IRONDEQUOIT — When cartoonist Jason W. Kotecki was a child, he pulled aside a few of his classmates during recess and revealed a secret.
“I am Superman,” he told them.
When one of the boys challenged his assertion, Kotecki rose to the challenge.
“This just proved that I had done an awesome job of hiding my identity,” he said.
Eventually, Kotecki concluded he wasn’t really Superman. Although he isn’t a superhero, he has entered the world of comics as the cartoonist behind “Kim & Jason,” which is available online at www.kimandjason.com and appears in 100 publications around the country.
“Kim & Jason,” named for Kotecki and his wife, Kim, details the struggles and small victories of its main characters, both children, and a host of other characters, including Stinky, an opinionated stuffed skunk, and Boompa, a wise grandfather. A Catholic from Madison, Wisc., Kotecki spoke about his life’s work at Bishop Kearney High School on the evening of March 31 and the afternoon of April 1. His visit was sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph Spirituality Center in Irondequoit.
Kotecki is also the author of the book Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up, which blends humorous and serious anecdotes, positive thinking and Scriptural insights. The book notes that Jesus preached that people couldn’t enter the Kingdom of God unless they became like children, and it’s a dictum Kotecki takes seriously, examining how children view the small things in life as an endless series of wonder and miracles.
“(Children) think dandelions are pretty, and when paired with wild violets, they become the most beautiful bouquet in the world,” he wrote. “They love licking the leftover batter out of a bowl and putting ladybugs in a jar … It is undeniable that kids make a big deal out of little things; as far as I can tell, they seem to be having a pretty good time.”
During his April 1 presentation, about 30 adults and children heard Kotecki’s anecdotes about his life and work, and were led by him in drawing exercises. He noted that he had devoted his life to fighting “adultitis,” a condition caused by the stresses and strains of meeting grown-up responsibilities. Indeed, medical research has shown that stress can exacerbate such health problems as heart disease and cancer, Kotecki said, urging his listeners to slow down and take time to restore their bodies and souls through play, laughter and service to others.
He said he’s firmly convinced that God has a sense of humor, given that he created such silly looking creatures as the long-necked giraffe. “I can’t imagine a normal person, without a sense of humor, designing a giraffe,” he said.
Kotecki noted that Jesus must have been fun, or children would not have hung around him as is related in Scripture.
“It makes sense to me that … Jesus invented wedgies, wet willies and noogies,” he said.
Kotecki also said he believes people should follow their “impossible” dreams, instead of giving up on them. Two bicycle repairmen named Wright dreamed up the invention that evolved into the modern airplane, he noted, and a young boy who stuttered, James Earl Jones, grew up to be the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series.
He also urged his audience not to denigrate the dreams of others.
“Next time your kid or your spouse has this crazy idea, maybe you want to listen to it,” he said.
Jesus himself started with only a small band of followers spreading his teachings, he added. “Here we are, 2,000 years later, and we’re all in this room because of Jesus.”
Peter Offermann, and his wife, Lorrie, attended the April 1 presentation with their children, Cynthia Rose, 5, Christopher, 8, and Katie, 10. Parishioners at St. Pius Tenth in Chili, the Offermanns said they enjoyed Kotecki’s approach.
“This is what I needed today,” Peter said. “It was good stress relief. I definitely have adultitis at times.”
Although he’s committed to his faith, Kotecki remarked after his presentation that he doesn’t try to force faith on his readers, instead weaving religious insights into his work gently.
“The strategy is to appeal to people where they’re at and to work God in the back door,” he said.