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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

Visual artists share first creative spark: Cartoons

Photo by Gary Shelton
Monk is one of the characters created by MATC Sr. Fire Alarm, Access Control Technician Gary Shelton.

Whether it’s Ed, Edd n Eddy and Dexter’s Laboratory or Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, cartoons can get young minds excited about drawing and storytelling. Cartoons were the trigger for me to start drawing when I was 11-years-old, and cartoons inspired MATC staff member Gary Shelton to start drawing too.

Shelton is a Sr. Fire Alarm, Access Control Technician at MATC and has been here for two years. He doesn’t remember how old he was when he started drawing, but he and his brother would record Saturday morning cartoons on the VCR. Shelton says, “We would play it back and pause it, and then trace the characters off the screen on paper because we couldn’t figure out how to draw things. So, we’d trace the cartoons we liked.” After that, he says “It spiraled into finding books on how to draw your favorite characters starting with the circles and framing out the body.”

Shelton says he used to sell cartoon pictures in grade school for Valentine’s Day. He was in 2nd or 3rd grade when he did this. He would draw cards the boys wanted to give the girls. Then, in 6th grade, he started selling comic books that he created.

For the MATC Times, I created the comic strip Kung Fu Critters and the Stiff McGouly character who is a horror host that offers movie suggestions. When I was young, whatever caught my attention I drew it. If I saw a bipedal reptile shooting blue heat rays out of its mouth, like a dragon, I drew it. My creative imagination seeds were planted with drawing in a notebook. I then began to observe how people drew things, from the fingers to the heads. In 2004, around Christmas time, I did my first drawing of Godzilla. I have continued to draw and expanded my skills ever since. Movies, cartoons, comics, anime and video games all grab my attention.

I read and watch a lot of visual art content, and I am interested in asking other artists like Shelton about their inspiration.

Where do your ideas come from?

“A lot of these ideas come from biblical knowledge of what scripture describes as heaven or the interaction with things that are from the spiritual world with our physical world. So, that’s where most of my ideas come from…but also, ‘this would be cool if.’ I try to develop ideas based on what I haven’t seen yet.”

(In addition to working at MATC, Shelton is a pastor at Desire of ALL Nations.)

How do you make the landscapes very convincing, while also having action go on in the foreground?

“References, references, references. So, I used to not draw from references for a long time, because I used to think it was cheating, but there is a value to references. The way the internet has grown, it is an artist’s dream. You need to figure out how to draw a bank building, you just Google a bank building. Depending on what the aesthetic is for the time period and the era of your book, it’s just a vast resource. Also, you’ve got to watch the things you’re interested in drawing. Let’s say your comic book features a lot of animals, you want to watch nature shows.”

Where do you publish your work?

“Currently I have a few comic books published on a friend’s website. But, I am currently working on establishing my own media company, and that’s where the screenplays (I’ve written) come in; that’s where comic media comes in.”

 What do you hope happens as a result of all this work?

“My aim for everything I do is not fame or anything like that. It’s just honestly to be better at it than I was a year before. To develop it, to grow. If you’re good at something, people will recognize you for being good. The stuff I just did yesterday is so much better than the stuff I did two years ago and that for me is a reward, getting better.”

Bertha the Barbarian is one of the characters created by Gary Shelton, a Sr. Fire Alarm, Access Control Technician at MATC.
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