Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Public Speaking: Expect the Unexpected!

Today's lesson?  Be prepared!  Unless you're really really good at winging it. :0)

This morning I was supposed to be talking to a class of second graders about cartooning.  I knew I was going, but have been so busy that I hadn't given it any thought at all... until this morning.  Mistake number one.

I've done quite a bit of public speaking, and I've spoken to classes and groups about cartooning, so it's not brand new to me.  I have certain things I bring along, handouts, activities, and I know there'll always be a place to draw on, so I figure if worse comes to worse, I'll wing it.  It's just a small room of kids, right?

So, I sit down with an hour left before I have to leave, and go searching my computer for the handouts to print.  I found one, but not the one I wanted.  So, I started printing the activity page while creating a coloring page.  And that's when my computer started dying.  It's moments like these when I understand why people hate PC's so much... and Windows Vista is one of the worse.

Now I have 5 minutes until I'm late, and I've finally managed to print out the activity, the coloring page, and pack up selections of my books and comics and freelance work, grab some give-aways, grab the camera, and get to the school as fast as legally possible.  I find my way to the classroom and there is a swarm of activity!  Weren't they expecting me?

Oh yes, they were.  Except that  the teacher had told another teacher who told another teacher... and this morning they all decided their classes should see what I have to say.  FOUR classes of second graders!  A huge group of kids who all have something important to say and share and questions to ask and.... oh boy.

I'll be honest:  I love kids.  But they also terrify me.  No, not terrifying like zombies, but kids tend to be... honest. Brutally honest.  And the questions they ask?  I used to coach girl's soccer, and let me tell you how tough that was, to get a word in, for one.  "Didn't you wear that shirt yesterday?"  "How old are those shoes?"  "How's my hair?"

So, I entered this noisy classroom as if it was a shark tank, and I had no cage to hide in.  I settled in, got a drawing board, and hid my give-aways because there were just too many kids, and I don't ever want to disappoint a single child.  I looked into the audience, and just started talking.  I figured that was better than standing there looking stunned, and it was.

It turns out that that group of sharks was actually a room full of cuddly bunny rabbits!  The kids were so sweet, so much fun, and as always, had so many very intelligent questions!  There is never enough time to talk with kids about cartooning, let me tell you!

I showed them my books, talked about working, answered questions, and did a few drawings in between, to keep the flow going, and it was a wonderful experience.  We ended by me doing a drawing of my Alien, and the kids telling me what to add to it.  Again, it was so much fun!

The kids had to go to lunch, but so many held back to ask questions, and I even got a few hugs!  That was a surprise... I usually just high-five, because isn't that what kids do?

So, a potentially terrifying experience became a wonderful moment which I will always treasure.

A final word of advice?  Don't pass out bookmarks at lunchtime, because you will definitely get in trouble with the cafeteria lady!

JOHN :0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Haunting Tribute!

Some time ago, a young lady I know, who relates very much to my character Iris from The Inquiring Minds, approached me with an idea.  She was proud that she had faced her fears, and finally went on the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney World, and loved it!  She then had her mom take a photo of her in front of The Mansion, posing as a hitchhiker.  What a cool idea, and she deserves all the credit for it!

Now, she's been adamant that Iris is based on her, and has requested that I put her in a comic strip.  After seeing the photo of her in front of the Haunted Mansion, and letting it simmer in my mind a bit, I decided to draw Iris in the same pose.  After all, I'm in the midst of writing and drawing the Knight and Day Family Vacation, in which the Knights go to Disney World. So, the illustration works for me, and at the same gives this young lady the proof she required that her and Iris are twin souls.

I am very happy to present the original art to her, to reward her inspiration, and very cool idea.

The illustration was based on her photograph, and then turned into a postcard, which I then made into a Knight and Day panel.  This is, quite fittingly, my 13th Knight and Day panel! Don't you just love coincidences like that?
All the best,    JOHN :0)

PS On my iPod?  Hugh Laurie, Let Them Talk
PSS How fitting that Iris appear in a tribute to the Haunted Mansion, since her fellow Inquiring Minds, Bobby and Albert, appeared in a haunting tribute last year! (Available as a fine print in our shop)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Big 300!

Tomorrow is my birthday... and no, I'm not turning 300, but I find it serendipitous that I get to draw my 300th Knight and Day daily strip to honor the occassion.  Or vice versa!  Because honestly, this is a HUGE milestone for me.

Yeah, I know... 300 strips is just a year in the life of a syndicated cartoonist, but I don't get paid to do this.  For me, it's a true labor of love, accomplished in what little spare time I have, with the occassional fan mail or book sale to spur me on. This is a very big. very proud moment for me, especially when I put these 300 strips next to the other Knight and Day cartoons I have drawn... panels and Sunday cartoons, and of course the many pages of my Knight and Day graphic novel, 3 Knights in India.  And then there's the many Sunday and daily cartoons (as well as illustrations) of The Inquiring Minds, and the hundreds of comic strips drawn before these two strips that make up my book Once Upon a Times...

Truly a big day for me, looking back at all that I've accomplished to date.  Looking back at my comics, to me, is like looking at a scrap book of my life... funny moments that I think others will relate to, embarrassing moments that I'm sure others will laugh with, and drawings of places that I've lived and visited.  Every moment was special, and so immortalised in ink on paper.

Last year at this time, I celebrated my birthday in Disney World, and it was awesome that most of the Cast Members in the park were so nice and cheery, wishing me a Happy Birthday everywhere I went, and sometimes even singing.  So, even though I'm skipping ahead a bit in the current storyline, it seems fitting that my 300th strip celebrate that special time.

Thank you for sharing this proud moment with me!    JOHN :0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Knight Family Vacation Page

Just a quick note to say that I've moved all the Knight and Day vacation strips to their own page at the website.  This way you can read them all at once, and in order, and it's easier for me to update.

A new Knight and Day was just added, and believe it or not, but the Knight's are finally leaving!  Well, they're in the car, anyway. :0)

While you're there, check out the rest of the site and see what's new.

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Friday, September 09, 2011

September 11, 2001

I was taking a break from cartooning when the events of September 11, 2001 occured.  Those events brought me back, and reintroduced The Inquiring Minds.  It's hard for an artist to watch the world around him change, without responding in some way.  This was my response.

I lived close enough to the city to see the smoke rising from the horizon, and the army helicopters flying overhead on alert.  Everything changed, and so I tried to capture that feeling through the eyes of my young characters.