Anthony’s “Adventures of Craneman”, #1
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The Adventures of Craneman #1
Written and Illustrated by Anthony Friedl

Anthony spent much of the flights back from Ishigaki yesterday looking through a catalog of toys and costumes that Grandma had included in a recent package. Anthony loves toy catalogs, just to check things out and to practice saying “I want this!”.

The particular catalog yesterday had lots of costumes, including about every superhero and villain in western culture, and he was quite interested in who among them were good and who was bad. Superman: good. The Joker: bad. Some, like Iron Man, I just didn't know because I don't know those stories.

This morning he was still interested in those stories, so I told them about comic books and how someone would make up a story and write them, usually centering around a good superhero, who then faces a variety of bad villains.

I told him that he could make up his own stories if he wanted, and gave a silly example that if he wanted to make a story about bread that was a superhero, he could call it anpanman. Anpanman is just that, a very popular superhero among Japanese kids, made of bread, who gives of himself to help the hungry. (He appeared in my blog just the other day, and also some time ago here.) My idea in giving this example was to at first make it sound too silly to be possible (“superhero bread”), then reveal that it's something he already knows well, thereby showing that the seemingly impossible can be made possible if you just do it.

I then made up another example.... about a superhero... (thinking fast.... gotta' think of something silly) crane man who uses his winch to help good people and “get” bad people. He liked this idea a lot, immediately launching into a long story about how craneman was born, and how he grew up, etc. He was very animated.

He's never seen a western-style comic book, but I described one and encouraged him to make his own, and this was the result....

Here's his story, in his own words...

A Boy Dances Near a River

As He Was Dancing, He Fell Into The Water

Then The Crane Came And Picked That Boy Up
and swung him into his house

The Crane Put Him Into The Chair
and there was food and he ate it
(but that time he didn't have eyes and his hair and his mouth)

Then The Crane Did Bring Him Into the Bath
(and that time his mouth was moved to his neck)

Then The Crane Did Bring Him Into the Bed
and he slept
(but that time he had two mouths, and he snored very loudly)
(then every single person except him on earth did hear it very loudly)

“ The End ”

That's as it was when he first showed me. Knowing that this would be an important part of the world's legacy, I asked him to write his name, so he added...

“ Anthony ”

After working with him to write the English captions, I said “all done!”, and he was shocked because “people in Japan can't read it... it's only English!”. He wanted to show everyone in Japan his story (I think he's thinking of his school friends), so we went through and added the Japanese as well. We brought in Fumie to make sure that my kanji selection were correct, and now it's ready for publication.

His illustration of the crane picking up the boy and swinging into the house is, to me, amazing. It shows complex movement over time in a single, static image. I don't think I could have done as well.

He added comments about the boy not having eyes and hair and mouth as we were adding the text – they weren't in the original story as he told me after drawing the thing – because I don't think he realized that he'd forgotten them until reviewing these scans on my computer. I think he was a bit embarrassed about the oversight, so worked it into his story. Already using spin to turn a “bug” into a “feature”... at age six, he's ready to work for Microsoft! 😉

All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

I think Anthony’s cousin Josh will be a big, big fan of Craneman.

— comment by Marcina, USA on May 5th, 2009 at 2:33am JST (14 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

So cute. This is a nice story. It is interesting to note that my 6 yr old too likes to check out catalogs and ask, “When can I get this.”

— comment by Sonal, MN on May 5th, 2009 at 3:34am JST (14 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Ah, but is Microsoft ready for him?

— comment by Bryce Lee on May 5th, 2009 at 9:42am JST (14 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Way to go, Anthony!!. Now you’re published (so to speak) at an even earlier age than your Uncle Mike. (at age 14) Nice job with this, Jeff. You must remember how your Dad always encouraged all you kids to write your own little stories. I don’t quite remember you illustrating them, though you may have. Hope he keeps it up .

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on May 5th, 2009 at 9:55am JST (14 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

That’s awesome. I like the amount of color Anthony uses in his pictures. I see so many kids that draw their pictures in one color. Anthony is very talented.

I can’t wait to see the next episode of Craneman!

— comment by Earnest Barr from Amami on May 7th, 2009 at 3:36pm JST (14 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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