September 25th National Comic Book Day

When I was younger I loved my comic books. Of course back then they were a little different than they are now. Okay, they were a lot different. We had Superman and Batman but they weren’t as popular as Classics Illustrated which were comic books but were historical in nature. They dealt with real people doing real things. I am not sure when all our kid’s heroes started becoming something they could never be or achieve, but they have. While comic books are still fun they are no longer educational and in some cases maintain adult content. So maybe comic books aren’t as big with kids anymore, maybe they are still being sold to us relics that never totally grew up.

How to celebrate – Read a comic book. See if you can find any of the old comic books. Start a comic book collection (it will be costly). Make your own comic book.

May 6th Free Comic Book Day

The first known comics appeared in 18th century Japan, by the 1930’s they became popular in the United States. On the first Saturday in May free comic books are given out at select comic books stores across America (And Europe) by the North American Comic Book industry. (No, you can’t just go in and get which ever comic book you want.)

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The idea came from an article written in the August 2001 issue of Comic & Games Retailer by Joe Field. He operated “Flying Colors Comics” in Concord, California. The idea caught on and put into practice by the Diamond Comic Distributors (The worlds largest comic book distributors) in 2002. Today over 7,000 retailers participate in some 30 countries.

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When comics first came out they were basically for children’s entertainment. Basically every super hero the world has ever know came out of comic books. Some have been the pure imagination of the author, others are based on actual historical characters (with a few alteration) or mythological legends.

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While most are pure fiction, some mix historical facts into their pages. They are entertaining, but can also be educational, a sly way of teaching kids while they think they are having fun.

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But some comics are definitely not for children at all! (Some are even a little mature for most adults!) Like practically anything originally designed to be innocent and fun, it can be taken to a very dark side perverting what was originally intended.

Some of the top producers of comics in the world are Dark Horse, Top Cow, Marvel, Image Comics, Mad Magazine, Blank Slate Books and Drawn & Quartered.

How to celebrate – Go to a comic book store and get your free comic! (I am sure the very first ones are already collectable) Re-read any comic books you may have saved from your youth. Make sure the comics your children are reading are what you think they are.

June 9th Donald Duck Day

Donald Duck was born today, June 9th, 1934. He actually was probably around a little before that in the creative mind of Walt Disney but he made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9th, 1934.

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Later that same year he made friends with Mickey Mouse in “Orphan’s Benefit” as Mickey’s rather temperamental side kick.

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Donald’s full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck and he comes from a long line of historical ducks such as, Scrooge McDuck, Ludwig Von Drake, and Clan McDuck. He is rightfully very proud of his heritage as well as his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

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He is equaly as proud of his girlfriend, Daisy Duck, the love of his life.

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TV Guide has listed Donald among the top 50 cartoon characters of all time.  He has been featured in many cartoons, films, and comic books, and even a regular newspaper comic at one time.  Though there have been many artists that have given Donald the look we all recognize today he has only had two men voice his character since his birth so long ago. From 1934-1985, Clarence Nash, was the voice of Donald. Since then it has been done by Tony Ansecmo.

Here’s is Donald’s debut clip,  “The Wise Little Hen”, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”

How to celebrate: Watch a Donald cartoon. Read a Donald comic book.  Learn how to talk like Donald.

May 5th Cartoonists Day

Cartoonists work in a large medium that includes animation, comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons, graphic novels, manuals, gag cartoons, graphic design, illustration, storyboards, posters, shirts, books, advertisements, greeting cards, magazines, newspapers, and video game packaging.

William Hograth is credited with pioneering the Western sequential art. The cartoon we know best is the comic strip.  Many of us remember  “Peanuts”, “Blondie” and  “Beetle Bailey” from the newspaper every Sunday. Some comics came in single panels, reflecting the deeper thoughts of society at the time, such as the featured comic above done by Thomas Nash during the American Civil War. Most are funny, some are political, others are very serious. Nash covered the war from its highs and lows, saying in the newspapers, what others were afraid to say out-loud. He could also be humorous, such as when Nash created the Elephant for the G.O.P..004tnast

Among other great political cartoonists were James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson in 18th century England. In the US, Ben Franklin is credited with being the first editor to put a comic in a newspaper.

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The twentieth century was filled with freelance cartoonists such as Charles Addams, Irwin Caplan, Chon Day, Clyde Lamb and John Norment, and of course, the comic strips which we are all familiar with such as those created by Mort Walker, who preferred to produce his comic strips with a studio, and Bill Watterson and Charles Schultz, who enjoyed doing their work alone.political_cartoon_by_queenmari

Marvel, D.C. Comics, Classics Illustrated, and so many other comic book companies have hired, and in some cases still do, so many cartoonists that it would be nearly impossible to list them all. Yet each one of them is truly an artist that creates a world we may not be able to live in, but we sure enjoy looking at.

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How to celebrate Cartoonist Day: Look over the comics in the newspapers and magazines that you read, but this time, be sure to make a mental note of who the artist was that created it. Watch an animated movie, make sure you pay attention to the credits at the end of the film.  Try drawing your own cartoon, see just how difficult it can be!

April 2nd International Children’s Book Day

April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day because it is Hans Christian Andersen‘s birthday.  Born in 1805, he is 211 years old today and doing remarkably well.  If you are thinking about sending him a card, he is somewhere in Denmark.

Seriously though, books have great value beyond using them for that reach to the top shelf.  For a child, they begin the learning process and open a world to them that can take them anywhere they want to go.  No one knows when the first book was written but I’d almost bet it was written for a child.

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In Cave-Man days the stories were handed down through the years by telling them over and over. No doubt, the stories were embellished some what, even with the paintings on the walls.  That was, until someone decided to write it down so that it didn’t change with every new generation.

Today it’s hard to imagine a child without a book.  (Though in all honesty there are plenty that don’t have them – check into Free Book.)  Books like J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” take children to a world they could never hope to visit otherwise.  Even some comic books teach history, coloring books teach about people and picture books teach us to use our imaginations.

The top 10 books for children in 2015 were… “Hi!” by Ethan Long, “Counting Dogs” by Eric Barclay, “Wolfie The Bunny” by Ame Dyckman & Zachariah Ohora, “Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-The-Poh” by Sally M. Walker & Jonathan D. Voss, “The Day The Crayons Came Home” by Drew Daywaly & Oliver Jeffers, “Journey To The Moon” by Andy Mansfield, “The Marvels” by Brian Selznick, “Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret” by Bob Shea, “The Story of Diva and Flea” by Mo. Williams and Tony DiTerlizzi and “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamison.

So celebrate by reading a book to a child, hopefully one you already know, try writing your own children’s book, re-read a book you had when you were a child.