This summer and fall quarter, Bellevue College is offering students a teen graphic novel class and an adult graphic novel class, respectively. Dana Sullivan, a local graphic novelist from Newcastle will be teaching these new classes at north campus.
Sullivan got into teaching after taking an introduction to picture books illustration class from the late Rollin Thomas.
He said, “It really got me going along the path to being an author/illustrator. Then Rollin became very sick with cancer and asked me to teach his next course, which terrified me.” The confidence that Thomas showed in him, however, helped him to have the courage to teach the course, and he ended up loving it.
What got Sullivan into novel writing was reading “Little Vampire,” by Joann Sfar. He went on to explain that this graphic novel helped him to realize that graphic novels didn’t have to be just about ninjas or assassins, but could also be about lonely little vampires looking for friends.
He also said that “It made me take another look at Captain Underpants and realize I always loved graphic novels – just not all of them.”
It wasn’t until 2013 that Sullivan came out with his first picture book, titled “Ozzie and the Art Contest.” Sullivan said that “I had always loved to draw and wanted to create children’s books since I was a kid, but didn’t have the courage to try it until I finally left my job at Costco in 2008.” He had been the Creative Director there for 16 years.
Sullivan added, “I knew I needed more creativity in my life. I’ve worked hard and had a lot of good luck, so it’s wonderful to show kids and adults that this is a real profession that they could pursue, or just enjoy.”
Sullivan explained what he looks forward to teaching the most, saying “I’m excited about exposing the kids and adults to nonfiction graphic novels, which are very hot right now.” He went on to list a couple examples, like the Nathan Hale books that are about American history, as well as the “Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents Macbeth,” written by Ian Lendler. Sullivan also mentioned that he’s, “always interested in learning about new graphic novels from the kids, showing them comic books and graphic novels they may not have known about or considered graphic novels.”
Sullivan explained what exactly he defines as a graphic novel, saying “I consider just about anything with pages of pictures to be a graphic novel, it’s just how it’s packaged.”
“I tend to shy away from the more adult, slasher stuff,” he added, “I’d rather laugh.” This is the reason that he favors more comedic series such as “Captain Underpants,” “Big Nate,” “Baby Mouse” and “Lunch lady.”
Sullivan also teaches classes at the Kirkland Arts Center and has a picture book illustration class offered June 23 through July 28. This six week class will leave participants with a finished book suitable for submission.
The two classes that Sullivan is teaching at Bellevue College will be at the north campus. The teen graphic novel class that is available this current summer quarter began on July 13, and there are currently no seats available. The graphic novel class for adults will be in October.