“Every grown-up has an inner child that just wants to play, and coloring books are perfect for that,” behavioral economist Michal Ann Strahilevitz told Forbes earlier this year to explain the adult coloring-book craze. Sales of the books jumped from 1 million in 2014 to a whopping 12 million in 2015. Popular options include tapestries of nature and cityscapes, intended for anxiety-soothing and stress relief; Secret Garden is a particulary beloved example. But enthusiasts can find everything from Dr. Who to Harry Potter to travel and biblical themes. There’s a Taylor Swift coloring book, too.
Now, pals Connor Thompson and Chris Elphick have created the first proper “adult” adult coloring book in the category — Cockadoodles, which banks on the idea that every grown-up has an inner child that just wants to play… with dicks.
While some titles have veered into more mature themes — Mommy Drinks Because You Cry, for instance — Cockadoodles’ closest cousin is Sausage Party, a limited-edition coloring book to promote the animated film of the same name. While that was deliberately “filthy,” Cockadoodles is a more wholesome 32 pages of penises ripe for the shading, plus penis-guided mazes, penis-related word searches and connect-the-dots that result in — you guessed it — penises. “It’s just like a classic coloring book,” the description reads. “But with page after page of penis.” Thompson and Elphick, both 28, launched an IndieGogo campaign to raise $5,000 to fund the printing and shipping of the book. By deadline, it had surpassed that goal, hitting $6,400 from 256 backers located all over the world.
Now, as the creators prepare to ship the first run of Cockadoodles to their supporters (you can grab a single copy for $18 while they set up a proper website), they spoke to MEL about what it’s like to look at pictures of dicks for nearly a year.
Why dicks, and why now?
Connor: That’s an excellent question. I made an offhand comment to my girlfriend one day when I was looking at adult coloring books — “How adult can they be? They don’t have any adult content? Wink wink, nudge nudge.” Then I stewed on that bad joke for about a month or two and still thought it was funny. Chris thought it was funny, too, so we boiled it down to a coloring book. Full of dicks. As for why dicks, well, dicks are easy to draw. And people think dicks are funny. That’s how it honestly began. One really bad joke I thought about too long.
Chris: We knew somehow dicks were going to be the answer, just because of the ease and universal appeal. You know when you’re in elementary school sex-ed class and the teacher says “penis” and everyone busts out laughing? Some of us never grew out of that.
Are these intricate, detailed drawings like the traditional adult coloring books offer?
Connor: No, the images are all very plain, in more of the traditional coloring-book style. We expect most everyone who colors this in will buy a box of crayons, and we also expect a number of people who receive this won’t be happy about it. It’s going to be a gag gift for sure.
What was the research phase like? You said you spent a year finding and drawing the right dicks.
Connor: It was storyboarding. We decided early on that 32 felt like a good number of pages, but after coming up with 20 dicks, thinking of every type of dick we could think of, we turned to the internet. And the internet didn’t disappoint. I don’t know if you know this, but the internet is full of dicks. So we literally typed “dicks” in Google. One uncomfortable search turned into dozens, if not thousands, of dicks. This is how the book got its humor — from everything we saw on the internet.
Chris: We would find a dick or a style of dick we liked, and draw it — they’re all mostly freehand — and we’d build a scene around a type of penis that we liked.
So it’s a wide range of dicks?
Connor: We run the gamut of dicks: flaccid, erect, cut, uncut, pierced, even a few images where someone is tattooed. It was mostly seeing a penis that looks interesting, and thinking, If I get a kick out of it, other people will, too.
Chris: We have big, we have small, we have in-between. We’re definitely aware of a bigger variety of dicks than we even knew existed a year ago.
Even though this clearly isn’t for children, could it pass as educational?
Connor: There’s a single anatomical page, so someone might learn a new term they weren’t aware of. Contrary to what I’ve been doing with my life the last year, I’m not ashamed to say I learned things, and I would be surprised if a lot of people thought, Oh ho hum, I’ve seen this all before.
How did market research affect the book, especially given that women are 71 percent of the buyers of adult coloring books?
Connor: They’re a big market for us, no doubt. We narrowed it down to three core groups: The first is millennial women who want to give their friends the book and have a good laugh about it. Second, maybe even bigger than that — gay men have taken a real liking to this and have been more prevalent about sharing it on social media and commenting online. A third group is straight guys who think this it’s funny and want to give it as a joke gift.
It doesn’t look pornographic, though.
Connor: I wouldn’t describe the book as pornographic, and we weren’t intentionally trying to push that envelope. It’s literally just a weiner-themed coloring book.
What was the biggest challenge here?
Connor: I think the biggest challenge was in putting our distaste of the subject matter aside in the pursuit of something funny. It took a lot out of us to sit down night after night and look at dicks.
So there was some level of repulsion at the same time?
Chris: Repulsed isn’t the right word. It’s just something I only want to see so much of. Take anything normal, and if you have to draw page after page of it, it will become exhausting.
Connor: At some point it became almost monotonous. That’s where the creativity came out and pushed us to make every page drastically different than the one before it. Once I was no longer amused as I was at first, I pushed the envelope and made pictures that were funnier.
Chris: Eventually we came to a point of “What will we do to make this hard cock look different from this hard cock?” And we had to do a lot more research to make it stand out. Sometimes it was the dick itself; sometimes it was the background.
Did you ever disagree on a dick?
Chris: We found that we’re pretty much on the same page about penises.
Has the project given you a newfound appreciation for dicks?
Connor: I don’t know if I have a newfound appreciation — I always had an appreciation. I still think they’re as funny as I did in the beginning, if not more because I’ve seen so many.
Chris: In some way, there’s a new appreciation. We are now more experts than we ever thought we’d be.
What’s so funny about dicks anyway?
Connor: They’re just weird-looking. There’s so much variation from dick to dick in detail. One dick to the next can vary so widely, but as soon as you see one, you know it’s a dick.
I have to ask: Did you include dicks that looked like your own dicks?
Connor: We made a point of not including our own dicks in the book. However, there’s such a wide variety that it would be tough for anyone to say there’s a dick in the book that doesn’t look their dick in some way.
Chris: Imagine a character select screen in a video game. You might not find something entirely representative of you as a penis, but I think once you look through the book, you think, I could go with that one. I would be comfortable calling that my penis.
If this does well, could you see yourself doing vaginas?
Connor: No, drawing dicks is easy, but we’d need to get way more intricate if we were to do female body parts.
Chris: I don’t feel talented enough to draw a vagina and have it look like a vagina, and I’d want to do it justice.