What Do I Do With Those Damn Anime Kids?
October 14, 2010 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Cartoonist and former high school teacher Sean Michael Robinson (flickr) on what to do with those darn anime kids.
posted by Artw (20 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Very good! Thanks for posting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:35 PM on October 14, 2010

That painting by Nicole Ham looks like the daughter of Y'Golonac.
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

(Painting? How about drawing? Dammit.)

Anyway, a good article. One thing that can be "done" with these kids is just to broaden their horizons a bit, to introduce them to other things they might like. Whatever it is you find that you like, it doesn't feel like work to do it. That's a good way to get really good at something, to find that you enjoy it so much that you'll do it spontaneously.
posted by JHarris at 1:48 PM on October 14, 2010

Mathemagick & Mystiphysics in an ad in the linked post's sidebar looks like a must-read. "Hypatia! Alan Turing! Al-Khwarizmi! Maria Agnesi! Brahmagupta! Georg Cantor! Evariste Galois! Seven mathematicians from various parts of history mysteriously banded together to magically take on problems of a grand and metaphysical nature."
posted by Zed at 1:48 PM on October 14, 2010

What, no tentacles?
posted by cavalier at 2:01 PM on October 14, 2010

Yeah, go back to your nerd club, nerd girl!
posted by fuq at 2:24 PM on October 14, 2010

At the school I was last prac-teaching at I encountered dozens of these kids - all drawing the same big eyed manga girls. It's a form of escapism, no different to the superheroes, fantasy world maps, TMNTurtles/Goldfish/Rhinos that I used to draw in my high scool years, or the exercise-book encyclopedias of made-up superheroes (man I wish I knew where that ended up).

Great post, thanks for drawing my attention to it.
posted by robotot at 2:27 PM on October 14, 2010

Well for one thing you can stop dumping them on my lawn.
posted by gamera at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2010

I could play on this man's lawn
posted by Blasdelb at 2:41 PM on October 14, 2010

I was almost one of them! I could never get myself to buy a "How to draw manga" book for whatever reason (probably embarrassment) But I tried anyway. I was always jealous of people who could pull it off, but looking back they probably had as much skill as I did, which was very little.

Drawing is kind of a positive feedback-loop thing, especially when you're learning. So, copying someone else's style, even if it isn't your own, is kind of the only way to get beyond the stick-figure phase of drawing, and past the self loathing (oh the self loathing!). Being able to draw something that's appealing to you is really empowering. It took me a bunch of years before I could draw something I wasn't embarrassed about.

But the point is: yes, you should encourage people to draw, even if it's terrible manga, but teach proper art technique too. I mean, it's high school, probably the shittiest part of life next to middle school, anything that results in a net gain of self esteem is pretty much necessary.
posted by hellojed at 3:03 PM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I love that Robinson's own abilities improved as he worked with the kids.
posted by dragonplayer at 3:14 PM on October 14, 2010

It's not often that I say this, but the comments are worth reading as well.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd be more open to his point if he hadn't chosen such terrible drawings to illustrate it. These look like they were done by conscientious eleven-year-olds.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 4:19 PM on October 14, 2010

If I had been a teen now I'd probably have been the queen of manga. As it is I spent those formative years using my notebook paper to draw about a bajillion horses.

Kudos to this guy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:27 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

That was fucking terrific, thanks so much for posting it.
posted by smoke at 6:27 PM on October 14, 2010

I once walked into an upper-level high school art classroom where a well-meaning and very knowledgeable teacher was leading an oral dissection of the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World.” “So,” she said to them as I walked into the room, “Is Wyeth an illustrator? Or is he an artist?”

posted by Scoo at 6:54 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

For some reason this made me think of my dad.

He's an entrepreneur, before that a general manager, and before that an engineer and computer scientist of the WAAAY old school (he was the first computer science major at his college - SMU), and aside from familial roles, those are probably the terms he would use to describe himself.

But he is also very good at drawing. In particular he loves sketching buildings - places that mean something to him or to his kids. In high school I did a summer at USC, and for Christmas that year he gave me a wonderful sketch he'd done on the fly of the dorm I stayed in. My folks' house in Oklahoma has a hallway decorated with sketches he did after that, of every home he and my mom have ever lived in. The are fantastic, and done with a great attention to detail and passion for his subject. (I think he's attracted to drawing buildings because of the engineering background, but the nature around them is done with the same beautiful style.)

When I was a kid, and we lived in Houston, my church would put on a play once or twice every year. My dad was always the lead. There was another wonderful man named Trip who was actually one of the best actors in the community, who was always the sidekick. My dad just has a way of gently owning whichever room he walks into, even if he doesn't see himself anywhere near that grandly, and so that presence led to him always being center stage, and making the most of it. My best bonding moments with him as a child were running lines with him. At home, on long car trips, anywhere. He was terrible at memorizing lines, but he always got them down in the end.

But my dad will never see himself as an artist, will never see himself as an actor. No matter how talented he is at these things, no matter how much he enjoys them, he will always file them away as silly hobbies of no importance. And perhaps they are. Almost everything else he's done in his life eclipses them.

But these kids, this is what they love, and it discourages me that teachers are furrowing their brows at it, telling them early on that what they're doing is a trifle of no importance, no matter if they're good at it or not. Expand their horizons, definitely. My favorite art teacher did that for me when I got obsessed with doing the same thing over and over, for sure. But don't do so at the expense of telling that what they love is the wrong kind of thing.

I mean, that's barely teaching at all, right?
posted by Navelgazer at 8:06 PM on October 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Very nice piece, thanks!
(Resisting urge to use niceness of the piece to snark on Hooded Utilitarian).

Greg Hatcher of Comics Should Be Good! runs a cartooning program that includes a lot of those damn anime kids, and often writes about the class on the blog (CTRL-F for 'class' or 'students') with sometimes amusing, moving, or even inspiring results.

It's not often that I say this, but the comments are worth reading as well.

Don't speak too soon, Berlatsky still has time to fart all over it.
(I'm a weak, weak man.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:34 PM on October 14, 2010

Hmmm, maybe my experience is different than everyone elses, because I am an art teacher in Japan, but I expected to come in here and find everyone laughing at the anime kids. For me, all the kids are anime kids. When I sit them down to look at and draw their friend's faces, all I get back are pictures of like Naruto and Sailor Moon in school uniforms. They are absolutely incredulous when I tell them things like, "People's eyes shouldn't be bigger than their ears." or "Your friend isn't wearing a tiara right now." They are absolutely incapable of drawing what is right in front of their faces. A very small number of them actually use their otaku-ness to get good at drawing and do a good job when you give them stuff, like birds or whatever, that doesn't usually feature in manga, but most of them try to twist every project into an excuse to draw adolexcent boys kissing.
posted by donkeymon at 4:25 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mathemagick & Mystiphysics in an ad in the linked post's sidebar looks like a must-read.

I've read it now. It's fun. Flatland/Wonderland mashup mathematician fanfic!
posted by Zed at 1:12 PM on November 3, 2010

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