Professional cartoonist and environmental activist Drew Aquilina is bringing fun and laughter to the 2011 Earth Day project “A Billion Acts of Green” with his new collection of nature cartoons in his book “Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up.”
Aquilina uses his cartoons to teach respect for nature by reconnecting with it. Aquilina’s message focuses on the idea that the more people go outside to learn about the world from nature’s perspective, the more they’ll understand and want to protect it.
Click to enlarge cartoons:
NGKids: What are your plans this Earth Day?
Aquilina: I am planning on going to a local childrens hospital to donate some Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up cartoon books and light tables for use at the hospital’s classroom. Many of our local hospitals have classrooms for kids to help them stay academically current with their studies during their hospital stay. During my visits, I will be teaching kids how to draw cartoons by using the light tables and to talk about the environment.
NGKids: What are five fun Earth Day activities that kids of all ages can enjoy?
1. Plan a camping trip in your own backyard, this can be a test run for future camping trips at local camp sites.
Identify what plants and animals live in your yard. Try to discover
what is living right outside your house and get to know your local
plants and animals. Make a list. If you cannot identify each species,
take a photograph or notes and check your encyclopedia, local library,
or online research source to try and identify them.
3. Sign up for
a local Earth Day event. Check local listings for habit revitalizations
or clean ups and help your local environment.
4. Build a friend a
home. Put up or build a bird house to attract nature to your yard. Try
to attract hummingbirds: With the help of an adult, boil one part sugar
to three parts water. Place in a cup.
5. Plant a plant! What
better way to celebrate Nature than to add to it. Plant native trees,
shrubs, or wildflowers. Have fun researching with other people to
discover which native plants exist in your area and enjoy your efforts
long after Earth Day.
NGKids: What’s one thing every person can do every day of the year to help the planet, not just on Earth Day?
Aquilina: There are so many activities that are not only fun but helpful. The main ideas that can be applied every day include recycling, reducing trash, and disposing of it properly. If you see trash anywhere outside, take the time to put it in its right place. We wouldn’t want people to leave trash around our own homes, do think of the outdoors as Nature’s house and keep it clean.
NGKids: What were you like as a kid?
Aquilina: I was
always outside, actively exploring the plants and animals in my
surroundings and was very curious about nature. Being outdoors so much, I
developed the idea for my cartoon strip Green Pieces. One of my
favorite pastimes would be to sit still in the woods for about five
minutes and be perfectly quiet. All of a sudden it would seem that these
animals would come out of nowhere and go about their business as if I
was not there. I used to try to imagine what these animals were thinking
about going about their day as they plodded, hopped, and flew around
the woods. Eventually, I developed an ability to think like the animals
and to play out in my head what they would be saying to each other and
what activities they would pursue. This ability enhances my cartooning
craft and allows me to think more insightfully and draw funny cartoons
NGKids: Do you have a hero or did you when you were young?
Hmm … this is a good question. I would say that when I was young my
heroes were Walt Disney, Charles Schulz, and Chuck Jones. All three of
these gentlemen made me laugh so hard that I would be gasping for air. I
thought how great it must be to be somebody who can make other people
NGKids: What do you daydream about?
Believe or not, I daydream about drawing cartoons. I dream about the
day that I can spend all my waking moments creating cartoons. For some
strange reason, that I haven’t figure out yet, these cartoons run as
animations in my mind. Iggy, Radic, Cabby, Roc, and other animals that I
might be thinking about at the time just appear and do and say the
funniest things. I can sit and start chuckling to myself. The cartoons I
finally ink are the best scenes that I can picture that will convey the
story and leave room for the dialogue. This talent has become second
nature to me and it something I enjoy immensely.
NGKids: How did you get into your field of work?
I became a registered landscape architect probably for the same reason I
became a professional cartoonist. I was outside so much that I became
obsessed with planting and digging and working in the garden. I love to
dig and planting flowers and vegetables was a perfect job for this
“wannabe” mole! When I was in high school, I met with my guidance
counselor to talk about careers to pursue in college. I told her that I
was thinking about being an electrical engineer. She then asked me what I
like to do more than anything else. I said I love to be outside and I
am great at gardening. She said “well, why don’t you be a landscape
architect?” I didn’t know what that career path involved at the time
but she was right. I went to school for landscape architecture, became
licensed in three states, and now I get to design outdoor spaces using
trees, shrubs, and flowers. Ironically, I have to produce drawings using
pictures and words to convey the idea of what I want to plant so the
contractor can understand and install the plan correctly. Being a
landscape architect also provides a wonderful creative outlet when I get
too busy to be able to draw Green Pieces. I still feel like I am
producing cartoons in the form of beautiful outdoor places, albeit the
pictures don’t necessarily make you laugh.
NGKids: What’s a normal day like for you?
I wake up, work as a landscape architect and get my project done. When I
get a break, I plan the cartooning storyline I want to draw in the
evening. After dinner I get to spend some time with my wife Lisa and we
talk about the day and we discuss new cartoon ideas. She helps me weed
out the good and not so good ideas, and being very funny herself, Lisa
adds to the dialogue flow. I sit down at the drafting table and rough
out some ideas I worked on earlier and then I ink cartoons until late in
the evening, sometimes until early morning if the images continue to
NGKids: What do you do for fun or to be silly?
Fun for me is being alone in my cartoon studio literally drawing
cartoons from dawn until dusk. Cartooning is definitely my outlet for
having fun and being silly. The most important part of knowing what is
funny is knowing what isn’t funny. The craft takes a lot of trial and
error and finds me telling ridiculous jokes and drawing outrageously
goofy images for my friends and family. To date, they have not locked me
away, but I have heard talk …
I love to garden when my
schedule allows and I am trying to conquer the secret of growing great
tomatoes in the very rocky, non-fertile soil in my backyard. I also have
two very feisty, opinionated Yorkshire Terriers that keep me very busy.
I enjoy spending time with them.
NGKids: What is the best piece of advice that anyone have gave you that you can share with us?
Laughter and joy are strange emotions that everyone should get to know
very well. Dare to be funny and make someone laugh. You may not be funny
all the time but with time, experience and persistence, you can bring a
smile to someone who just might need one.
What are you going to do on Earth Day? Comment below!
Click here for more information on “(AD) Green Pieces: Green From the Pond Up.”
Learn how you can conserve resources.
Get rid of trash at the dump when you play Pouncer’s Gadget.