BREANNA MANLEY | Staff Reporter
A bag of Fritos, a bottle of Gatorade, a computer and a pencil make up the ideal workspace for graphic designer Joel Fuller to produce some of his best artwork.
In fact, the sophomore Art + Design major still has his very first childhood comic book and sketch pad, complete with Scooby-Do drawings, from when he was a boy back at home in Birmingham, Ala.
At Butler University, Fuller has begun a graphic novel titled “Xavian.” His novel features the protagonist, Xavian, and the villain, the Ophiosisen Leader.
Fuller has one chapter completed and hopes to finish the second chapter by the end of the semester.
“For a story, I decided, ‘What can I do that can make it different?’” Fuller said. “What if I make a story where I throw in a twist or make it the real world? Not the typical villain comes in, takes over the city, the hero comes in and saves the day and that’s it.
What if I make a twist where it’s life or death? It’s all or nothing; there’s never any certainty of the hero always winning.”
The graphic novel begins at the climax of the story and then traces back through time to the current situation, Fuller said. This inspiration came from the book “Into The Wild” by John Krakauer.
“I think his idea is fresh and innovative,” sophomore classmate Joshua Gaal said. “I think this is something that he can really run with and define who he is as an artist.
If you are around him enough, you can really see his artistic style in each character and level of the art that he produces for this novel.”
Professor Gautam Rao taught the two classes that Fuller said let his creativity fly: painting and graphic design. These courses emphasize creativity, innovation and story telling, Rao said.
“He’s essentially created a world, and within that world, there is political intrigue, space exploration and there are characters with heroic qualities,” Rao said. “It’s exciting as a reader to kind of put yourself into that world he has created.”
The main themes presented in “Xavian” are darkness and strategy during wartime. The novel also contains a close foreshadowing of worldly events, Fuller said.
“I like to see how the world reacts to a threat to the entire planet,” Fuller said. “I love how no matter what or how much bickering there is at the time, people always seem to put aside their differences, come together and fight the main cause.”
However, Fuller said he is his own biggest critic. He said he struggles with comparing his own artwork to that of artists who have been drawing for years.
“Professor Gautam has always told me, ‘You have your own style that’s unique to you. If you try to mimic others’ too much, it won’t be yours.’ I’ve just decided to let that go and say, ‘Alright, this is how I draw,’” Fuller said.
The improvements on Fuller’s work have not gone unnoticed, Rao said.
“I think improve, yes-—but I think even just blossom,” Rao said. “You look at his illustrations now compared to last semester, and it looks like they are from a different person-—so much better. He’s so focused on his art, and he’s done a good job.”
Reflecting back on 2013, Fuller said he has already seen great improvement in his work and is excited to begin working on the forthcoming chapters of “Xavian.”
“I told myself that, even if I don’t get this, or it doesn’t become popular, I can still be proud to say I’ve done something,” Fuller said. “I’ve always said that I am the author, writer, editor, artist—everything. I’ve always said I’ve needed help.”
Fuller created a blog and Facebook page featuring the story of Xavian in hopes of expanding his work beyond just the Indianapolis community, he said.
In his blog, Fuller features his intent behind different illustrations and how he created each individual graphic to audiences. He relies on feedback through comments, emails or tweets.
“I don’t mind negative criticism,” Fuller said. “I know I’m not perfect and not a number one selling series, but anything to help me get better I’ll gladly take.”