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Cartoonist draws on experience to give students encouragement

September 25, 2010
A cartoonist met with elementary students Friday to deliver encouragement. Youngsville Elementary/Middle School Principal Eric Mineweaser introduced Duane Abel. For the first assembly of the school year, he said the cartoonist had an important message. According to Abel, his job involves drawing cartoons in his basement. This allows him to work in his pajamas, he joked. Abel said his comic strip ZED appears in a few newspapers. He said he gave the title character such a name as he didn’t like having a last name starting with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet since it meant he had to do everything first in school. ZED came from under the washing machine, Abel said, and consists of lint and fabric softener. A family adopted him, he said, and now lives in a mailbox and dreams of becoming a singer. “When I was your age I was good at talking when I shouldn’t and drawing cartoons when I shouldn’t,” Abel said. “This morning I’m going to talk and draw.” After learning how to write letters, Abel said he started sending requests for advice to different cartoonists on how he could join their ranks. He said one reply came back with four words: work, study learn and try. Abel said he tells his children to practice until they sweat. Then, he said he tells them to practice so hard other people will sweat from watching them. According to Abel, his son Zackie has an amazing gift. On Friday afternoons, he said he unhinges his head and leaves his brain on his desk. Instead of allowing him to play video games, Abel said he tells him to clean his room and takes him to the library. He said nothing in his wallet means more than his library card. Before finally selling his strip, Abel said he received 200 rejections. Similarly, he said Jim Davis tried to sell his strip, Garfield, for 10 years before finding a buyer. Abel said his grandfather dreamed of running the most beautiful farm in town. One day, he said someone offered him $1 million in cash for the property but he declined. “Your dreams are important,” Abel said. “They’re worth more than money.”

Article Photos

Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Duane Abel shows how to draw Clyde from his comic strip ZED.



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