First ComicCon showcases student creations

Emily Roehl and their English 200 class, Literary Experience: Comics & Graphic Narratives, will bring Augustana’s first comic book and graphic novel convention, named AugieCon, to campus Tuesday, May 9, and Thursday, May 11. The convention will invite the community to celebrate students’ work on comics, posters and panels, as well as celebrate the broader comic book and graphic novel community.

As part of the event, students in Roehl’s class have created a comic book centered around Sioux Falls, panel presentations and posters.

Student-led panels will start at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day and will each cover a variety of topics, including coming of age stories, classic superhero stories, sci-fi dystopian tales and horror narratives. 

Junior Makayla Williams, a student in Roehl’s class, will be presenting a poster on the frequently-banned graphic novel “Gender Queer.” She said she is excited to see her classmates’ work and present her own. 

“I am most looking forward to seeing the comics that are being made by our classmates,” Williams said. “Everyone’s making art there, and I want to see their comic ideas and see their styles of art.”

Williams picked “Gender Queer” because she found that it is one of the most banned books in the United States due to vulgar language and sexual nudity. 

“I think that graphic novels are banned because not only is it just giving you the words in order for you to form your own pictures in your head, but it is putting the words into a picture right in front of you,” Williams said. 

The posters will be shown in the atrium from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and will analyze a single page from a comic or graphic novel of the student’s choice. Roehl said the students will select around ten elements from a page and describe how those elements either benefit or negate the author’s work. 

Six students also joined together to create the comic book centered around Sioux Falls. The comic book will be available for guests to view in the Humanities Atrium during the poster gallery. 

Additionally, on Thursday at 12 p.m., local artist Kate McDonough will speak over the lunch break about her experiences as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist and about the different conventions she has attended and spoken at. 

AugieCon will wrap up Thursday night with comic book and graphic novel trivia downtown at the Full Circle Book Co-Op at 6 p.m. Rainbow Comics donated three gift cards as prizes for the trivia night, and the grand prize will be two weekend passes to SiouxperCon, an annual comic book convention in Sioux Falls this fall. 

Roehl said they were inspired to create AugieCon last fall, when they attended SiouxperCon with their partner. 

“They brought in some awesome creators, and I was like, ‘what would it look like to do something like that on a smaller scale here at Augustana and turn it into my class’s final project?’” Roehl said.

Tarah Hill, a student in Roehl’s comic book class, designed the AugieCon logo. She said she drew inspiration for the logo from the San Diego ComicCon but added her own creative twist with colors and graphics to represent Augustana. 

“I have a passion for design and creating logos,” Hill said. “I chose the comic book option since I enjoy creating art. I’ll be highlighting some of Sioux Falls’ top landmarks in my story: Falls Park, the bike trails, the Arc of Dreams, the Statue of David and the cathedral.” 

Freshman Lupe Fernandez Aleman, another student in Roehl’s class, said the event has been student-led in its conception and planning and that she is looking forward to seeing what students have come up with.

“It’s exciting,” Fernandez Aleman said. “It will be interesting how it all plays out, and I hope it continues to grow after this year.”

Fernandez will be a panelist at the event, presenting on horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. She said she is especially looking forward to the Sioux Falls comic that will be displayed at the event. 

“I’m really excited to see what comics are created,” Fernandez Aleman said. “I know the theme is Sioux Falls, so I’m intrigued by how my peers will incorporate Sioux Falls in their comics.”

Freshman Paulomi Jayanth, another student in Roehl’s class, said she was excited about the opportunity to meet with a comic book artist. She also said she was grateful for all of the efforts Roehl put into AugieCon and hopes to see it expand in the future.

“This is my first comic con entirely,” Jayanth said. “I am already having so much fun preparing for it. It would be so much more fun if it eventually gets larger in scale and becomes an official campus event.” 

Jayanth will be presenting a poster analyzing graphic elements of a comic at AugieCon.

“I will look at different visual things, like why has the author chosen this color, or has he used the rule of thirds, or how has he used the background in relation to the characters,” Jayanth said.

Roehl said they look forward to seeing how the first event unfolds and hopes that it will become a fully student-run event in the future. 

Ryleigh is a freshman at Augustana University. She currently serves as the staff photographer.

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