This week I have mostly been teaching comics to the good kids of the Welsh valleys, with two days in St Mellons, and a day in Trallyn near Neath. And a day in Bradford On Avon for good measure. All primary school kids this week, and what lovely titles they've come up with.
The contrast between teaching high school pupils (as I did all last week in Ireland) and primary school pupils is interesting. What they lack in sophistication and drawing ability (some of the year threes, bless them, have a way to go. When you give them 10 minutes to draw a character and, after 90 seconds, someone comes up to you and says "finished", clutching a picture for which you genuinely struggle to work out which way up it goes, you know you're working with year threes) they make up for in sweetness, ability to laugh at the slightest stupid thing I make up, and germs. Somewhere along the week I've caught a cold and have had to cancel my Friday school visit to recuperate.
It tends to be year threes (not all, just one will do) who'll have a big bogey hanging out of a nostril which will stay there for the duration of the class. If that happens in secondary school you can, at the very least, say something, and hope to get it removed. As it was, I could tell with the coughs and sneezes going around, that I was in line for some lurgi before the week was out. You may, in your travels, have come across a seven year old who arrives at school equipped with a stock of handkerchiefs, and with a razor-sharp reflex action that enables them to cover their mouth every time a swine-flu-laden cloud of sputum explodes from their fizzog. But I haven't. I just stand there, picturing the clouds of Chthulu shaped infection floating invisibly in the miasma, waiting to catch me unawares and leap down my gullet, or up my nasal passages, or, knowing my luck, both at the same time. Which, with mind-numbing inevitability, is what happens.
Given the chance to name a celebrity for me to draw in my demonstration strip, both classes in one school came up with Harry Styles, the other suggestions being Simon Cowell, Tom Jones, Declan Donnelly, Michael Jackson, Gary Barlow and, most interestingly, Louis Armstrong.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing Pansy Potter, Bananaman, Biffo The Bear et al in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He's been writing and drawing comics for 25 years, he must know something.