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Two River Reading Series brings its first graphic novelist to campus

Elise Nikolic
Campus Eye Staff

The Two Rivers Reading Series intertwines art and literature when it brings Minneapolis graphic novelist Tyler Page to campus April 8 speak about his college-oriented series “Nothing Better.”

“I have been drawing and telling stories since I was a little kid; I really respect the crafts of drawing and storytelling and what they have brought to my life as well as what they’ve let me give to others,” said Page

NothingBetter

“Nothing Better” Vol. 1

Volume 1 of “Nothing Better” displays the story of a first-year college student Katt and the struggles she goes through.

“Katt is very much a mix of myself and my best female friend from college,” said Page of Katt’s character throughout the novels.

The university in the novel is called St. Urho, but is based on St. Olaf. Tyler Page graduated from St. Olaf.

“It [St. Olaf] has very deep roots with Norwegian culture. My Scandinavian background is Finnish, which is where St. Urho comes from. I decided that if/when I did a fictional comic about college, I’d make it a college with Finnish roots and cultural attachments,” said Page.

Despite St. Urho being a university set up with dorms, Page believes that it still relates to Anoka-Ramsey students.

“There is obviously a big difference between a secluded private college like the one St. Urho is based around and a community college, but everyone is there to learn for one reason or another, and depending on what subjects you focus on, smaller communities of people spring up,” said Page.

Page believes the focus of “Nothing Better” is on the characters and their friends, and feels that any student can relate to that.

“Obviously community colleges don’t share experiences like dorm life, but they are still engaged in learning; often they are looking to change their life or transition to something else,” said Page.

Two Rivers Committee member Chris McCarthy uses Page’s novel for his graphic novel class.

“’Nothing Better’ relates to Anoka-Ramsey students with the characters being the same age. That stage in life where you are exploring your identity. We are a liberal arts campus,” said McCarthy.

Page is speaking at two different talks, one for literature students and one for the Art Department. McCarthy also feels this is why he uses “Nothing Better” for his graphic novel class, because it brings together two different disciplines.

“It [adds] another audience. That’s why I’m using graphic novels where we incorporate both images together. It gives us an opportunity to see how we can put them [art and literature] together,” said McCarthy.

This is the first graphic novelist the Two Rivers series has brought to campus.

“’Nothing Better’ gives a vision of where they might go, it prepares you for next college. Like the one depicted in Nothing Better, private or public it gives you a good sense of what more independence feels like,” said McCarthy.

Nothing Better has already sold a couple thousand copies. “Nothing Better” volumes 1 and 2 are available at the ARCC bookstore and they’re also available at Tyler Page’s website.

READ: “Nothing Better” online

Page begins with the characters of the novel, which leads to the relationships and then finally to the drawing of the novel.

“At this point in the series, the writing process is about making good on past points and carrying the characters forward in a way that is respectful of who they are ; I start a new chapter with a list of all the characters and all the things that have recently happened to them,” said Page.

After the characters are established, Page begins to write the novel; the actual drawing and laying out the story happens last.

“Once I feel like I have enough going on to fill the chapter, I‘ll start writing specific scenes. Sometimes it’s actually typing up a script like for a movie or sometimes its doodling scenes in my sketchbook. Once that part is ironed out is where the actual layout and drawing happens,” said Page.

After the last novel in the series of “Nothing Better” comes out Page plans to continue working on graphic novels. He is currently working on a graphic novel memoir about ADHD.

“Since I started a family six years ago, I have taken on more and more freelance work, alongside ‘Nothing Better’; my wife and I have also just pitched a project together, but overall I would like to keep doing ‘Nothing Better’ when I can as I look for fun freelance projects,” said Page.

About the Author

The Campus Eye Staff
The Campus Eye is published by students of the Cambridge and Coon Rapids campuses of Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Campus Eye articles in print and online represent the opinions of the writers and not the college or the student body.