Kids Stuff > Talent
Paint Program. Whenever we need a present or a thank you note to somebody, we encourage the kids to draw something. Kind of describing their view of their environment, their world. And it is quite interesting to revisit these products of a few calm moments sometime later. What did we do, what did we talk about, what used to be on our mind and our drawings? A German class portfolio would ask for an own comic strip, which the boy created professionally, starting with developing the plot idea, breaking it down into a pencil layout, then inking it with a fine liner and finally colouring. The first page was a spin-off of a "Fear Street"-book, next were the latest adventures of a real classic: "Huckleberry Finn!" A fictional movie poster with pictures of real actors (in our case mostly Austrian comedians) had to be created for Duerrenmatt's story of a fateful "Car Breakdown". One paper dealt with fatal decision impact.
Accidential Portfolio Fun
Newspaper & Movie Poster. One of those portfolios the boy had to prepare was a about the short story "Die Panne - The Car Breakdown (Traps)" by the Swiss author Friedrich Duerrenmatt. The task included writing a summary, an interpretation and a newspaper article, which was among the best of his class. A movie poster completed the collection, where he would add in Austrian actors and comedians in the leading roles: Josef Hader ("The Bone Man") as Alfredo Traps , Christoph Walz ("Inglourious Basterds") as district attorney Rage, Wolfgang Boeck ("Trautmann") as defence lawyer Sorrow and Andreas Vitasek "(Miller'S Office") as judge, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky ("The Counterfeit"), ready for another Oscar!
"Die Panne - The Car Breakdown" ranks among the school portfolio works that were fun to create and achieved good grades as well. Here are samples of the portfolio pages, which included a fictional movie poster and newspaper article. Years ago, Ingrid Bergmann had starred a movie based on anoth play by Duerrenmatt "Der Besuch der alten Dame - The Visit of the old Lady".
Huck & The Scary Cave
Sensational Sequel. The home exercise over the summer break consisted of reading a book and creating a portfolio with useful information about the author, a plot summary, an own spin-off adventure and something creative... Our boy had read "Tom Sawyer" the summer before and so "Huckleberry Finn" was a natural choice, just in time for Mark Twain's hundredth death anniversary. The boy came up with the following plot for a comic tale: Tom reassembles his robber band. Picking a berry, Huck stumbles and falls into a bush only to discover a hidden cave behind it. The cave hosts a treasure, but as it is guarded by a skeleton (which was quickly copied from the biology book) they run away in panic, only leaving dust clouds behind. Once more, our juniour insisted in filling blank spots with favourite animals... a bat, a spider and the same "Guest Star Rudy Rat", his teachers had already criticized in the previous "Fear Street" portfolio.
Huck and the friends found something. One cheers: "We are rich!" Seeing "rats and old witch bones", they change their mind... As a bonus, in the very last panel the skull head asks the kids how they are doing in school... but you don't have to answer such a question? The left draft version documents the creation process, click on the right image for the final result.
Fear Street: Another Visit
Mystery Mascot. The portfolio, our boy had to create for the German lesson, consisted of several parts. Among others, it included a plot summary of the book "Fear Street: Wrong Number - Murder is on the line," a fictitious letter of one of the main characters and... a comic that would continue the mysterious story. At least he accepted minor help with the basic panel layout, while he still completed Maths, so that both of us got some fun out of it.
We laughed a lot about random animals to fill in blank spots with, such as a cat on the street and a rat in the spooky house, the latter being loosely based on a character in the chess computer game "Fritz & Chesster." You will find the result nearby for download... curtains up for "Another Visit!"
As it begins anew: Once upon there was another normal day. "I think, we have to return to Fear Street." Chuck explained, why they had to go back: "I know that there is something in the suitcase in the closet. I believe, it could be the inheritance." Click on above picture to download the full page! Find out what they discover and why Chuck screams: "Run as fast as you can!"
Portrait Presumption. Drawing pictures is one of our favourite hobbies. Such as my son's family design of a Little Pet Shop game. Shortly after, the interest switched over to that handheld time-killer called Nintendo DS. Unforgotten is our grandmother's reaction, when she saw my daughter's painting of John Wayne, the Duke, hanging on the wall. She asked: "Is this your mother?" As a farewell present to my daugfhter's elementary school teacher we came up with our own version of Hello Kitty - with claws.
Swift Sketches. Occasionally, I tried to portrait the kids myself on an etch-a-sketch drawing board or just on paper in a Tweety Bird-shirt or else. And of course there was the boy's sketch of a fat Donald Duck sitting in front of the TV and eating popcorn like a couch potato. I guess, the drawings are going with the times...
Train the Brain. Having an appointment at the Dentist's, in the doctor's waiting room we found this magazine with picture riddles based on real photographs. Inspired, back at home we wanted to do our own version. A picture of our beauties in facial masks came handy as a starting point. It was just fun sitting together and exchanging ideas about creating differences to the original picture. The obligatory cucumber over one eye was added later though.
Fatal Exaggeration. The image reminds me of the old story, where the wife asks her husband to give her 200 bucks for a weekend at a beauty farm. When he pulls out his wallet and gives her a 500-bill, she is cross. There are many jokes about the difficult relationship among men and women, and some you may find on the one or other Macho-page.
However, for me one sentence sums it all up - which goes for both sides, in fact: "Can't live with them, can't live without them!" Where is my beauty cream and men's perfume now?
Hello, do you copy?
Concentrated Nonattention. "Hello, do you hear me? Are you paying attention at all?" Sound familiar? For some time we were objecting those hand held game computers, but when the kids had saved enough on their own and feared to become outsiders among school mates for not owning any, we wouldn't resist any longer. Ever since we need to ensure they are not getting completely sucked into those little pocket monsters...
Deja Vu in Snakeskin. It had all started so simple. One day the boy had found the PC game "3D Snake" in a Treat Bag (aka "Wundertuete"). Becoming his favourite soon, it was in fact an enhanced version of the mid-1980's Btx game with a snake that gets longer from eating apples. Back then, the same feature from Interactive Video Text as the first slow Post Online System had been reprogrammed by his dad on the classic C64 Commodore home computer as "White Snakes" (a hidden allusion to a music group). The discovery made me reminiscence that ol' Soccer II on the Commodore 64 and the very first Tennis TV game we had played as kids. It had consisted of two strokes, a dot and fun. Simple and beautiful.
Gaming Effect. The futurologist Matthias Horx has pointed out that apart from all related risk of overuse, video games train children in deciding how to deal with complex systems and promote "cognitive readiness" through "accidental learning" in role games. Playing is an archetype of learning. The criticism "That's an artificial world which is addictive!" already existed in the 18th Century, in a similar discourse on the suspicion of novel addiction.
Alternate Ending. The magazine "Parents" used to advise in the early 1980's that not all comics are trashy literature. There are many books that offer harmless entertainment for youngsters, and others that also stimulate a child's imagination more than e.g. television. By indulging in the magic of this mix of drawing, word and spoken language, one can relax and unwind, continue to spin thoughts, look an image as long and as intensely as one wants. While watching TV on the other hand, development of originality is often not possible. Here one must always follow in excitement in order not to miss the context. In the attic, our kids discovered yet another paper clipping from the same magazine, offering an "aggression test for children", based on a favourite fairytale by the Brothers Grimm: "What should Hansel and Gretel do to the witch?" The task would consist of selecting the adequate behaviour they should display toward the bad witch. The amusing options would include extending their hands to the elderly outcast, just walking away, sticking out their tongues, or defeating the evil woman though boxing and karate. Which option would you choose?
But drawing and computer games are not the only favourite activity of our kids.
They also like to Party On and on and on!