Noted Comic Book Artist Sanford Greene Meets With MS, US Students

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Heathwood students got a behind-the-scenes look at the comics industry when noted illustrator and SC native Sanford Greene came to campus on February 19.

Greene, who has worked for both Marvel and DC Comics, is currently one of the authors of the critically acclaimed Bitter Root, a comic series set during the Harlem Renaissance that explores the lives of a family of monster hunters whose powers and mission were unleashed at the time of the Underground Railroad.

Greene's presentation to the Middle School focused on his journey toward discovering his vocation, from his days as a middle school doodler and avid comics fan to his intensive training as an art student at Benedict College to his eventual success as an illustrator of comics, children's books, and more. He also described his process, showing students the various phases of design and drawing that go into creating a single page of comics. Drawing a 22-page comic book, he noted, typically takes about seven weeks.

One reason the drawing process takes so long is that comics like Bitter Root are carefully researched, as Greene explained to the Upper School history and literature students he met with later in the day. Students in both Ms. Dawson's U.S. History class and Dr. Burrows' and Dr. Plowden's class on the 1920s are preparing to study the Harlem Renaissance, so Greene's talk with them focused on the history and culture that inform his story in Bitter Root. The series, which addresses issues of race, diversity, and discrimination, may play out in a fantastical way with monsters, steampunk technology, and alchemy, but its themes are central to the American experience, and its illustrations show, to the best of Greene's ability, what Harlem in the 1920s actually looked like. "So if my characters are fighting on a rooftop in 1924," Greene noted, "then I'm going to go out and research exactly what you'd see if you were in that place at that time."

That opportunity to keep learning while in pursuit of his passion exemplifies a core piece of advice Greene offered to the Middle Schoolers: "It's important to cultivate your interest and tie it in with everything else--because that's how you learn."