I remember getting the book pictured above through the school book order and drawing frogs and dragons until the cows came home. (I grew up in Iowa, so that’s a lot of drawing!)
I also used to have this great plastic light up desk that came with all of these sheets with Spider-Man in different poses for you to trace. I, of course, traced all the cool Spider-man stuff and passed it off as my own to friends at school, and then I traced the Sunday comics until the cows… Never mind.
Anyway, another great learning experience was a cartooning class taught by the local newspaper’s cartoonist. (Remember those?!) It was at the Bettendorf Public Library and technically an adult course, but my Mom, looking to feed a cartoon hungry young lad, got them to allow me in after much paperwork and a letter from my school’s art teacher. It was seven or eight weeks long and I wasn’t very good, but it really got the ball rolling.
I think the other big cartooning strike of lightning came my freshman year in high school. I was in art class doing one of our first projects for the year and the teacher noticed my cartoony take on it and recommended I try to cartoon for the school paper. I drew editorial cartoons for The Lance on national issues for four years earning strange looks from my fellow students, but raves from the teachers and other adults. I’m not kidding myself that this was great work, but it was certainly better than average and, while not planting the cartoon seed, it certainly watered and fertilized it.
I’d love to say at this point that I went to art school in college and studied design and the old masters and all of that, but I took another route and majored in jazz trombone performance. A choice I certainly don’t regret as my trombone playing took me around the world and earned me countless friends and a nice living when I was young, but it did slow down my cartooning aspirations.
Back to Emberly, I can’t believe it, but he’s still going strong today with his own website and lots of fun stuff for kids to do! I only hope in a few years that my son will enjoy his stuff half as much as I did.
This is long overdue, but thanks, Ed! Thanks a lot!