Professional cartoonist and popular teacher Greg Hatcher and his current and past students of the West Seattle YMCA after-school Partners With Youth Cartooning and Young Authors program ran a large booth at this year’s Emerald City Comicon March 1 to 3 at the Washington State Convention Center. This was Hatcher’s eleventh year chaperoning his artistic entourage.
Students represented Madison and Denny Middle Schools, West Seattle and Chief Sealth High Schools. Their cartoon book collaborations were on display and for sale, including their 2013 “Zombies!!” and 2012 “Draw In”. Also available was the bound 2013 “Potpourri, A Young Authors Anthology” by Chief Sealth students.
Joining them on the convention’s main floor were throngs of (other) comic book artists, collectors, enthusiasts, steampunkers, many in costume, including superheroes and sci-fi characters easily recognizable to the self-professed nerds among the more than 50,000 attendees. Upstairs, guest celebrities signed autographs, including the Dynamic Duo, those iconic ’60’s TV actors Burt Ward, who portrayed Robin the Boy Wonder, and Adam West, who was not only Batman, but also Lakeside High School’s most famous graduate, unless you include Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and former Washington Governor Booth Gardner.
“This is our big field trip for the year,” said Hatcher, a Burien resident who seemed to be herding well-behaved cats at times distracted from the excitement in the air, and though the aisles. “We are exhibiting for both the cartooning classes at Madison Middle School and West Seattle High School, and also the young authors program at Madison and Chief Sealth. This is part of the YMCA after-school activity program. We are fundraising here for all the after-school programs. These students are getting experience being professionals. If you talk to our booth neighbors they will tell you the kids are total pros.
“The after-school programs are a great thing for kids because cartoonists tend to not be joiners,” he said. “It can be a thing that they do by themselves and parents tend to think of it as their ‘cute hobby’ and not a real thing. But this is a real thing. It is worthy of respect. It is a profession.”
“I met Greg at Madison Middle School,” said Chief Sealth senior, Shane Feragen continuing with the young authors program. “At first I admit I wasn’t too sure about comic books, but when I saw the worlds that could be portrayed on those pages with the ink I just found it incredible and pretty soon I was collecting them left and right, Transformers, Godzilla, Green Lantern, and, I know some people cringe at this word, but ‘furry’ stories, with anthropomorphic characters.”
Feragen plans to go into the field of entomology or zoology.
Also a Chief Sealth senior from Madison, Carlos Moonguider (pronounced moon ‘GUILLA) clutched a “Bowshi sword” and “Mizza pendant”, expressions of the “Paman culture.”
He explained, “These are from my own novel I wrote, a character I created. I’d like to teach young authors at Sealth.”
Werst Seattle-raised Lindon Schaab is a former student of Hatcher, and now a colleague. She teaches after-school cartooning through the program at West Seattle High School. She said she felt compelled to teach.
“Greg was so busy and couldn’t do it all, and I thought it was a shame,” she said. “I think they should have this program at any school because it gives students a place to be. They have things in common and become friends.”
Anther former member of the after-school programs, Alki-raised Rachel Townsend, is now a freshman at Western Washington University and has helped out at the booth over the years. This time around, however, she decided to hang out at the convention with cartoonist pal, Allie Nelson, a WSHS junior and take it all in. Both were in costume.
“I’m ‘Galactus,'” said Nelson, referring to a popular Marvel Comics character. “He eats planets and he’s cool. He’s this evil thing which just eats stuff.”
“I’m ‘TARDIS,'” said Townsend, referring to the “Time and Relative Dimension in Space” time machine and spacecraft phone booth in the TV program Dr. Who.
“Comicon is amazing,” Townsend said. “It’s where you let your geek flag fly.”