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Illustrator shares the 'science of superheroes'

May 13th, 2017 | Lawrence Hamilton, The Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman Print this article   Email this article  

Jerry DeCaire got his start illustrating the X-Men back in 1991.?It was a dream job for the illustrator. While he is still passionate and active in the comic book world, DeCair?wants to share with students the joy of drawing colorful superheroes?

He does say, however, the best way to draw the most diabolical enemy or super-strength hero is to study math and science?

"My show is called the Science of the Superhero," DeCaire said. "I want to show how math and science help me illustrate a superhero. I show all those geometric cubes and of course human anatomy. We talk about proportion, perspective and how proportions of the human figure will change according to your perspective, so all of it is very scientific."

DeCaire has traveled across the country giving these lectures and has spoken to about 250,000 students nationwide. One of the main points of his lesson is that "boring classes" can actually hold a lot of hidden knowledge.?

"Maybe somebody is doodling in class and ignoring their math teacher," he said. "They don't realize they are missing a very important art lesson in math class."

The biggest challenge for students is to avoid disappointment when drawings don't turn out "exactly as planned."

While some of the students were nervous to share their drawings, a few seemed well on their way to having the next comic icon.

Some of the new superheroes on display were Dead Eye, Sun Prince, Mind Reader and Fashion Lady?

Abigail Johnson drew Fashion Lady and said she wasn't sure what her superpowers were just yet?

"She is really good at fashion," she said?

Decaire was able to be in the region and share his artistic expertise because of the exploration week put on in conjunction with the Lake and Peninsula School Board, the Bristol Bay School District, the Dillingham School District and the Southwest Region School District.

It was a part of a broader program known as Career and Technical Education (CTE). Exploration week is a week set aside in the school calendar for students to pursue courses that might not be readily available in regional schools.

Some of the classes on offer include welding, small engines, culinary arts, business classes, medical fields along with job readiness skills.

"We have had the park service to talk about jobs in the park service, the Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA) has brought in the junior achievement along with music, dance and art opportunities," Jack Forrester said.

Forrester is the coordinator for the career and technical program for the Bristol Bay regional career and technical organization.

"It really is an opportunity for students to experience all these wonderful events," Forrester said.

Forrester said the funding for these programs comes from "a lot of wonderful individuals" along with the school districts and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), the BBNA and some grants.

"It's a group effort," he said.

Exploration week also gives students who have fallen behind in their basic subjects (e.g. English and Math) incentive to work harder to catch up. For students who are already making good progress in their studies, they can gain college credit during exploration week.

"It's been great," Forrester said. "The students love it. Some of the students realize that they need to get their studies up so they can take part in these exploratory courses. The teachers really have vast experience in their area."

For DeCaire's part, working with the students is something that brings him great pride. Along with working on a book that will share tips about drawing superheroes, he hopes to continue working with students for the foreseeable future.

"It might not make me millions, but it is my mission," DeCaire said.


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