Who is Lola, you ask? She’s a quick-witted, independent, grandmother with equally quick knitting needles. Twice a month, we feature Lola comic strips in the Lion Brand E-Newsletter, but she also stars in her own daily comic featured in 125 papers around the U.S.
Lola has a new book out–called Gimme a Break!–so we checked in with cartoonist Todd Clark to find out a little bit more about our favorite knitting grandma.
Lion Brand: How did you get started drawing/writing comics?
Todd Clark: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. My Mom was an awesome artist. My plan was to be the next Salvador Dali, but as soon as I got to college I realized my art skills were sorely lacking compared to others. I’d always been able to make people laugh, and could still draw these glorified stick figures, so I started telling everyone I was going to be a cartoonist. At some point I had to back up my claims. I had some great encouragement early on from some pretty big editors and got a few breaks writing jokes for some pretty well-known comic strips.
LB: Who or what inspired the character of Lola?
TC: Lola is based on my former partner Steve’s great-aunt Lola. She’s real. A WWII veteran and fantastic lady. The actual Lola is much sweeter than her comic strip alter ego. Steve and I did a book signing years ago in her hometown of Augusta, GA, and Lola came with us and sat at the table. It was very cool. She had contacted her entire church and they all came by. She wouldn’t let them get away with buying just one book. They all had to buy several.
LB: If Lola were to knit you something, what would you like it to be?
TC: I’d probably have her knit something for my little 4 year old girl, Rhiannon. If I was forced to choose for me, I’d have to say something blue and orange, maybe a scarf, the colors of my beloved Boise State University Broncos.
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Professor Ruth Grahn, of Connecticut College, explains the functions of different parts of the brain by using the example of how the act of knitting requires the motor cortex of the brain where finger and hand control is determined. She also uses knitting to explain brain plasticity, which means that the brain is capable of changing as a person gains experience and improves their skills.
I once met a woman who had suffered a stroke and was told that she may never be able to knit again–that with a great deal of physical therapy, she would be lucky to walk. She had been a very experienced knitter who enjoyed doing intricate patterns. She described how she was determined to painstakingly return to her knitting, taking up simpler, then more complex patterns and eventually experienced a full recovery. Her amazed doctor told her that he believed she was able to use knitting to “rewire her brain” and take back not only her knitting, but all her motor skills.