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Air Force veteran, Lockheed retiree follows passion of cartooning

Weatherford Democrat - 9/28/2018

Sept. 27--Aledo resident Chet Burdette is a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics after 34 years, but one thing that he's kept up with since he was 8 years old is cartooning.

That hobby has now led to him publish his first adult coloring book -- "Chet's World of Curious Characters."

"The way I learned to draw is when everybody was 8 years old and quit, I continued," Burdette said. "I've just always enjoyed it and sometimes it's self therapy."

Burdette was the inspector at Lockheed and worked on five different programs while there and would do caricatures to lighten the workplace when it became stressful.

"I have a tremendous sense of humor and everybody knows I joke a lot and that was a stressful job, so when I would have downtime at work, [employees] would come to me and say, 'Chet, you won't believe what happened,' so something crazy happened, something they thought was funny, and so I would take two or three minutes and sketch something out and they liked it," Burdette said. "It was always really fun and through the years people collected these things. I got to the point where as my drawings got better a lot of people would say, 'What are you doing here? Why aren't you doing this for a living?' Well, you don't quit a job with full benefits and retire to go do something like this. Also, everybody thinks they can write and everybody thinks they can draw, but that doesn't mean people are going to accept that. So you have to be realistic."

Burdette grew up in Georgia and met his wife Vickie when he was 20 years old after joining the Air Force. They were together five months and then got married before he was sent overseas.

Burdette said the only time he wasn't working on his cartoons was when he served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War for 14 months while he was stationed in Guam.

"When you're on a B-52 base, Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, with 5,000 people jammed in the barracks there was not a place or opportunity to draw for those 14 months," Burdette said.

As time went on Burdette started drawing cartoons for his four children and then his grandchildren.

"They would color them and it was real interesting because they're just line drawings, but when you color them they just jump to life," he said. "So I did start thinking seriously about how I could use some of these and since my children and grandchildren enjoyed them, perhaps other people would enjoy them."

Burdette got the idea to create his own coloring book when the adult coloring book fad came along.

"To me all the coloring books looked similar like clipart, real busy with butterflies, flowers, stuff like that and my wife, Vickie, said it would drive her crazy trying to sit down and color them so I thought I could put my crazy characters into a book," Burdette said. "A local girl, Kelly Ticzkus, is the graphics girl and she's excellent, so I got her to do the cover and let her pick out whatever cartoon she wanted and she formatted it and is great."

Ticzkus said Burdette has been great to work with and has known him for around 10 years through Victory Baptist Church where they attend.

"He's been great to work with and a very skilled artist," Ticzkus said. "It was a fun project to work on and the ideas that come out of his head are very unique and the detail he puts into it made it easy on my end because there wasn't a lot of editing I had to do."

Burdette said he wrote the dedication in his book for his wife's father, who he says was a wonderful man.

"He was a tremendous, great man, a WWII veteran in the Navy, I was 20 years old when I met him," Burdette said. "He was a man's man, a humble guy and was a guy who would shed tears, which I wasn't used to and made a big impression on me."

Burdette has more than 700 original drawings he keeps in notebooks and said there isn't really an inspiration behind his wacky characters.

"Very few of them I thought about before drawing them, so I would just sit down and start drawing and a lot of times what came off my pen was just as much a surprise to me as it was to anybody else," Burdette said with a laugh. "For example one lady's hair is a series of bananas, another girl has a hat which is actually an ice cream cone. I like to put something unusual in them and I can do anything from a Walt Disney-type character all the way up to a Mad Magazine-type character and everything in between."

Burdette's adult coloring book can be found on Amazon.com.

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(c)2018 Weatherford Democrat (Weatherford, Texas)

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