By Shannon Hoyt —
“If you want to see a thing exist, make the thing.”
And that is exactly what he did. Erik Evensen, the assistant professor of design here at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, has completed many graphic novel projects, including his most recent release of Back to the Future.
A professor with an incredibly long list of academic and professional experiences, Evensen has come far in his fantastic interests.
As a young child, Evensen first struck inspiration by simply reading the newspaper.
“When I was really little, my dad would just sit down with me on the couch and we would read the Sunday funny papers.”
Flipping through the Boston Globe was a major influence for Evensen. Classic comic strips such as Garfield, Peanuts, even the Phantom, were prominent in his chosen career path.
Being exposed to comics at an early age, Evensen began brainstorming his own graphic novel ideas. Thus, leading to his very first comic, Gods of Asgard.
“Growing up in New Hampshire where there aren’t very many Scandinavians, being one of a very small number of them was sort of unique. So my family introduced me to the Norse Myths partly because they knew I was into fantastic things and monsters, but also because it was a way to get me in touch with my Norwegian heritage.”
What do you picture when you hear the name Thor? Probably nothing like Evensen does, as his characters are one-of-a-kind.
“My graphic novel projects are entirely from my own desires to see those stories exist. Not being beholding to a publisher or anything like that gives me the freedom to choose [these works].”
As for Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay, each story mirrors a piece of Evensen’s personality. His life really is like a comic book or, should we say his life is the comic book?
“These are all a part of the stories and legends that I grew up immersing myself in. I guess every comics project I’ve done relates to my life,” said Evensen. “Being able to pick and choose the projects that I work on allows me to pick and choose ones that resonate within me personally.”
Mariah Amundsen, UW–Stout student in the Entertainment Design program, agrees that Evensen’s approach to comics “…is more story-based.”
Evensen continued to work on projects, although these projects were not simply chosen. They were earned.
Erik met Erik. Erik Burnham, the writer of the Ghostbusters book. Finding similar ground, Evensen and Burnham shared ideas, discussed their interests and soon Evensen was on his way to a rewarding collaboration.
In a similar conversation, Evensen had the opportunity to email with Bob Gale, the writer for the original Back to the Future movies.
“You start working with someone whose work you have appreciated for basically almost your entire life, and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Oh, well I don’t want to let you down…’”
“…And then you start breathing a little harder.”