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Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Virtual Welcome to Vermont's New Cartoonist Laureate, Rick Veitch

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2020 at 11:59 AM

Self-portrait by Rick Veitch - RICK VEITCH
  • Rick Veitch
  • Self-portrait by Rick Veitch
Today, April 2, current Vermont cartoonist laureate Alison Bechdel officially passes the laurels to West Townshend resident Rick Veitch. He is the fourth, following Bechdel, Edward Koren and James Kochalka.

But Veitch is the first cartoonist laureate to be inaugurated via livestream — and in the middle of a pandemic. The ceremony that usually takes place in the Vermont Statehouse this time foregoes a congratulatory handshake from the governor, and the audience is virtual. A link to the 3 p.m. ceremony is here.

Gov. Phil Scott, of course, is battling the biggest opponent of not just a career but a lifetime: the coronavirus. Even so, he managed to issue a short message to Veitch: "Congratulations, Rick. Your honor is well deserved."

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Drag Queen Sasha Velour to Speak at Center for Cartoon Studies Commencement

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2020 at 11:15 AM

The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction announced on Friday that its 2020 commencement speaker will be Sasha Velour, a CCS alumnus and an internationally acclaimed gender-fluid drag artist.

Velour, who graduated from CCS in 2013, became a household name after winning the 2017 season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." In an interview with WCAX-TV after being crowned "America's Next Drag Superstar," Velour told host Darren Perron that her performance career began in White River Junction, when she would dress up to attend "Drag Race" watch parties.

Through her performances, Velour said, she channels her background in cartooning: "I always think about designing a character that would read in a comic book, and then I just get to put it out into the world," she said. 

"Cartooning played a crucial role in Sasha Velour's origin story," said James Sturm, cofounder and director of CCS. "She was asked to be the commencement speaker because she is brilliant and inspiring. I don't know what Sasha will say, but I do know that Sasha knows exactly what it feels like to be on the other side of the podium and can speak to the excitement and dread the graduates may be feeling as they leave a tight-knit community to make their way in the world."

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Post-Fire, Center for Cartoon Studies Recovers From Water Damage

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 9:01 PM

The saturated laboratory at the Center for Cartoon Studies - DAVE LLOYD
  • Dave Lloyd
  • The saturated laboratory at the Center for Cartoon Studies
Updated February 5, 2020.

If the fire doesn't get you, the water does. That's what the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction learned the hard way last month.

On January 3, when the school was on break, an accidental fire broke out in an apartment over its offices and lab space, in a former department store called the Colodny Building. (CCS' classrooms and extensive library are in a second building, the former post office, just down the street.) The apartment was unoccupied and being worked on when a fire started and was quickly contained.

But not quickly enough to prevent the sprinkler system from doing its job, which was to saturate everything in sight.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

James Kochalka Wins Eisner Award for 'Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer'

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 1:06 PM

James Kochalka with his Eisner Award - LEIGH WALTON, TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
  • Leigh Walton, Top Shelf Productions
  • James Kochalka with his Eisner Award
James Kochalka has won another Eisner Award. The Burlington-based cartoonist and musician took home the prize for Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8) for his 2018 book, Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer. He accepted the honor at the the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards ceremony on Friday, July 19, during San Diego Comic-Con.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Center for Cartoon Studies to Host Comics and Medicine Conference

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 3:03 PM

  • Courtesy of Center for Cartoon Studies
The Center for Cartoon Studies has announced it will host the 9th International Comics and Medicine Conference August 16 to 18.

The annual gathering is organized by an international committee that includes the administrators of the Graphic Medicine website, along with physicians, artists, writers and scholars.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alison Bechdel to Be Next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 4:07 PM

The passing of the cartoonist laurels - EDWARD KOREN AND ALISON BECHDEL
  • Edward Koren and Alison Bechdel
  • The passing of the cartoonist laurels

Next Thursday, April 6, Edward Koren will pass the torch — er, laurels — to his successor, Alison Bechdel, as Vermont Cartoonist Laureate. In a ceremony at the Statehouse, the longtime Bolton resident, creator of the strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," and author of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic will become the third cartoonist laureate in the only state to regularly appoint one.

