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The World's Youngest Published Cartoonist
June 22, 2006 8:56 PM   Subscribe

Meet Alexa Kitchen, the world's youngest published cartoonist (who R. Crumb says is "fantastic"). Check out here work. Meet her via Rocketboom (Quicktime).
posted by JPowers (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Call me a bastard, but there are plenty of kids more talented than her. Cute, but nothing special.

Plus, her work seems somewhat familiar.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 9:02 PM on June 22, 2006


You are a bastard.

And that's vintage Calvin & Hobbes.
posted by deadfather at 9:08 PM on June 22, 2006


Wow....looks like my work. And I'm much older.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:15 PM on June 22, 2006


I had more swearwords in my comics when I was 6. Plus I used felt tip pens so they were colored in.
posted by Sparx at 9:17 PM on June 22, 2006


Serial Killer Slumber Party: "Plus, her work seems somewhat familiar."

Check out how web 2.0 she is, though. I'm totally naming my next project Bettr.
posted by rafter at 9:18 PM on June 22, 2006


Yeah, it's okay, I guess... but I'm not sure what the fuss is all about.

I mean, it's not like Mozart writing operas at age 5....
posted by MythMaker at 9:24 PM on June 22, 2006


She really is sweet.

I would like to have seen my favorite New Yorker cartoonist--Leo Cullum.

THe other thing about cartoons that's worth talking about is the cartoon contest on the back page of the New Yorker each week. It's such a different cognitive enterprise to create a funny blurb for a picture than it is to create a cartoon from scratch--it's a sort of revelation to me about the nature of creativity.
posted by mert at 9:25 PM on June 22, 2006


you know, in light of all the pissing Calvins and gesturing Hobbes and various other vulgar adaptations of Watterson's work out there, I think this little girl's appropriation pointed out above is most forgivable.

here's to appreciating and encouraging kids who are interested in being funny, expressive, and artistic. great link!
posted by carsonb at 9:26 PM on June 22, 2006


The kid can tell a story and you can tell what in the hell is going on, which is much better than a lot of the current superhero crop. This page just has a good storytelling flow and some different angles, I think she has the fundamentals.

Reminds me of Harvey Kurtzman for some reason.
posted by marxchivist at 9:29 PM on June 22, 2006


I don't know that there are many kids age 6 who are capable of writing sentences like that. I didn't learn to write until first and second grade. She's obviously brilliant, and I hope her parents continue to encourage her.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:31 PM on June 22, 2006


The drawings she is doing in the Rocketboom video are far better than the recent stuff on her site, so it looks like she's come a long way in two years. I like the book cover, too.

I'll be interested in seeing the new stuff they post this weekend, but the stuff she was doing two years ago (on the site) doesn't seem special to me at all (though, as Steve points out, she has quite decent grammar). Her use of perspective in stories like The Elevator seems pretty advanced for her age, too.

Here's me at 11.
posted by rafter at 9:43 PM on June 22, 2006


Uhh... who's her publisher?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:08 PM on June 22, 2006


It still don't beat Blecky Yuckarella.
posted by squalor at 11:40 PM on June 22, 2006


Is it normal for a kid to be potty trained at 5?
posted by missbossy at 12:02 AM on June 23, 2006


Apparently that's "overnight" potty training -- trying to keep her from wetting the bed at night. But the wording is awkward and can be read as some sort of weird "crash course" in potty training.
posted by Marla Singer at 1:23 AM on June 23, 2006


I feel like I have to be Jean Piaget to appreciate these. Judged from an absolute perspective, obviously these are bad, while, e.g. Bill Watterson and R. Crumb are good. If I drew these and put them up on my webpage or tried to sell them, people would laugh at me. So they require being judged in comparison to other 5, 6, and 7 year olds. But I don't really have this requisite knowledge to appreciate them. I don't work with children, and don't know how their talents typically develop. I'm not really sure what the typical productivity, quality of art, humor, narrative, and spelling/penmanship of an arty seven year old looks like.

