College of DuPage graduate Tim Kietzman has always had a passion for telling stories with pictures.
Now he's sharing that passion in "The Crack in the Sidewalk," a new children's book written by his mother, Laurel, and brought to life through Kietzman's illustrations. The story is about Crack, who journeys to a variety of places.
"Crack finds the ability to jump from surface to surface. He can jump from the sidewalk to a shoe to a window," said the Wheaton resident. "My mom was eager to make this book because it was both entertaining and had a good lesson for kids who were struggling with displacement."
Kietzman, who earned both an Associate in Applied Science degree in Graphic Design and a certificate in Library and Information Technology at COD, spent much of his youth growing up in Pakistan. Ever since the age of 3, he has loved cartoons, especially Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Foxtrot. He enjoyed them so much that in sixth grade he began to create his own comics.
"At first, I could only draw stick figures, but my brother Ben advised that I should avoid drawing that way because it didn't look appealing," he said. "So I began to practice as much as I could. I wanted to create comics that are fun easy to write. Finally, I realized that creating comics may be fun work to do for a living, but they would never be easy. I'm glad I figured that out, since it has helped prepare me for the real world."
Kietzman's interest in children's books began in 2011. While attending College of DuPage, he was approached by a member of his church to illustrate a book about her cat. Eager to tackle a project like this, Kietzman accepted.
Then his mother, realizing his illustration potential, asked if he would consider illustrating a book she had been thinking about for more than 10 years. Together they developed "The Crack in the Sidewalk."
"Initially, I wanted to make the book like Beatrice Potter, where the text is on one side of the spread and the illustrations on the other," he said. "But my mom wanted something different. When I finished the illustrations, she liked them so much that she decided to rewrite some of the text to better match what I created."
Once the book layout was finalized, Kietzman created the cover and immediately searched for a publisher. At the beginning of 2014, "The Crack in the Sidewalk" was officially released by Signature Book Printing.
Kietzman and his mom are currently working on a second book, and he has plenty of other ideas to develop. A member of Autismerica while attending College of DuPage, he would like to create a graphic novel about his experiences as an autistic man growing up overseas. He also is developing a comic strip featuring a 12-year-old boy named Randall Lemma.
"It's a play on the words 'grand dilemma,'" he said. "Randall is an ordinary boy who reluctantly becomes the leader of his apartment complex and is ready to do whatever it takes to manage the young residents.
"Regardless of what I do next, I feel encouraged when I hear from others who tell me how much they enjoyed my book. A man recently sent me a photo of his 9-year-old granddaughter reading it to her 7-year-old brother. That's pretty amazing."
"The Crack in the Sidewalk" can be found at Amazon.com. For more information about Kietzman, visit timothykietzman.com