The Serious Business of Comics

While Jason Meizels ’19 was a young boy he would spend his free time drawing and reading his favorite comic, Spiderman. “As a character, he’s very relatable. He could be any one of your peers in your school. The idea that a superhero could be your best friend is fascinating,” said Meizels. So when he was approached by art teacher Scott McDonald about pursuing his interest in a summer arts program through The Courtney Graham Donnell ’63 Scholarship, Meizels jumped at the chance to take a two-week course in creating a graphic novel at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), considered to be one of the most influential art and design schools in the world.

Debates regarding the origins of the graphic novel vary from the 18th-century Japanese prints of ukiyo-e to 19th-century Belgian woodcuts. But one thing is certain over the centuries: the increasing valorization and legitimacy of the graphic novel as a mode of self-expression.  For this class, Meizels was tasked with producing a six-page novel of mixed media (ink, watercolor, and pastels) so that the particular medium would inform the storytelling technique itself. Meizels’ graphic novel centered around a person who drew his world in black and white ink. The storyline advances and transitions when the character is introduced to a new world of color.

“The graphic novel can tell stories in very different ways, and it provides some really great opportunities. It’s interesting to think of the different forms and functions although there are limitations in every medium,” Meizels said.

Meizels gravitates towards drawing and painting, and this class expanded his oeuvre.  Although he personally has not drawn many superheroes, he deeply understands their appeal.“It’s something about the way they kind of human, yet a little more so. They are reflections of normal people with extraordinary abilities. In drawing superheroes, you are drawing people; there's not a lot of distinction, but we can come to discover what makes us special through them,” he said.

The Oxford Class of 1963, to honor their classmate, Courtney Graham Donnell, established the Courtney Graham Donnell '63 Endowment Fund for Art.  The income generated from the endowment provides support for a Kingswood Oxford student to attend a two-week residential program at the Art Institute of Chicago during the summer.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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