This past Saturday I was the Cartoonist-in-Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa. Every second Saturday of each month, the Museum hosts a Cartoonist-in-Residence so visitors can meet and discuss cartooning with a professional cartoonist. The Museum does the Cartoonist-in-Residence Program to help fulfill its mission of “building an understanding of cartoonists and cartoon art.”
In the lobby with my daughter, Kate.
It was an honor to be there and I had a great time chatting with people. (I also sold a bunch of greeting cards, which was a nice plus.) Honestly, the best part was meeting various people of all ages who are interested in cartooning.
One girl, who I’ll call “Ericka,” stopped at my table and chatted with me for quite a while. An aspiring cartoonist, she had a thick sketchbook filled with drawings. They were excellent. Her mother was with her and was clearly very supportive of her daughter and proud of her work. She had at least 50 of Ericka’s drawings on her iPhone.
Before she left, Ericka asked me to draw something in her “artists” book. She pulled out another sketch book, turned to a blank page, and handed it to me. I quickly drew a man waving and saying “Hi Ericka! Good luck with your cartooning!”
After I drew it, I thought it looked pretty dorky. I handed it back to her.
“My mom and I have come here for every Cartoonist-in-Residence,” Ericka said. “This book contains sketches from all of them. You can take a look at the other sketches if you want.”
She handed the book back to me and I flipped through it. There were dozens and dozens of drawings done by all kinds of cartoonists. About 90% of the sketches were of various cartoon characters saying things like, “Good luck, Ericka!” and “Nice to meet you, Ericka!” It was neat that she had this huge collection of sketches from professional cartoonists (and kind of reassuring for me to see that nearly all of them were as dorky as mine).
Later, one of the volunteers came up to me and said, “You know that girl who was hanging out at your table for a while? She and her mom have come here for every Cartoonist-in-Residence we’ve ever done.”
I said, “Yeah, she mentioned that. How long have you been doing this program?”
“Nine years. She’s been coming here once a month for the past nine years.”
That blew me away.
I did a few sketches on the dry erase board, which included a wiener dog, a reindeer and a guy named "Ned."
Towards the end of my visit, a woman came in with her daughter, “Molly,” who was in a wheelchair, and her daughter’s friend, “Teri.” Teri did most of the talking. After asking me some questions, Teri sat down with Molly at one of the tables to draw some pictures.
A few minutes later, they showed me their finished drawings. Teri drew Snoopy and Molly drew Charlie Brown. As I was looking at Teri’s Snoopy, she said, “What do you think, Scott?”
“Very nice,” I said. “I see you made Snoopy brown.”
“Yes,” Teri replied. “I like brown dogs. Scott, you can keep it, if you want. Do you want to keep it, Scott?”
As I said “Sure,” Molly rolled towards me in her wheelchair and handed me her Charlie Brown sketch.
“It doesn’t look very good,” she said, “but I made his shirt yellow.”
“I think it looks great,” I said.
“Molly is my best friend,” Teri said abruptly. “We’ve been best friends for two years.”
“That’s good,” I said.
“I’m developmentally disabled,” Teri replied. “Do you know what that is, Scott?”
Before I could respond, Teri said, “Molly has Cerebral palsy. Do you know what that is, Scott?”
“Yes, I do.”
“People make fun of us a lot,” Teri said. “Kids at school make fun of us.”
“I’m sorry kids make fun of you,” I said. “Some people are mean. Don’t let them get you down.”
“You didn’t make fun of us,” Teri replied.
Teri saw me put the drawings in my sketch pad and said, “What are you going to do with our drawings? Are you going to treasure them forever?” She wasn't being sarcastic – in fact, I doubt Teri was capable of sarcasm. She sincerely wanted to know if I was going to treasure their drawings forever.
“I’ll keep them to remind me of today,” I said.
When I got home, I threw them in the recycling bin.
I’m kidding. I kept the drawings. They’re in my sketch pad and will stay there for a quite a while, maybe even forever.
On Saturday, November 12 I’m going to be the Cartoonist-in-Residence at the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve actually never visited the Schulz Museum before (which is kind of surprising since it’s only about an hour away).
I will be bringing my iMac with me so I can color a cartoon while I’m there. That’s right, drawing on the computer in front of real live people! It’ll be like a cartoonist concert. I want people to take out their lighters and wave them during the slow, emotional parts of the cartooning process.
Charles Schulz’s work was an enormous influence on me growing up, so I am honored to be a guest at the Museum.