Amusing Monday: ‘Shaaark!’ cartoon raises public awareness

Jacques, the main character in the cartoon “Shaaark!,” made an appearance this summer in a new video that tells the story of his creator, Australian Phil Watson. I’ve posted this video first on this page, followed by another recent video by Watson, who developed a comic strip followed by a series of cartoons featuring the foibles and fables of sharks.

“I do want to use my cartoons to entertain people and help them to see that sharks aren’t as scary as they may have thought,” Watson was quoted as saying in an interview with Oliver Feist of Stop-Finning.com.

In one cartoon, a young shark is frightened by a bolt of lightning striking the sea. He looks to his father for comfort. “Don’t worry,” says the parent. “You’ve got more chance of being taken by a human.”

In another cartoon, a shark sits and watches television from an overstuffed chair, with popcorn on one arm and a drink on the other. An announcer on the TV ponders: “But are they as terrifying as they seem? Find out on … ‘Human Week.’”

Phil’s personal favorite cartoon, featured in the animated opening of his Facebook page, shows a person in the water pointing and yelling, “Shaaark!” followed by a shark popping up out of the water and shouting back “Whaaat?”

Phil became inspired by sharks while surfing the northern beaches off Sydney, Australia, the country where he was born. He studied coastal geomorphology in college, but after graduation turned his attention to cartooning and story-telling.

In 2005, Phil was hired by Sealife Minnesota, an aquarium at the Mall of America. The idea was to create an animated format for the aquarium’s mascot — a costumed shark named Sharky who sometimes roams the mall. One of the videos attempts to explain “Why sharks attack.”

In 2011, the production company Movie Extra helped him bring the “Shaaark!” comic to the video format, where he produced a series of seven features and now hopes to do more with this kind of animation. See the third video on this page for the first video in the “Shaaark!” series. Visit Watson’s YouTube channel to review all his videos, or click on the links below to go straight to the seven animations.

The “Shaaark!” video series:

Phil, who has become a spokesman for shark conservation, posts occasional cartoons on his website, where one can peruse 14 pages of cartoons or buy “Shaaark!”-related items. His Facebook page may be the easiest way to access his many cartoons. See also his Twitter feed for frequent updates.

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