The history of this book spans over 50 years. It began in early 1970 when I asked my younger brother Mark, who was then in high school, if he would use his artistic skills to help transform one of my poems, entitled SOCOBY (State Or Condition Of Being Young) into a series of paintings or drawings. He agreed, and after a number of months our efforts produced a 20-foot-long color mural depicting my cautionary tale of good versus evil.
SOCOBY wasn’t the original title when the poem was first drafted. The main character was initially going to be called “Youth” because he represented all of us going through life’s journey, and from an eternal perspective we are all forever young. As the poem was reaching its final stages back in the early 1970’s the name “Youth” as both title for the poem and moniker for the main character just didn’t seem to fit. I looked up the definition of “youth” in Webster’s Dictionary and saw that it meant “state or condition of being young.” Using the first letter of each word, out popped the acronym SOCOBY.
Regrettably, after finishing college in 1974 to pursue a career in government service, as well as Mark venturing into his future endeavors, the mural slowly deteriorated and eventually the canvas could no longer be salvaged. Though Mark and I did not find time to redo SOCOBY, it was still a dream of ours to see it somehow resurrected.
The rebirth of SOCOBY started to unfold in late 2019 when my younger son Peter, an artist who desires to be a 2D/3D animator, agreed to work with me on reproducing SOCOBY.
Though certain characters and underlying themes of the original story remain, there is a new focus on the overall message, look and purpose of this revised version.
SOCOBY is still a cautionary tale about good versus evil, but the story and its associated illustrations now guide the reader to realize that there is an ultimate decision we all must make. What is that decision? Let SOCOBY help guide you to understand and make that very important decision.
–James W. “Bill” O’Clock
A family affair
From the 1970s to this day, Bill never lost his love for wonder and beauty. In his youth he put his vision to paper and now, after 50 years, it comes to life.
Iowa native James W. “Bill” O’Clock was raised in South Dakota. Though his professional career spanned over 40 years in disciplines such as engineering, management and bioethics, Mr. O’Clock continued to enjoy many other activities including writing poetry. The author’s interest in poetry first started when he was in college, and continued to grow as writers such as C.S. Lewis inspired him to use his poems to convey symbolic values and ideas.
Now retired, Bill O’Clock is rewriting some of the poems he penned almost 50 years ago, and SOCOBY is the first. SOCOBY is ripe with possibilities for all of his creative writing imagination; to see it come to life with vivid and stunning illustrations is a dream come true. Even more satisfying is that SOCOBY is a family collaboration, since the illustrator of the book happens to be his younger son Peter and the editing was done by his wife Pirkko.
The illustrator Peter D. O’Clock was born in Arkansas, but spent his formative years in Maryland and is the adopted son of the author and his wife. His gifting for art was evident at a very young age, and as soon as he could pick up a pencil he started drawing. His parents encouraged Peter’s creativity and it wasn’t long before he went from doodling during classes to pursuing his passion using computers. As technology advanced, both 2D and 3D imagery captured his eye, revealing many fascinating possibilities for the future of art. One of those possibilities was realized as Peter attended the Art Institute of Washington Summer Studio prior to his enrollment, where he received the “Best in Show” award. Soon after completing a bachelor’s in Media Arts and Animation, he took on the project of illustrating SOCOBY. The fantastic imagery required presented a great challenge to make the book look both stylized and grounded. Peter’s efforts to create the classic storybook look with rich details and otherworldly landscapes provide the visuals that bring the poem to life. His ultimate goal and dream is to start his own company and impact the creative world on the level of Walt Disney.