SchoolArts Magazine

December 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 27 of 54

Telling Stories through Visual Art S torytelling is at the core of visual art. Movies, pho- tographs, comic books, advertisements, portraits, scrolls, and interdisciplinary arts communicate some kind of story, even if the meaning is unclear. Storytelling in art can be entirely truthful, functional, or somewhere in between. History of Comics Storytelling in art has existed since cave painting, but per- sonal narrative, outside of self-portraits, did not come into play as subject matter until artists began creating works of art as a means of self-expression. Personal narrative became a particularly strong force in art after the gender, civil rights, and political movements of the late twentieth century. Comic books debuted in 1938 with Action Comics #1 and the birth of Superman. In the late 1960s, an alternative comic-book movement emerged that directly satirized and challenged the political and social realities of the United States. Today, "alternative," or small-press comic books are experiencing a renaissance, with many new artists and publishing companies producing an astonishing variety of high-quality comics, from superheroes to biographies to re- imaginings of Greek mythology in a science-fiction genre. This month we feature two cartoonists who work with sequential narratives: James Kochalka and Cara Bean. James Kochalka James Kochalka is known for comics that explore his observations of situations from daily life. One of his most famous series was American Elf, a semi-autobiographical story about an eccentric American family. Kochalka also creates stories for young children, such as the Johnny Boo series, which features a friendly ghost and his sidekick. Johnny Boo is a great example of Kochalka's style—simple, yet effective drawings combined with an absurd surreal- ism that somehow stay grounded in reality. A native of Springfield, Vermont, Kochalka created more than 2,000 pages of comics by the time he had fin- ished high school. In the 1990s, he quit his day job to devote all of his time to cartooning and music. He has won numerous awards for his art and stories, including the title of the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. Cara Bean, illustrations from Munch. Courtesy Cara Bean. Cara Bean Cara Bean is a Boston-area cartoonist and high-school art teacher. Her works include autobiographical, semi- autobiographical, and surreal stories detailing events such as viewing Gremlins in a movie theatre as a child, stories from her classroom, and stories about gorillas or caterpil- lars. No matter the subject, each comic or drawing Bean creates reflects her unique style and approach to story- telling. Munch is a short story about a day in the life of a group of caterpillars. The story manages to be funny, sur- prising, and heartwarming at the same time. Bean has a MFA in Painting and Drawing from the Uni- versity of Washington and recently earned a Certificate in Cartooning from the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, Florida. You can see more examples of Bean's work in the September 2015 issue of SchoolArts, as well as in this issue (see page 47). SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G C O M I C A R T I S T S J a m e s K o c h a l k a a n d C a r a B e a n

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