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Porter Hall hosts exhibit curated by PSU graduate

The department of art puts out many types of artists from sculptors to illustrators, and one such grad has curated a whole exhibit of comic book art. 

The exhibit stands in the University Gallery in Porter Hall through Wednesday, Feb. 13 and features the comic book pages of Joplin native Jeremy Haun, New York artist Aaron Kuder, and Indiana-based artist Tony Moore. A lecture accompanied the opening of the exhibit at 4 p.m. on Jan. 25 where Haun spoke about his career and the importance of art in comic books. 

“It’s wonderful that there’s an exhibit in the 4-State Area that celebrates comics.” Haun said during the lecture. “… I realized, as terrified as I was that I was going to have to take a step towards being a graphics artist or drawing comics… I decided I was going to tell stories… I’m going to make this even if I’m sitting a room, and no one is going to see them.” 

Haun attended Missouri Southern State University and graduated with an art degree, and has worked on several stories, both personal and well-known. Some of his accolades include Marvel’s “Civil War” storyline, later adapted into a feature film, and DC Comic’s “Batwoman,” created by J.H. Williams, which broke ground as the first major comic with an openly gay lead. 

“It’s not about getting permission. It’s about doing that thing regardless,” Haun said during the lecture. “… We’re in a place today where we have instant gratification… in fact, there’s a buddy of mine with thousands of followers from his Instagram comics…” 

Haun also commented on the hardship he had to go through as the popular image of a “starving artist.” 

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s incredibly fulfilling.” He said. “I was a college grad, and working retail in a dead-end job, but I just kept making.” 

Haun encouraged skeptics to pick up a comic book, saying that there was “something for you out there.” 

“We’re storytelling people that think comics are cool,” said Levi Qualls, curator of the exhibit and recent PSU graduate in illustration. “… We were in the Senior Exhibit class… we were supposed to put on a show, and I really like comics, so I suggested we do a comic book show.” 

Qualls and other members of the course “juried” the exhibit initially, asking for local submissions of comic book work. However, they did not receive enough submissions for an exhibit. 

“I reached out to Jeremy, and we decided we would just do a show with him and some of his colleagues…” Qualls said. 

After the jurying process fell through, Qualls and Haun reached out to professional comic book artists to fill the exhibit. 

“Art isn’t just fine art,” he said. “It’s not just flowers and landscapes… I didn’t realize people actually drew comics until someone said you could become a comic book artist… I want to inspire people to tell stories, not just paint pretty pictures.” 

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