Not everyone thinks of comics as a medium for literacy; it is more like a medium of entertainment. However, John Jennings is not everyone. He very much believes in the authenticity of comic books or even graphic novels. According to Jennings, “Reading and writing are two different modes of literacy and so are comics”. Who is he, you might wonder? Well, Jennings is an illustrator and a graphic novelist. An associate professor at the State University of New York, he found his hobby and passion for art and comics. “When we are absorbing information we are looking at images and texts constantly, and comics are a great way to prepare for a media-rich environment.”
Recently, one of his exhibits, ‘Visible Noize”, was held in Northeastern University’s Gallery 360. Jennings, through his exhibits, such as this one, is trying hard to change the stigma that still surrounds comics, and that too in such a liberal society. Not only that, but he also is trying to fight the racial stereotypes through his comics.
Whenever Jennings sits down to work on a new comic idea, he rolls dice to decide how many panels his comic will have. “The panel structure is by chance,” Jennings explained. “It’s up to the universe. Obviously, nothing is set in stone, but it gives you a starting point and is a creative way to hack into your process.” The origin of his comic strip, Kid Code, in collaboration with Stacey Robinson, is also a product of rolling dice.
Jennings might claim that he is influenced by everything around her. However, the real reason he gets his creative juices flowing is because of independent comics. They share, according to him, unique, not at all mainstream stories and imagery. He actually loves comics as it is easy to actually write a comic; anyone can do that. “Anybody can make a comic,” Jennings said. “It may not be the dopest comic you are going to make, but anyone can take a pen, divide up a page, create a story, go down to Kinkos, and print it out, and I love that.”