Drawing From Experience
Creator of ZED comic strip Speaks To Local Students
BEMUS POINT - Students at Bemus Point Elementary were treated to the animated assembly
"Draw Your Destiny" Tuesday when they were visited by cartoonist Duane M. Abel, creator of the comic strip "Zed."
Along with his marker and drawing board, Abel also brought with him a whole lot of energy
and a positive message for students to take home.
As he began his
talk with students, Abel shouted "I know it's not everyday you all get a cartoonist in this school, so don't just greet
me, let me hear you hoot and holler!"
Students spent the next
hour with pencils in hand, eagerly listening as they received step-by-step art instruction from the professional cartoonist.
They were each given a shot at recreating three of Abel's most common characters to appear in "Zed," and they learned
about everything from how the characters were created and how Abel decided he wanted to spend his life drawing cartoons.
Perhaps even more important, however, was that students were taught Abel's key to success,
and he delivered it to students in the form of four words, spoken aloud repeatedly until most every student had it down pat:
"Work, Study, Learn, and Try!" Abel has kept those four words in his back pocket for years, since they were given
to him by Bud Blake, one of the many cartoonists that he used to write to as a kid and admirer. Consequently, "Work,
Study, Learn, and Try" is now his most powerful message to students and anyone aspiring to make their dreams a reality.
"What do you all want to be when you grow up?" Abel asked the students. As
kids were called on one at a time with their hands raised high, he received a lot of different answers.
"I want to be a veterinarian," shouted one student.
"I want to be a photographer," said another.
The list continued from there and touched on every profession from flight attendant to actress, and when they were
done making their exclamations, Abel responded, saying, "Well there are a whole lot of dreams in this room!"
From there, Mr. Abel went on about how important it is to follow your dreams, which
is something he knows quite a bit about. Abel has been following his since before he was 5 years old.
Aside from working hard to get his cartoons published, which he accomplished in his local newspaper
at the age of 15, drawing cartoons is what he has done. And he's drawn a lot of them, currently just shy of about 1,000 different
strips, all focused on his original cartoon, "Zed." The cartoon is featured once a week in nearly a dozen weekly
He closed the assembly by taking his final question from
a teacher, who asked, "Did you have a lot of support backing you while growing up?"
"Yes! My parents, grandparents, and entire family supported me in pursuing my dreams. That
said, if anyone in the crowd is having trouble getting support at their home, trust me, your teachers believe in you,'' he
said. ''And if they don't, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll tell you that I believe in you."