Category Archives: Art & Music

The decline of the feline

When you hear the term “newspaper comic strip,” what do you think of? Some people’s minds are drawn to the misadventures of Charlie Brown in Peanuts, while others might think of the imaginative and colorful adventures of a young boy and his tiger in Calvin and Hobbes. Among all the other comic strips, the one with the lazy orange feline is the one that reigns supreme, Garfield.

Garfield is one of the most important and influential comic strips. Over its 43-year run, the comic has provided endless hours of entertainment to millions of fans across the globe. However nowadays, Garfield isn’t as popular as he used to be in the 1980s and the 1990s, and most people want to know “what happened?” Slowly over the years, the comic has been on a slow and steady decline in its quality, with seemingly no end to the strip and its downward spiral. Garfield is a former shadow of itself, failing to deliver the same enjoyment and iconic status that it once held, however all hope is not lost, as there are things that can be done to improve the comic to its legendary status.

After Jim Davis had canceled his earliest comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, he began working on a comic strip simply titled Jon that ran in the Pendleton Times newspaper from 1976 to 1977. Soon, the comic would be renamed to Garfield, and would begin its syndication in newspapers on June 19th, 1978. This comic strip followed the daily adventures of Jon Arbuckle, a freelance cartoonist living with his obese, orange tabby cat, Garfield. Together, the two would experience many exciting mishaps, specifically surrounding Garfield’s laziness and constant bothering of Jon. With its deadpan sense of humor and a feeling of sarcastic, dry wit, the comic instantly became a smash hit, with a Sunday strip being added to the comic’s lineup only a year after release. The comic was becoming one of the most popular strips in newspapers. For a brief time, Garfield seemed unstoppable, and would lay the groundwork for hundreds of many future comic strips through its influence on millions of people. However, Jim Davis didn’t wait very long to cash in on his favorite feline and little did he know that this would lead to the downfall of the very thing he created.

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Most people would say that Garfield peaked between the late 1980s to the early 1990s. This was when the comic was at its all-time height of popularity, and Jim Davis wanted a piece of the orange pie. Two years after the comic’s debut, with the comic strip appearing in over a thousand newspapers at the time, Jim Davis founded Paws Inc., a company that would handle the merchandise distribution for the franchise. With the ever-growing popularity of Garfield exploding into pop culture, merchandise sales for the franchise increased as well. Jim Davis would then spend more of his effort and time as a businessman managing the merchandise sales of his comic strip franchise, rather than spending time on the actual comic strip itself. This is the start of Garfield’s slow decline: a push to focus on merchandise on promotions rather than the center of the content. Many would argue that the shift to marketing for the franchise is what got the comic into the state that it is currently in, but I would argue that the comic is not completely lost.

Even after all that has been previously described about the comic’s critical status, the comic is not completely gone. There is a way that Garfield can return to the iconic and legendary status that he once held. The simple answer is that Jim Davis would just have to return to the comic and continue to contribute more. While Jim Davis wouldn’t have to be the head writer for the comic anymore, if he at least were a more involved creative supervisor over the ghost writers and authors, the comic’s quality would absolutely see a positive growth.  It’s no secret that the Garfield comic is mainly handled under unnamed writers and artists under Jim Davis’ name, but if the comic had a more solid direction from Davis himself, chances are the comic’s quality can be improved for the better.

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Garfield has been running for several decades and doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon. The comic has had a massive influence on millions of people across the world and has inspired future generations of comic artists as well. It’s impossible to deny the huge presence and iconic status that Garfield has held, even if it is a simple comic strip about a fat orange cat and his cartoonist owner living in Muncie, Indiana. Even though the comic might be in a quality rut nowadays, hopefully it won’t stay that way forever. If Jim Davis understands why people love Garfield and company so much, then maybe one day he can return to write for his magnum opus. While the comic is not on the same quality as it used to be, the fact the comic is still running is a testament to the legacy of the strip and the characters that Jim Davis has created, and I’m looking forward to reading Garfield for years to come.

Jackson Reichardt is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

An original opportunity: the importance of creative arts at MSJ

“High school is one of the greatest times in your life where you can explore your passions,” stated Mr. Bianco, the director of student life here at Mount Saint Joe, about the importance of student original creative work. High school is, in fact, the opportunity for students to find themselves and the passion that rests inside them. Many students have options to try out for sports, study specific topics, and be involved with extracurricular activities that follow their interests. But what about creative arts? Does high school give students who want to explore the creative arts the chance for student-produced work? I interviewed some of MSJ’s creative and leading teachers for their take on the importance of creative arts at MSJ.

