Happy Father's Day... after a fashion.

I used to find Father's Day depressing. My dad wasn't anyone to celebrate, and Julie and I don't have kids of our own. Holidays like this always seemed to just grind in the ugly fact of how screwed up my own family is. Thanks for twisting the knife, Hallmark.

But it was recently pointed out to me that Julie and I actually have a lot of kids in our lives -- Cartooning students who've graduated that still check in with us, stuff like that -- and we were allowed to celebrate that.

So here's a gallery of random comics and art stuff from 'our' kids. Just for fun.

Rachel is bound and determined to learn how to draw the COMICS versions of the X-Men.

And here Rachel takes the X-Men to the beach.

We still hear from Katrina, and she still gets bored in class.

Here's another of Katrina's:

"It took three days because I only worked on it during Bio." Seriously, that was the caption.

Here's one from Brianna, who used to have Rachel's studio TA job. She just wrapped up finals at Western Washington University and is hard at work on "my first non-web assignment!!" Not sure what it is but it apparently involves inking a lot of zombie figures. In the meantime, here's one she did just for fun:

And another:

Bri's finally stretching herself a bit. This is the first non-manga piece I've seen from her.... at least, the first one she liked well enough to share.

At the end of the school year there are quite a few 'family night', showcase event-type things usually involving stage plays or dance revues or whatever for all the arts programs. Cartooning is often overlooked for these but this year we were specifically asked to show our stuff at both schools. Here I am at the Madison one with Carlos and Jessica.

This was our last event of the year and Carlos and Jessica's last year in Cartooning, so there was a certain bittersweet vibe about the evening. It's why the kids are being so antic, it's a last hurrah for them.

We also had one at Aki the following night (where in addition to being part of the cartooning display, Lynn, Jada, and Relivia all starred in Jungal) but sadly, those photos didn't rurn out.

And finally -- the proudest 'parent' moment we had this year was attending the local high school production of Thieves' Carnival the night after the Aki event and seeing on stage, at any given moment, at least three Cartooning alumni of a cast and crew that included six of mine in all: Tiffany, Stephanie, Amanda, Rachel, Emily, and Katrina. (I think there must be some correlation for teen girls between drama class and manga, an artistic gene that is triggered by both. Lynn, Jada, Brianna, Relivia, Kat, Jamie and a bunch of others all did drama too; all our girls seem to go straight from one to the other. Julie and I see a lot of school plays in the spring every year.) After the curtain call the kids blew right by their parents to come swarm us, where they assured us that earlier, peeking out from the wings, the word had spread like wildfire that "Greg and Julie are here!!"

Rachel documents everything and here are a couple of her backstage photos from Thieves' Carnival.

Rachel and Amanda. Seated is Haleigh, another cast member.

Like many high schools, the auditorium also doubles as the cafeteria, so 'backstage' is actually the kitchen.

Tiffany, in the blue T-shirt, was the stage manager. Here she is with several of the cast: left to right, Sarah, Katrina, K-Bo, and Emily.

Note the diva expression Katrina is wearing.

In case it wasn't clear in the above photo...

...this snooty Edwardian matriarch was clearly a role Katrina was born to play.

After the play, in the car on the way home Julie leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "I love your job."

Yeah. Me too. If it's not technically parenthood, well, sometimes it's close enough.

Happy Father's Day to all you other occasional parental surrogates out there. Hold your heads high, you get a piece of this holiday too.

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