Back to School

October 12th, 2005 by Jeff | Dump Core

[Fred at Philo]

Last Friday, I had the honor of being invited to speak to Ms. Rubin’s 7th grade art classes at Philo Middle School in Winston-Salem. Ms. Rubin is a friend of a former employee of Plan Nine, so she requested down the chain to see if any of P9’s artists might be available to come by her class. I just happen to live in the Piedmont Triad area, so I was the logical choice. It took several months to actually work out a good time for me to come by, but I think it was definitely worth it.

I was asked specifically to talk to the kids about what it’s like to be a professional cartoonist. On one hand, I was honored to be invited; on the other, I feel kind of bad about being called a “professional,” when I don’t exactly meet the National Cartoonists Society’s criteria to be considered a “professional.” Oh, well. Still, I had a blast. Although I was nervous, the kids had lots of great questions and seemed to be impressed enough with my art, the books, and especially my Wacom tablet. Even the Fred plush doll made an appearance (and briefly served as an impromptu beach ball).

The sketch above of Fred was done live on the tablet while the kids were watching. (A larger composite of several other sketches is up as this week’s Keenspot PREMIUM-exclusive Jeff’s Sketchbook feature.) I apologize for the quality of this, as I’m still new to using the tablet itself to actually draw on the computer. I still draw my line art on Bristol board and just use the tablet for clean-up work, so I’m still learning. The reason Fred looks a little bit squashed is because I was looking at the projected screen at an odd angle, so it threw my perspective off a little bit.

Still, it was fun and an honor to talk to the kids. I felt odd telling them about “back when I was your age,” but it was interestingly true. When I was in junior high, I was writing regular comics for my own enjoyment. I can look back at those comics and see how far I’ve come. I reviewed some of their recent projects, and I noticed how familiar they looked to my own scrawlings from way back when. I even got a chuckle from Ms. Rubin when I said, “I even used to draw in class when my teachers thought I was paying attention… not that you guys would ever do that.”

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