Alberto Lung is standing in front of a group of eight children at the Durham Arts Council Wednesday, teaching them how to draw ninjas and dragons.
Lung, an art instructor who specializes in cartoons, is teaching the class how to draw ninja and dragon characters in the Japanese art-style known as manga. The class is one of many offered through the Durham Arts Council School — a program meant to educate the Durham community in the visual and performing arts.
Each child wants to draw something different — from the traditional Japanese ninjas to ninja dragons and ninja mermaids.
The class is part of a series this fall to teach kids how to draw in the styles of anime and manga. Each month, there is a different theme.
“The themes were chosen broadly to attract the kids according to their interests,” Lung said.
Lung said the roots of manga and anime — manga’s animated variant — come from the mid-20th century.
“After World War II, there was not Hollywood or film, so a lot of their entertainment came in the form of comics and animation,” Lung said.
The style was made to be done quickly but also to be aesthetically pleasing.
“It doesn’t have to be scary,” Lung said to the kids, drawing a ninja bunny, ninja cat and ninja frog on the whiteboard.
Catheryn Haynes, an 8-year-old who attended the class, said she came because she likes ninjas and dragons and enjoys drawing.
“Now, I really like to draw people,” she said.
Lung said his advice for kids is to watch and read cartoons from both the United States and Japan and draw from them — the way he developed his cartooning style.
“Basically, I’m self-taught,” he said. “Coming from South America, in Peru on regular television, you get anime … and you can see ‘Astro Boy’ and some of (Japanese animator Hayao) Miyazaki’s>early work.”
Lung’s choice for his favorite anime is a tie between two of Miyazaki’s movies — “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke.”
He spent some class time going around and sketching ninja versions of the students, who requested their favorite character types.
Lauren Tannenbaum, school director for the arts council, said Lung contributed a lot of talent to the council’s program with his first class.
“Alberto came in and worked on our summer camp as a guest artist, and he was very engaging to all of the students,” she said.
“It’s really just about teaching the kids art and expressing themselves on our end.”
Lung teaches kids to draw in a way he hopes keeps them drawing at home.
“I try to give them small tips, to teach them in a gradual manner, so they can incorporate it in their own drawing styles.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.