Grandma is putting down the pruning shears and taking up the shovel.
“All the Growing Things” is a graphic novel about an elderly woman named Maude that begins with her fighting off the tentacle monsters invading her back garden. In the space of a moment, a sweet old lady with a green thumb turns into a shovel-wielding huntress.
Jen and John Myers, UNM art school alumni, used the skills they developed to create “All the Growing Things,” as well as “Terra Farmers,” “Era of Great Wonders” and other comics.
Jen Myers, who graduated with a studio arts degree, is the artist. She said when she began to notice that she had created enough comics to make a book, it was time to see where her skills could take her.
“When I first started making comics, I was goofing off and blowing off steam. I would make one a day, or a few pages every couple of days,” she said. “I actually started with that Marvel Comics style ... then I started playing with my character, Maude, in a cartoony way. It became something that I can do fast.”
Jen Myers did not expect to turn her passion into a career, she said.
“I told [John] that I wanted to try and make monsters,” she said. “He came back with this 60-page script.”
Jen Myers said that though she spends a good deal of time in the studio and sometimes gets locked in her head, she also seeks out venues to interact with her audience as well as generate new ideas.
She also said there have points when she just wanted to give up on comics.
“With art it’s easy to lose your ambition, because a lot of people dismiss art or devalue art,” she said. “But it’s important to be around people that will bring you up and inspire you.”
John and Jen Myers said they encourage and support one another in continuing the comic.
John Myers, a media arts alumnus who also earned a degree in journalism, is the writer. He said the two of them have been reading comics since they were kids. He enjoys the visual aspect of screen writing, and is using the skills from his journalism and screenwriting degree to develop these comics.
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“The best thing about screen writing is that it teaches you to narrow everything down to the essentials,” he said.
Students working toward an art degree are able to take arts management classes, John Myers said, and he encourages students to take such classes in preparation for the future.
Nicole Anderson, a sophomore IFDM student, said she wants to make three-panel comics that relay quick, witty jokes. She said that seeing an artist become successful with their degree encourages her to continue working on her degree with her head held high.
Anderson added that she appreciates the concept of an old woman battling monsters.
“It’s a metaphor: Even though you see these people that are older or decrepit, there are still a lot of really awesome things they did in their lives,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she was impressed by the artwork and the attention to detail going into the comic.
“The amount of detail is amazing, and the coloring style is amazing,” she said. “I can imagine this would be hard to do over a long period of time, unless you had encouragement.”
Imani Lambert is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DailyLobo.