MSJ’s Drama Club’s “Peter and the Star Catcher” cast and crew during rehearsal.

One essential aspect of creative arts is the first word of the study, “creative.” Students find themselves intrigued by the area of study due to the availability to express themselves through creating and producing their own work. That chance for students at MSJ to work on and showcase original work allows them to explore that possible career path. The Carpenter, MSJ’s literary magazine, gives students the chance to publish their pieces of writing. The drama department allows students to act and be a part of the plays and musicals put on in the Knott Fine Arts Auditorium. But other than those two outlets, which are somewhat limited, do students have chances for showcasing original work? The Drama Club at MSJ is currently working on expanding its horizons and giving students more opportunities for showcasing original work. The club is hoping to host a winter cabaret to show original creative projects.

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Mr. Hartsfield, an English teacher and director of the theater department, states that “it’d be great if students could produce their own (creative) work.” Other than the art show here at the Mount, Mr. Hartsfield does not believe we see enough student-driven work. He would like to see students “create their own content like plays, film or singing…I don’t think we see a lot of that now”. He also claims that “there should be more of an opportunity for that to happen.”

Mr. Stromberg, a new theology teacher at MSJ.

Mr. Bianco commented on the idea of giving students the opportunity for an original creative project, “I think if we give students those opportunities, to figure that (project) out along the way, that’s a high school’s responsibility. That’s especially a Xaverian Catholic high school’s responsibility.” Mr. Bianco relates to the importance of the arts due to his “side hustle” of playing the guitar. He explained how, in college, he was in a band that really helped him through that time in his life. He explained how ”those things matter to us because that’s how we express ourselves.”

Mr. Stromberg, a new Theology teacher at the Mount, is also connected with the arts in the way of musical theatre. He received a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre from the Catholic University of America. When asked if he felt prepared by MSJ for that area of study, he said, “I would say yes…(MSJ) taught me how to have a certain work ethic.” He continued to explain his creative opportunities at the Mount, “It did prepare me…the way it taught me to approach education.” Still, he detailed how he did not get the specific chance to find that creative work opportunity. He did not find that passion for musical theatre until he went to college at CUA. But as he now begins his teaching career here at the Mount, he wants to support students who have a passion for creative arts and make sure they have that opportunity.

Other than the shows and the literary magazine at MSJ, students do not have a strong outlet for their original creative work to be shown to the school community. Hopefully, the Drama Club will sponsor and host a cabaret for students to explore, create, and showcase their original work for Gaels, friends, and families to see on the stage.

Ethan Webber is a senior member of the Quill and the Multimedia Journalism class.

Art as a means to strive for beauty

“The first time of many that I really recognized the beauty in art…it brought me from the verge of giving up on art to barely keeping up with all the things I wanted to make.”

Isaac Scharbach, Class of 2017

What if the sole purpose of creating art was to produce something beautiful? Most of the mainstream artists today don’t consider this option because the art that makes up our museums was put together as a means for getting a point across or for self-expression, not solely for beauty. 

Paintings that wish to get a point across demand an audience because they lose all relevance without one. This often makes the authors feel dependent on fame and self-gain.  On the other side of the spectrum, artists who create as a means of expression too often portray themselves and the world as they see it: ugly and dark. Because the two styles mentioned above are what the world consumes, we begin to emulate these values and are degraded by them. 

“Isolation” by Isaac Scharbach ’17. He painted this shortly after discovering the concept of painting something beautiful.

But there’s another option — the art that is created solely for beauty. Such artwork doesn’t need an audience to have value, and it can take the brokenness of the world and look past the present grief it causes. Isaac Scharbach, an artist and a 2017 Mount graduate, reminisced, “The first time of many that I really recognized the beauty in art…it brought me from the verge of giving up on art to barely keeping up with all the things I wanted to make.”

Death of Marat by David
“The Death of Marat.” Wikipedia Commons.

When the selfish aspects of conveying a message and the dark elements to expression take center stage, it affects our perspective and goals. What would the world look like if artists — no, everyone — strove for something that was independent of zeitgeist, something that didn’t deny hardship but looked past the hopelessness; that strove for beauty.

