Years ago, children anxiously awaited the arrival to the Sunday newspaper, curious to find out what antics their favorite cartoon character was into for the week.
Ryan Thiele certainly was one of those kids. But those days have fallen by the wayside.
Teacher by day and cartoonist by night Thiele is hoping to change that dynamic.
An art teacher at Sterling Middle School, Thiele, 35, has had a passion for comic strips since he was a child. He grew up in Bushnell, Ill. with an artist grandfather who drew comic strips and his father reading such classics as “Calvin and Hobbs” and “Flash Gordon” to him each week.
The idea of telling a story in three or four panels took and since then he’s worked to bring the art form back in popularity.
“I like having the sequential art and the anticipation of finding out what’s going to happen the next day,” Thiele said.
After graduating from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1999 with a bachelor’s in painting, Thiele went on to work as a caricaturist at fairs and festivals throughout western Illinois. He later traveled to California, where he worked as assistant manager for Carter Sexton Art Supplies in North Hollywood and studied animation and figure drawing at the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild. He also studied figure drawing and portrait painting at Associates in Art in Sherman Oaks, Calif. where he studied under Nathan Fowkes, a concept artist.
Years later, he went on to create “Clayton Tucker and the Recess Riders,” the story of a child and his misadventures at school. The strip ran five days a week for a year in the Galesburg Register-Mail in Galesburg, Ill.
In 2005, Thiele introduced “Mail to the Chief,” the story of a mail carrier to the president of the United States.
Now, he’s created “Will of the World,” which follows Will, a semi-superhero who serves the president of the United States. The strip will run periodically in the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
“I don’t intend for this strip to ever have any political overtones. I’m not trying to influence anybody by having a certain president in the strip,” Thiele said.
If Republican nominee Mitt Romney takes the White House in November, the artist said he’ll be happy to draw the former Massachusetts governor as well.
“I was always interested in this. I thought it would be fun to blend history into what was going on in the world today with a little bit of humor,” he said.
Thiele draws inspiration for his strips from those of his past, although he admits he was never a fan of “Peanuts” until later in life.
“When I was a kid I thought he was a horrible cartoonist. I couldn’t believe he was so successful in drawing a circle head and throwing a body to it. But as I got older, I learned to appreciate his simplicity. Now he’s one of my heroes,” he said.
Thiele aspires to one day have “Will of the World” syndicated, but for now he’s happy to just share his art with the community.
“I think that’s what every cartoonist aspires to, but right now I really want to see my work. It’s a lot more fun having people see your work than having it sit in a drawer somewhere,” he said.
Thiele doesn’t believe cartooning has completely fallen by the wayside. There’s a market for these characters in book form, he said.
“Newspapers have less space, so they shrink them down in size so much, there’s no room to get the entire strip in,” the artist said.
Still Thiele admits he’s somewhat disappointed in the comic strips that are syndicated.
“I know there’s a lot of talent out there, but the one’s that make it I don’t see the quality in the drawing,” he said. “… The cartoonists that are syndicated need to raise the bar higher to make comic strips last, including myself. I don’t want this art form to die.”
To create one strip takes about a day. Thiele first writes the story line, draws it and then puts ink to it.
He became a teacher in Sterling in 2003 as a way to not only pay the bills but influence a new generation. It’s also where he met his wife Bethany, who also teaches art at the school.
“I think with the cellphones and stimuli, reading the comic strips on Sundays takes a lot of effort. Kids today want immediate gratification. I think a lot of them sometimes don’t have the patience to follow a comic strip daily,” Thiele said.
To view more of Thiele’s art, visit http://www.rthiele.webs.com.
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