Drawing their attention
New BV club enjoys DC comic artist’s visit


To the delight of students, national comic-book artist JonBoy draws Venom next to several other sketches he produced for the Buena Vista Comic Club Nov. 7.
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JonBoy (his professional name) stood at the whiteboard, changing Batman's expression from happy to sad to angry with seemingly effortless flicks of the colored marker in his hand.
       “Ooo” and “ah” sounds emanated from 20-some Buena Vista Montessori students sitting at tables in the room before him. Budding artists themselves, they were impressed by what a few quick line changes to the mouth could do to the cowled face that the DC Comics artist had already drawn.
       It was the kind of attentiveness most teachers can only dream about. Of course, it wasn't actually a class Nov. 6; it was the second meeting of the after-school Comic Book Club, borrowing the classroom of Lower Elementary teacher Garianne Mester. And anyway, how many teachers can draw Batman? Or Spiderman? Or JonBoy's personal favorite, the Hulk?
       Noel Black, whose son Ursen is a BV student, said he got the idea for the club based on his son's and his own interest in comics. “And Doug Scott, the owner of Bargain Comics, has his children at the school as well,” Black said. “So it seemed a natural fit.”
       Black and Scott were able to get district approval, on the grounds that the subject matter really has educational merit. Mester is in full agreement. “They're using all their senses,” the Montessori teacher said of the way the students were responding. Among the resulting brain-development skills are comprehending similarities and differences and learning to compare and contrast, she said. And that's not even counting creating artistic ideas, “then sharing them with the group.”

Club members wait for JonBoy to call on them.
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       Black sees the phenomenon from a somewhat different viewpoint. “I think kids naturally love comic books because of the combination of art, storytelling and fantasy in most,” he said. “While not all comics have superheroes, the world they create has a stylized, otherworldly quality that speaks to the imagination of a lot of kids and adults.”

At the request of a club member, JonBoy draws the head of Spiderman.
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       The way Jon-Boy explained his job (in between sketching different superheroes in response to hollered requests), he's just always liked to draw. “I got in trouble doing it as a kid,” he told the kids with a grin. “Now I draw for a living.”
       Although it was just the second meeting of the club, several students had already begun creating imaginary super heroes of their own and were eager to show them, talk about them and to learn more about how to bring them to artistic life.
       They will get their chance during the coming school year. Black and Scott have mapped out plans for 12 Comic Club meetings in all - possibly bringing back JonBoy (a Fountain resident) for one of them. By the last meeting, the goal is for each of the students to have fleshed out their own super-hero comic books, Black said.
       While sharing with the students the joys of creating fantasy characters, JonBoy also touched on some realities. He told them about the importance of practicing to get better. He advised them that there are plenty of job opportunities for people who like to draw (if not in comics, then in designing toys or video games). And he warned his young apprentices about editors and deadlines. “Editors are like teachers,” he said, “except they're meaner because they don't pay you if you don't get your work done.”

DC Comics artist JonBoy (right) had plenty of eager listeners when he visited Buena Vista Montessori's Comic Book Club Nov. 6. Standing by the cabinets is Noel Black, a parent who co-organized the club plan.
Westside Pioneer photo

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