Visiting Artist Fall 2016
James “Jim” William Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952, where he grew up among his engineer father’s clever gadgets and his toxicologist mother’s animal dissection stories. As a child, Woodring experienced a great deal of intense mental phenomena such as paroniria, paranoia and paracusia, which helped define his body of work considerably. He began his artistic career in the early eighties with a number of self-published zines. In the mid-1980s, while working for the Ruby Spears animation studio alongside the likes of Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, Woodring met Fantagraphics editor Gary Groth, who offered to officially publish his work, including the legendary publication, JIM. His most famous creation, a rodent-like anthropomorphic character named Frank, can be seen in one of its pages. The Book of Frank, was shortlisted for an Ignatz award in 2003. Woodring was a featured guest at the International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France in 2007 and received an Inkpot award at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008. In 2014, his graphic novel, Fran, received a Lynd Ward award from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Jim Woodring is also an accomplished fine artist and toy designer and his collaborations with acclaimed musician Bill Frisell in particular have garnered him considerable critical success. His latest publication is Frank in the 3rd Dimension.
K.L. Ricks is an artist born and raised in Massachusetts, whose jarring juxtapositions of natural and industrial landscapes inspired her future work. Although she began honing her comic making skills in high school, it wasn’t until she was a RISD student that she was exposed to the larger world of independent cartooning. Since then she has worked as an editorial illustrator for the New York Times, designed a variant cover for the Adventure Time comic book and contributed to the Ham4pamphlet project, a comics interpretation of the world famous Hamilton musical inspired and encouraged by its original cast. Her ongoing horror story Country Darkness, which appears regularly on Hazlitt, has accrued a great deal of success and popularity online. She has recently been featured on such high profile websites as The A.V. Club and The Comics Journal.
Auckland-based creator Richard Fairgray began making and distributing comics when he was seven years old, right after learning of their existence on T.V. His most famous work, Blastosaurus, an ongoing collaboration with cartoonist Terry Jones and Tara Black, tells the story of a laser-carrying dinosaur mutant and his adventures in both the present and the far-flung future. He also writes for Beyond Reality Media and in 2014 launched the Funny Books project alongside Theo Macdonald, which required completing an eight-page comic each week for a whole year. These titles and more are distributed through Square Planet Comics, an online platform for independent New Zealand ‘toonies which Fairgray himself directs.’ He is also an internationally acclaimed children’s book author and is responsible for such recent hits as Gorillas in our Midst (2015) and My Grandpa is a Dinosaur (2016, illustrated by Terry Jones).
In 2013, after creating Columbia University’s first ever graphic novel thesis, local cartoonist Rachel Lindsay moved from New York to Burlington to begin work on Rachel Lives Here Now, an ongoing comic strip that can be read both online and in the pages of Vermont’s very own Seven Days. Lindsay has been featured on Vermont Public Radio and Eva Sollberger’s online series Stuck in Vermont. Her current comic book series, The Wizard of Life, tells the story of a peculiar UVM student and his search for an endless supply of cannabis. Her graphic novel, Rx, will be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2018.
Spike Trotman was born on November 18, 1978, which is, as she has pointed out before, the very same day cult leader Jim Jones poisoned 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana. She has been boldly challenging conventions since then and has gone from being a feisty Maryland Calvin and Hobbes enthusiast to one of the most important figures in the world of contemporary comics. She began her professional development at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she obtained a Studio Art degree. She would later attend the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago in the early 2000s, an experience that she characterized as being valuable only because it provided her with the opportunity of moving to the windy city, where she currently resides. She was an integral part of the very beginning of the webcomics movement, creating titles such as Sparkneedle for Girlamatic and Templar, Arizona, which ran regularly from 2005-2014. In 2007, before Kickstarter, she successfully crowdfunded Templar, AZ’s publication in book form. This led to Trotman founding the acclaimed Iron Circus Comics imprint in 2005, which has launched legendary anthologies such as The Sleep of Reason and Smut Peddler. Trotman has won two Web Cartoonist’s Choice awards in 2006 and one Glyph Comics award in 2007 for Templar, AZ. She is currently working on a graphic biography of Josephine Baker.
Kerascoët is the shared nom-de-plume of illustrators, comics and animation artists Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset (Named after a village in Brittany, France). The pair met while attending the Olivier de Serres art school in Paris. In the early 2000s, their interest in the bande dessinée would bring them close to the likes of Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim, with whom they collaborated on the world-famous dungeon crawl epic, Dungeon. They have also worked on the T.V. adaptation of Sfar’s Petit Vampire. Their best known works consist of Miss Don’t Touch Me (published from 2006 to 2009), Beautiful Darkness (2009), and Beauty (2015). These poignant and carefully crafted graphic novels deal with complex issues such as womanhood, femininity and cultural history in the stylized and dreamlike environments of the world of fables and fairy tales. Upon publication in the U.S., Beautiful was nominated for an Ignatz award.
Rebecca Roher is a cartoonist, illustrator and educator who earned her BFA in drawing and painting from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and then her MFA from The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2015. Her work has been published on The Nib, Bitch Media, New York Times Now, GUTS, Canadian Feminist Magazine, Seven Days Alt-Weelky, Symbolia, the Media Co-op and Briarpatch. She is also a co-publisher of the West Dublin Monitor. Her comic, Mom Body, received wide critical acclaim, including an Ignatz Nomination in 2015. Her latest graphic novel, Bird in a Cage, published in 2016 by Conundrum Press, began as part of her thesis while at CCS.
Providence-based cartoonist and animator A.K. Summers was a Studio Arts major at Oberlin College, where she developed her printmaking skills by creating a series of fliers and posters which she has described as direct precursors to her comics. After graduating, she moved to Chicago, where she found work with a color separator and began to self-publish Negativa: Chicago’s Astute Lezbo Fantasy Mag. She continued her zine work while attending the School of the Art Institute fo Chicago. She presented a 12 minute animation of one of her characters as her MFA thesis that would lead her to creating two more animations in later years. In 2005, after her son was born, she began work on Pregnant Butch, a graphic memoir exploring the complexities of contemporary butch motherhood. This work was first serialized online on Activate Comix in 2012 and later published by Soft Skull in 2014. Pregnant Butch was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award of 2015.