I’ve been delaying it for quite a long time. But now I can finally get to it. It’s time to introduce the next family I was planning for episode six of Sunnyville Stories (now in production). It’s a family of Italian gophers known as the Escavatores!
The Escavatores live just outside of the town itself. Their home sits next to their family owned and operated business, a winery. The Escavatore family winery makes red wine, white wine, and non-alcoholic grape juice. They ship these bottles out all over the area plus their wine is also carried by the general store and in the local restaurant. So how about we meet these gophers?
Vito Escavatore (pictured here in this watercolor and ink sketch from my Moleskine watercolor album) is the patriarch of the family. He makes many of the wines and oversees the day-to-day operations of the winery. Vito has poor eyesight. However, he makes up for this by having a keen sense of smell and taste. This has been quite a boon to him in wine tasting. In fact, his expertise and sharp senses usually cause the locals to seek him out when buying wines and spirits. Frederick Von Straussen has brought Vito along to inspect wine that he wants to purchase. Vito’s smell and taste senses will instantly enable him to tell whether the vintage in question is the genuine article…or a cheap knock-off. Vito is also good friends with Goro Tanuki and often can be found chatting with him at the local restaurant.
Vito’s ancestry is a unique proposition. In contrast to other inhabitants of Sunnyville, who emigrated from faraway countries, he is one who has come full circle. Vito’s ancestor was actually not from Italy – he was an inhabitant of Sunnyville! This ancestor was named Vincent (the last name has been lost to history) and he wanted to make wine. He didn’t know how. Vincent then departed for Italy with a plan to stay for a few years to learn the craft and return to Sunnyville. As it turns out, Vincent loved the country so much that he decided to stay. Five generations later, his descendant Vito came back to Sunnyville along with his wife Gina to settle. The rest is history.
Gina Escavatore is Vito’s wife, originally from Milan in Northern Italy. She is the mother of the couples’ only son, Giovanni. She usually takes care of the house while the males work the winery. She does help out from time to time with the wine, especially when it comes to sales. Her pasta is legendary in Sunnyville. Whenever anyone stops by, she always insists on giving them something to eat or at least offering espresso.
On another note, I didn’t get a chance to color in this piece. I’ve been meaning to do that for quite some time.
Pictured here is their thirteen year old son, Giovanni Escavatore. To his parents, he is “Giovanni”. The other kids in town found that name hard to pronounce. They started to refer to him informally as “Joe” and then just “Joey”.
When not digging in the ground or helping out his family with the winery, he can be seen out and about town with his two older cousins, Gasparo and Ludovigo. Like his father, he has poor eyesight but a very developed sense of taste and smell. Perhaps Joey will one day take over the winery.
Last but not least are Joey’s two older cousins, Gasparo (the fatter) and Ludovigo (the skinny). They are the children of Vito’s older brother and live in Sunnyville. They usually help out at the winery. Ludovigo is more easygoing while Gasparo has a tendency to boss his younger brother and younger cousin around. Word has it that Gasparo’s appetite rivals that of the baker’s younger son, Olaf Eftirmatur.
Whew! Quite a description of this family – don’t you think? Oh, the family name is meant as a pun. “Escavatore” in Italian means a digging machine. The family happens to be gophers…so it fits. The design of the Escavatore family was based on the 1960s Terrytoons character of Vincent Van Gopher from the cartoon Deputy Dawg.
That’s all for this week. Subscribe via RSS feed or email if you haven’t already. Stop by Indy Planet to buy copies of my comics. Your comments and feedback are always welcome. What’s your opinion? We’d like to know.