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Panel Discussions

State of the Arts

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Can comic strips be green? Why not? say the members of Trees & Hills, a group of comic artists from Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts. T & H publishes regular “mini-comic anthologies,” including last year’s Seeds, which featured “comics about nutrition, eating organic and local, and alternative food lifestyles,” writes co-founder and Montpelier journalist Dan Barlow in a press release. The collection came packaged with recipes and a packet of actual seeds (local and organic, natch).

Earlier this month, T & H released its inaugural book-length anthology, First Harvest, at Manhattan’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival. Lest anyone think the group is composed of activists first and cartoonists second, it should be noted that work by Stephen Bissette — a former Alan Moore collaborator and current instructor at White River Junction’s Center for Cartoon Studies — pops up in First Harvest. So do the panels of CCS alumna Colleen Frakes, Burlington artist Gregory Giordano and a score of others.

Cofounder Colin Tedford of New Hampshire says T & H — which offers online resources for beginning cartoonists as well as a community for local professionals — is preparing to move in even more “socially progressive” directions. Follow it on www.treesandhills.org, where copies of First Harvest will soon be on sale for $10.

Speaking of the Center for Cartoon Studies, founder James Sturm and graduates Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost have collaborated on a kids’ book called Adventures in Cartooning, which manages to teach the basics of the art without departing from utter and unabashed silliness.

Published by First Second Books, Adventures has already garnered a starred review from Booklist, which called it “a stupendous new high for children’s graphic novels.” The plot — illustrated with whimsical stick figures — concerns a knight who sets out to save a princess from a dragon, aided by a pesky elf who keeps trying to lecture him about panel size and word balloons. There’s plenty of Kung Fu Panda-style mock-heroic humor to hold the interest even of kids who aren’t aspiring cartoonists. But those who are will pore over an appendix that breaks the illustrations down into their most basic elements, making it easy to DIY.

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