These Kids Today

By | Monday, December 06, 2021 Leave a Comment
There is pretty much always a generational gap. The people who are in their 60s today grew up with a different set of mores and technologies and global backdrop than people who are in their 40s. Who grew up with a different set of mores and technologies and global backdrop than people who are in their 20s. So naturally, even in cases where individuals are related to each, they're not going to follow the same paths. Adam and Andy Kubert aren't doing what Joe Kubert did. Brian and Greg Walker aren't doing what Mort Walker did. They're not even approaching the same basic material in a similar way. They couldn't, even if they wanted to because the situations have changed.

Joe Kubert set up a school for cartooning in 1976 when he was 50 years old. It wasn't the first school of its kind, but there wasn't anything else like it at the time. Will Adam or Andy set up another cartooning school when they're approaching 50? Well, since Adam hit 50 in 2009, and Andy did in 2012, I'd say probably not. The thing is, is another cartooning school necessary? Speaking strictly from a market perspective; does the industry have enough people that could sustain another cartooning school? Because what Joe Kubert started is still around, but it's no longer the only player. There's the Center for Cartoon Studies and the International School of Comics Chicago that I happen to know off the top of my head.

Mort Walker founded the National Cartoon Museum in 1974. It survived until 2002, about when the Charles Shultz Museum opened. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was founded in 1977 and the Cartoon Art Museum opened in 1984. Would it have made sense for Brian and Greg Walker to try to replicate something that itself had already been replicated?

Regardless of skill or accumen, a younger generation is going to have to approach their work differently than their predecessors. Which means that the advice of older generation may not be applicable. Not that it should be dismissed outright, but it needs to be weighed against whatever new factors may have emerged. And I suspect that's part of where the older generation gets upset at "these kids today." They see them doing things differently than they did, or trying things they "know" won't work because it didn't work for them, and don't seem to understand that circumstances may have changed radically in the past 20 years.

Maybe the time for a cartooning school just wasn't right in 1956, but it was in 1976. Maybe the time for a cartoon museum was right in 1974, but not in 1994.

There is a lot to be said for experience, and learning from those who have gone before you. But for as foolish as it might be to completely ignore or dismiss their advice, it's equally foolish to simply take it at face value, even if it comes from a trusted source. We're only a couple weeks away from 2022 -- that's 20 years since 2002, 40 years since 1982, and 60 years since 1962. You want to tell me that everything that's applicable in any of those years is equally as relevant today?
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