But unfortunately, many artists don’t care for that. The painting “The Death of Marat” depicts a man bathed in soft, glowing light, lying apparently killed in his bathtub. Commissioned by the French to glorify the recently assassinated leader of the French Revolution, this painting was made to convey a message. But when this is the artist’s only goal, there is a demand for an audience. Where there is a demand for an audience, selfish ambition follows close behind. 

Untitled (Skull). Wikipedia Commons. Fair Use – This is a historically significant work that could not be conveyed in words. Inclusion is for information, education, and analysis only.

Many of the works that artists created for expression aren’t much better. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled (Skull)” represents the artist’s despair that he will forever remain a displaced Haitian immigrant. The patchwork, colorful human head appears scarred and bruised, bearing an expression of unconsoled hopelessness. 

Paintings like these too often create patterns of negativity and selfishness. But what if instead of painting the murder of a political figure or a disfigured skull, artists painted the simple beauty of light playing in the folds of drapery or the joy of a child splashing in a mud puddle? I would love to see what such a change in perspective could mean for the world.

Thomas Scharbach is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

The importance of animation

The like button has many different variations even though it means the same action. Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social media site, there will most likely be some sort of button to show your appreciation for a post. However, what’s that one thing separating the like button across all platforms and their version of the like button? The animation. It’s one small detail that is hard to notice at first, but it’s there to give that app a sense of identity. If it were to disappear suddenly, it would lose that sense of identity and would feel bland. 

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Animation is seen daily, but people might not know where to look or what it would look like. So what is animation? In simple terms, animation is a type of illusion to trick your brain into seeing movement from drawings, pictures, and CG models. What are some examples that use those types of animations? Shows on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon use frame-by-frame animation to make 2d drawings of characters move. Movies from Disney, Pixar, and Marvel. Avengers Endgame where they had to animate the movement of Thanos or even in video games where almost everything is animated to tell the story. 

Now that we have a good reference as to what animations can be let’s talk about another place where you can find animations, Snapchat filters. Everyone who has used or knows of Snapchat has probably heard of filters. The primary term for filters is to add or remove images and backgrounds to a video or picture. Take for example, the dog filter where it adds big, floppy dog ears and a tongue. The filter’s code tracks the person’s face so the ears and tongue move along with the head, which actually follows one of the 12 principles of animation. Follow through or overlapping action. Follow-through is a crucial part of the animation process where the secondary features of the character or object, like the dog ears and tongue, follow through with the motion. An example of follow-through is a superhero flying with a cape super fast, and then stops suddenly. The superhero stops in the sky but the cape caves in around the body because of its forward motion. When you go on Snapchat, take a look at that dog filter and move your head to get a good idea of how the follow-through works.

There have been a lot of examples of animation in social media, but where else could you find it that most people would never think about? How about sports? Next time you’re watching a Football game, try and spot how many overlays there are on the screen, the transitions that cut to another camera position, and then compare them to other teams. Most teams will have their own branded transition or overlay for TV to make it more unique and personalized. It’s one detail that you might have never noticed but can make a massive impact on the game’s feeling. 

Animation is seen by everyone in today’s society even if you don’t look for it. It can be in many different forms like huge CG or 2d characters in movies and shows, overlays on sports stations, filters on Snapchat or Instagram, and the small things just like a like button.

Cooper Funk is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

A high school artist’s reflection

As an artist, there’s always opportunities to make art in many different mediums, and there are hundreds of other mediums out there, both in traditional and digital. I have personally been drawing with pencil on paper for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until more recent years when I began to gain more of an appreciation for other art mediums. I finally started to branch out into other mediums and expand my abilities beyond just simple sketching. However, even after all these years, I still enjoy basic pencil and paper sketching, so let me tell you about the different ways that I have made art and the many programs and mediums I have used.

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Starting first and foremost with the basics, is pencil and paper. Ever since I even knew how to draw, I was always drawing traditionally. As a kid I would always grab as much printer paper as I could and a stack of pencils and doodle away for hours. While I was never the best artist or respectful of the rules of being an artist like composition and anatomy, I still enjoyed the process of drawing and creating cartoons on paper. As I got older, I got more accustomed to the method of traditional drawing and began to flesh out my own unique style, and began to work more both in the traditional method, and the digital method as well. 

