- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - The cartoon cat Garfield is notorious for hating Mondays, but for a selected group of Ball State University art students, Monday might just be their favorite day of the week.

Nineteen BSU seniors gathered Monday night as cartoonist and Garfield creator Jim Davis taught his first of a series of college art classes, as part of the school’s Artists in Residency. Mike Prater, associate director at BSU’s School of Art, said the program has artists provide their skill-sets outside the framework of a regular class. It’s a more hands-on approach.

“It was just the perfect title for what Jim wanted to do and what he hoped he’d be able to accomplish,” Prater said.

For Monday’s class, the goal was to teach students how to draw funny, which Davis said can be pretty difficult. He began instruction with some words of advice. For example, “if you draw it, you own it,” and “if you love drawing, you’re going to draw a lot.”

He then explained how he drew Garfield characters’ expressions and gestures, using examples of his own work. One comic strip he showed included Jon, Garfield’s owner, smelling a shirt he hadn’t thrown in the laundry yet. The odor was so foul, Davis drew Jon’s hair sticking straight up.

Finally, Davis had the students put pencil to paper and try creating their own funny drawings.

The first situation related to the comic strip. Davis told students to draw Garfield running into a tree going 100 mph. The next time, he told the students to draw a “funny fruit.”

“Wow, that is funny,” Davis said, taking a glance at various students’ sketches.

Davis continued to walk around the room and scan their creations, picking up each student’s sketchbook and showing it to the entire class. He found that while the first situation prompted similar drawings from each student, the second involving funny fruits had variety, ranging from a pear in a dress to an apple doing stand-up.

By the end of the class, nearly every student was laughing.

Davis said he knows what it’s like to be in their shoes. He started out as an art education major at BSU and attended his first class, a design class, in 1963. He said cartooning was always his guilty pleasure, but he never thought he actually would get to become one.

“I remember vividly walking into the art building wondering if I belonged here. It was such a large, intimidating building,” he said. But right when his first class started, he liked the atmosphere, and he knew right then and there, he “was in the right place.”

Davis comes back to his alma mater with 38 years of animation experience to share. Newspapers across the country have run his comic strip since the late 1970s. The cartoon has been turned into movies and television shows. Even the cartoon cat’s canine companion Odie has more than two million likes on Facebook.

The cartoonist said there is a “huge market for digital storytelling” today, and that his students have an even greater opportunity than he did to make it big in the animations industry.

“This environment is even bigger and better because they now have animation and glass-blowing and metals, just all kinds of wonderful ways of expressing yourself,” he said.

Davis will be back in the art building 6-8 p.m. Monday to share his insights with a new set of art students.

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Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, https://tspne.ws/2drpje2

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Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com


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