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Cartoonist shares his craft with kids

Cartoonist Will Robertson explains a drawing technique to children attending the summer reading program Wednesday afternoon at the Sweet Home Public Library. Robertson said he knew he wanted to draw a comic strip since he was 11. (Alex Paul/Democrat-Herald)

SWEET HOME — Drawing a newspaper comic strip is hard work, “Casey and Kyle” creator Will Robertson told children at the Sweet Home Public Library Wednesday afternoon.

But  it’s also great fun and rewarding when that effort makes someone laugh or smile.

Robertson, 31, said he knew by the age of 11 that he wanted to be a cartoonist.

“I started drawing comic strips for my school newspaper in the sixth grade and continued through two years at George Fox University,” the Amity native said.

For many years, Robertson made a living as a musician playing the bass and singing. But since 2008, his cartooning talents have put food on the table.

“Casey and Kyle” revolves around the antics of brothers ages 4 and 1.

Robertson says he gets inspiration from his own sons, Aidan, 7, and Marek, 4.

He also is an astute observer of life around him, whether it’s at the park, grocery store, or coffee house.

The strip runs in 11 Pacific Northwest community newspapers and reaches an estimated 250,000 potential readers.

“I like to have the strips to the newspaper editors two months in advance of when they will run and that creates its own challenges,” Robertson said.

“Right now, in the middle of summer, I’m thinking and drawing about Halloween.”

Robertson said sometimes ideas are fleshed out almost immediately.

“But, I’ve been working on one idea for three years and it’s still not ready,” Robertson said.

He has published several compilations of his cartoons and spends about 200 days per year at book signings from San Francisco to Seattle.

He has honed his craft by “drawing, drawing, drawing” and asking for advice from famous comic strip artists including Peanuts creator Charles Schulz who told him to “focus on character development.”

“He also told me that “everyone has to win sometime, even the bad guy.”

Stone Soup creator Jan Eliot advised him to show  strips in the pencil stage to friends to determine if they are funny before committing them to ink.

Robertson showed the youngsters how he starts every character by drawing a circle, adding eyes, ears, a mouth, hair and the hardest of all — hands.

“Sometimes, it’s best to find a model,” Robertson said. “I use my son Aidan a lot.”

At first, he tried to draw Casey and Kyle exactly the same every strip.

“They have evolved over time,” their father said. “I don’t think I could draw Casey the same as I did three years ago.”

He encouraged the young artists to post their works on Facebook and seek comments from others.

Robertson’s books can be ordered from his website at caseyandkylecomics.com.

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