Children’s Cartooning Classes

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I taught children’s cartooning classes at the Davis Art Center near Sacramento for some time during my “cartooning” years. The most important thing was to read the kids eyes and provide positive encouragement.

I had completed my lower division classes in Electrical Engineering at the time, so I was quite systematic. I always prepared a lesson for the 10-week classes with a hand-out that we would go through on what we were covering in today’s class.

Again, you had to read the kids eyes.

Quite often the handouts would be something they could share with their parents later and review in detail together.

I would cover the reference handout pretty quickly. Looking in their eyes…and then go to the white board to do a better job at making the handout come alive.

It was a 1.5 hour class with every seat full and the kids were busy! There was a waiting list to get into classes, but the fire marshal only allowed 20.

I would make the rounds and comment on their work and most importantly lend encouragement and a little direction.

In the final class of the 10 weeks I would provide each student with a “magazine” I had created from their work over the previous 9 weeks

Many students took the class again and again and vied for the prestigious “front cover” of the magazine.

This was in the late 1980’s before the day of computers. So, I had to create all this by hand with scissors, rubber cement, white out, and hours at Kinko’s.

The time I put into preparing lessons and creating “magazine” mean..that all though the Davis Art Center paid me…I lost money on every class.

But the joy of the kids seeing their work “published” in class 10….I could not put a price on the smile upon their faces.

I still have copies of all those “magazines” I created with the kids.

Of noteworthy alumni…

Joe…went on to become a prominent tattoo artist in the Bay Area.

But what made the entire experience worthwhile was “H”….

“H”…made it all worthwhile…

She was a very withdrawn girl, picked on at school, and tightly concealed in her shell.

Bullied. Bullied without mercy.

I encouraged her as she drew.

She took the class 5 times.

She would show up to class early with drawings she had done outside of class to show me.

She made several magazine covers.

Her mother was always very nice to me.

A number of years later her mother saw me and thanked me.

“H” was now enrolled confidently in a top university.

Previously, she had been barely functional at school with the bullies.

Her Mom  said the classes changed “H’s” life.

It gave her confidence.

I believed in her….

and she then subsequently believed in herself.

Bullies stopped bullying her and she went on to excel with confidence in school.

The important thing to remember is what it can mean to a person when you tell them….

“I believe in you.”

You never know when you might change a person’s life.

Look for that opportunity.


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