With a little paper and ink

Gerald Morris, right, draws Hank the Cowdog while answering questions from about 30 fourth-grade students at Plato Elementary. Morris has been drawing the canine character for 25 years.

The drawing seemed to emerge from the paper, line by line, until the bust of the dog appeared.

Hank the Cowdog illustrator Gerald Morris made his rounds to several elementary schools in Duncan Monday and Tuesday.

Morris, a former Waurika resident who now lives in Perryton, Texas, has been drawing the canine character for 25 years. At the request of a friend from his school days, he returned to the area to hold presentations for the local students.

“The kids are so nice,” the illustrator said about talking to children. “It’s a good feeling to have some fans.”

His first stop was Plato Elementary and then he worked his way through every group of fourth-graders in the Duncan Public School district. And while the illustrator might have gotten enjoyment from his visits, Plato Elementary Principal John Millirons said there were benefits for students to have guest speakers like Morris.

“It gives the kids that are talented in this way some encouragement,” Millirons said. “It shows how they can use that talent later in life.”

He said guest speakers also provide life lessons based on experiences they’ve had.

“We want to give the kids many life experiences,” the principal said. During the presentation at Plato, Morris discussed his career while drawing Hank the Cowdog and other various characters. Students also asked questions.

He told the audience how he got started drawing for author John Erickson.

“I like to draw, and he needed an illustrator,” Morris said.

Over the past 25 years, he has drawn a picture per chapter for the 49 books that have been released. Another book is preparing to go to print. And he is working on pictures for yet another. But of all the books, he said his favorite is the first one.

“It’s just such a surprise because that one book turned into seven million,” he said.

Morris’ wife, Carol, read excepts of some of the books to the students. In attendance at Plato was the illustrator’s friend from school, Robin Kirkland, and Kirkland’s wife, Barbara, who actually made the request for Morris to visit the schools.

The Kirklands’ grandchildren, Carly and Colby Kirkland, attended the program. Both are students at Plato Elementary.

At the end of the first presentation, Morris signed autographs for the students.

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