I often have flashbacks of a simpler time where every Sunday morning, I would race to the front door, grab the paper, rip through the boring news stuff, and snatch the latest edition of the funnies. In fact, I still do this from time to time. I'm sure many of you have too. I've always loved comics and it's one of the reasons that I even considered a career in Illustration. As I grew older, my funny bone matured and those comics weren't as hilarious as I once thought.
During my freshmen year of college my friends, introduced me to a few web comics, more specifically the Perry Bible Fellowship by Nick Gurewitch. I love this comic. It combines whimsical and child-like images with dark and even inappropriate humor. It's really funny. The comic has done so well that Nick received many awards for his work. He is a Rochester native and I actually had the honor of interviewing him for one of my classes at the beginning of the year. He is a quirking fellow, but I suppose you have to be when you draw comics for a living.
Last week, he and another web comic, Chris Onstad (creator of Achewood) made an appearance here at RIT as a part of a lecture series. I jumped at the chance to attend and even arrived an hour early, anticipating that there would be a large crowd (there wasn't, but I got a pretty sweet seat) In the end, the auditorium was packed full of fans and comic enthusiasts. While waiting, I really didn't know what to expect because when I think of lectures, cartoons and comics are far from my mind.
The first person to speak was Chris Onstad. His cartoon style is very simple and his humor is very complex, in my opinion. In his lecture, he talked about his journey through the comic business and what inspires his comic strips. He also squashed any ideas that a well-known artist/illustrator lives a glamorous life. In the end, he tested the crowd's knowledge of his comic and gave away prizes, such as his original sketches and some of his favorite hot sauce. Unfortunately, I'm not a religious reader of his and couldn't answer any of the questions.
After Chris, Nick Gurewitch took the stage and his lecutre was amazing. It more of a performance rather than a lecture, actually. He started off the talk by explaining the importance of the last panel of a comic. It is what ties the whole thing together and the panels prior to it support that last panel. Then he talked about certain themes that arise in many final panels, such as rebirth, death, going off into the sunset. To get his point across, he brought a violinist out to interpret each theme. His points made a lot of sense and almost felt like a legitimate lecture...almost. He showed some cartoons, movie montages, and even a short film he created the night before. It was bizarre, but really funny.
It was a really interesting experience and I am so glad that RIT has this lecture series. It is a great way for students to get a better insight on the business and even have to opportunity to meet people who they admire and look up to. I almost feel a little star-struck when I look back on the night.