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Getting older introduced me to the method of “digital art,” where I could scan in my traditional drawings through a picture to an art software program, and then add digital coloring and lining. This process certainly took me a while to get used to, as it was essentially drawing the same thing twice, but as I did it more and more, and developed my skills further, it became my preferred method of drawing. With my digital art, I still try to keep a sense of “cartoonish-ness” in my drawings; creating something expressive that someone could view and enjoy upon first glance. However, traditional and digital cartoon drawing isn’t the only thing I am capable of, as I am familiar with another medium through Photoshop editing.

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Everyone and their grandmother has heard of Photoshop before, and for a good reason. It’s arguably the most versatile picture-editing software out there, and has been around for years and used by millions of people across the world every day. I have only recently started using Photoshop in the last year, as most of my summer class in Intro to Digital Art was focused on using pictures and editing them through Photoshop. Even after the class was over, I still wanted to do more with Photoshop, and I didn’t want to let my talent go to waste. Over the summer, I watched tutorials on how to create posters, and create graphic design logos. While I am still learning, I hope I can continue to improve and further my abilities.

Wanna learn Photoshop? Check out this free course being offered on YouTube!

While I initially started off with one medium, I slowly grew to appreciate and use more artistic outlets and mediums. Growing my abilities has taught me that it’s okay to leave my comfort zone, and that going outside of said comfort zone can help me to become an even better artist than I would be inside of my comfort zone. I have been an artist for many years, and I don’t see myself dropping art anytime soon, and I hope to continue my passion for years to come.

Jackson Reichardt is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

A Review: Hogwarts on Broadway

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child​ came to Broadway on April 22, 2018. It takes place 19 years after the events of ​Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. All of the original characters are now parents, and they have to deal with new responsibilities. Hermione is the Minister of Magic, Harry is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and Ron runs a silly joke shop. In an odd way, each of those professions end up tying into the dark story. 

Albus Potter deals with being the son of the great Harry Potter and being in Slytherin, unlike the rest of his family. It is in Slytherin where he meets Scorpius Malfoy, his best friend. Albus soon thinks his father is not the hero people say he is. Albus and Scorpius use time travel to save “the spare” Cedric Diggory. They end up corrupting the timeline, erasing people from existence, and creating an alternate evil reality. Not only is there the adventure of Albus and Scorpius, the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione continue on in the show. Harry begins to believe Voldemort is still out there, ready to strike again.

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The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (Photo Credit: Playbill.com)

I was lucky enough to go and see the show in early August. The show is split into two parts, each two and a half hours long. The special effects for the show makes it appear like magic is real. The show was filled with effects that blew me away. From people appearing out of fire to evil creatures flying over the audience. The show was very well done.

The cast is complete with great actors portraying the iconic characters. James Snyder is the actor who plays Harry Potter. He was in many small films and tv series, but his biggest was She’s the Man, a teen rom-com in 2006. The young actor playing Albus Potter is Nicholas Podany. He has not starred in any movies, but he has appeared in a few episodes in the CW show, Hart of Dixie. Jenny Jules, is a English actress who plays Hermione Granger alongside Matt Mueller as Ron Weasley. Jonno Roberts plays the Slytherin nemesis Draco Malfoy. He has starred in many TV shows throughout the years. He was Declan Stanwick in the comedy show, Wrecked for nine episodes. Many of the actors have starred in crime shows like Blue Bloods and the NCIS franchise.

After the second part of the show, I was able to go behind the scenes. I got to meet the main cast members of the show, James Snyder, Nicholas Podany, and many others. Since the actors cannot reveal the “secrets” to the magic, I was unable to figure out the way the magic is really done. Each character seemed to have many costumes, some are even identical to the rest. The production crew really did a great job with the show. A family friend of mine Kimberly Dodson, played Rose Granger Weasley. She told me she is a “swing”, so she covers 12 tracks. This means she has to prepare for 12 different roles and she goes on whenever they need her.

This is a great show to see, especially if you are a Harry Potter nerd like I am. It’s funny, dark, advernterous, and has an amazing story. The play was written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. I highly recommend seeing this show. The show has a rating of 91% by critics, and a 3.7/5 for the book. Do you think you’ll see the magic?

Ethan Webber is a sophomore member of The Quill, and is also a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.