By Meaghan Menzel
This past week has been busy for the Rose O’Neill Literary House with three events in one week. The very first of these was a lecture by cartoonist Danielle Corsetto called “Slice of Life: The Craft and Business of Webcomics” on Feb. 23.
Sophomore Ryan Manning said, “This event is a product of the Literary House Summer Internship that we [including Senior Julia Armstrong] both participated in this past summer.”
“We were given the opportunity to create an event on campus and bring an author or artist of our choice,” said Armstrong. “We were both fans of ‘Girls with Slingshots’ already so we decided to contact Danielle [Cosetto] and we’re extremely excited that she’s here with us.”
Corsetto’s love for comic strips began at a young age. She said, “My grandfather used to read ‘Beetle Bailey,’ ‘Blondie,’ and anything else that was in the newspaper up in Maine. It was always different from the stuff we got in Maryland, and he’s the one who really started my love for comic strips early on.” She started drawing her own comic strips at around eight years old and continued on into high school with her strip “Hazelnuts” and “Ramblers” in college
Corsetto said. “I also worked for the school newspaper,” in high school and college.“I emailed Scott Adams, the guy who did ‘Dilbert”…. I was like 13 years old at the time…asking what I should do if I wanted to get involved in cartooning…. He wrote back, and he said, ‘You should get involved in journalism.’”
After Corsetto graduated from Shepherd College with a degree in photography she said she wanted to “start up my own new, fresh, right-out-of-college comic strip about being out of college…and the reason why I put it online…is that it’s pretty much free…and it has an automatic ability to reach whoever I want throughout the world.” She created her comic strip “Girls with Slingshots” as a result.
According to Manning, “Girls with Slingshots,” “chronicles the misadventures of 20-something Hazel and her friend, and they try to navigate the treacherous everyday of being unemployed English majors. The comic is now over a decade in the running [having been launched in 2004].”
Corsetto has worked other jobs in addition to cartooning. She drew caricatures at an amusement park during her summer breaks from college and she was a photojournalist for a short period after she graduated. Drawing caricatures “turned out to be probably the best art education I ever [received],” Corsetto said. “It’s forcing you to constantly see facial shapes, things you don’t necessarily draw regularly when you’re at home by yourself.”
In 2007 Corsetto saw how well her web comic was doing and decided to work on it full time, five times a week, asking readers to donate money to help her pay expenses. “I really want[ed] to be able to tell more of the story…. It was more important for me to be able to say, ‘I am putting everything I can into this comic,’” she said. However, donations couldn’t support her indefinitely so Corsetto published her first book of “Girls with Slingshots” comic strips. The book ended up earning her enough money to rent the house she wanted.
“I do like to work very traditionally [in regards to the comic strip style and format]. I fell in love with that certain format when I was reading it as a little kid and I just haven’t been able to get rid of it or get it out of my system,” she said. “The idea of doing this comedy, slice of life, very simple observation of everyday life, I was really geared to it.”
She has continued to publish “Girls with Slingshots” books. Hiveworks, “a creator owned publisher and studio that helps webcomic and online media creators turn their creative endeavors into sustainable business,” according to their website, helps her to advertise her comic while TopatoCo, an online site for web comic merchandise, takes care of merchandising for her. She has attended several conventions to promote her work which led to a job in cartooning “The New Adventures of Bat Boy” for The World Weekly News, a satirical newspaper.
Now though Corsetto said, “I’m actually quitting the script in three weeks after roughly 2000 strips.” She’ll be taking a year long sabbatical to continue her art education. “It’s like this kind of heart breaking position for me, but it’s been this crazy, wild ride of constantly spending the entire day working on the comic strip…and I’m ready to chill out and fall back in love with comics.”
Diane Arnson Svarlien:
Diane Arnson Svarlien is a verse translator and classicist. She has translated poems by Sappho, Semonides, Theocritus, Catullus, Horace, Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid and published two collections of translations of Eurripides’ plays. She visited the Lit House for the second event of the series “What’s Found in Translation” on Feb. 24.
“Tonight’s speaker has dedicated herself to…making the plays of Euripides relevant to a modern readership and audience,” said Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House Dr. Jehanne Dubrow.
During the lecture, Svarlien demonstrated how translations of songs and meters get morphed over time to fit our modern music and style. Overall, she intended to argue and explain three points. First, she said, “In translation, there’s always more than one way to do something; second, “sound is important, and the formal features of language are important,; and third, “translation is a series of tradeoffs” while at the same time remaining faithful to the text itself.
Jonathon Hsy: Sophie Kerr Lecture Series
Associate Professor of English at George Washington University Jonathon Hsy gave a lecture, “The Spectacle of Spectacles: Disability, Invention, Literate Artistry” at the Lit House on Feb. 26. Hsy specializes in late medieval literature and culture, delving into translation studies and disability theory. According to the WC website, “His current book project, ‘Disability and Life Writing: Transformative Authorship, Then and Now,’ explores autobiographical writing by medieval authors who identified as blind or deaf.”
“As revealed by the title of his current book project… the hallmark of Jon’s work is his concern for both the then and now,” said Assistant Professor of English Dr. Courtney Rydel. “Today’s talk… promises to be another chance to see then and now anew.”
Hsy’s lecture was based around his research on blindness and medieval culture. He argued that the invention of eyeglasses created “a certain aura of learned prestige and authority to their subjects” while at the same time making “an otherwise invisible impairment visible.” He broke his lecture into three parts: how eyeglasses were viewed by people around the time of their creation, how glasses became a motif in visual art, and how glasses played a role in the literature of Thomas Hoccleve.