CLS: Comic Strips & Animation
Comic strips and animation can be funny, informative and thought-provoking. These presentations reveal the inspiration and creative process behind some of your favorites.
“The Creator’s Journey”
10:30 a.m., Monday, Aug. 7 | Orchestra Hall
Ron Hill has been creating cartoon art for almost half a century. Hill’s almost 50-year career creating comic strips, humorous illustrations and editorial cartoons has been one of epic battles and crushing defeats… over and over again. Like Joseph Campbell writes in The Hero with a Thousand Faces… “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Join Hill for this colorful, tongue-in-cheek review of his own “Creator’s Journey,” framed as a monomythic slide presentation that includes tales from his comic, cartoon and caricature misadventures. Armed with the weapons of pens, brushes and Sharpies, Hill continues to battle obstacles and challenges in his ever-changing work as a professional cartoonist, illustrator and creator.
Ron Hill has waged many battles in his cartoon and illustration career: drawn for Dungeons & Dragons games, illuminated Presbyterian Publishing Company’s Armchair Theologian series, been sued (unsuccessfully) for defamation by a notoriously litigious coal magnate, and has been writing and drawing hundreds of thousands of editorial cartoons, comic strips, illustrations and caricatures since the late 1970s.
A 1982 graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, Hill lives and works out of his home in Solon, Ohio. In June of 2023, he completed the documentary film “Go-Kart Therapy” and is currently directing “We Are Doc Savage: A Documentary on Fandom.” Learn more at RonHillArtist.com.
In addition to his lecture, Hill will be drawing caricatures from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7 on Walnut Plaza. Learn more.
“Aging with an Attitude: A Cartoonist on Becoming Her Own Demographic Group”
10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 8 | Orchestra Hall
Jenny Campbell will discuss her 35-year career as a cartoonist and how she got into this business, with a heavy emphasis on her syndicated strip, “Flo & Friends.” More specifically, she will talk about how, now that she is in her 60s, doing a daily and Sunday cartoon strip about senior citizens has gotten very personal. A PowerPoint will coincide with samples of her work.
“Strip Cartooning & Gag Writing”
3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug 8 | Train Station
Join Campbell for an afternoon workshop on how to create a strip.
Jenny Campbell has been a freelance cartoonist and a children’s illustrator for almost 35 years. Most notably, she writes and draws, “Flo & Friends,” a daily and Sunday strip featuring an ensemble cast of senior citizens that is distributed by Creators Syndicate. Currently, “Flo & Friends” is published in newspapers from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, to Newark, New Jersey, and has a loyal internet following.
In addition to the cartoon strip, Campbell also has been a prolific children’s book illustrator, with more than 30 picture books to her credit, including several that have won national awards. Her other work in children’s literature includes hundreds of K-5 textbooks and a myriad of other publications, including Highlights for Children, for whom she was a monthly contributor for more than a dozen years. Her work in children’s books also has made her a popular speaker, who often takes her interactive art and literacy program to schools and libraries throughout the Midwest, and occasionally nationwide. Campbell also is the Principal Cartoonist for Outside the Lines Creative Group (otlcreativegroup.com), which supplies innovative cartoon communications to corporations and organizations across the country, ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to national parks.
Campbell, an avid animal lover, is a prolific contributor to multiple animal welfare organizations. Her clients started with Rescue Village, Geauga County’s Humane Society, when it was built in 2001. She created the artwork that was part of the shelter’s branding and has continued to contribute cartoons for fundraising and editorial materials. A 200-page collection of her pro bono RV cartoons over the past 20+ years will be published by the shelter in 2023 as a fundraiser. That relationship led to many other clients in animal welfare. Currently, her artwork graces transport vans for PetFix Northeast Ohio, the ASPCA’s Humane Alliance and the Cleveland City Kennel. Her other work in animal welfare includes the cartoon dog and cat on the state of Ohio’s specialty “Pet Plate” license plate and a new Pitbull “Dog Friendly” plate that was introduced in September 2022.
Before becoming a fulltime illustrator, Campbell was an award-winning newspaper writer for 13 years, first for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix; then the Pasadena Star-News and The Orange County Register in Southern California. Following in her father’s footsteps, she was a sixth-generation journalist when she graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1979.
Campbell lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with her partner of 33 years, Amy Sancetta, a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer. She shares her studio on three wooded acres with Tanner and Grayson, two enthusiastic hound mixes; and Rizz, a 10-year-old formerly feral tabby who is not amused by the pups. All were adopted from Rescue Village.
