Creating a comic strip is not easy.
The comic strips that you see in The Journal Gazette are often created six to eight weeks in advance. That means the artist has to come up with a new storyline, punchline or event for characters every day – all while trying to anticipate what possible events may be happening at that time, such as elections or the school year, and taking into account seasons and holidays.
Then, once those strips are done, the artist has to continue on to another set of drawings. It's a constant job of meeting deadlines if they want to make sure their strip gets in the newspaper.
So when budding cartoonist Carter Heiselmann told his father that he wanted to get his comics in the newspaper, his father told him he would have to draw 52 of them. Of course, his father, Fer, admits he told his son that number in an effort to minimize his son's persistence and enthusiasm, not really knowing what it took to get a comic in the paper.
But Carter's persistence prevailed and he did what his dad said, drawing 52 comic panels.
Carter now wanted his dad to send them in so they could get published. “He doesn't quite get it still isn't that easy,” his father said in an email asking whether someone would look at the comics with the hope they might get published.
Well, who am I to squash a 10-year-old's dreams. So I present to you, readers, “Chicken Strips.”
His father thought of the name, Carter says by phone from his Fort Wayne home. “I thought that was a funny name,” Carter says, “but it's about chickens.”
“I don't really know much about chickens,” he says. But he got some inspiration from reading one of his favorite comic strips, “Garfield,” remembering that Garfield the cat likes lasagna. So, why not create a chicken named Jake that eats cheese?
Jake lives in the barn next to a house. In the strips he is often at war with the turkeys on the farm, as well as fighting off mice who are constantly plotting to steal his cheese.
In drawing his strips, Carter wanted to mix up what he drew. He admits that some of the comic panels don't have a plot at all and some don't make sense. But, he says, “Some of them are not supposed to make sense.”
Carter's family, which includes Fer, mom Liz, an older sister and a younger brother, are all artists and drawing and coloring are what the family does, Fer says.
Liz, who is an abstract artist, home-schools Carter and says he has drawn “ever since he could hold a crayon. I never had to teach him how to hold a pencil or crayons.” She says it's what he does all day long, writing or drawing books.
It took him about a month to draw the 52 strips, he says. And drawing the strips has led to other ideas. “I've been drawing now more than 'Chicken Strips,'” he says.
Fer says his son is always looking for new ideas, but it appears cartoons were already in his blood. Fer says his father drew cartoons for him when he was growing up, and Fer drew cartoons for Carter.
And now it has been passed down another generation, only Carter has bigger plans for his comics.
His father says Carter wants to be like the late comic book artist Stan Lee. “He wants to be rich and famous for his art and ideas.”
No doubt it will take persistence to meet that dream – something the young artist already has.
Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at email@example.com or call 461-8304.
On the Web
To see more examples of Carter Heiselmann's “Chicken Strips” comic strip, go to journalgazette.net.