Those of us who work at GoComics feel pretty comfortable with the idea of being grown-ups who read, edit and promote comic strips for a living. I always wanted to work in the humor/art/entertainment industry on some level, so it's a natural fit. But lately I've felt an extra level of appreciation for the craft, having watched my 2.5-year-old daughter encounter some of the GoComics characters and features for the first time.
It started, as it often does, with Snoopy. We found some animated shorts on Netflix (produced by Peanuts and with editorial input from folks like Stephan Pastis) and introduced her to the Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials last year, which she loved (who wouldn't?). She likes to point to the characters, say their name out loud and laugh, occasionally looking over to us for affirmation. It's a fun way to watch TV.
Next, I brought home a coloring book I found at the office which includes characters like Ziggy, Heart of the City, Fox Trot and others. She did an especially amazing job coloring Baldo, even if the purple skin and green hair she gave him didn't quite match our official color guide. I sent Mark Tatulli a picture of her coloring of Heart of the City and told him that if he ever needed a back-up colorist, I knew someone who would work for cheap.
At the Joslyn art museum in Omaha (a pretty fantastic place if you're in that part of the world) we saw a graphic novel exhibit in the children's wing that prominently features Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce.
The framed, original Big Nate artwork looked right at home on the wall of the fine arts museum, and seeing it on display reminded me how detailed, expressive and balanced his artwork is, especially in the graphic novels.
Not that our daughter was paying much attention, since she was busy drawing pictures in the kids' craft area. It was a different story the following week when we got her her first ever McDonald's Happy Meal, which made us feel like generous and also terribly irresponsible parents at the same time. The Happy Meal toy was a cool little Big Nate book that came with stickers. I pointed out Nate, Teddy, Francis, Gina, Jenny and Artur to her, but I didn't see Chad. If you ask me, that's a pretty big missed opportunity. Chad would be an excellent spokesperson for just about any kid-friendly eating establishment.
Then again, I can see why he might not be an ideal fit for a company trying to promote healthy eating options in spite of themselves.
Either way, kids love Chad, Big Nate, Heart, Charlie Brown and so many other GoComics characters I haven't mentioned here. As adults, it's easy to understand and explain what about the artwork and writing makes a certain feature successful. But kids appreciate this stuff on an intuitive level, experiencing a genuine delight when they see these characters. It also makes me feel proud to work where I do. In the words of UU president John Glynn, our cartoonists bring joy to people's lives. It's a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of that process, especially when you see it first hand.