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Sketching a future in ink and felt

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Clayton Roederer expresses creativity through cartoons and puppets

By Becca Owsley

Elizabethtown High School freshman Clayton Roederer has big dreams that are created from his own imagination.

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He plans on not only developing his own comic book based on characters he has developed but also hopes to produce a television show from puppets he has designed.

Roederer began showing a talent for drawing at a young age.

When he was 2, he sat down with paper and a crayon and drew the family sofa. Not a boxy stick drawing that most kids that age would try, but one that almost resembled the sofa.

His mom knew then he had a talent.

As he grew, he took some art lessons and began scanning the special features on Disney DVDs to find segments that taught people how to draw the famous Disney characters.

After reading a book that came with a Sesame Street DVD, he noticed that working with puppets can be profitable because Jim Henson had corvettes and mansions.

“I thought, ‘OK, I’m doing that’,” Roederer said.

Roederer has developed his own cartoon character and puppets on which to build his future career.

He’s worked on Edward Theodore Bear, a cartoon creation, for 10 years. Edward began when Roederer sat down with an orange crayon and a big-eared bear was drawn.

“I kind of liked him and named him Edward,” he said.

But five years ago, Edward really developed as a character when Roederer learned more about comics. Edward has friends named Elizabeth Taylor Bear, a green pig named Pepperoni and a tiger named Tyler. Roederer created more than 200 characters.

Shortly after reading about the Muppets, Roederer bought his first puppet. It was a magenta furry monster he named Devin.

“I have worn that thing out,” he said.

He thought he could make his own puppets and become the best puppet maker ever.

“Not really,” he said, showing the puppet he made named Rupert. Rupert is hot glued together and not up to Roederer’s expectations.

To make sure a new version of Devin was made like he wanted, Roederer went online to a custom puppet site. He sent them a sketch of Devin and they are building him one similar to the quality of the Muppets.

“Now I’m just waiting for that to finish” he said.

One of his heroes is Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer.

“He’s a very big creative genius,” Roederer said.

Edward and Company, the comic book series he is creating from Edward the bear, follows Vischer’s example. Each comic will have a biblically inspired story. His vision is for Lifeway to pick up the series to sell in their stores and online.

He hopes to build his puppet collection to create his own version of the Muppets called The Fisherman. He took the name from one of his favorite Bible verses, Matthew 4:19 — “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”   

He described the show as “if the Muppets went to Bible college and ran into ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

His student pastor at Severns Valley Baptist Church, Jay Frymire, said Roederer has “a mind with creative intuition unlike anyone I know.”

“His ability to imagine new characters and ideas in his mind and then articulate them using pen and paper is truly remarkable,” Frymire said. “And when Clayton enters a room, you know it.”

Frymire described Roederer’s personality as “infectious” and “easy to love.”

But more than all that Frymire said he is a young man “passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“He understands that the mission of Christ is not just given to pastors, elders and other church staff,” he said. “He sees that the mission of the church is also to Christians who are bankers, teachers, plumbers and cartoonists.”

Frymire said Roederer knows Christ has gifted him with ways to communicate the gospel through skits, puppets and drawings.

“He is embracing what God has given him and using it to serve the kingdom of Christ,” he said.

Roederer said he knows his dreams are big and the reality is all of them might not happen, but he plans to start his own company, possibly called Fishermen Ministries.

“He has ridiculously big dreams but he serves a bigger God,” his mom, Julie, said.

She described watching Roederer chase after his dreams as a rollercoaster and as a mom she hopes his work is accepted in the creative world.

“He’s got big dreams and I’m just hanging on for the ride,” she said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Getting to Know Clayton Roederer:
Favorite Muppet:
He would say Kermit but said everyone says Kermit so he picked Fozzie Bear and Ralph the Dog. He’s looking forward to watching “The Muppets Most Wanted” in March.
Favorite Cartoons: Mickey Mouse, Peanuts, Veggie Tales, "Looney Tunes" (especially Bugs and Daffy), "3,2,1 Penguins,” “Tiny Toon Adventures” and “Animaniacs”
Family: Mom and dad, Julie and Rod; three brothers, Jackson, who attends Elizabethtown High School, Daniel, who is in the 82nd Airborne, and Matthew, who is in the National Guard. Clayton is the youngest in this family that has moved around a lot with the Army.
Pets: A goldfish named Jaws. “We just got this giant aquarium for one fish. He’s a brat,” Roederer said.
Football games: Roederer takes his drawing supplies to his brother’s football games and draws caricatures while he’s there. People see his work and often offer him money for it. He made $50 at one game.

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