Letters from the Fourth Grade

character drawings of Patriot Parrot and Tory Turtle by Paul Zdepski

I was invited to speak at a regional elementary school about creating comics. I packed a crate of sketchbooks, sculptures and books I use while brainstorming, along with a comprehensive PDF of my work over the last 25 years. The kids were working on a 12 page graphic novel about the Revolutionary war (1775-1783), and were required to include a number of facts about it in their stories. Each kid had to include two characters: Local Assembly Guy and Loyalist Man. (I think better names are in order for next year's group)

I told them about brainstorming, word association with a Thesaurus, Character naming with Rhyming Dictionaries, Period clothing and supporting object research, and character sheets depicting multiple angles and views.

I burned up 2 hours and thanked them for inviting me. It was a real fun time. I drew two characters when I got home, and email it to the teacher to print for the class: Patriot Parrot and Tory Turtle.

 A week later, I was in the Produce aisle of the local store, and I hear;

"MR. ZDEPSKI!!! MR. ZDEPSKI!! Remember Me? I was in Mrs. D's class! I love comics! Thank you for "Patriot Parrot" and "Tory Turtle" Thanks for coming!" 

 -- and he was gone! There is no reason a 9 year old would be in the Produce Aisle, except to deliver a message.

I got an email from Mrs. D. last weekend to come to the after-school Book Fair to see the top 4 picks from the class. They were super! I was supposed to vote for my favorite, but each one exhibited great promise in art, storytelling, humor and pacing. I couldn't pick a winner... The teachers let me write in a vote for each of them.

I was bidding goodbye to the instructor, when she handed me a pile of "Thank You" letters from the kids. I read them when I got home... Very funny - lots of drawings and "kid logic".

The best of them were these:

Dear Mr. Zdepski, Thank you for teaching my class. I was not here, but I seen your art and it is beautiful. I wish I was there. Sincerely Davon R. 

 To Mr. Zdepski Thank you for coming. Although I wasn’t here. I’m still happy you came for my friends. From Connor 

 Dear Mr. Zdepski, Thank you for taking your time to come into our class to give a wonderful presentation! Even though I wasn’t there to see you, we love the pictures. From Piper H. 

 Dear Mr. Zdepski Thank you so much for coming to our classroom and telling us about your comics. I wasn’t in school that day, but everyone says you did a great job. - Eleanor H. 

 To: Mr. Zdepski Thank you for teaching our class about comics, even though I want not there!!!! Awesome Logan


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