Goshen News, Goshen, IN


December 8, 2011

Graphic content

Goshen College students contribute to 'Goshen Graphix' project

GOSHEN — Armed with TP, Mark Hershberger and his friends were bent on mischief. Hannah Sandvold’s family has a unique interest in a specific brand of cologne.

Nate Day? He got lost in the woods.

These people have a story to tell — with pictures, even.

The aforementioned tales and others are found in “Goshen Graphix,” a collection of short graphic memoirs. They were written and drawn by Goshen College students as part of their May 2010 Graphic Novel class coursework.

The “Goshen Graphix” editors were Mary Roth, a sophomore English major from Goshen, and senior English major Anna Ruth from Harleysville, Pa.

Class of 2010 graduate Hershberger and Day, a senior English major from Perkasie, Pa., were among the student contributors. Sandvold is a former student. “Graphix” also features the work of Joshua Delp, a senior English and Bible and religion double major from Sellersville, Pa.; Lauren King, a junior English major from Goshen; Elspeth Stalter, a senior music and English double major from Iowa City, Iowa; and Phil Weaver-Stoesz, a senior theater major from Goshen.

The class was taught by assistant professor of English Jessica Baldanzi.

What are they?

The line separating graphic novels and modern comic books can be thin and porous. There are distinctions, though, as outlined in the “Graphix” introduction by Lauren King and Elspeth Stalter.

“... Comics tend to be serialized, multi-volume stories which feature classic super-human heroes and extraordinary events,” they wrote. “Graphic novels cover broader, sometimes more serious subject matter, featuring real-life, human events ranging from the dramatic to the romantic to the mundane.”

Over the past couple of decades, graphic novels have secured critical acclaim in addition to enjoying a higher cultural profile. Art Spiegelman’s cat-and-mouse (literally) Holocaust memoir “Maus” won the Pulitzer Prize. That work was part of the GC class’ reading list, along with other notables including Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” and Daniel Clowes’ “Ghost World.”

“Graphic novel” is a relatively new term, but the words-and-pictures concept is long-established. Graphic novels are a storytelling medium, basically. And through it — and “Goshen Graphix — the GC students told their own.

The creative process

“From the dawn of time,” Joshua Delp mock-dramatically intoned, “people have been representing stories with images.”

Egyptian hieroglyphics are an example Delp cited. Add to that tradition Delp’s own “Snow Warning,” a tale of friendship and inclement weather included in “Graphix.”

Delp was among the “Graphix” contributors who spoke during a release party for the publication last week at Better World Books in Goshen.

Mary Roth discussed her work, “All Things Grow.”

“It was about my love of music and how it connects with my sisters,” Roth said. She also talked about tools in the graphic novel toolbox — including how text can be used to enhance an image, or vice-versa.

One passage in “All Things Grow” recounts Roth’s sister playing Fiona Apple, and the partial lyrics to a song are printed. The heaviness of the text used implies the anger in the song, Roth said.

Elsewhere in “Grow” is the line, “Music became a form of communication between us.” That sentence actually “connects” two panels — a sister in each — having a telephone conversation.

Nate Day’s experience working at Yellowstone National Park inspired “Greetings from Lake Yellowstone.” It recounts Day being lost for a little more than eight hours in the “wilds of Yellowstone,” he said; the plan had been to go on an hour-long fishing trip.

Day said he decided to go for a cinematic feel for “Lake Yellowstone,” adding that figuring out how to capture than in a print medium was interesting.

Day discussed how he illustrated the passage of time in a portion of “Lake Yellowstone.” In three nearly identical panels, the sun moves across the sky. “We marched onward” is printed, a word a piece, in each panel.

Near the end of the release party, editor Roth was mindful of the holiday season. “Goshen Graphix,” she said, makes a great Christmas present.

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