: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Community
Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

American cartoonist trying to make his mark

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1999-05-22

If you are a Japan Update reader you may have noticed our new weekly cartoon that has been appearing for the past two months titled "Tatami Zone." The cartoon is the work of Alex Bonilla, a member of the United States Navy stationed here on Okinawa. The 28-year-old cartoonist was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where he began drawing at an early age. "I started drawing cartoons in junior high school. I actually began because I was bored during school," recalled Bonilla as he chuckled to himself. "I liked comic books a lot when I was a kid, and I grew up watching Japanese animation." Bonilla explained that the animated films from Japan were translated into Spanish and shown on television in Puerto Rico. He also spent much of his time watching various cartoon shows and had a love for Walt Disney animation.

Bonilla's mother first noticed her son's talent during his childhood, when he would bring home drawings from school that showed an understanding of size in relationship to shape, while other children of the same age were still drawing mostly "stick" figures. After attending college for a short while, Bonilla joined the Navy. He has since developed his hobby into a skill, selling his first cartoon to Playboy magazine a few years ago. His first cartoon series was published in a local Guam magazine titled "Rising Tides." Although the magazine is no longer in circulation, it gave Bonilla some valuable experience and a feel for creating humorous cartoons which the average person can easily relate to. Bonilla is very modest when he talks about his work, but his enthusiasm towards drawing is constantly evident. "I've always liked to draw. I don't consider myself a great artist, but I like what I do," he said.

When asked whether the words or the image comes first into his mind, he responded by saying: "Each cartoon is different - sometimes it's the lines, sometimes it's the picture. It's a story that I am telling, and I have to capture a point in time during this story. It's then up to the reader to figure out what happened before and after, so the reader actually brings a lot to the cartoon themselves. "Sometimes I hear funny stories from friends that I think will make a good cartoon, so I write them down. I may use them and I may not. I may think of a good idea and start drawing the cartoon, but then come across something else that's even more funny, so I'll stop what I'm working on and move on to the new cartoon," he explained. "The most important thing is that it has to make me laugh before I will use it." Bonilla's cartoons are very humorous, and most often depict cultural differences. "I like to point out the differences between Japanese and American culture, but those differences are often similarities," continued Bonilla. "For example there was a guy who was explaining how nasty he thought sushi is, but was ordering a steak medium rare at the same time. Even though this guy had a dislike for raw fish, he thought nothing of eating rare meat!"

Drawing in his spare time just as he did when he was a child, Bonilla has managed to keep his love of cartooning alive, which he feels is very important. His future goals are to eventually have his own weekly cartoon in the Sunday comics of a major newspaper. For now, you can look forward to some laughter every Thursday in the Japan Update with the "Tatami Zone." If you have a funny story that you would like to e-mail to Alex Bonilla, you can do so at: darican@hotmail.com

Browse Community Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleOkistyleJU Facebook

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker