Southeast Students Create Jackson Window Displays Celebrating Former Marvel Comics Editor

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Artwork by Southeast Missouri State University faculty and students will be on display Saturday, Feb. 23, at the 2019 February Annual in Jackson, Missouri.

The event is scheduled from 3-8 p.m. with promotional activities in Historic Uptown Jackson shops and a special exhibition at the Cape Girardeau County History Center at 102 S. High St. Admission is free.

Southeast faculty and students designed and installed three large window displays in support of this year’s event, a “Celebration of Roy Thomas.” Thomas is a former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and co-created dozens of characters, including Wolverine (X-Men), Vision (The Avengers), Conan the Barbarian, Luke Cage and Powerfist (Netflix), and Captain Marvel. Thomas is a Jackson native and 1961 Southeast graduate.

Southeast student Maddie McDuffy prepares the artwork for a window installation at the 2019 February Annual celebrating  Jackson native, Southeast graduate and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Roy Thomas.

“It’s an honor for us to be asked to contribute to this event and to showcase our passion and talents,” said Dr. Michelle Brune, interim chair of Southeast’s Department of Art and Design. “As comic book fans, this was a very personal project, and we were so excited to make this special to Roy Thomas and the community.”

Southeast students who contributed to the artwork included Jared Carlson of Greentop, Missouri; Natalie Gladbach of Centertown, Missouri; Emily Harris of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and Maddie McDuffy of Freeburg, Illinois. Benjie Heu, professor of ceramics at Southeast, helped lead and coordinate the project; and Kevin Hand, local freelance graphic artist and animator, assisted with the project research, design development and installation.

The faculty and students had four weeks to design, create and install the three displays. After researching Thomas’ life, they decided to design the displays on three stages of Thomas’ career, Heu said.

The Jones Drug Store window display, located at 125 Court St., depicts Thomas’ childhood in Jackson and shows him reading a Batman comic book. The storefront building located at 116 S. High St. depicts Thomas in high school as artwork illustrates him reading Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian. The window display in Siemer’s Appliance Best Brands Plus, located at 113 S. High St., is a tribute to Thomas’ career at Marvel Comics.

The artwork celebrates Thomas’ life and career as a writer, Heu said.

“We selected quotes from Roy to accompany the artwork so the viewer can learn more about his career and inspiration, and his creative process for developing these characters,” he said. “We also wanted to highlight that he was a writer, not an illustrator.”

The artwork is a vibrant contribution to the February Annual and highlights local businesses while celebrating a hometown hero, said Carla Jordan, director of the Cape Girardeau County History Center and owner of CL Jordan Preservation, which helped support the projects printing costs.

“We appreciate their leadership, commitment to this project, and the heart they added to the overall landscape of the Uptown celebration of Roy Thomas,” she said. “The outcome is incredible, thoughtful and right on in the mission for this event. The displays pull everything together.”

The faculty and students are looking forward to attending the event and meeting Thomas, Brune said.

For more information about the 2019 February Annual: A Celebration of Roy Thomas, call (573) 979-5170, or visit the Cape Girardeau County History Center or Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization on Facebook.