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Most great art uses elaborate artifice to try to get to our deepest truths. Take for example the Japanese Bunraku puppets. They are large dolls manipulated by three performers, hooded and dressed in black. As viewers, we must make the puppeteers disappear to believe the characters in the drama, but we must also be aware of their every move, simulating heartache, or rage, or rapture by placing the wooden hand just so, or tilting the polished head an inch to one side.

Often during these puppet plays, the audience weeps- and they're only dolls being manipulated by the men dressed like terrorists! Opera, dance, film, literature and, of course, comic art all depend on elaborate artifice to move us. The mechanics of visual storytelling is subtle and difficult. The creation is often tedious, but it is through the unreal formalities of the art: panels, stylized drawings, heightened framing and terse text, that one can tell a story more real than real.

I suppose that is why fantasy is so prevalent in our epics today. Exaggerated heroes always haunted the heads of humanoids, but all aspects of out thoughts of gender, race and morality seem to be acted out increasingly more often by big dolls on a small stage: standing swathed in artifice. 

The excerpts of works from the Cartooning class of 2018 presented on these pages all use visual artifice in the pursuit of truth. Some are funny, some are sad, some are fact and some are fiction, but all have been made with love and care, and the need to tell the important stories! 

Thanks to all the efforts of my entire faculty, particularly the BFA Cartooning Portfolio instructors: Nicholas Bertozzi, Joey Cavalieri, David Mazzucchelli, Gary Panter and Carl Potts; and Cartooning coordinator Jason Little for assisting me in the selection and arrangement of this anthology. 

We also thank President David Rhodes for his vision and support of this ongoing document of our students' achievements.

Thomas Woodruff


BFA Cartooning

BFA Illustration

School of Visual Arts

September 2018

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