Pancakes and Cartoons


Jonny Quest

Saturday mornings used to be a time of discovery and bewilderment for me. As a young child growing up in Upper East Tennessee, I would wake up most mornings to pancakes and cartoons. As I ate the pancakes that my mother prepared for me, I allowed myself to get lost in the lives of these make-believe characters.  Some of my favorites were The Flintstones, Super Stretch and Mirco-Woman, Jonny Quest, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Super Friends, and Clue Club, to name only a few. With the advent of Boomerang, at 46 years of age, I am discovering that I’m most creative when familiar voices and tunes can be heard in the background during my writing sessions.

Some would argue that being torn between the computer and television screens causes writers to lose their momentum when crafting stories. I wouldn’t argue with that. I undoubtedly would be even more productive if I didn’t take those quick glances to see Jonny and Hadje floating on a hovercraft with Race Bannon, their bodyguard. And Lord knows Fred and Barney’s verbal volleys turn quick glances into lingering ones. But for me, hearing their voices takes me to a place where life was much simpler, less stressful.

Saturday CartoonsMost of you know, I was raised by a once-poor, single-parent mother. You would think growing up in a low-income household would be more complex and stressful. But it wasn’t, at least for me. I was a daydreamer, and the Saturday morning cartoon line-ups on NBC, CBS and ABC enriched the dreams that I would have as I peered out the window of our two-story, subsidized apartment complex.

Because I am now using my time as a stay-at-home parent to more fervently pursue my writing career, I often find myself rushing to complete my daily five-page quota. Even as I write this blog entry, I worry about not reaching my daily goal. My time has been spent with you, not with the new novel that has nothing to do with my Adinkrahene series.  In a few hours, I have to pick my son up from summer day camp and then drop him off at a summer academic enrichment program. As his father, I want to put him in a position to have fun during his 10-week summer break, but then start the new school year with a head of steam.

Then there’s my wife’s honey-do list. At times, working through this list can take precedence over my writing. Yes, there are times when I balk. All I want to do is write, read, and watch old, black and white science-fiction movies on the Syfy Channel. But my primary job is to take care of things around the house so my working wife doesn’t have to. You’ll have to ask her, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job, most of the time.

But I digress.

The Saturday morning cartoon line-up made living in a low-income community bearable. Because I grew up in a small town in Upper East Tennessee, I was somewhat immune to the troubles plaguing major cities like Chicago, New York and Baltimore. But drugs like marijuana and cocaine were reportedly readily available to anyone who was willing to pay the piper. Some of the kids I grew up with were even recruited by irresponsible adults to become drug pushers. As I reflect on my life now, I realize my saving grace was my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, followed by my love for Saturday morning cartoons and comic books.

Super Stretch and Micro WomanWhile other kids were hanging out on the street on Saturday mornings, I was either watching shows like Super Stretch and Micro-Woman, or reading Richie Rich comic books. I also was getting into the habit of reading the Christian bible daily. At the time, I didn’t know these activities would lead to me wanting to become a professional writer. I was more concerned about going on an imaginary journey with the characters I saw on screen or read about in my comic books.

I even received cartoon fixes during the week. I still remember those days when I would come home from school to watch shows like Space Giants, Tom & Jerry and Woody Woodpecker. There was also the after-school specials on ABC that offered up inspiring stories about living life purposefully and responsibly.

The Saturday morning cartoon line-up introduced me to quirky characters. Some of the most quirky ones were George Jetson and Fred Flintstone, as well as Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. These characters are now considered icons because they were introduced during a time when life was, well, much simpler and less stressful. We didn’t have computers connected to the World Wide Web then. Our color television sets, with metal clothes hanger antennae, were our only conduits to the outside world.

DroopyThe Saturday morning line-up fueled my imagination, my love for writing novels and screenplays. When I went on these journeys with these imaginary characters, I felt like I was right there with them. It was great being there with Jonny Quest on a mission in a South American rain forest. It was also great being there with the mouse Jerry as he outsmarted the cat Tom for the umpteenth time, or hearing the dog Droopy say, “You know what?  I’m sad.”  These characters, and others, gave me an appreciation for showing not telling, as well as how to take your characters through a series of complications before reaching the climax.  That’s not to say, I’ve mastered these skills.  The road ahead is long, steep and winding.  I just want to be as creative as I can be so you can use your five senses to fully embrace the literary meals I have prepared, and continue to prepare, for you.



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