Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance Purdue University GalleriesCollege of Liberal Arts

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“Living Graphic Novel” offers the opportunity for students to develop short stories and illustrate them through the development of live “scenes” using actors, painted sets and framing devices, in the style of graphic novels or comic books. The project emphasizes literacy, writing skills, creativity and artistic design.

** In 2012, the Living Graphic Novel project is being supported by an Arts Education in American Communities grant from the National Endowment for the Arts! **

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Living Graphic Novel was originally developed in conjunction with the “One Great Read” initiative in Lafayette-West Lafayette. An educational workshop was designed to highlight aspects of the graphic novel, as exemplified by the selected community read, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. In the span of two hours, participants of varied ages developed a story, painted props and set layouts, lit and photographed “frames” from the story of “ArtGirl.” These images were later developed in Photoshop into a graphic novel-style presentation, complete with narrative boxes and text balloons.

Read the story of "ArtGirl!"


In May 2010, a collaborative “Living Graphic Novel” workshop was presented at Tipton Community School, through a grant from the Tippecanoe Arts Federation Artist in Residence program, funded by JP Morgan Chase.

In the span of five classroom visits totaling seven and a half hours, students in Mrs. Shari Cottingham’s 3rd grade class at Tipton Community School imagined a story involving 19 endangered animals entitled “The Mysterious Murky Water and the Poacher Problem.” Mrs. Cottingham’s students had each studied a species of endangered animal throughout the 2009-2010 school year, which provided the impetus for this project.

With the assistance of the Living Graphic Novel team, the students wrote and storyboarded the narrative, painted set backdrops, costumed, staged and photographed “frames” from their story. Reitmeyer later developed these images in Photoshop into a graphic novel style presentation, complete with narrative boxes and text balloons.

Read the saga of "The Mysterious Murky Water and the Poacher Problem"


In summer 2010, a “Living Graphic Novel” workshop was presented with the Summer Art Camp participants at the Old Jail Museum in Crawfordsville, Indiana. In another two hour session, four groups of young people explored some of the lore from the active days of the Old Jail and created short comics to illustrate their takes on the stories. The resulting graphic novel is a sepia toned testament to the museum's rich history and of course to the creative talents of the area's young people!

Read about the "Tales from the Old Jail"


As representatives of local theatre, visual arts, and writing arts organizations, each of the collaborators offers a unique set of skills to assist with Living Graphic Novel projects:

Civic Theatre logoCivic Theatre of Greater Lafayette holds theatrical camps and classes for both youth and adults throughout the year. Civic Theatre also has developed several in-school workshops including a staged reading literacy program with Miami Elementary and The Beacon Academy as well as several after school programs.

Purdue University Galleries regularly presents hands-on art activities, teacher workshops, and participatory activities like poetry writing and self-portraiture in connection with its exhibitions. The Galleries recently developed ArtCart, a volunteer-driven outreach project to provide art opportunities to the North Central Indiana regional community – essentially a “bookmobile for art.”

Word on the Go logoWords on the Go not only publishes art and poetry on local buses, but also offers writing workshops around the Tippecanoe community to help young and old authors alike express their experiences in poetry. Working in collaboration with other arts organizations in the area, Words on the Go has also produced several installations highlighting the creativity of young students.

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