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We Could All Use a Laugh: Interview with Cartoonist Adrienne Hedger

We’re all looking for humor that feels right in this time, and Adrienne Hedger is providing it. Your Teen caught up with her for an interview, and here are some highlights from it.

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About Cartooning

Drawing cartoons was a hobby forever; I’d make cards for friends and family and just drawing cartoons. But mostly I was freelance writing as my job until one of my friends who worked for American Girl Magazine was pitching this humor book about breastfeeding. And she wanted me to do the drawings. We got a publisher after a lot of shopping around, and I did the art and that was the first time that I ever saw my stuff in any sort of professional book. On thing led to another. We did another book. I got a job doing some online cartoons and it all built up over probably eleven years now to where I’m just doing my own cartoons for my own website. It’s crazy and really fun.

Things can be funny, but you can cross the line really fast.

I keep track of all my ideas and the things I’m observing in my own life. If I hear a friend talk about it or I hear or see something online, then I know that this is happening out there too. Like cleaning: there’s a cartoon about emptying the trash and doing the dishes. There’s another one I did about the sounds that family members make because I was experiencing it. Once I heard a couple of people talking about it, I went online with a cartoon. At that point, it’s all about finding the right tone. My stuff always has kind of a light touch about it. It’s not necessarily like laugh out loud funny all the time, but I try to be observational where people would think, “Yes, I can see that’s in my life, too.”

There is also a loop because then people will comment on my cartoons, and I’ll get ideas from that. I usually read all the comments with another window open. I have my computer open and I’m just typing in more and more ideas of the comments from the cartoon.

I see everything in comics. The very first time I saw my husband, my thought was, “I know exactly how I would draw that guy because he had this really square face.” I just I tend to kind of see everything as a cartoon.

Cartooning About Her Own Teens 

I have a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, both girls. Early on, it was a lot easier. The older they get, the more I feel like they need to see and approve the stuff. And they’re really easy about this. They often are fine. But the one thing that they do not like is how I draw their clothing. Evidently, it’s not stylish. I just draw long sleeve t shirts and long pants. And there are a lot of complaints about that. But very rarely they will veto something. Now I’ve got this advisory board, if you will, where they’re approving what I do. Before it was like just a free for all and I could post whatever.

Anything where my daughter Claire, who’s 14, is falling. I did one recently where she wrote a sentence for homework and then fell out of the chair. She was exhausted. And there’s another one where, she holds onto my leg and wants me to drag her into the kitchen to get a snack. Those tend to be the favorite ones for some reason.

Our older daughter’s name is Kate and she’s a junior. She doesn’t pay that much attention. And it’s just so funny. I spend my whole life observing them and cartooning about them. And the older they get, the less and less they care. I’ve been sitting next to her. She’ll be on Instagram and I’ll see her come across one of my cartoons and I’ll see her just double tap it and move on. Kate said, “If I see you drawing anyone rolling their eyes, I know it’s a cartoon about me.”

About How Universal This Time is for Families

I’m getting more ideas than ever. It is nice to quarantine with teens because they are up to their own business. And it gives me time to work on cartoons or whatever I want to do. I’m feeling a lot of pressure to get the cartoons down and out while it’s all still relevant and happening. So I’m cartooning more than ever and getting ideas more than ever.

It’s just such a unique time to be home with the kids. As a as a world, we’re all facing the same things, the same challenges. I’ll post a cartoon, you know, and I’ll hear from people in different countries saying, “Yes, I relate.” It makes me feel good. OK, we’re all in this together. There’s something very relieving about that even though it’s so difficult.

About How Her Family is Coping

We watch a nightly show: The Great British Baking Show. It is incredible. It’s so wonderful. It’s so nice. It’s got baked goods! So we look forward to that. Every night there’s always a lot of talk about what’s for dinner? And about how we can’t wait to watch the show later. It’s a big deal. Every Saturday night, we watch a movie. We never were together much before this because my kids were so active and Kate had a light driver’s license. So it’s interesting every night to be together. It’s definitely not what we’d be doing otherwise.

As the parent of a driver, when she got that license, we just didn’t see her. On some level, I’m so relieved to know where she is all the time.

As a cartoonist, I’m easily and often amused by their antics and also the antics of other kids that my friends will complain about. I see a goldmine of content. I kind of like when my kids do things that are weird or exasperating because in my mind, that’s a cartoon. It’s not it’s not like I’m asking them to be hard to live with. But in the moments where they are, part of me is like, “This is a good cartoon.” If they just came down and did nothing but eat a healthy breakfast and turn in all their homework, what would there be to write about, you know? You’ve got to have the exasperation and the absurdity.

About Her Favorite Cartoon From This Time

It’s really about my family. Early on, Claire dropped a roll of toilet paper into the toilet. It was a clean toilet, but like we didn’t have a lot of it. It went in and we had to get it out and dry it off. And I did a cartoon about that. And that one was funny because I felt like tensions were so high in our house at that point that when she did that, Kate and I just cracked up. We could not believe what happened. I really enjoyed making a cartoon about a personal family moment.

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.

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