The last time I cried
Earlier this week I was a guest in an online comics class taught by Rob Russell. Rob is in Nebraska now, but we met at Indiana University South Bend, where we were teaching. It was at a time when both of us—published writers—were reconnecting with our interest in visual art and getting serious about comics and visual storytelling. We’ve been on a bit of a parallel journey making graphic narratives ever since.
So it was a pleasure to visit his class and be asked to share about my journey and process. But it was an even greater pleasure to stick around and see what Rob’s students had created for homework in response to Rob’s fabulous prompt: Create a diary comic about the last time you cried.
If you know me, or have read things I’ve written, you know I’m a crier. Maybe that’s why I loved the students’ comics so much. But I think it’s also because the prompt itself taps into powerful and recent emotional moments, while offering just enough narrative distance to allow for reflection and context. Another reason I loved them so much was the genius of comics and the way the students made such creative use of images, lettering, and panels.
I’ve been thinking about the prompt—and the last time I cried—ever since.
This week’s inspiration: Robert James Russell
I’m not only inspired by Rob’s work as a teacher and the way he has thoughtfully organized his class and created an inviting atmosphere for his students, but I’ve long been inspired by his illustrations and graphic narratives. In 2018, he published a triptych called “Weird West,” where he paired his beautiful watercolors paintings with delightfully specific handwritten histories of people—and camels—of the old West.
More here: robertjamesrussell.com
This month is the 50th anniversary of Title IX, and Indiana University has a fabulous set of stories about Title IX, ranging from an oral history by IU-alum Birch Bayh (known as the “father of Title IX”) to an article about me and my forthcoming graphic memoir, THE KEEPER, about growing up in girls’ sports in the early years of Title IX. Check out the article, preorder the book? :)