Kids have a self-awareness that tells them, I don’t want to grow up. I think its because we’re smart enough in our adolescence to observe the contradictions in our parents lives. Sometimes, we see our parents unhappy, in order to make us happy. Or more frequently, we understand the freedom we have as kids to make our own adventures, and then we don’t ever see our parents doing that. They toil, and talk to each other about it’s unpleasantness. Who then can blame kids for not wanting to grow up? Kids don’t want to trade creativity for labor. It doesn’t seem to them that the adults around them are fulfilled or growing up in a positive direction, or being creative in much of any capacity. It’s clear to kids in these situations that childhood is all they’ve got. So they fight against adulthood.
The question really is then, can we lose a part of ourselves in adulthood? Is there creative fulfillment you’re neglecting in putting away any part of your silly childhood self? I believe so, and I don’t blame you. Adults shelve their creative desires out of necessity. Suddenly there are bills to pay, others to provide for, and the terrors of adapting to society. Kids rebel from this. If adulthood is the means to them losing creativity/fulfillment, the you can count them out!
This theme of fighting adulthood is prevalent in a number of cartoons I engaged in as an adolescent myself. Here are three worth mention in light of this idea.
1.) The Kids Next Door
In this universe, adolescent kids act as a commune of secret agents (in a super high-tech tree fort), quite literally fighting against adulthood. Becoming an adult is the great evil of the KND. The killer lunch-lady, a sticky bearded adult pirate, and a silhouetted character they call, “Father,” all act to thwart the childlikeness of the kids next door. Even teenagers are displayed in this show as a mutation into the dreaded adulthood. Watching these stories unfold in such a dramatic fashion made it clear to me in my developing mind, there is something about adulthood to be cautious of….but what?
2. Calvin and Hobbs.
This comic was alluring specifically because of calvin’s character. The adults around him see his stuffed tiger friend as just a plush toy, but in calvin’s perspective, he is a literal tiger. What intrigued me most as a child was Calvin’s intelligence. The comic seems written more for adults, because of the sophistication of the content, yet anything I couldn’t understand as a child I would try to understand in the context of the visuals. Calvin and Hobbs fit into the theme of childhood rebellion because, though Calvin speaks and reasons like an adult, he is portrayed as a very young boy, no older than 6. I would draw from this a sort of ideal place to be creatively. Well learned, and mature, but allowing child-likeness to be a part of how you operate day to day. As a child, I wanted to be like calvin.
3.) Pajama Sam.
The point and click adventure features a little, blue, pajama wearing boy with a red cape who happens upon untold adventures. The hilarity is that he falls into these alternate universes by just wandering about in his bedroom. Sam travels these unknown, and often frightening worlds on his own, pioneering and making great efforts to resolve whatever conflict unfolds. Kids play these games exploring the possibilities of new worlds, separate from their parents. While Pajama Sam is not nearly as rebellious against the forces of adults as “The Kids Next Door” might be, he is most definitely traveling theses new worlds in his own strength. Sam is not afraid, and his accomplishments he bares as a kid.
Whenever I grew weary of reading or playing the adventures of others, I would be inspired to make my own. Comics were the first medium I truly engaged in with effort. I wrote them all down in a black five-star notebook with sharpie on the cover that read, “Toon World.” My content was mainly what I desired to imitate. This was my creative gratification as a child. Every 3 panel segment added generated satisfaction for you. Looking back, I was sporadic, and random, and I copied….I really copied a lot. None the less, I was drawing and writing my own little stories without realizing what it could lend to my artistic development.
For me and the Creative Cult founders, comic making is a way to stay engaged in that same sort of childish creativity. Cult Comics is without a doubt a labor of love for us. Its proof for us that we can make things like kids would, and use our developed adult brains to make the process even more valuable.
Next Thursday, prepare for a look into my earliest comic projects, and how this fills the creative void we had as kids.