Local Artist Promotes Childhood Safety

Comic Con seems to unearth marvelous creatures of all kinds, and this year it brought a most welcome visitor. There are many unseen gems buried deep in the rural backwoods of RI and Jim Weicherding is one of them. He was lured out of hiding when Altered Reality Entertainment invited him to the con as a featured cartoonist and creator. Jim has been flying under the radar of the local art scene for many years and has there built a nationwide presence promoting childhood safety. Never heard of Buckleupallofus? You will! Jim’s cartoon characters are being utilized by non-profits, police and fire departments, hospitals and clinics nationwide, along with media groups on the web. His message: childhood safety … and fun.

Jim has seen first-hand the effects that damage has on children – between the ages of 5 and 16, he spent months at a time in hospital wards filled with children admitted for injuries and trauma. Jim drew cartoons for the other kids to color in and the doctors and nurses began circulating and displaying the art on the walls. This experience influenced the focus of his work in a very deep way. Jim was first published when he was 9 in a school paper that went citywide in St. Paul. That same year he moved to RI and continued to generate illustrations and graphics in his local high school. In the mid 1990s, his cartoon characters for child safety made their way into RI newspapers, where they caught the eye of child safety advocates. They had been looking for new and creative ways to help keep kids safe. Jim was in the right place at the right time.

His first publication, Itty Bitty Super Dupers vs. Scary Monsters, was released on Halloween, 2009. It  received a great review in Comic Book Magazine, and his career was catapulted into motion. His award-winning cartoon characters have grown to achieve enormous popularity with kids; they now carry his message of childhood safety to websites across the country. His pint-sized super heroes, Itty Bitty Super Dupers, have their own online play site at ittybittysuperdupers.com. His cartoon characters are currently being developed into giant balloons for cold air events and helium parades. A 10’ Buckleupallofus accompanied Jim to this year’s Comic Con where it was part of his exhibition area in the kids section of the con. You can visit buckleupallofus.com for a view of Buckleupallofus with the Oklahoma State Troopers and Fire Department. While you are there, read the public information fact sheet. You will get a very clear picture of the importance of Jim’s message.

Jim donates coloring pages and cartoons to police and fire departments, non-profits, child safety advocates and media groups to be featured on their websites for kids and families. Jim’s cartoon characters are also featured in thousands of coloring books that are passed out in grade schools every year for safety education. Buckleupallofus, The Fearless Dino Protector Squad, The Bus Stop Kids and the Lil’ Skipper & Clam Cakes cartoons are featured in their own Kids Newspaper. They’ve even made their way onto restaurant menus and placemats, reminding families that safety matters – on the roads, at school, at the bus stop and at home – every day. Jim now showcases and makes appearances at more than 100 events across New England each year. His future plans include creating children’s picture, coloring and activities books as well as making animated DVDs featuring all of his cartoon characters and storylines.

Jim has four kids of his own — three girls and a boy. They know how to take care of themselves, and it is Jim’s most fervent hope that his art will help hasten the day when all kids know how to take care of themselves, and when all families are safe.

I asked Jim if he had a parting message. He said, “I want people to understand that I do all of this not just to promote safety for kids, but also to promote creativity and literacy.”

In an uncertain world, where the disappearance of the arts from education makes the world a little less safe for all dreamers, Jim Weicherding, for one, has his priorities straight. For more information, visit his website at buckleupallofus.com/jim-weicherding




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