Peter Pachoumis gives pointers to student Sean Griffin, 13, on his drawing at the Highland Recreation Center. “Throw everything into the scene that will help sell the concept. People need to believe it,” Pachoumis said.
LARGO – Superheroes are in the making at the Highland Recreation Center.
Peter Pachoumis, award-winning illustrator and comic-book artist, is at the recreation center teaching comic art classes to hopeful cartoonists.
The month-long classes started Sept. 5. Sketching the cover for his original comic book, student Harry Haddad, 12, described his illustration of “Robotman” perilously close to being dipped in acid.
“An evil scientist created the Robotman but wasn’t happy with his creation. Now the scientist is Robotman’s mortal enemy,” he said.
Pachoumis smiled and responded to his student’s work, saying “He’s incredibly fertile with creation.”
Passing on his knowledge of the craft is important to Pachoumis.
“I love it,” he said, when asked about teaching his skill. His background includes work with DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, McDonald’s and work on the blockbuster movies “Star Wars” and “Terminator.”
The beginning and intermediate classes at the center cover the basics of drawing to learning storytelling. Students have the opportunity to create their own comic book from cover to story, improving upon their skills as they progress through the class.
Learning storytelling is important, said Pachoumis, “There is art in a sequence to telling a story.”
And the illustration is just as important he stressed.
“Before you break the rules, you have to master them. For example, when drawing a bouncing ball the animator knew the ball had to be round. When he draws the sequence of the ball hitting the ground: it is round before it hits the ground; elongates and stretches as it hits the ground; scrunches when it hits the ground; and then reverses this process as it bounces up.”
“The kids are having a blast and the parents are happy,” said Christina Heubel, program planner for the Highland Recreation Center.
Heubel initiated the cartoon art classes when a colleague approached Heubel and informed her about Pachoumis’ work with children at Prodigy, a center for at-risk youth in Tampa. She then asked the local artist if he would teach at the Highland Center.
Some of the class participants said they are taking the class, “just for fun,” but others foresee a career. Illustrator careers are a viable industry. Many of the recent blockbuster Hollywood movies are based on comic book superheroes and require a penciller to start the process. This skill is also needed in advertising agencies, books, magazines and websites.
Pachoumis recommends that one should “have a love for it then study and learn from everything.”
Classes are held at the Highland Recreation Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE. A beginner’s class for ages 7-12 is held on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A class for intermediate to advanced students is held on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The monthly cost is $32 for residents and $40 for nonresidents, plus a onetime $30 material fee.