From the mouths (and minds) of children

Last weekend, I was visiting my parents on the same day my nieces were visiting them. Sarah marched over to me and said, “So. For the next book, Milana says to include Cloud Men, Cloud Kingdom …”

She began rattling off the list of ideas she and Milana (her best friend, who also is a character in “Sarah & Katy and the Book of Blank”) have for a new Sarah & Katy book.

Children’s imaginations are a gold mine of ideas. They are an endless resource of ideas. Just ask Ethan Nicolle, the artist behind the comic series Axe Cop.

Even though Axe Cop was launched by an artist in his thirties, the story began in the imagination of a five-year-old. On the Axe Cop website, Nicolle tells this story:

The AXE COP saga began on a Christmas visit to see my family. My father … has managed to produce a variety of children, ranging from me, a 29-year-old comic book artist, to my 5-year-old brother Malachai. … During the visit Malchai was running around with his toy fireman axe and he said he was playing “Axe Cop.” He asked me to play with him, and I asked what my weapon was … so he brought me a toy flute (actually a recorder). I told him I would rather be Axe Cop than Flute Cop, and he seemed just fine with being Flute Cop. The story that followed became more and more brilliant, until I couldn’t contain myself and I had to draw the whole thing into a one page comic. From there the saga continued, and over the course of my week-long visit we cranked out the first four episodes of AXE COP. I posted the comics to my blog and on Facebook and they got great responses. …

The writing process is basically just me quizzing Malachai as he develops the saga. … Everything in AXE COP started in Malachai’s head, all I do is sort it out and draw it. [These comics] are a fun slice of the mind of a 5-year-old boy processed through the pen of a 30-year-old comic artist.

The collaboration between adult and child brothers has resulted in an online comic series, action figures for sale at major retailers, T-shirts, and a TV show. (Heads up to parents, though — the cartoon on Fox is intended for mature audiences and may not be suitable for children. The violence in Axe Cop isn’t your Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote brand of walk-it-off violence.)

Despite the adult content in the series, the comic’s success springs from the imagination of a five-year-old and the talent/skill of an adult.

Youthful imagination plus adult skill sets. It’s a perfect match.

Unfortunately, last weekend when Sarah shared her and Milana’s ideas, I had to confess I don’t have plans for a third Sarah & Katy book in the near future.

But if a third book eventually is added to the table, there will be Cloud Men living in the Cloud Kingdom.

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