Thirty-five-year-old Richard Zajac loves reading comic books. He does more than just read them, though: Zajac is an Elmira-based comic book artist who has spent the past eight years working in the comic book industry and has done work for such well-known series as The Flash and G.I. Joe. This summer, children throughout the township are invited to the Woolwich Memorial Centre to participate in a unique six-week program with Zajac as he teaches them the basics of comic book design and drawing.
“We set up a program to start off at the basics, and teaching kids not just about comics, but drawing in general,” he said.
The classes will run on Tuesday evenings from July 5 to Aug. 9 and will be split into two groups.
Classes for children aged 9 to 13 will run for an hour, starting at 6 p.m. and classes for children aged 14 and up will also run for an hour, starting at 7 p.m.
The cost is $60 and that includes all the supplies and six one-hour sessions with Zajac.
“That’s only $10 a class, which is pretty good,” he said. “There are a ton of sports activities in town and we just wanted to offer something different for the kids.”
Each class will have a different emphasis, starting in week one with learning how to use the specialized tools of a comic book artist – “It’s not just a pencil and an eraser,” Zajac laughed – and each class will build on the skills learned the week before. Students will learn how to draw the human form, the properties of perspective, and how to put the finishing touches on a comic book before it heads off to the printers.
At the end of the six weeks, students will also be able to work on a three-to-five-page comic book of their own.
Zajac, who trained as an apprentice mechanic then worked at a hardware store before taking the leap into drawing full-time, admits that of all the work he has done, getting the opportunity to work on the G.I. Joe series of comics has been the highlight of his career thus far.
“I was a fan right from the start. I loved the cartoon, the toys and everything and when I got a chance to work on that it was like a dream come true.”
Registration is now underway and classes start July 5. For more information or to register either visit the WMC in person, visit their website (www.woolwich.ca/register) or call recreation program manager Dave Ruetz (519) 669-6047.