Cleveland cartoonist creating change with coloring books

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 8:23 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - One local cartoonist is hoping to be a part of the solution to violence by spreading his message on the importance of youth and mental health by introducing the story of “The Bear that Cares” into schools.

”It’s not getting any better, it’s getting worse,” Eugene Sopher said when talking about teenage gun violence in Cleveland.

It’s something he’s all too familiar with.

Sopher, who grew up in East Cleveland, says he had to learn how to safely navigate through his neighborhood.

”I’ve had bad things happen to me,” Sopher said. “Gun violence, deaths in the family, and that messes with my mental. Yeah, I’ve wanted to do stuff, but you have to create a movement.”

That movement? Using his power as a cartoonist to come up with a solution.

He created a coloring book about a bear that is left behind at shooting scenes that has to navigate through life in the aftermath of gun violence.

Sopher believes the surge in violence all stems from a lack of mental health resources for teens.

”There are young people out there with mental health issues and they don’t know where to go,” Sopher said.

His goal is to get this book whenever young adults and teens can have access to it.

”I want to get this book in schools, rec centers, to anyone that needs it,” he said. “I refuse to let another young person, if I can, grow up feeling scared they won’t make it to my age.”

He knows this isn’t the only solution, but believes it’s a step in the right reaction to help kids feel sad again.

”I’m not saying I have the remedy or the solution, but we have to start from somewhere,” Sopher said.

Sopher’s main message is written on the back of the book. He hopes this simple story can make a significant impact.

”If you don’t love yourself, no one else will love you. It all starts with self-love.”

You can learn more about Eugene Sopher and The Bear that Cares here.