Written by: Natasha Tar
Meghan Parker, an SFU grad student, did something really cool when she created her thesis Art Teacher in Process: An Illustrated Exploration of Art, Education, and What Matters. She realized that writing about art wouldn’t work as well as making art about art, and so she made her thesis into a comic book. The comic follows Parker as herself, a high school art teacher who contemplates how she teaches and what she can learn from her students. The best part is, despite it being a thesis, it’s pretty fun to read!
The art style Parker uses is simple, cute, and clever. One of my favourite panels depicts a bunch of snails in a nude life drawing class with a slug as the model. The style is effective in matching with her textual content, and in many places it reminds me of Scott McCloud’s famous work Understanding Comics. Parker even says in Art Teacher in Process, “[R]eading Understanding Comics was a turning point for me.” Her inspiration from it reflects a lot in her work, and her thesis could even pass as a kid’s/young adult’s version of the book. However, aside from analyzing comics as a form, Parker also focuses on education and how to improve it. On top of that, Parker puts a lot of herself in the story, and makes it more autobiographical.
I also love that the comic is almost 100% handmade. Today it’s nearly impossible to do something like that without it being seen as a little trashy or cheap. However, I’d say that Parker’s comic reflects more depth through its form, as Parker uses a variety of mediums such as paints and pencil crayons to detail further what’s going on in panels. Sometimes the handwriting can get sloppy and the mix of mediums can get out of hand, but Parker addresses this on the second page of the comic, and that she admits to the flaws makes me admire her even more.
Art Teacher in Process really is an amazing work, and I’m extra impressed by the fact that it probably took 100x longer to make than a written thesis while getting twice as much criticism for being a comic. It’s an enjoyable read for anyone who likes comics and wants to learn more about them and the experience of a high school teacher.
Want to read Meghan Parker’s comic book thesis? Here it is!
Want to read more about Meghan? Check out our news coverage.