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Friday at the Cartooning Class Christmas Party

by  in Comic News Comment
Friday at the Cartooning Class Christmas Party

Well, technically, we have to call it a “holiday” party.

The Cartooning classes have two parties a year. The Christmas holiday party, right before Christmas vacation winter break, and again in the spring, on the last day of class before summer vacation.

These are a lot of fun. I time them so we always have a new issue of the class ‘zine published, so we can celebrate that, and also those are the dates that the kids collect their loot. Technically, their wages.

Since the books we put out are carried by Zanadu Comics downtown– they actually are sold in the store– there is a wholesale transaction that takes place. When Howard first asked me if I wanted him to pay for the ‘zines, I told him no, if money changes hands it turns into a whole ugly thing, there’s a zillion forms to fill out and it becomes a bureaucratic nightmare. And splitting the cash across thirty students means each kid would net about four cents or so.

Then I had a brain wave. “Let’s do it on a barter basis,” I told him.

So twice a year Zanadu makes up grab bags of old comics and clearance stuff for the kids. They love it and it lets Howard clean out his quarter boxes. I dole out the books at the parties, and it’s understood that this is PAYMENT for the ‘zines the kids put out. It does wonders for their work ethic.

Traditionally on party day we order pizza, the kids trade their comics back and forth and wheel and deal and have a fine old entrepreneurial time, and I bring in a movie. Usually the movie is some geek thing the kids can’t get anywhere else; at Madison, the girls are all totally in love with the Birds of Prey television show. So we screened “Sins of the Mother” and “Primal Scream.”

Scoff if you will, but bear in mind that my sixth-grade girl students really don’t give a rat’s ass about how accurate the TV show was in relation to the comic; most of them have never seen the comic. What they respond to is that it’s Batman: the Next Generation — and that next generation is all girls up there kicking supervillain ass. (They get a big charge out of Marvel’s Spider-Girl book when I bring it in, for much the same reason.) I think they also identify with the young Dinah, and they love the idea of a teenage girl hanging out with the infinitely cool and understanding Barbara Gordon in the Clock Tower. (They are very interested in the BOP trades I bring to class, though they are always bummed to see that the Huntress isn’t Batman’s daughter in the comic.) Even so, considering the latest issue from Sean McKeever features Barabara Gordon, the Huntress, and an eager teenage girl hero, if that’s going to be the premise then DC really ought to find a way to get this book into some kind of digest format for the bookstore market. Seriously.

The boys enjoy it too, mostly geeking out over the Bat references. Personally, I find that viewing it as a kid’s adventure show rather than as an adaptation gives me a new appreciation for it, especially watching the girls go into orbit when Helena gets off a good line or kicks some guy in the face.

This all takes up a lot of my week, pulling this together, so instead of a column you get to look at pictures from the party.

This is Marcus and Shane.

Both of them are new this year, but this class is clearly something they’ve been waiting their whole lives for. Marcus is a factory, he was filling notebooks with his comics long before he ever showed up in middle school. He’s got a very practiced eye and a great sense of pacing. Shane is his inker — this year the kids are starting to explore the idea of a studio system again. Shane inks three different students on a regular basis. He likes monsters and was overjoyed to discover there are Godzilla comics. He was all about back issues of Marvel’s Godzilla book when we had the show at Seattle Center a couple of months ago; I had to suppress a laugh when he told me, with the didactic sincerity a real fan brings to the discussion, that there are Godzilla books from both Marvel and Dark Horse and he had to write out a checklist for himself. (I hasten to add that I wasn’t laughing at HIM, exactly; it struck me funny because I do the same thing myself. We know the smell of our own.)

Here are three of the sweetest girls I’ve ever had in a classroom.

That’s Kat, Sarah, and Andrea. Kat and Sarah are collaborating as well — Kat does the figures, Sarah does backgrounds and shading. I think they switch-hit on inking, I’m not sure how they work that out. But the pages are really beyond cute. Their strip is called, “Humankind Interaction With Underwater Sea Creatures (That Title Is A Mouthful — of WATER!!)” It is the tale of three koi fish (Guppy, Charles, and Sheldon) and their adventures with an animated sock puppet that … uh, fell in the water, I guess. You kind of have to just go with it. But it’s hilarious. And Andrea did the story of “Bob, the Bad Dot.” He really is a big dot that went bad, dropping out of dot school (“Bollington U”) and going on to a life of disrepute.

Honest to God the hardest part of my job is keeping a straight face.

Jessica and Lindon are back, of course.

Lindon (in the center) is in 8th grade this year, which means it’s her last year with us. I will miss her terribly, of course; but I am also wondering if she’ll find a niche in high school. This has been her hideout for three years — I honestly think Cartooning class is the only thing at school she’s really conscientious about. You can see, it’s our party day and she’s completely buried in an inking job. She was terribly sick last week, and had her father drive her inked pages down to school rather than blow a deadline. I know damned well her other teachers don’t get that kind of service. Lindon’s pages have really gotten polished — if she was older than thirteen, she probably could get work.

However, she’s by no means an adult. Lindon’s still a complete hellion — she asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could give her advice on how to forge a parent’s signature. (I think I talked her out of that idea, but I admit to feeling a mild inner glow that Lindon felt comfortable enough to ask me something like that.) I was the weird angry kid at her age too. It’s not that much fun.

And here’s the mad stampede for the door as the final bell rings.

“Haveagreatbreakmrhatcherbye!!” is all I heard as they ran for it.

Connor did pause to gloat. That’s him looking at the camera with his ha-HA-you-have-to-work-another-day-and-I-DON’T! smirk. I would have clobbered him but the little brat’s too fast for me. And I think there’s laws or something against it. Still, he’s lucky he’s fast. Rotten kid.

Anyway, that was our holiday party. I hope yours are as much fun.

See you next week.

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