By Avon Waters
ANDERSON, Ind. — Parents, tired of your kids sitting at the computer? Worried about them not doing anything creative like you did before computers came along? Well, Garfield to the rescue! Professor Garfield, that is. A new interactive Garfield site features games, stories and videos on how to draw cartoon characters, animals and more.
More importantly, it gets children involved as participants rather than just sitting by the screen looking at things passively. The page opens with Professor Garfield. By clicking on “Art-bot” after the page comes up, parents and children can learn to draw Garfield with Jim Davis and other artists.
Jamie Crawford teaches how to make figures out of clay while Eric Reaves teaches children to draw animals. Madison County’s David Reddick shows kids how to draw animals, superheroes, clowns and a princess.
Davis explains how when he was a boy, he had to use his imagination to create things to do. His mother often gave him a pencil and paper and said, “Keep yourself busy.”
It's that kind of self-discovery that prompted the site, said David Reddick, cartoonist at Davis’ studio, Paws Inc. and a nationally-published freelance cartoonist.
“A lot of what is behind Professor Garfield is the effort to make learning fun for kids by using entertaining activities. As far as the videos that we created, some of the thought there was also that a lot of kids don't have access to art programs in their schools. There’s a growing number of schools across the country reducing or cutting programs,” Reddick said. “It’s not replacing schools in any way, but a little something extra to drive kids toward education in an entertaining way.”
Davis has a strong emphasis on education and reading in everything he does, Reddick said. The whole writing crew found a way to make it fun and free to teachers, adults and children around the world.
Like Davis, Reddick’s interest in cartooning started when he was young. He’s never thought about doing anything or becoming anything other than a cartoonist.
“From the age of 5, I always had a pencil, pen and paper with me and was drawing all the time,” Reddick said. “When I was 8 years old I wrote Jim Davis and sent him drawings telling him how to make Garfield even better. I was 8. I knew it all. Now I sit across from him and draw Garfield with him.”
This summer Reddick began producing a weekly comic strip for the official Star Trek Web site called “The Trek Life.”
“It’s a perfect merger of my love of Star Trek and my cartooning,” Reddick said. “It’s a total blast. I love it. I can finally put all this knowledge I have about Star Trek to use.”
Something like “The Trek Life” isn’t a parody of Star Trek; rather it’s a strip about three friends who are very different. Carl is the fanatic fan who grew up on Star Trek and, as one strip states, learned the Klingon language by sixth grade. Then there’s his best friend Steve who is a big fan but not a fanatic.
“Then Kate, another childhood friend, even though she’s known Carl and his obsession all her life, she’s new to the world of Star Trek fandom,” Reddick said. “She’s new to Star Trek. She’d rather be doing her nails or is more interested in fashion and a good romantic comedy. The really fun part is how they play off one another.”
Reddick also had a cartoon in the September issue of Nickelodeon Magazine. And for The Herald Bulletin he does the weekly editorial cartoons on local issues and a daily single panel cartoon on the front of the local section called Reddick’s’ Rhetoric.
Reddick also creates a monthly cartoon for the Anderson Public Library that he calls “The Library Dogs.” The Anderson Public Library project also features his dogs on billboards throughout Madison County advertising library services. It’s all in an effort to make reading fun.
The project started with the library card, which also features Reddick’s Library Dogs. One is named Max and the children are engaged in a contest to name the other dog.
He also published a collection of his Reddick’s Rhetoric in book form. He has won numerous state and national awards for his cartoons and illustrations.
Reddick is also a painter. He has had several exhibits of his paintings locally at the Anderson Fine Arts Center and Indianapolis. His painting have also been shown in Florida and France, including a few one-man shows.
Reddick said, “I’ve also painted wall murals in Florida and Japan.”
Avon Waters writes for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.