For the past school year, Frankfort High sophomore Hunter Wooldridge has been carefully plotting storylines, sketching characters and honing his craft for Thursday’s return to The State Journal comics page.
Hunter, who last year brought readers “The Aviator” — the adventures of a historian from the 1940s and ’50s who finds the boots of Mercury that enable him to have super speed like The Flash and flying capabilities like Superman — has drawn up a new anthology strip, “Oddities,” that will publish on the comics page on Thursdays, Fridays and the weekend.
“Oddities” starts with a cosmic energy of unknown origins or effects coming into contact with the earth.
“Each strip will begin with a character and (I will) loosely develop it for several weeks then I’ll move on to a new character,” Hunter explained, adding that he plans to bring them all together in a future strip.
While he wouldn’t divulge any plotline spoilers, he said he is ready for the challenge continuity presents in the newspaper format — and even welcomes the deadlines.
“If I have a deadline, that means I actually have to do work, so it encourages me to finish a drawing or story. It is good practice,” Hunter said.
The soon-to-be-junior learned a lot through trial and error last summer. He had to figure out how big the text could be and how much detail would show in each tiny panel — not much.
While he is happy with his published work to date, he also believes he is a much better drawer now and is looking forward to the opportunity to show it in the coming weeks.
“The State Journal has been a great platform for me and I really enjoy sending in the strips,” he said, but he remains undecided about whether he will study art in college. “I don’t have a natural talent for art; it’s just something I’ve developed.”
Hunter lists Joe Shuster, the comic artist best known for creating DC Comic’s hero Superman with writer Jerry Siegel in Action Comics #1 in 1938, as his favorite strip artist. Hunter keeps a reprint of his strips from 1939-40 as a reference for his own work. It helps him decide what can be included in each panel.
The son of Emily and Jeremy Wooldridge, Hunter initially got interested in art through his father, who is a graphic artist.
“He didn’t teach me, but he inspired me initially,” Hunter added.