Well, I am officially beat. Just got back from an elementary school. I did seven presentations today, for kids ranging from kindergarten up to fifth grade. The morning consisted of five straight 30-minute sessions with a five-minute break in between. The afternoon sessions were a bit longer, since I had older kids who can usually sit still for slightly more than two-point-seven nanoseconds. Not that I’m complaining. I love doing it. I’m just…tired. The challenging thing is repeating the exact same presentation five times in a row while trying to make it sound fresh for each group. I think I can pretty much do the whole thing in my sleep by this point. It’s funny how smooth it becomes after awhile. I settle into a rhythmic cadence, and find myself gesturing and pausing and raising and lowering my voice at the same moments in each presentation. Like a veteran stand-up comedian, I know exactly what things I say that are going to get a laugh, and I’ve learned how to say them in such a way as to get the biggest one possible. One cool moment has become when I draw Stinky for the kids. It starts out very abstract, with just a few simple shapes. Ultimately, there is one crucial line I draw that sort of corrals the whole thing together, and I know at exactly what point of the line I’ll start to hear the proverbial light bulbs going off and the moment when the kids are able to see Stinky emerge from the random assortment of seemingly ambiguous lines. I’ve also learned some other somewhat useful things. I can draw pretty well sideways, as is necessary when drawing in front of a group so they can see every line you draw. I’ve gotten to perfect my Mr. Rogers “Let’s be quiet for a moment boys and girls”, line, which I don’t have to use very often, but it’s kind of hard for a cartoonist drawing funny pictures to NOT rile school kids up. I’ve also become well-versed in my knowledge of current cartoon shows that kids list as their favorites. Even though I haven’t seen most of them, I can at least nod my head in acknowledgment instead of staring at them like some old clueless stick-in-the-mud grown-up. It’s especially gratifying when some rare kid has actually seen Kim & Jason and proclaims that as their favorite. As far as bribes go, it’s five dollars well spent, if you ask me. I think I like the end of the presentation the best. In most cases, I’m able to hand out Kim & Jason coloring sheets where the kids have a chance to fill in the empty word balloons and add their own slant to my characters. They seem to most enjoy making Stinky “stink”, and giving Kim and Jason oddly colored hairstyles. And it’s neat to see what things they picked up from my talk – especially the older ones. The younger ones are just so excited to be drawing, and they all want to show me exactly what they end up with. It’s hard to know what to expect. At the end of one talk to a roomful of kindergartners a few weeks ago, I had one little girl come up to me and proudly tell me that she was going over to Lindsey’s house after school. Indeed. My hat is off to the teachers and the teachers aids who do this stuff every day. Their patience and commitment is at a level somewhere beyond any stratosphere I can envision. But I really enjoy the chance to break free from the business of the office from time to time and soak up the youthful excitement of these young kids. All the while nodding approvingly at yet another rendition of Jason with green hair.
- - - | written by Jason on | - - -