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Artist provides comic relief

It all started out as a simple rectangle.

Then, with an easy motion, artist Vincent Deporter whipped a piece of chalk across the board of Francine Pavlick's third-grade classroom, sketching round eyes and a banana-shaped mouth inside the rectangle.

Inside the mouth, Deporter added two unevenly spaced teeth, and to the eyes he affixed thick, angular eyelashes.

When he began to draw the figure's trademark tie, skinny legs and chunky shoes, the classroom came to life with laughter and applause.

There on the board, in place of the usual multiplication tables and grammatical rules, was a perfect rendering of the much-loved Nickelodeon animated character SpongeBob SquarePants.

To draw something nice that looks like it does on TV, you have to draw a skeleton first, Deporter instructed. "It (SpongeBob) starts with a square, a basic free square."

Deporter visited Chango Elementary School on Friday, June 20, to teach several dozen third-graders about his more than 30-year career as an artist.

Deporter has contracts with Nickelodeon and DC Comics, where he works on projects ranging from SpongeBob to Batman to Scooby Doo. Deporter has illustrated several books, has his own comic strip in a French women's magazine and is frequently called on to pen images that are later licensed and transferred onto T-shirts, lunch boxes and other accessories.

Deporter, who grew up in Belgium, Toronto, and later France, said he was drawn to art because an artist has total control of his product.

"As an artist you're allowed to finish what you start," Deporter told the several dozen students who watched his presentation. "A lot of jobs don't have that same privilege."

Deporter's son Jack is in Pavlick's class. Jack also likes to draw and has filled several notebooks with fantasy characters he's dubbed Jackemons, after the popular Pokemon series.

Jack said he thinks it's pretty cool having a dad who shares his love of comic books, drawings and cartoons.

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