for The Santa Claus Brothers, 2001.
(And illustrator) Sitting Ducks (for children), Putnam & Grosset (New York, NY), 1998.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A collection called Quatro Sightings, using photographs taken by collectors of Bedard's sculpture of a character named Quatro.
SIDELIGHTS: After growing up in Windsor, Ontario, on the U.S.-Canada border, Michael Bedard moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s and eventually became a popular poster artist. He is best known for his "Sitting Ducks" poster from the late 1970s, a darkly comical image of three ducks sunning themselves poolside with sunglasses and iced tea. One duck, however, has noticed bullet holes in the wall behind him and is curiously studying them. The poster is representative of Bedard's skill in using humor to highlight personal and social problems. "Sitting Ducks" was inspired by behaviors Bedard witnessed in ducks he was raising at his Topanga Canyon home, as well as by the death of Beatle John Lennon, who in 1980 was shot and killed by former mental patient Mark Chapman. The "Sitting Ducks" poster gave birth to several other projects, including a storybook, a video game, and a television series that aired in some fifty countries. Bedard, who has no formal art training, also won an Emmy Award for his animated film The Santa Claus Brothers.
For his book titled Sitting Ducks, Bedard crafted a story about ducks who are hatched at the Colossal Duck Factory and destined to become dinner for the local alligator population. When one duck escapes and makes friends with an alligator, he takes on the difficult task of saving his fellow ducks. The fowl live in ignorance in Ducktown, where they are encouraged to eat so much that they cannot save themselves by flying away. The illustrations expand on the colorful, sharply delineated artwork of the original poster. In an interview with Los Angeles Times writer Lynne Heffley, who described the work as "a fowl 'Soylent Green,'" Bedard remarked on the easy transition from one format to another: "I've always thought of the duck series more as story telling in a way than painting," he said. In a review for Booklist, Ilene Cooper observed that the "sassy text and singularly amusing art" contain laughs for adults as well as children. A Publishers Weekly critic described Sitting Ducks as possibly "a comment on Big Brother, vegetarianism or star-crossed lovers," adding further that the story compliments Bedard's "crisp, mechanical artwork." Karyn Miller-Medzon remarked in the Boston Herald, "Not only is this book a wonderfully imaginative (and perfectly silly) tale, but it's also a great lesson about friendship, accepting others despite their differences and the benefits of honesty."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Art Business News, July, 2003, Kevin Lo, "Ruffling Feathers: Artist Michael Bedard Uses Animation and Humor to Satirize His Perception of the World," pp. 54-55.
Booklist, December 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Sitting Ducks, p. 669.
Boston Herald, September 27, 1998, Karyn Miller-Medzon, "What a Duck Does When His Goose Is Cooked," p. 64.
Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1998, Lynne Heffley, "Fans Go Quackers for Bedard's Allegorical Art," p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, October 12, 1998, review of Sitting Ducks, p. 75.
ImageExchange.com,http://imageexchange.com/artists/ (March 31, 2004), Todd Bingham, "Michael Bedard."*