Who knew Castleton had its very own Mort Walker in the Student Center? Judith Carruthers, Castleton’s director of career development, has been a professional cartoon artist since she was 14 years old. When she decided faculty and staff needed a better way to communicate with incoming freshman, Carruthers set her pen to paper and produced the first annual illustrated student comic handbook.
“We have a lot of extraverted intuitivists,” Carruthers said. “I knew pictures were the way to go.”
Titled How to Have a Good Time at College, the comic book is a compilation of common sense tips and CSC expectations. Carruthers illustrated all of the cartoons herself with the exception of a few photographs.
Photos, she said, didn’t allow students to see themselves as the character and therefore made it hard to relate. Cartoons allowed students to see themselves in those pictures and situations.
“It was cool to hear ‘Hey! That kind of looks like you!'” she said, referring to student reactions when they received the comic books at orientation a few weeks ago.
Carruthers also believes that this is an easier way for students to understand college lingo — a completely different language from what is used in high school.
“Pictures are received information,” she said. “You don’t need to understand a language to understand a picture.”
This point is proven on the very first page. The opening illustration shows a student and faculty member talking about various college-related terms like majors, minors, concentrations, writing-intensive courses, and work-study. These terms are commonly used everyday in a college environment among staff and returning students, but often sound foreign to incoming freshmen.
Student Association members were involved in helping plan the book and also fed Carruthers ideas of what should go into the book. Students that were around campus this past summer were also consulted and asked for input and feedback.
“Any conversations that take place in the comic are directly from students,” said Carruthers. “If I put my words in, it doesn’t ring true. We try to get the students words in as much as possible.”
Carruthers still searching for more input. The Outhouse Gazette is maintaining the comic book and updating it with regular student issues, questions, and dilemmas that are then turned to animation.
While the book is set to provide valuable CSC info to incoming and even returning students, it could also put cash in a one student’s pocket.
The Student Association is running a contest to color the handbook, which is currently illustrated in black and white. The books can be attained online through the Castleton website or outside the Student Association office in the Campus Center.
All forty-one pages can be colored individually or by a group. The deadline is October 15th and the winner will receive $100 and their colored copy will be displayed on the school’s website.
Carruthers is already planning for next year’s edition of the handbook, as well as another completely separate comic book.
“I would like to do one maybe for sophomores to hear what they’re going through in their second year,” she said.
Carruthers encourages student feedback and ideas and happily accepts e-mails, phone calls, and even visits in her office in the Student Center.
“I want people to hear me when I draw,” she said.