One of my early influences is an illustrator named Ernie Hergenroeder, who used the pen name Hergie in most of his work. He illustrated Joy Wilt’s READY? SET? GROW! series, which we had quite a collection of in my house. The books are long out of print, but they were little morality lessons in things like learning to get along with others, respecting your elders, understanding why we get sick sometimes, and learning financial literacy.
I haven’t been able to dig up much information about Hergie, but his impact on the way I draw kids is huge. I don’t have current access to the work I did when I was young, but much of the art I created between ages 7 and 9 was very much indebted to his style.
I remember asking my mom ‘why he drew pants that way.’ In the early- to mid-80s, most of us wore our pants fitted and above the ankle, and anything that resembled a bell-bottom was clearly of my parents’ generation: something to be made fun of. (Little did I know that from the late-90s to the mid-aughts, I’d wear nothing but jeans that dragged behind my shoes on the ground, a la Hergie’s illustrations!) Mom explained that these books had been written and drawn in the 70s, a time of legwear different than my own.
Anyway, these books are a screamingly huge influence on the Baby-sitters Club graphic novels. I often credit my comic strip heroes when talking about the basis of my art style, but I think Hergie deserves some credit, too.