Fourth-grader uses comics to raise funds for Haiti earthquake

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- Johnathan Herrbold's interest in raising money for earthquake-ravaged Haiti started soon after seeing images of the devastation in a television news report.

Johnathan, a fourth-grader at Deerfield-Windsor School, told his mother Kelly that he wanted to sell copies of his recently created and well-received comic book series titled "Scribble Man" for 50 cents.

"Honestly, the earthquakes happened and he saw it on the news with us and he was very upset," Kelly Herrbold said. "At that point, he had two to three volumes of his cartoons. He came to me and said he'd like to sell his cartoons for 50 cents each to help Haiti. But, I said no because I honestly didn't think they'd sell.

"About two or three days later, the principal, Mrs. (Cary) Stoudenmire, said Johnathan asked for permission to sell the comics at school and she said yes. They made big posters and put them all over the school."

Johnathan, 10, has sold more than 100 copies of his Scribble Man adventures for 50 cents apiece.

"We've been amazed and impressed," Kelly Herrbold said of the response. "The kids keep buying them."

Johnathan's mother promised that once he'd raised $50 she would take him to the Southwest Georgia chapter of the American Red Cross' downtown location to make his donation. On Thursday, Johnathan presented a check for $52.50 for Haiti relief to Southwest Georgia Chapter Executive Director Mari Wright.

"That is amazing," Wright told Johnathan of his unique fundraising efforts. "I am so impressed. I am so proud to meet you. This is so important with the things we're doing in Haiti. I hope adults see what you do. I feel like I should frame this (check), but I can't. This is great. Thank you very much."

Wright told Johnathan that the money he has raised will help with the Red Cross' current drive to vaccinate all of Haiti's children. Johnathan's father, Fran, said his son's funds will have a tremendous impact on the vaccination efforts.

"In a Third World country, it might cost a dime to vaccinate a child, so with a $50 donation it could impact 500 children," said Fran Herrbold, a cardiovascular surgeon at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

With the popularity of his Scribble Man adventures -- which feature a stick figure man with a crown on his head -- Johnathan said his life has changed significantly.

"It's changed my life from regular irresponsible kid and turned me into a responsible kid that does work all the time," he said. "Basically, when I started the business, I spent hours copying and creating. I'd start at 4 o'clock and go till 8 o'clock.

"It makes me feel good and also I'm glad that other kids in this school have spent some of their time writing and they give their copies to me."

Johnathan takes his Scribble Man comic books in a used cardboard soda carton everywhere he goes, Kelly Herrbold said. He named his company Comic House. Johnathan uses classmates Zachary Bridges, Hannah Sims, Bittu Patel, Sarah Perrine and Mary John Collier as "employees" and helpers. Johnathan has also recently added new characters to his comic books, among them Baby Bulls-eye, Stop Watch, The Twister, Volt and Cye-Cloud.

Because of Scribble Man, which he started drawing in early January, Kelly Herrbold has seen her son change before her eyes.

"I'm impressed with his heart and wherewithal to follow through," she said. "He works on them every night, instead of watching TV. My photo/copy machine has run out of ink. He said he plans to do it until he rebuilds Haiti. And that concerns me because that will be a very long time. But, he's coming up with other ideas to make money."

One of Johnathan's ideas to raise more money is to lead a comic book camp this summer.

Scribble Man has helped Johnathan break out of his previous shy shell, said his teacher, Amy Carden. She described Johnathan as "very inquisitive."

"He dealt more easily with adults," she said. "He didn't easily talk with other children, but we set up some rules and parameters this year and he appreciated that. He had to talk to other children before he could talk to me. It took him two days. He's very neat and an interesting kid. He has so much to offer. I'm glad he's spreading his wings, so to speak, because he was able to share his comics with other children.

"Scribble Man was fun and easy to understand and it made him feel important in front of his peers."