HINSDALE – Unlike the character Alex Jiang created for his 50-plus comics, this Hinsdale resident and fourth-grader at Elm School is far from lazy.
Jiang’s main character in his series is Lazy Wolf, a subject he has worked on since his substitute art teacher, Amanda Heiman, introduced a comic strip art project to his class 10 months ago.
“The third-graders had a field trip to the zoo, so prior to the trip, I introduced the comic strip lesson,” Heiman said. “We talked about a title, having a beginning, middle and end to your comic, and how simple lines are sometimes all you need to tell a story.”
After using some “Peanuts” comics as examples, Heiman asked the students to create their own comic based on an animal at the zoo. The students practiced drawing a few animals as a class and then picked the one they wanted to base their comic around.
“A wolf was the first animal that popped into my head,” Jiang said. “And making him lazy made it funny.”
And so, Lazy Wolf was born.
According Alex, Lazy Wolf likes to eat, sleep and not work. He adheres to a strict schedule of waking up late, eating brunch, napping and eating some more until he goes to sleep again at 8 p.m.
Consequently, though, Lazy Wolf has been busy. He’s been eating, napping and not working his way through more than 50 short comics since his debut last spring. Jiang has been creating several comics per week since his original.
“Alex started doing a few comics every week,” Jiang’s mom, Lin Chen, said. “He gets his ideas from daily life, but he always has a unique angle. I look forward to seeing what ideas he comes up [with].”
And so do Jiang’s classmates.
His current fourth-grade teacher, Tina Senese, said the class looks forward to reading what Jiang comes up with.
“He’s so incredibly talented,” Senese said. “I often use his work as the bar. I think he’s really helped the other kids. They always want to see what he’s up to.”
After Chen showed one of her son’s comics to a friend involved in the Boston art community, her friend thought they should submit them to the literary journal and website.
“Georgia, my friend, is pretty active in the Boston art community,” Chen said. “And she thought they might like Alex’s style.”
After publishing his comics in three installments, the editors eventually made Lazy Wolf a monthly feature. Jiang’s comics now have their own section on the magazine’s website.
The family and Jiang also have decided to self-publish some of his best comics into a book.
“I think it was because of the positive reviews. People say they’re really funny,” Chen said. “I think we thought, ‘Let’s just gather everything together.’”
“We just hope to have the opportunity to show Lazy Wolf to more people and see if [people] like it,” Chen said.
From drawings on notebook paper to Kickstarter campaigns, Lazy Wolf has come a long way.
“When I found out about Alex’s website, drawing and influence . . . I cried,” Heiman said. “It’s why you teach – to spark passion in your students, to support their dreams, success and strengths, and to encourage creativity and a voice.”