Varvel uses full page comics to tell community stories

While out in Indianapolis last month, I stopped in to talk with Gary Varvel, the editorial cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star. I’ve always been an admirer of his art and caricature. While there he told me about a 11-part series he was doing to highlight the lives of some of the poor in Indianapolis. The series is called “The Path of Hope” and twice a month, Gary would head out off the office and interview individuals, their friends, pastors teachers and those who work to help a less fortunate person climb out of their difficult circumstances. Gary tells me that he even spent a week traveling on the local bus system to better understand how difficult it was for one family to simply get fresh groceries because the bus route takes so long from the store to their home (think of the difficulty of ice cream or other refrigerated foods).

The Path of Hope gives Gary a full color page to tell their story. For speed in producing the page, he blends his line art with photo art processed to look cartoonish. Along the way, Gary says he’s grown to appreciate the challenges some people are given in life and their tenacity to pull themselves, and pave the way for others, to get out of poverty.

The series began mid-July and he’s wrapped up the final one last week. You can see all of them on the Indianapolis Star’s website.

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