Publication: Newport Daily News
Date: November 7, 2005
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Cartoonist talks about freeing the child within
As he ripped open his button-down shirt Sunday afternoon at St. Anthony’s Church in Portsmouth to reveal the familiar logo on his T-shirt underneath, he said the problem was that he could never convince anyone else of his real identity.
“I unbuttoned my shirt and I expected them to carry me around the room,” he said, referring to the “gray, rainy day in 1983” when he originally revealed his identity to a group of friends. “I believed having a shirt made me Superman.”
Kotecki, a 29-year-old cartoonist from Madison, Wis., told a group of about 75 that this lack of imagination contributes to a condition he has dubbed “adultitis.”
“Adultitis is when grown-ups forget how to be kids,” he said. “The average preschooler laughs 450 times a day, but the average adult only laughs 15 times a day.”
While he may not really be a superhero, Kotecki said this lofty childhood goal helped him refine what he wanted to do later in life.
“When I was a little kid, I either wanted to be a superhero or George Lucas,” he said. “I wanted to be a superhero because I wanted to help people, and I wanted to be George Lucas to create characters and worlds.”
As a cartoonist, Kotecki’s profession allows him to do a little bit of both. “I’m not curing cancer here, but I am trying to start everyone’s day with a smile.”
Kotecki used slides to present his point, asking Sunday’s crowd to identify the adultitis-stricken Grinch from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and Principal Rooney from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” as opposed to their opposites, the Cat in the Hat and Ferris Bueller.
Kotecki said this condition could cause people to doubt their faith in religion.
“Some of us think God is so old he can’t possibly relate to the things we experience today,” he said. “But how we perceive him is different than how he is.”
The image of God as an older, fatherly figure who created the world in six days shortchanges some of his lighter creations, Kotecki said.
“I think the very same God invented noogies and wet-willies and knock-knock jokes,” he said. “Only someone with a sense of humor could have come up with the giraffe.”
There is support in the Bible for embracing a more child-like state of mind, Kotecki said, although he joked that some might not be suitable for children.
“If anyone is looking for a good way to put your kids to sleep, just read them Leviticus,” he said, laughing.
Kotecki paralleled an adult’s relationship with God to the parent-child relationship.
“When you’re a kid, you feel safe when you’re holding your mom or dad’s hand,” he said. “The reason we (adults) feel lost is because we ran off into the parking lot without holding God’s hand.”
Also, more interaction is needed between family members, Kotecki said as he described the vacations he took with his family to the beach when he was growing up.
“The best part of every trip is that we would come together as a family and build a fire on the beach,” he said. “We’re so busy rushing that we miss out on hanging out with the people we care about. The number-one thing you can do for your family is to eat dinner together.”
Kotecki started his comic strip, “Kim & Jason,” when he was still dating his future wife, Kim. He said the strip was a way to cheaply impress her while he was still a starving college student.
“They were very heartfelt and cheap gifts,” he said, laughing.
The strip features the adventures of the title characters. Kim and Jason are two young children who constantly get into trouble, but they always have snappy lines to defend their behavior. The strip is reminiscent of a kinder, gentler “Calvin and Hobbes,” including a stuffed animal skunk named Stinky who believes he is a high-class socialite.
Kotecki said he started a Web site for the strip about five years ago, and then started expanding the distribution. The strip is self-syndicated, mostly in the Midwest.
Kotecki said working on the comic is now his profession, although he does donate 3 percent of all merchandise sales to charities, such as the Make A Wish Foundation and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
To read “Kim & Jason” online, visit Kotecki’s Web site at www.KimandJason.com
©2005 Newport Daily News.