Friday, July 06, 2018

Mike Lynch Cartoon Classes

I still have these "drawing parties," but now they are called "cartoon classes." I teach kids and adults in the New England and New York area. Here's a little bit of my philosophy ....

Making art and telling stories was something I always liked to do as a kid. But, when I was a kid, I never met a grownup who did what I did in real life, and could talk about how it all works.

Now I am that grownup.

I want to teach because I remember what it was like to be a kid who, living in a small town, would never meet someone who drew for a living. I grew up in small Midwestern towns, in "states the planes fly over."

I remember one of the first how-to-cartoon classes I taught, maybe fifteen years ago now. I talked for five minutes, and then drew a cartoon on the class blackboard. The kids laughed and then they did a thing that astonished me: they all applauded. I really was surprised I had forgotten that in this age of image-addled kids, that they probably had never seen anyone draw in front of their eyes before; creating something from nothing.

Teaching kids to create something from nothing empowers them. Telling stories, whether humorous or dramatic or autobiographical, is the way to parse meaning from life. By beginning to master the medium of sequential art, they know they are able to achieve a successful standalone story that only they could tell.

But let's peel back the core experience here; a student can realize that nothing -- drawing, algebra, biology, mathematics -- is beyond their ability. They can be what they want to be.

The first question I ask in a cartooning class is, "Where do you see cartoons?" The answer is: all around us -- cereal boxes, video games, t-shirts, advertisements, magazines, movies. And I remind them that each time they see these drawings or animations or ads, they are created by actual, real people. People like me, a person from a small town that the planes fly over, can become anything. Anyone who wants to achieve can achieve, if they are willing to work and challenge themselves and be persistent, patient. This aphorism is what I seek to instill. 

You can reach me at mike at

1 comment:

Paul Merklein said...

Great post, Mike! I also teach cartooning at schools, libraries and comic cons. You can see as video of my class here...