It’s “Comics 101” With Visiting Artist at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Posted on: October 21, 2022

Fourth through seventh-grade students at St. Joseph’s Indian School let their imaginations loose in the wonderful world of comics led by visiting artist Dylan Jacobson the week of October 17. If you think that is just silly business, consider that the comic book industry is experiencing a surge in growth and diversity.

As expected, storyteller and comic artist Jacobson had an anything-but-dull approach. Art classes met two or three times during the week and began with a game “to get into the headspace of a comic character.” The story template was, “I am an adjective noun who verbs, and my name is blank.”

Jacobson invited students to focus on each aspect intensely. Adjective: What is the character like – funny, fierce, strong, angry? Noun: What will their character look like? Verb: What does the character do? Some students conjured up entirely new characters, like the mustachioed hamburger designed by Gunner Big Crow. Others focused on old favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants.

The move to illustration followed. Jacobson counseled the students, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” His sentiment is echoed on Rachel Butzin’s Art classroom wall, “We turn our mistakes into masterpieces.”

The visiting artist walked students through a trade trick. “All comic characters are made of simple shapes,” he explained, adding that this technique allows them to be drawn repeatedly in flexible but recognizable ways. The three circles that are the foundation of Mickey Mouse became a simple example. He advised that with practice, this trick becomes evident over time.

Perhaps best of all, the students’ work will be published as a book and available in the school library for continued enjoyment.

The visit was made possible in part through the South Dakota Arts Council Artists in Schools & Communities (AISC). AISC is a residency program for K-12 schools and community organizations, with matching funds from the South Dakota Arts Council.