Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor
Many professors produce impressive research outside of class, but one professor at Berry is trying to publish work of a more fun variety.
Brian Barr, Adjunct Lecturer of Fine Arts at Berry College and Professor of Art at Georgia Highlands College, is working with a colleague to complete and publish a graphic novel.
Kelly Shane, Professor of Mathematics at Georgia Highlands College, writes the script for “Jackdaw,” a comic that the two have been working on for several years. The comic follows Thrasher, a superhero sidekick, as she is drawn back into the world of crime fighting that she sought to leave behind.
Shane said that he decided to work with Brian because he liked his art. Barr’s style is unique in that it is more classical than a cartoonist. He brought his general ideas to Barr, and they discussed them before he wrote the full script.
Shane said he learned a lot writing “Jackdaw” because it was his first long-form comic. Shane works with another artist on a web comic called “Is This Tomorrow,” but “Jackdaw” is written more like a storyline compared to his normal work, and he enjoyed experimenting in that context.
“I got to try a lot of things I hadn’t tried before,” Shane said.
Barr said that working on this comic has been different from his other work as well.
“Narrative is not something that often shows up in modern fine arts,” said Barr. “It’s less about each individual image, and more how the images relate to each other.”
Barr said his drawing is unconventional for the art form. He uses charcoal for his images and draws them very large instead of using pencil and ink.
“We keep joking that we do it wrong,” Barr said.
Barr had to figure out how to bring someone else’s ideas to life. He compared the work to that on a movie and set with Shane as the director and himself as the cinematographer and actors.
“That’s actually a lot of fun,” Barr said. “There is kind of a freedom there.”
Shane said that he really enjoys getting the art back from Barr. He likes to see the facial expressions and body language of the characters and how Barr uses them to tell the story.
“I enjoy how he makes the characters act,” said Shane. “He always brings a lot to it.”
Barr’s least favorite part of the process is the repetitiveness of drawing slight variations of each frame. However, he does enjoy playing around with different ways to get the feel of the narrative in the way the frames relate to each other. Barr said that he likes his comics better when he sees them in the context of the story.
Barr and Shane have not worked on the comic recently, but decided to see what interest there was in the comic before continuing. They have sent the comics to publishers to gauge interest, but have not gotten back anything concrete so far. Barr said that feedback has been encouraging, but there is usually a problem where the publisher doesn’t like it in black and white or similar issues. Until then, the comic can be viewed at jackdawcomic.com.
For now, the pair are working on getting a shorter horror comic published, but Shane has really enjoyed doing long-form and would like to do more in the future.