I love comics and manga in particular. This doesn’t mean that I can’t get into other styles. As a graphic designer, it’s all art to me. I appreciate this realm and have dabbled in it for a long time. Meanwhile, I use my skills for special occasions. Take my niece’s birthday for example. I was wracking my brain to give her something unique and different so I decided on a hand-drawn comic strip. I made the main character look like her, complete with her youth basketball shoes. She is never without them. I exaggerated their size which added to the overall humor. A cartoon that doesn’t engender a chuckle isn’t worthy of the name.

My niece, in her usual ungainly manner, trots around the house and yard in these clunky shoes. I guess they work well on the court, but not so much in real life. No matter. They are always on her feet. She seldom takes them off to wear something delicate or fancy. You know the definition of a tomboy, don’t you? My niece is the epitome. It makes for a lot of fun times. When I go to her house, we immediately go outside and look for her basketball. There is a hoop and backboard in place and we shoot to win. I can beat her every time but I know better and miss accordingly. We are an amusing duo: a tall uncle and a petite miss.

She loved the cartoon and hung it on her wall right after her birthday party. She invited all the kids in the neighborhood to come and see. “My uncle did it,” she exclaimed proudly. She was so excited that she asked me to draw some additional strips featuring her friends. She gave them as gifts and this gesture added to her existing popularity. It was a simple road to friendship. Art does it every time. It is the best way to communicate with imagination and style. It works particularly well with kids.

I am working on other projects. I hope they get the acclaim that the recent one did. Meanwhile, when I visit my niece, I look for those crazy basketball shoes. One day she was not wearing them and I got worried. What had happened? “They got worn out,” she moaned. “I haven’t gone to get new ones yet. Mom is busy.” I got the message. In seconds, my niece and I were out the door on the way to the mall. There is a sports store that all the kids love. They have just the right apparel and equipment. As my niece raced around looking for sneakers, I surveyed the scene. Every kid was wearing the requisite shoes. It took a few minutes to select the perfect pair and secure the right size. Color is of the essence and I worried that the right one wouldn’t be in stock. But this was our lucky day and everything was perfect.