May 6, 2005
A little world created by Westwood High School sophomore Travis Britz will go on a tour of the Valley during the next year.
Britz won first place in the fifth annual Design a Bus Wrap contest sponsored by Valley Metro.
His creation, already popular as a regular cartoon strip in Westwood’s school newspaper, was painted onto a full-size public bus.
The bus will drive throughout the Valley on several routes during the next year. The program is meant to encourage young artists and promote riding the bus, said Dolores Nolan, Valley Metro’s transit education supervisor.
Britz, 16, created his four cartoon characters this year as his love for cartooning blossomed in Don Gilboe’s art class.
"They just act like kids," said Britz, adding that he hopes to become a professionally syndicated cartoonist. "This is good. This introduces my characters."
The star is a blond kid named Hebly, who often encourages his best friend Matt into mischief. The smart bespectacled William helps come up with good schemes — many of which are at the expense of Amy, a little girl with blond ponytails who likes Hebly.
His major influence, Britz said, is the "Calvin and Hobbes’’ cartoon.
The bus was driven to the campus just after noon Thursday as a mariachi band played and an art show took place in the background. It was the first time Britz and his classmates had seen the finished product, which had been digitally imaged and then painted on the bus.
Assistant principal Rod Castillo, who was just named director for creative and performing arts for the Mesa Unified School District, proudly announced the honor just before the unveiling. He said that while many in the community focus on "what’s going wrong with this generation," Britz’s work is just one of many examples of the great things teenagers can accomplish, from community service to winning awards.
"I just want to let you know, every day is a great day to be a Warrior," he said, referring to the school mascot as students gathered around for the event.
It is the first time a Mesa student has won, but Gilboe said he already plans on encouraging his students to go for first place next school year.
Laura Knatt, a junior at Tempe’s McClintock High School, took second place for a design of students with a sight dog, wheelchair and bicycle getting on a bus. Third place went to Augie Bobik, a McClintock sophomore.
Honorable mentions were given to Ian Lambert and Kent Mosher, both
juniors at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School.