An online anthology showcases student work from a USC comics design course. (Illustrations/Isabella Melendez and Knox Lopez)


A Comics Class Gives Student Artists a Creative Outlet to New Worlds

USC art students craft graphic stories during the pandemic that capture adventures in ancient Rome, futuristic robots and more.

September 02, 2021 Elisa Huang

Call their work comics if you must, but for students in Keith Mayerson’s Art 312 course, their final projects are also “tear-stained masterpieces” that culminated from a semester spent apart. “We had wonderful, in-depth critiques [over Zoom] and they were able to annotate and ‘draw over’ the pages that everyone could see at the same time,” says Mayerson, chair of painting, drawing and printmaking at the USC Roski School of Art and Design.

He usually celebrates the end of his course with a mini comics fair where students sell printed copies. So, during the pandemic, making a digital version and having comics available to download or read online made a lot of sense, he says. The result is Indoor Ink, an anthology that showcases the Fall 2020 class’s work on the web. From adventures in ancient Rome to robot clashes in the future, students could develop meaningful visual stories in any style or genre they wanted.

“4D” by Isabella Melendez

[new_royalslider id=”240″] Inspired in part by the 19th-century satirical novel Flatland by Edwin Abbott, the senior art major tells the story of a scientist on the verge of exploring the fourth spatial dimension. “The comic is an exploration of science, death and connection,” she says. Read the full comic on Melendez’s Indoor Ink page.

“The Tragedy of Marko Maverick” by Knox Lopez

[new_royalslider id=”241″] This comic follows the main character — a guitarist and frontman of a band — in a surreal, spacelike world. The journey captures the joys and struggles of love, mental illness and growing up. “As a queer person, I wanted to make a queer comic and unapologetically throw in LGBT romance arcs,” says Lopez, a senior art major. Read the full comic here (note: clicking the link will open a PDF file).

For more student comics, stop by Comic Sams Comics, an anthology of the Spring 2021 class’s original work.