James O’Keefe comic contest tackles history, humor and pain through art – the Inquirer


Comics, like music, poetry, and other forms of self-expression, can reflect one’s values ​​and experiences and provide a platform to share these important qualities, creating a common thread between people from all walks of life. . Whether you are a kid, teacher, artist or student, the world of comics can offer something for everyone.

On May 4, 11 students from Diablo Valley College received prizes at the 11th Annual James O’Keefe Comic Book Competition. The free event has been hosted since 2010 by Adam Bessie, professor of English at DVC, and Arthur King, teaching assistant in digital art media, to honor the memory of the late professor James O’Keefe, who founded the program of DVC comics and died in 2008.

A mentor to Bessie and many others, O’Keefe was a beloved college campus English teacher who created and taught 176 English, The Graphic Novel as Literature. O’Keefe was “all about putting the student experience at the center of things,” Bessie said The Inquirer in an interview after the awards ceremony.

The graphic novel course that O’Keefe started reflected the professor’s creative and outspoken nature, and it is with that in mind that the competition continues, Bessie said. Former competitors continued to work in professional careers such as animation. “Comics are a medium,” Bessie said, and aren’t limited to their associations with childhood.

Bessie said he “fell in love with reading comics,” noting that some of the best comics were very accessible. He believes this is what makes the art form so powerful.

“Even if you’re not an artist by training, you can draw your feelings – draw your ideas,” he says. “This art form really speaks of the 21st century.”

Grand Prize winner Emory Cancilla spoke with The Inquirer a week after the event, discussing their experience and inspiration for drawing comics.

“I’ve always been in illustration / drawing most of my life, but it has always been portrait-based,” Cancilla said. On the other hand, “this contest was the first time I completed a piece, and everything before that was little doodles to entertain friends. Therefore, [I’ve been an] artist all my life but [a] comic book artist very recently.

Their favorite part of creating comics? “What I really like… is everything in it,” Cancilla said. “Every aspect of the comic can be used to tell the story, from borders to colors… even the smallest detail drives the story.”

“Most of what inspires my work comes from what’s going on around me… It’s really hard for me to write or do anything that’s based on reality,” they added. “I need something magical or heavily fictional based to feel inspired enough to get the job done.”

The murder of London resident Sarah Everard in March 2021 and rising rates of domestic violence against women inspired Cancilla to draw for her. “[The piece] comes from that kind of helplessness that I feel every time these things blow up, where women take disproportionate damage and there’s really nothing I can do about it, ”they said. “So in for her, she’s doing something about it.

for her deals with a girl’s morbid curiosity in finding female murder victims and bloody crime scenes on the internet, and questioning the notoriety male perpetrators receive for their brutal crimes.

For the 2021 comic book competition, both organizers said the high quality of the submitted pieces made judging a challenge. According to King, the competition was all about storytelling: creating cohesive texts and images that draw the reader into the artist’s story.

The keynote speaker for the event was Bay Area cartoonist and writer Tanna Tucker. Trained as an illustrator and having worked in comics for seven years, Tucker said she was blown away by the applicants’ submissions.

Emphasizing the importance of the community for comic book artists, Tucker said she started her creative career by participating in “zinefests”, which allow independent writers, artists and creators to share their work in exhibitions.

Highlighting the benefits of sharing work and receiving comments at zinefests, Tucker advised those aspiring to post on “[not get] discouraged by rejection. I’ve been rejected tons of times, ”she said.

Tucker explained that his plays aim to “reveal all facets of history, including that which is obscured”, from the history of black socialism in America to the examination of slavery “according to education. Politics”.

Tucker job for the non-profit magazine The believer, as well as its 2018 room for Feather, a daily newsletter focused on political and non-fiction comics, showed her self-proclaimed habit of producing art in an effort to get through a historical moment she wants to understand better. The artist also affirmed his motivation to use comics to question the presence and / or absence of blacks in mythical spaces.

After Tucker’s speech, Bessie and Knight announced the contest winners, which have been listed below.

Bessie reflected on the comic book awards, calling the event “very emotional” and noting that the ability to encourage students and honor their work are among the main reasons he became a teacher.

For aspiring comic book artists planning to enter the comic book contest next year, Grand Prize winner Cancilla said, “My biggest tip would be to just pick something that is really close to your heart, and you really want others to hear it. ”

The top five contestants received cash prizes, and all contest winners received a prize pack containing drawing pads, pens and markers.

Grand Prize: 2021 DVC James O’Keefe Comic Contest Awards

Emory cancillafor her: Tanna Tucker Award

Finalists: DVC James O’Keefe Comic Competition Prize 2021

Gabe DavalosAmerican orange: Ready for publication with distinction; Joe Sacco Award

Camyrn BazanZe is fine: Ready for publication with distinction; Invader Zim Prize (Jhonen Vasquez)

Ezekiel MyersDear Zarah: Ready for publication with distinction; MK Czerwiec Graphic Medicine Award

Eva sachtschaleAll the facts about Covid: Ready for publication with distinction; Best adaptation

Price (Animaniacs)

Jacob ArmentaSkateboard 101: Thrasher Zine Prize

Alexandria HandajaBehind the Great Wall: The Scott McCloud Prize for Non-Fiction Comics

Erilou SantosPizza Wars: The Jim Davis Award

Travis GarffThe worst kind of person: The Travis Award (personalized due to its exceptionally unique nature)

Sheldon mcvGracie sees the circus: Family Circus Award (Jeff Keane of Family circus Comic)

Victoria navaThe race to finish: Finalist of the MK Czerwiec Graphic Medicine Award


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