In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that accompanied it, M.T. (aka Tyler) LeBlanc released a number of videos on his YouTube channel in which he uses puppets to discuss a number of “new” concepts, such as social distancing and the virus itself, in a way that children could understand.
These videos are a culmination of talent and creativity of Boone resident and twice-published children’s book author Tyler LeBlanc, who uses the “stage name” M.T. for his productions.
In addition to his COVID-19-related videos, through the years, LeBlanc has created a family consisting of 30-plus unique characters. He is an aspiring actor, cartoonist and entrepreneur. LeBlanc is the author of two books, “Are You Ready, Freddie?” and “Freddie and Friends,” and has been known to dress up as the main character for local childrens’ events.
Freddie and Blake, LeBlanc’s characters in his COVID-19 video series, are the first characters that LeBlanc created. Freddie, like LeBlanc, has “big dreams” and “Blake is more of his side-kick,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc is a Watauga High School and Appalachian State University graduate, who utilizes a full workshop in his home to sketch, write, sew, and develop his characters and their stories. According to Jennifer LeBlanc, it was App State that Tyler took an apparel class and “really started making his own costumes and sewing.”
Now, LeBlanc makes all of his character-related props.
LeBlanc says that his creativity comes from “any of the cartoons” he watches, but he pays special attention to the stylistic details of characters.
“(One of my favorite examples is) Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dawrves’ —I love how each of the seven dwarves are perfectly divine and cartoonishly drawn,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc is particularly fond of a number of cartoonists, including Fred Moore, “who animated the dwarfs and re-designed Mickey Mouse.”
Jennifer says that LeBlanc, who is an adult with autism, “has always had a love for animation. And he’s a Disney historian, especially.”
“He’s the reigning Boone Disney trivia champion — he’s won four years in a row,” she said.
Turning his passion into a career has been a process for LeBlanc, and he hopes to one day have his cartoons on TV. Jennifer says that he works “all day, every day” creating and developing his characters, which includes making puppets, stuffed animals and writing their stories.
LeBlanc’s children’s books can be purchased along with other merchandise on his website at https://sites.google.com/view/mtleblancproductions/home.
His YouTube channel can be accessed through his Facebook page, where updates are posted, at https://www.facebook.com/mtleblancproductions.