Hillsdale College is holding an exhi­bition of comic book illus­tra­tions. Courtesy | Durwin Talon and Guin Thompson

Hillsdale College is holding its first-ever exhi­bition of comic book illus­tra­tions, beginning Thursday in the Sage Center for the Arts.

“Sto­ry­tellers: Illus­tration, Comics and the Graphic Novel,” which will be on display in Sage’s Daughtrey Gallery from Thursday to March 25, fea­tures the work of three comic book artists. The show will present original ink illus­tra­tions from Gary Kwapisz’s series “Conan the Bar­barian” and two com­plete graphic novels from Durwin Talon and Guin Thompson’s series “Beau­tiful Scars.” 

Although the college’s last pro­fes­sional exhibit fea­tured children’s book illus­trator Aaron Zenz, Teacher of Art Bryan Springer said this semester’s focus on illus­tration was coin­ci­dental. Regardless, high­lighting both comic and children’s books illu­mi­nates diverse styles within the same artistic genre. 

“It gives a broad sam­pling of the genre of sto­rybook illus­tration,” Springer said. “They both incor­porate his­torical themes into their work.” 

The dif­ference between these comic illus­tra­tions and the children’s art, according to Springer, is the double genre explored by comic artists.

“They are taking these his­torical themes and placing them in more fan­tastic genres,” Springer said.  

Viewers may notice both themes in Kwapisz’s new series, “Civil War Adventure,” which includes various fic­tional and real scenes from the bat­tle­fields of the Civil War, and Talon and Thompson’s work “Beau­tiful Scars,” which incor­po­rates World War I imagery alongside dragons. 

It is inter­esting from an artistic per­spective to explore the jux­ta­po­sition of his­torical and fan­tas­tical imagery, one that curi­ously fits comic book art as a whole. This show is one of exploring the inte­gration of reality and the surreal in the illus­trators’ work.

The college does not offer illus­tration courses in its art program, but the genre has intro­duced some in the department, including Springer, to the larger field of art and design. Even still, Springer sees the art program as one which is helpful to stu­dents who want to take up this kind of dis­ci­pline.

“We see this type of illus­tration as a result of good, fun­da­mental drawing skills that are learned from still lives and figure drawing and sculpting here,” Springer said.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    great idea