“A Brief History of Funky Winkerbean”
10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 9 | Orchestra Hall
Tom Batiuk is the the creator of some your favorite comic strips, including Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. Born in Akron, Ohio, and raised in Elyria, Batiuk’s creative cartoon strips were first published in his elementary school newspaper. His passion for art continued, and he credits his high school art teacher for influencing his decision to pursue art as a career.
After graduating from Kent State University in 1969, Batiuk (rhymes with “attic”) started teaching art at Eastern Heights Jr. High in Elyria. His years of teaching crystallized his interest in drawing a comic strip about teenage students, leading to the creation of “Funky Winkerbean” in 1972. Distributed to more than 400 newspapers nationwide, this highly acclaimed comic strip celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year. “Funky Winkerbean” began as a laugh-a-day look at high school life and has matured into a series of real-life stories, highlighting sensitive social issues like alcoholism, cancer, teen suicide, guns in schools and teen pregnancy. His groundbreaking series has placed Batiuk at the forefront of a new genre in comic art history, “narrative humor.” His bold characterizations and dramatic plots engage his readers in stories with which they can identify.
In 1979, he launched “John Darling” into syndication. John Darling was a fictional talk show host who first saw the light of day in “Funky,” and who was quite literally killed off when his strip ended. Another character from “Funky,” Ed Crankshaft, soloed in his own strip in 1987. The grouchy school bus driver appears in nearly 300 newspapers today.
Among the numerous honors recognizing his work, Batiuk is a past winner of both the Ohioana Citation and the 1996 Governor’s Award for the Arts.
“Producing a Pilot as an Individual Artist & Animator”
Thursday, Aug. 10, 10:30 a.m. | Orchestra Hall
Bailey Sitton will be breaking down the process of animation production from an independent studio perspective. She’ll be reviewing the multiple parts and stages necessary to create an animated piece, and there’s more to it than you may think.
Bailey Sitton is a recent graduate of the University of North Georgia, earning a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in digital art. She currently works as an independent animator whose main goal is to produce children’s media. She also runs her own start-up studio producing animation and comics.
Sitton has worked on a variety of projects, including work in animated short films, video games, children’s card games, marketing, environmental activism and AR interactive experiences. With an upbringing in the entertainment industry, she has a large breadth of creative processes.
“Social History of Animation”
3:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 10 | Orchestra Hall
This talk will be an overview of the history of animation with highlights from early experiments with trick film through the development of major studios, to independent animation, web-based work and emerging forms. We will explore how social movements and technological innovations effected animators and can be seen in their work. The lecture will also feature examples from around the world to consider animation as a means for personal expression and as a reflection of the societal context in which the work was made.
“Duesing’s Animated Work”
10:30 a.m., Friday, Aug. 11 | Orchestra Hall
James Duesing will present an overview of his work in animation, which uses a wide range of techniques and technologies from hand drawn to 3D, motion capture and augmented reality spanning a nearly 40-year career. His work straddles both the animation industry and the fine art world. Duesing’s animations have been extensively internationally exhibited.
James Duesing has worked in many forms of animation, from traditional hand drawn and early digital work to 3D and motion capture projects. He has explored animation individually and collaboratively in film and digital forms along with its integration into installation, web eBook and augmented reality.
In his book Hyperanimation: Digital Images and Virtual Worlds, animation historian Robert Russett describes Duesing’s work this way: “Characteristically composed of dark fantasy worlds and strange hybrids of animals and humans, Duesing’s digital animation offers comical and eccentric reflections on human interactions and desires in an increasingly violent and polluted world. On one level his imagery is composed of entertaining cartoon-like characters in various kinds of richly rendered environments. On another level his work probes serious sociological issues in a way that is at once provocative and disturbing.”
Duesing’s work has been exhibited and broadcast throughout the world including: MTV, PBS, Showtime, The Movie Channel, The Sundance Film Festival, Siggraph, The Berlin Video Festival, The World Animation Festival in Los Angeles, Hiroshima International Animation Festival, The Southern Circuit, The Stuttgart International Animation Festival, Shanghai Animation Festival, The Tate Modern, The National Film Theater of London, Film Forum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA in Los Angeles and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
He has received numerous awards and grants, including Creative Capital, Prix Ars Electronica, an American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Fellowship, an Emmy Award from the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences and several National Endowment for the Arts grants.
He is currently a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) School of Art where he has co-directed The STUDIO of Creative Inquiry and is the former Director of CMU’s Center for the Arts in Society.