Friday, February 29, 2008

Chester College explores the world of graphic novels

First part of a two part series

Christopher Anderson, a professor of writing at Chester College, is working side by side with Joel Christian Gill, a visual artist and professor at Chester, to bring the world of graphic novels into the classroom.

Graphic novels are finding themselves a niche in the art world these days. They are expanding beyond concepts of superheroes and fantastic situations and moving into the real world. Fiction is blurring together with visual art in such a way that the lines in between are non-existent.

Anderson thinks that graphic novels tell stories in a different language, but one that is still essentially a story, a fiction. Although he finds this hard to explain in some tangible way, he refers to the graphic novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and the scene of two siblings smiling at their fathers funeral. Although this may seem morbid, it is an intense scene of connection, which only illustration seems to convey.

Writers and visual artists are working together in this class. The class runs nine hours, three hours being devoted to creative writing aspect and six hours to the visual art side of the class. Each writer is paired with a visual artist with which they are to work with on a graphic project together. Although these artists may be pursuing their separate degrees in Creative Writing and Visual Art, Anderson says that they are not considered separate within the class; rather, they are encouraged to bolster and enhance each others work in a combination of visual and written art.

This class at Chester College signifies the interest in contemporary art forms and styles for both the visual and written artist. It concentrates on breaking the mold between studies and stressing interdisciplinary art and creativity. We should expect to see more classes like this in the future of Chester College, as well as a continuation of the graphic novel course.

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