Student artists showcase a more complex side to comics


The Appalachian Online

Lovey Cooper

Students from Vicki Grube’s graphic novel drawing class will present their personal comics for others to view and discuss at a mini-con this Wednesday. The group will also unveil a collaborative zine that all of the students in the class took part in, which will be for sale.

Rachel VanHoy, a junior studio art major, said the course was offered due to the high demand for it among students.

Senior art education major Lindsey Atwell took the class this semester for a second time after first taking it in the summer of 2013, for fun, and said that she was initially interested in the subject due to her personal memories surrounding it.

“Memories that range from me being 8 hanging with my 18-year-old cousin listening to Metallica and looking at X-Men comics, to ex-boyfriends collecting comics based off video games like Mass Effect and Tomb Raider, to my mom buying my brothers a Sonic the Hedgehog comic at the drugstore where she used to buy my grandma’s scratch-off tickets located in Daytona Beach,” Atwell said.

Others were motivated by professional goals.

“I was interested in taking this class because making graphic novels is ultimately what I really want to do when I get out of college,” VanHoy said. “I really gained a sense of how important it is to meet deadlines and stay on top of your work and to make it meaningful and worthwhile.”

She will be sharing a longer graphic novel she is currently working on, but it is not near finishing, as well as two short comic zines that she made during this semester.

She describes her own art style as “cartoony,” based on her experience in reading manga throughout her childhood and today. That said, her own distinct work comes out of her attention to detail.

She generally plans two pages at a time, including layout and text, drawing everything in pencil first, then in pen, then traced onto better quality paper with a red colored pencil before outlining in pen without erasing the colored pencil. She then adds ink washes and light red watercolor.

John Morse, senior studio art major, shares the same narrative artistic vision, but with a much less structured process.

“I like to make images that sort of comment on the human condition, and to work with stream of consciousness sort of idea forming so that strange associations can be made and truly original characters can be invented,” Morse said.

Atwell, on the other hand, describes her usual artistic style as very gestural, fast and a little chaotic, although the graphic novel format has forced her to slow down. She often uses the light box to trace old photos or landmarks and objects, composing the layout with regards to the size of the page and the message she wants to portray.

“I want my work to reflect how much it means to me and how I can look back and remember the memories made,” Atwell, said. Her graphic revolves around her tumultuous life in Boone sharing her home with her mother, who has returned to school the same time that she herself entered. “One day I may not have my mom or the people who influence myself.”

Students say they would like to continue this style of work in the future.

“I love graphic novels and any sort of narrative artwork and I love drawing more than anything,” Morse said.

He said that there is not really a story to his comics, and he instead favors a stream of consciousness style of ideas that are poured into his sketchbook and then transferred to pages.

“I was struggling with making a linear story with a full plot line and all that, or even a personal story so I just made eight pages, three of narratives in a paneled format and the rest as narrative drawings that are essentially just one big panel,” Morse said.

Atwell saw the course as an experience she will be able to bring into the classroom as an educator, and continue in her later years as an artist.

“I’ve gained a sense of being and documenting,” Atwell said.

Story: Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter