Invasive Species Comics
George Rue, Art Teaching Fellow

Like many of my adventures in life, this Earth Art project got off to a rocky start. 

Last summer, I taught a few classes at Land O’ Lakes Arts (LOLA.) This wonderful non-profit organization hosts many workshops, concerts, and gallery openings each summer. As I was organizing my summer activities, Wendy Powalisz, LOLA’s Program Director, suggested a collaboration. With the thought of expanding environmental knowledge through the arts, she introduced me to Denise Fauntleroy, an educator at Watersmeet Lakeguards. The plan was to get students to create educational comic strips about regional invasive species!

We plotted out the class by doing research, gathering supplies, and writing out a lesson plan. But when the big day arrived, we still had zero sign-ups. We were disappointed. But sometimes, old ideas resurface and get a second chance. Robert Eady and Nancy Schwartz, Conserve School’s art teachers, suggested that Invasive Species Comics would be a fantastic activity for Earth Art this year!

Like several other lessons at Conserve School, this activity combines art with science. We began with a discussion about invasive species: where they come from, how they disrupt native ecosystems, and how their proliferation can be controlled. 

The students then selected a species from the Northwoods region, but some made more exotic choices! The class looked up articles and images on the internet to use for reference. The next step was to write a story and make character sketches. After transferring these storyboards to larger sheets of paper, they inked their drawings with brushes and dip pens. Many also chose to add color with pencils and markers. The results were delightful; the invasive species became monsters and supervillains in epic tales of terror and adventure!

Check out some of the finished comics below!



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