OELWEIN, Iowa—In what is thought to be a first, there was no winner declared in the annual First National Bank coloring contest.
Also a first: the judge was arrested for allegedly attempting to assault one of the young artists over work deemed “nothing short of pornographic” by the artwork arbiter.
“The level of talent was obviously lacking,” said contest judge Earl Blads, 73, from a jail pay phone. “I hope to see some improvement next year.”
The contest, sponsored by the bank, has been a mainstay of the Oelwein community for nearly four decades. Previous contests have always produced a clear-cut winner.
This was Blads’ first year judging the contest, and he brought lofty expectations. “I don’t know what they are doing in those schools,” Blads said during his jailhouse interview. “Looks to me like the schools aren’t challenging our children in the coloring and magic marker area.”
There was nary an entry in either the 4–6 or 7–9 age divisions that Blads felt was even close to satisfactory.
“If this was just some leisurely activity, I might be merciful,” Blads said. “But I think my judgment was fair, possibly a bit soft.
“Christ, they all sucked,” he added.
The picture used in the contest featured 11 members of the Peanuts gang, a popular creation by Charles Schulz.
“Not a real challenge,” Blads said.
Alexis Channing, last year’s champion in the 7–9 age group, was back to defend her title. The rather cute 8-year-old was visibly excited as she submitted her entry.
Blads simply handed it back to her, frowning, and muttered, “Not very good.”
When asked to defend the decision that sent the defending champion into a bawling tirade, Blads said: “Did you see Marcie’s hair? Brown! When it should have been burnt sienna!”
Despite the entry disqualifications, bank president Jill Manello decided to hang the entries in the bank window anyway. “I thought they looked okay, aside from the ones that Mr. Blads crumpled up and threw back at the kids,” she said.
Blads allowed the display to happen without interference on his part, although he did bite his lip hard enough to draw blood as the pictures were exhibited. Blads’s face was also a color that he himself would have described as “brick red.”
He could not keep his temper in check after seeing the final entry of the day, submitted by David Jepsen.
Jepsen, a 9-year-old wise beyond his years, had done an admirable job. “He had proper color choices, he had good directional flow, and he stayed within the boundaries,” Manello said. “He did add a bit of freestyle work with a couple of Sharpies, though.”
Jepsen took the following liberties:
- A heart hovering over the heads of two female characters, Marcie and Peppermint Patty, suggesting forbidden love.
- A lit cigarette dangling from the mouth of Snoopy, and a smoking cigar (labeled “chronic”) pursed by the lips of Franklin.
- The use of a beer bong by Lucy Van Pelt.
- Erect penises jutting from the crotch regions of Charlie Brown (who also was sporting sunglasses courtesy of Jepsen) and Linus Van Pelt. The sexual organs found resting places in the mouths of Marcie and Sally Brown, respectively.
“I did the smokes and the shades and the beer bong, but I knew a missing link remained,” the boy said. “Then I noticed the looks of pleasure on Chuck and Linus and the gaping mouth holes on the gals, and wondered why ol’ Schulzie hadn’t thought of drawing the crossed swords himself.”
Blads did not take the artistic expression in stride. He lunged at the youth, reportedly threatening to “rip off Jepsen’s ‘little peach crayon’ and stuff it down his throat.”
“I guess next year we’ll do a background check on our judges,” Manello said.