Are these comics 80th percentile, 99th percentile, or one in a million? If we took the comics from the top kid in any elementary school would these stand out? I don't know. So, yeah, it's hard to get much more excited over this than it is those wonderful crayon pics on your best friend's fridge:

Friend: "Timmy drew it for father's day, isn't it super-fantastic!"

You: "Well. . . it's no Frank Frazetta."
posted by dgaicun at 3:24 AM on June 23, 2006


If we took the comics from the top kid in any elementary school would these stand out?

They would. The drawings are not that amazing in themselves, but the dialogue and the storytelling are. Most ten-year-olds can't invent and draw a coherent story with a punchline. Alexa's characters are alive.
posted by martinrebas at 4:19 AM on June 23, 2006


Most ten-year-olds can't invent and draw a coherent story with a punchline.

I looked at that recent "road trip" one and there was no coherent story (aside from the fact that events seemed to be in chronological order) and there certainly wasn't a punchline, unless you imagine the strip to be written in a super-deep, super-ironic way by a 30-something struggling artist. And even then it isn't actually any good.

In first grade I had to write some stories and then illustrate them and put them into little tape-bound books. I still have them today, and they're a lot better than these cartoons.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:40 AM on June 23, 2006


Uhh... who's her publisher?

Her dad, Denis Kitchen, of Denis Kitchen Publishing (and formerly of Kitchen Sink Press).
posted by solid-one-love at 5:29 AM on June 23, 2006


I looked at that recent "road trip" one and there was no coherent story (aside from the fact that events seemed to be in chronological order) and there certainly wasn't a punchline, unless you imagine the strip to be written in a super-deep, super-ironic way by a 30-something struggling artist. And even then it isn't actually any good.

Note the note on that one that says it's not finished.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:41 AM on June 23, 2006


You know, If I owned a comic book company, and my kids drew comics, I'd publish them too. I might also get my peers to say nice things about it.

Just sayin'.
posted by quibx at 5:51 AM on June 23, 2006


My wife is an elementary art teacher. Alexa's work as seen here blows away almost everything I've seen her 1st and 2nd graders do. The visual expressiveness of her characters really impresses me. I'd probably call her 99th percentile in my quasi-informed opinion.
posted by zsazsa at 6:29 AM on June 23, 2006


For the record, I teach a comics drawing course (to kids aged 10-15). Alexa is really good.
posted by martinrebas at 6:40 AM on June 23, 2006


Your favorite 6 year old cartoonist sucks.
posted by NationalKato at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2006


cartoon I did at 8:
Part 1
Part 2
posted by piratebowling at 7:50 AM on June 23, 2006


I guess she's an OK storyteller, but I can't stand the drawing style, 7,6,5 or whatever. When I was 7 my draftsmanship was already much better than this (though it barely improved from there) and I didn't rip off known comic-strip plots. Then again, my characters tended to be thinly-disguised versions of Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and so forth, so I guess it's a trade off.

I do applaud her drive to democratize cartooning by kids. Drawing comics is, in fact, easy, and more kids should be encouraged to do so. On the other hand, it's just slightly disingenuous to single her out as some kind of genius because she's "published," ignoring the fact that her father is a well-known comics publisher.
posted by soyjoy at 8:13 AM on June 23, 2006


piratebowling: "cartoon I did at 8:
Part 1
Part 2
"


My kids used to write comics until I witnessed hetero-erotic stuff in Castle. I've since had it removed from the line-up. It's a shame because some of the panels are really good and artistic.



(Cheeky for an eight year old! The lecherous smile in the last panel is great. I used to have the same stamps.)
posted by rafter at 8:26 AM on June 23, 2006


I looked at that recent "road trip" one and there was no coherent story (aside from the fact that events seemed to be in chronological order) and there certainly wasn't a punchline

But there were a lot of jokes! Did you miss them?

They are little-kiddish, but they are pretty good (her carrying her mom out to the car is hilariously drawn), and she ties them together into a single narrative. It doesn't really go anywhere, but this is exceptional for a kid her age!

I'd probably call her 99th percentile in my quasi-informed opinion.

