Professional comic artist offering free workshop

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Kay Rossbach is a graphic designer by day and an illustrator by night.

She'll be sharing her artistic ability and professional wisdom Saturday, March 11 at the Park Rapids Area Library's second annual March Manga Mania event.

"She is an incredibly talented artist. I am delighted that she will be here to inspire," says library assistant and event coordinator Leann Willenbring.

Rossbach will lead young artists in a manga and comic art drawing workshop.

"Kay has created a career in what many believe is a challenging field for careers: art and design," Willenbring said. "She will also share what she does professionally and answer questions. I am hoping that her story will inspire others interested in careers in the arts."

Rossbach was raised in Menahga, graduating from high school in 2010. Her mother, Dawn Rossbach, is an art teacher at Menahga High School.

In 2014, Kay graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a bachelor's of fine arts in Web and Multimedia, "which is really just a fancy way of saying web design and development," she explained.

Kay currently works for FRWD, a digital marketing agency in Minneapolis, where she designs and illustrates for company clients like BOOMCHICKAPOP, L'Oreal, Whirlpool, Dunn Brothers, Paramount and Warheads. She creates web ads, banner ads, brochures, storyboards for commercials, etc.

During her free time, Kay draws her own illustrations and comics. She's "inspired by the strong lines in comics, the playfulness of cartoon characters and fantasy settings — and tries to tie all three together."

Her artwork is influenced by modern cartoons, indie comics and a multitude of video games.
"I'd say my art style is a weird mashup of Disney and manga," Kay said.

In the future, she plans to publish a comedy-fantasy-adventure comic strip series on the web. "It will be a fun, pop culture adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters."

More of Kay's work can be seen at www.kayrossbach.com.

Cartooning workshop

Manga is a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels. The stories are fast-paced and exciting, with bold graphics and stylized characters.

According to Willenbring, manga instantly builds a community of readers and fans because they are immediately recognizable, fun to read, fun to draw and fun to follow. In fact, a manga club meets monthly at the Park Rapids Area Library.

At the March 11 workshop, Kay will teach young artists how to create a yonkoma, or 4-koma.

Yonkoma is the Japanese equivalent of an American newspaper comic strip, Kay says, noting that "the set-up and punch line is a little bit different in the Japanese style than American style." Typically, the first three panels build up a scene, while the fourth panel reveals an "unexpected twist."

"These are four panels in a vertically stacked style that is easy to learn," Willenbring said.

All supplies will be provided for the drawing workshop, but participants must pre-register by coming in or calling the library at 732-4966. Space is limited to 20.

For those interested in becoming comic artists, Kay recommends first learning the rules through workshops, classes, online tutorials and how-to-draw books so the work "looks aesthetically nice."

"With practice, you can become skilled," she said.

If you are only tracing cartoons, Kay warns, you only learn to draw like that particular artist rather than developing your own artistic style.

Other activities planned for Saturday's March Manga Mania include a video game tournament, anime film screening, door prizes and snacks.

Wanted: STEAM speakers

Willenbring is seeking guest speakers who have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

"I am looking for folks that have taken a traditional path (K-12, college, career) or an alternative path (apprentice, vocational school, other) to find their career," she said. "I have been interested in the last year with finding individuals that are models for College and Career Readiness to come and speak either at the Park Rapids Area Library or elsewhere in the community."

Anyone willing to share their stories can reach Willenbring at 732-4966.