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Calvary Christian School freshman Helena Burns was introduced to comic strips at the young age of 2 by her grandfather, Ken Sinkler, and from that time, a seed was planted with her that more recently has sprouted into a full-fledged hobby that she would enjoy making into a profession one day after high school.
The honor roll student who also enjoys art and playing the violin and piano said her grandfather showed her Peanuts comic strips created by beloved cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and she fell in love with all of the characters, including Snoopy and Woodstock.
Throughout her growing up years, she has been an avid reader of Peanuts, along with enjoying Calvin and Hobbes and For Better or For Worse. About a year ago, inspiration struck her for a comic strip of her own that she has titled, Tweet Street, featuring a cast of birds as the main characters, who get into various humorous debacles and help each other along the way through their light-hearted challenges.
“I was waiting on my mom during her hair appointment, and I had a little time on my hands, so I thought, ‘Since I love comics so much, why don’t I create my own comic strip?,’” she said. “I developed the characters, including the main character, Rodney Robin, and his friends and family, each with their own personalities and personal quirks. After trying out different names for the comic strip, I’ve settled on ‘Tweet Street.’”
The 14-year-old Bellefontaine resident said Rodney Robin is a “nice, family guy” who loves his nephew, Riley. Rodney’s friend, Lyle Woodpecker, encounters all kinds of interesting situations, and another companion, Lyle Woodpecker, is a “wacky guy” who loves Elvis. Other characters include Rodney’s sister, Rachel Robin, Jack Sparrow, Zippy Hummingbird, Bobby Bluejay, Edgar Allan Crow and Rick Cardinal.
Scenarios in her comic strips mimic real life and occurrences that both Helena and her friends and family have encountered, including dealing with winter weather and ice storms in one recent Tweet Street scene. The feathered characters also partake of chocolate for the first time, along with popcorn, and try out a bird bath.
“Whenever I get an idea or something funny happens, I write it down right away,” the CCS pupil said. “My family is good about giving me ideas, too.’
“With Tweet Street, I am trying to find a blend between funny and cute, and I also want my comics to be clean. While I feel that many cartoons today tend to appeal more to adults, I’m trying to bring back a thing of the past, and I want my comics to be something that both kids and adults can enjoy.”
Her mother, Sheila Burns, said she enjoys watching her daughter’s talent bloom and appreciates the creative nature of the endeavor.
“In this digital age when kids are spending so much time on their phones, I think it’s great that Helena has found a hobby like this that engages her mind and brings out her creativity. Our family always enjoys seeing what she comes up with, and sharing a laugh. It brings us a lot of happiness.”
At her school, Helena said she shares Tweet Street among her friends, and is also working to publish her comic strip in the school’s newsletter.
In another effort to spread cheer through her comics, she would like to distribute them to young patients at area hospitals.
“I’d love to visit a children’s hospital or children’s ward and pass out ‘Tweet Street’ to bring some smiles to the kids. I think some laughter would definitely be the best medicine.”
Along with publishing her comics and possibly creating her own published book, Helena also would love to travel to California to venture to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and to make a stop at an actual Tweet Street Park she found in San Diego.
“Charles Schulz is my hero,” she said.