These are mostly pictures I put up on the Fester Fish Facebook page, one at a time. Here they are all together, so you can see Fester's evolution.
Above: This is where it started-- after watching hours of 20s and 30s cartoons in my History of Animation class, I was inspired to make a parody/homage. I quickly decided that the character should be a fish because it seemed like the most illogical choice. These are the very first doodles of Fester, dated October 8 2009. Early story ideas, seen here if you can read my primitive scrawls, include a nutty professor ripoff, and what would eventually become "Fester's Nephew."
Here's another really early sketch from Oct 8 2009, with the first real drawing of Slightly Smaller Fish.
It took me a while to decide whether or not Fester should have a bowtie. I decided not to include it because he was already too similar to Flip the Frog, and a bowtie would've meant another thing I had to draw in every frame. Fester doesn't seem classy enough for a bowtie anyway.
^From October 25 2009. Wow, these are terrible. Fester looks completely deformed. I was really struggling with the concept of doing expressions on him. An early version of the title card is also seen here, as well as some bizarre "fin-leg" things that would've made posing the character way harder.
Oct 27 2009... This is probably the first drawing of "Fester's Goil," eventually named Blottie. All the elements of Fester's design were pretty much set by this point, I just needed to get better at drawing them. I planned to have Joe Rabbit (from my Space Goose series) appear as a friend of Fester's, along with the classy robot from the "Banquet Bust-Up" episode of that cartoon. They may still appear in future episodes.
October 29 2009-- More experimenting with Fester in different poses. I have no idea what the moustachioed Fester in the trench-coat was for, but it makes me giggle. As does the word "moustachioed."
This is another early design of Fester and his girlfriend Blottie, from November 2009. At the time, I was in the middle of making the third Space Goose episode, so if you spot them as background characters in it, this is what they look like.
More early misshapen Festers! In "Fester's Nephew," Fester has a pet man-fish (the opposite of him being a fish-man, I guess). This drawing is the genesis of that gag, although here it's supposed to be Cary Grant. In the final cartoon, it looks more like Jimmy Stewart.
By this point, the design was pretty much set. Fester looks basically like he did in some of the first scenes I animated in "Fester's Nephew." I still had to get better at drawing him though.