The initiative originated with the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, the professional school founded by James Sturm and Michelle Ollie 10 years ago. Bechdel succeeds New Yorker cartoonist and Brookfield resident Koren, who in turn succeeded Vermont's very first cartoonist laureate, James Kochalka of Burlington.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Alison Bechdel Stands Up for Charlie Hebdo

Posted on Sat, May 9, 2015 at 1:26 PM

  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel
It was another news-making week for Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel. As Seven Days has reported, in the last year the off-Broadway musical adaptation of her best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and Bechdel was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, aka "genius" grant. Just last month, the Broadway production of Fun Home received a whopping 12 Tony nominations. 

This had barely sunk in when Bechdel received news about another award. Only it wasn’t for her or Fun Home. The news came from legendary comic artist Art Spiegelman. Something unprecedented had taken place at the PEN American Center — the New York City-based organization with the mission of advancing literature, defending free expression and fostering international literary fellowship. 

The group’s annual gala was scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, at the American Museum of Natural History. One of the evening's highlights was to be the presentation of PEN's Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were killed at that publication's Paris office last January by gunmen in protest of its frequent depictions of the prophet Muhammad. 

But at the last minute, six PEN members announced they would boycott the ceremony in protest of the Hebdo honor. Spiegelman stepped in to co-host the event, and asked Bechdel and comic artist Neil Gaiman to join him. They did, along with three authors.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cartoonist Ellen Forney Talks Memoir, Creativity and Bipolar Disorder

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 4:25 PM

"Creamsicle" by Ellen Forney - ELLEN FORNEY
  • Ellen Forney
  • "Creamsicle" by Ellen Forney
Cartoonist Ellen Forney, who has won acclaim for her 2012 graphic novel/memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, will visit the area this week to give talks at Dartmouth College and the Center for Cartoon StudiesMarbles is ostensibly about Forney’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but it is equal parts meditation on the nature of creativity and well-researched history of bipolar artists of all kinds.

Forney lives in Seattle and teaches cartooning at that city’s Cornish College of the Arts. As she was packing her suitcase for the trip east, she took a few moments to speak by phone with Seven Days about her work.

What’s the occasion for your visit to Vermont and New Hampshire?

ELLEN FORNEY: I’ve known [CCS cofounder] James Sturm since he lived in Seattle in ’93. He was the art director of [altweekly] the Stranger, and that was one of my first jobs as a cartoonist/illustrator. When I started teaching at Cornish College for the Arts in 2002, he was a huge help in my putting together my curriculum. And I still haven’t been out there, so I feel like my visit is long overdue.

You said that writing Marbles took a lot out of you. What did you mean by that?

EF: The story of my bipolar disorder was a story I hadn’t really told before Marbles. I wasn’t “out” about my disorder. So, gathering the materials for the book and then putting it out into the world just took a lot of emotional, social and professional energy. I had never done a full book before — most of my work I would consider graphic essays. So even logistically it was new.

Going through a lot of really difficult and often painful experiences, you kind of push those things under the rug as you go on about your life. Delving into them can be very depressing.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Center for Cartoon Studies Launches Veterans Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 9:24 AM

A panel from Jess Ruliffson's comic Invisible Wounds - COURTESY OF THE CENTER FOR CARTOON STUDIES
  • Courtesy of the Center for Cartoon Studies
  • A panel from Jess Ruliffson's comic Invisible Wounds
The Upper Valley town of White River Junction has long been just that: a junction. It’s where the rivers come together, the railroads, the highways. This month, the town will witness yet another union, this one somewhat more unlikely: cartoonists and veterans.

White River Junction is home to two important institutions that, until now, have not formally collaborated: the White River Junction VA Medical Center, and the Center for Cartoon Studies. The school has invited veterans and their families to take part in the Cartoonist Veteran Project, in which CCS students and faculty will help vets to tell their stories in graphical form.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Alison Bechdel in the New Yorker

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM

  • From the New Yorker

Vermont-based cartoonist Alison Bechdel created the long-running comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," which was carried by Seven Days and other alt weeklies across the country. Since she left the strip behind, Bechdel has found herself in a larger national spotlight. Her groundbreaking 2007 graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic sat on the New York Times best-seller list for weeks, won or was nominated for numerous awards and met with near-universal raves. The book landed on many a year-end best-of list.

Then it was made into a musical, which closed at the Public Theater in New York last fall after several extensions. That version, too, won popular and critical acclaim — including being named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in drama.

This week, Bechdel has a two-page first-person spread in the New Yorker — call it a graphic mini memoir? Titled "My Old Flame: Gradual Impact," it's a lesbian love story gone wrong, and a comic gone right.

Look for more work from Bechdel in Seven Days' upcoming Cartoon Issue on July 2.

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