cartoon academy

Set your DVR for the two-season marathon of “Cartoon Academy” with Joe Wos

Photo: Joe Wos hosting “Cartoon Academy,” courtesy of WQED.

Joe Wos describes his “Cartoon Academy” video series as “Bob Ross meets Mister Rogers.”

The first season of the how-to-draw-cartoons show won two regional Emmy Awards this year – one for Best Host and the other for Short Form Educational Content.

The second season has just been released this month. Those who need to play catch up can set their DVR for the marathon of all episodes that will run on WQED-TV from noon-2 p.m. on Jan. 2. This video series was created in collaboration with WQED Education and WQED Production to support the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s “Learning Neighborhoods” initiative.

You can also find these light-hearted lessons on WQED’s Youtube channel.

cartoon academy
“Cartoon Academy” photo courtesy of WQED.

They’re perfect for keeping kids (and grown-ups) busy during the holiday break.  Although cartooning might sound like child’s play, the series is valuable for everyone.

“It’s very accessible for all ages,” says Wos, an Oakmont resident and father of two. “Anyone can learn how to draw baselines. Break it down to lines, shapes, letters and numbers that everybody knows. It’s sort of that base level at which we can all learn. So, it’s for all ages. I get a lot of senior citizens and adults who watch my shows.”

Wos has been working as a professional cartoonist since he was 14 and teaching for more than 20 years. He’s performed live at over 1,000 venues worldwide and attends up to 25 Comicons each year, where he makes presentations on pop culture topics and gives drawing lessons.

“Because of my work with StarKist, I have a lot of people who will show up with cans of tuna fish for me to autograph,” says Wos, who draws Charlie the Tuna for StarKist. His official title is Brand Character Integrity Consultant. “It’s my job to help make sure Charlie remains true to the original intent of the character.”

With no disrespect to Charlie the Tuna, Wos says his all-time favorite cartoon character is Snoopy.

“A-Maze-ing Peanuts” by Joe Wos.

“Without a doubt,” he says. “That’s the one that got me into drawing. I loved Snoopy growing up and it was probably the first thing I drew. And I feel in many ways my life has come full circle. For the past 20 years, I’ve been the visiting cartoonist at the Charles M. Schultz Museum out in California. I was there to help celebrate what would have been Charles Schultz’s 100th birthday.

“Earlier in the year, I did a book called ‘A-maze-ing Peanuts,’ which was taking all the Peanuts characters and transforming them into mazes. That really was what got me into the drawing – the Peanuts characters.”

“Cartoon Academy” is a great starting point for kids who are interested in learning the art of cartooning. Wos’s simple, easy-going instructions are combined with animation, music and pop-up bubbles of information about the subject. The episodes are as colorful as his signature cartoon-style Hawaiian shirts.

To keep the interest going, Wos has a simple game plan.

“You get them a stack of paper and you just let them draw to their heart’s content,” he says. “That’s really what makes someone an artist. They draw and draw and draw and they just don’t stop.

“The only difference between me and someone who is not an artist is I just never stopped. Everybody drew at some point. Everybody as a child and maybe even coming into their adulthood liked to draw or did draw. And then at some point, most people stopped. I didn’t stop. And that’s the big thing. That’s the difference.”