Avalon Nuovo ’13 was reclining in a dental chair waiting for X-rays of her wisdom teeth when her phone buzzed with an incoming text from Lucas Foster ’13.
“Hi, Rav. Pretty classic revelation/idea came to me during last period. Do you already have a planned independent study?”
That simple text, sent last April, would lead to a semester of writing for Foster and sketching for Avalon to create a graphic novel for an independent study.
The Senior Independent Study Program provides the opportunity for students in good academic standing to pursue in-depth interests that aren’t covered by their normal classes.
Aided by a mentor of the student’s choosing, the student is expected to produce a substantive final work by the end of the semester or year.
This previous semester, Foster and Nuovo comprised two of the six seniors who worked on an independent study. Unlike most independent studies, however, Foster and Nuovo’s was collaborative.
“I’ve known for a really long time that I was going to do an independent study as a senior,” Foster said.
Foster and Nuovo’s graphic novel, “Cop Out,” tells a story through vignettes that focus on the protagonist, Peter.
“[Peter’s] not too far away from an image of myself that I’ve had for a while now, and images of both my brothers and close friends. I really feel like I know the guy,” Foster said.
The vignettes were inspired by the slew of stories and tales that Foster’s oldest brother has told him over the years.
Foster and Nuovo originally planned to have a fully illustrated novel by the end of the semester, but they decided to make the project more manageable by agreeing to finish 40 pages by the January deadline.
Since then, they have made great progress and worked on the novella in a well-oiled cycle.
Foster worked on the script with his mentor, English teacher Ariana Kelly. Nuovo then illustrated the pages with her mentor, drawing and painting teacher Marianne Hall.
“We’re definitely connecting as creative minds during the process, but then executing the actual work separately helps to prevent any creative conflict,” Nuovo said.
Although they work separately most of the time, the partnership has emboldened both artists.
“Sometimes I get into a little bit of artistic ADD working on something for so long, so this is nice,” Nuovo said. “Even if I’m dissatisfied with a particular page or kind of getting bored with it, I can go to the next one and have a renewed interest in it.”
The duo hopes to distribute the finished novella to students online and to work together again in the near or distant future.
“My main goals are to construct a graphic novel that at least 10 people I admire deem worthy and have a better understanding of what it means to work with another artist,” Foster said.