Oh, yeah. I'm sure her teachers make a big fuss over her.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:39 AM on June 23, 2006


I'm gonna have to side with the "what is all the fuss about?" crowd. Granted, my comics at that age were completely impenetrable, and also knock-offs ("I once wrote a comic I called "The Far Side of Things"), but on the other hand, I'm pretty sure I could have gotten published were my dad a publisher.

Also, in my opinion R. Crumb's endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt, as his stories can sometimes be even harder to understand than these shown here.
posted by hoborg at 9:07 AM on June 23, 2006


I don't think these are the be all and end all of comics either, but I'm still going to show this to my 11 year old son. His comics have some great potential but he never actually finishes anything, so maybe this will inspire him.
posted by Biblio at 9:54 AM on June 23, 2006


Uhh... who's her publisher?

Her dad, Denis Kitchen, of Denis Kitchen Publishing (and formerly of Kitchen Sink Press).
Bing bing bing. We have a winner!

This is just bullshit hype.

Dad in the the business of publishing comic books (anthologies). His daughter didn't have to submit her stuff and have it sit in some picky editor's slushpile. It went right to the top.

I couldn't draw for hell at that age, but I could tell a coherent story. These are not very coherent. In fact, they're quite crap.

If it wasn't for daddy's position, they'd be stuck on the fridge with a cat-poem magnet.
posted by C.Batt at 11:32 AM on June 23, 2006


I couldn't draw for hell at that age, but I could tell a coherent story. These are not very coherent. In fact, they're quite crap.
If it wasn't for daddy's position, they'd be stuck on the fridge with a cat-poem magnet.

Damn. Kick any puppies on the way to work today?

The kid's stuff is fun. Doesn't matter who her dad was. Frankly, being Dennis' daughter probably got her interested and exposed to comics.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2006


...and published.
posted by soyjoy at 12:16 PM on June 23, 2006


Jesus onna stick, she's Denis Kitchen's daughter. She could vomit on a napkin, and the sycophants would tell him it was genius.

Don't get me wrong. I love Denis, I've known Denis for over 20 years, since the days when I was one of the comic book writers/artists/publishers. Denis is one of the grooviest people alive, and has an amazing collection of Wurlizters, should you ever want to see a bunch of them. He's also one of the primary driving forces behind the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the comic book museum, and a fair amount of the liberal politics in his area. He's a great dude, he is.

But just like Bill Gates' kids may or may not be programming wunderkids...this child may or may not grow up to be an artist. But right now...she's a kid...and not an artist.
posted by dejah420 at 1:15 PM on June 23, 2006


This is like going to cafepress and getting your work bound into a volume then claiming you're a published author.

There's a term for this: vanity press

or perhaps...

PepsiBlue.
posted by C.Batt at 1:27 PM on June 23, 2006


I have very little experience with comics, but in my uninformed and underexposed experience this girl has (for her age) an incredibly astute sense of human behaviors and expressions, and an equally awesome talent for rendering these in minimalist form by honing in on subtleties. Its not easy to consistently convey character of person and place in a few simple artistic strokes (or even with a camera for that matter). The kind of comics I tend to enjoy do just this.

I think the middle frame on this page is exemplary of what I'm trying to say: At age six she not only played with varying spatial depths between frames, and the inclusion of both background and foreground elements within a single frame as is evident here; but also, she (consciously or not) captured a very familiar moment humans experience over and over--that of looking and catching each other looking (especially in beauty salons!). At the same time she enriches the picture she is trying to create for the viewer by adding a striking character: the man standing in the background in whose very posture is conveyed the mark or qualities of being a certain kind of person, or being in a certain kind of mood. The aforementioned features do often accidently arise (individually or as a subset) in children and adult work, but when they come together as they do here and when they are consistently evident throughout the artist's body of work, I think that bespeaks what can be called talent (and in a six year old, it strikes me as rather exceptional, although I have virtually zero exposure to the artistic endeavors of children or teenagers).
posted by crack at 8:48 PM on June 23, 2006


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