Art students at Northwest and Valley schools shared their own intimate stories during a mini-comic workshop in January with comic book artist and historian Joseph Lupo.
Lupo received his BFA from Bradley University and his MFA from the University of Georgia, and his artwork has been a part of over 80 different solo and group exhibitions. He currently is Professor of Art and Printmaking Program Coordinator at West Virginia University, where he also teaches classes on comic book history. He was invited by Benjy Davies, of the University of Rio Grande, to host this project in local schools.
“Most everybody is knowledgeable about Marvel and DC superhero comics, but there is a huge diverse voice in independent comics,” Lupo said. “One of the dominant things is autobiographical comics, so I showed (the students) how to make an eight-page comic out of a single sheet of paper. Because we had a very limited amount of time it made more sense to focus on ourselves and things we already know, and looking to ourselves for storytelling.”
After helping students discover the stories within themselves, Lupo briefly discussed the art and how to create a comic and then left the students for two-weeks to finish their comics.
“It was thrilling,” Lupo said of seeing the finished comics. “I had a show at the Greer Museum at the University of Rio Grande, and at the closing reception we had a couple of tables in the middle of the gallery with everybody’s comics in there so people attending the show could see them.”
Lupo also made copies of all the comics for students to keep and trade and share with others.
Northwest Art Teacher Chris Enz said his students enjoyed creating their comics.
“I had about 20 students involved,” he said. “Some of them responded very well. I have one girl who actually wants to do a series now. She’s titling the series, ‘Don’t Tell Mom,’ and they are stories she hasn’t told her mom yet. Some of the imagination was really good.”
The program was coordinated locally by the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center (ESC), in New Boston.
“I’m very appreciative of Benjy Davies and University of Rio Grande reaching out to our students and teachers to offer this opportunity. The students were completely engaged while working with Joe and expressing themselves in such a unique way,” said Sharee Price, ESC gifted services coordinator. “The subjects of their stories were based on their own lives; it was really interesting to see how creative they were with this media.”