Cartoonist teaches Manga to Kids
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Bob Kain - Cartoonist
Bob Kain - Cartoonist
As a kid, Bob Kain was almost sent to the principal's office for drawing cartoon characters.
Now, at 82, he's helping guide other young artists in the world that has left Saturday morning's loveable characters such as Tweety and Sylvester, Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny behind.
“In school, I was always in trouble because I wouldn't do the math or the various courses I was taking. I'd spend all my time cartooning,” said Kain, the artist behind Chirp, the cute character that graces the cover and stars in the Owl magazine for preschoolers by the same name.
He and Chirp enjoyed all sorts of adventures during their 13 years together, which began after Kain retired from a career that spanned decades in advertising. He has magazines and books chronicling his adventures with Chirp, but he has closed that book, too, and is now retired for the second time.
Kain began by studying art at the Ontario College of Art and Design and then the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
After graduating, he started sending his drawings to magazines all over North America. Working in his little apartment in Toronto, he made a living in a genre that was entertaining newspaper readers each day and also came alive on the big screen and then on television.
Kain enjoyed Al Capp's L'il Abner, a comic strip about a hillbilly family in the American south, as well as Walt Disney animator Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum, whose adventures in the swamp were hits with newspaper readers through 1950s and 1960s, as he applied his hand to cartooning for commercials.
He had his own animation studio, Video Art Productions Ltd., where he led a team of 15 staff and 25 freelance artists who produced works for government, the CBC and TVO. In 1993, he closed that studio in a bid to retire. That's when Chirp came along and kept him company for more than a decade.
When he's not drawing, he's reading about the genre and watching what others are drawing.
“Comics have changed so much. They used to be continuity strips. One day, at the end of the strip, someone would shoot the hero and the next day, you'd look to see if the bullet killed him.
“Today, (cartoons) are more a joke a day. I don't think there's many good cartoonists today.”
Kain is now working to share his love of drawing with a new generation that wants to learn cartooning because of what they've seen in videogames and graphic novels.
He applied himself to studying Manga and mastering it. He's teaching it in after-school classes across the region, although he admits he still is trying to sell comic strips, including one based on him and his wife.
Those who are taking his classes, which are being offered as an after-school program on Mondays at Collier United Church in Barrie starting in February, are drawing the world a little differently.
“With Manga, you have to really be able to draw the human form really well,” he said, adding the characters with large eyes, small noses and spiky hair fill many graphic novels that appeal to kids and teens.
Kain also teaches after-school classes in Collingwood at All Saints Anglican Church, at the Orillia Museum of Art and History and at the Midland Cultural Centre.

Kids who just cannot resist the temptation to draw can call Kain at 705-726-3420 or email him at


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