Campus comic book panel features faculty, student work and theory

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By: KATE LUCE

Staff Writer

kmluce@iu.edu

The English and Fine Arts department are teaming up to bring a comic book panel to campus on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. in Fireside.

This event is the brainchild of Kelcey Ervick, professor of English and Creative Writing. Ervick teaches Creative Non-Fiction Writing, where one of the assignments is creating a comic book.

The panel will feature John Thompson and Jeff Horwat, professors in graphic design, as well as Frankie Spring and Amy Gardine, English students, and Miguel Canada, Fine Arts student. This free event is for students interested in comics or looking at how to create a professional looking comic book.

Thompson is well known in the local comic book community. Throughout the years, Thompson has created several comics and has taken part in many comic book panels. To him, comics are more than a form of entertainment but a serious form of art.

“I enjoy creating comics because I enjoy reading comics. I think that it is a highly overlooked form of art that, over the past few years, is finally finding some legitimacy in the United States,” Thompson said.

“Although the comic book in its current incarnation is a uniquely American creation, it has been treated as a throwaway medium for nearly a century. In other countries, Japan, Italy, Spain and France to name a few, comics are appreciated by people of all ages and economic backgrounds,” Thompson said. “In the U.S. it has always been looked down on as a medium strictly for children or the uneducated. It has only been over the last decade or two that the comic medium has been given a more serious consideration.”

Thompson is planning on talking about his comic book about the early 1900s La Porte serial killer, Belle Gunness. He researched the conflicting tale of Gunness and has been in the process of creating this book for several months.

“Although there is some existing material out there about her and her crimes, there is a lot of contradicting information. I am hoping that, particularly with this piece, to help clear up some of that confusion,” Thompson said.

Gardine, English M.A., has only been creating comics since she took Ervick’s class. She enjoys the process of creating art and telling a story at the same time.

“It was a natural and rewarding experience to pair my literary pursuits with my love of art and visual expression. There is something powerful in exploring the way comics meet in the space between words and pictures,” Gardine said.

At the panel, Gardine will present her books she has made for Ervick’s class. The books revolve around themes of mental health and her family’s history with mental illness.

“Seriously, comic book making is an amazing tool for exploring the “whys” of writing. I adore art, although there are so many better artists out there, and it is fascinating to contemplate the images one pairs with text. This combination is so revealing. Sometimes we are trying to portray a big picture, but the most powerful image may be a hand or a symbol or even an abstract emotion. None of my stories turned out the way I had intended them to because I didn’t know how powerful the combination of text and images could be. In the pairing of the two, comics can be so much deeper and revealing than I ever imagined they could be,” Gardine said.

Making Comics: IUSB Students and Professors Share their Comics will happen at Fireside on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m.

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