What cartooning can mean to kids

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Cartooning means something different to me now than when I was a kid. Today, I could talk for hours about the techniques and achievements of hundreds of cartoonists. I might actually critique cartoons, dissecting every detail from line weights to sweat droplets. But as a kid, none of that really mattered.

Over the years I’ve volunteered at grade schools demonstrating and teaching the fun of drawing silly pictures. I preach the same philosophy that was imparted to me many years back, when Flying Rhino co-founder Ray Nelson visited my school:

“The only rule of cartooning is: There are no rules.

imlay_03I can’t overestimate the importance of this statement. A child’s curriculum is full to the brim with “you musts”:

  • You must stay inside till recess.
  • You must get four from two and two.
  • You must color inside the lines.
We’re inundated with comprehension without a proportionate amount of exploration. But what good is understanding without context, without relevance, without stretching the boundaries of what is or isn’t correct?

There are no rules:

  • Why can’t a cat be neon green?
  • Why can’t an elephant water ski?
  • Why can’t Venus be inhabited by squid-rhino creatures?
These are some of the questions I answered on notebook pages, typing paper and Magna-Doodles every single day of my public school career. They’re the sort of questions which tap into every child’s boundless well of imagination.

While imagination may seem less quantifiable an aptitude than mathematics, history or athletics, it is our most important trait as a species. Every child that puts pen to paper and explores the possibilities therein carries with them a spark that moves generations.

Why not? There are no rules.

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(Pictures taken May 1 at Imlay Elementary School’s annual art auction event)

Responses

matt says

Hey, I remember when Ray Nelson visited my elementary school – I thought that was so cool! And now that you’re apparently doing the same thing, I feel the same way. Kudos, et cetera – you’re racking up all kinds of good karma.

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