By Billy Tuite:
He’s explored Norse mythology. He’s adapted Beowulf to a modern sci-fi setting. Now, he’s ready to show these prehistoric students how he does things downtown.
Erik Evensen, an associate professor of art and design at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, was recently asked to supply his artistic prowess to the latest issue of IDW Publishing’s Ghostbusters comic book series. Although Evensen is a veteran comic creator, this is his first endeavor with a major publisher.
“It’s hard to work within a property like Ghostbusters and capture the voice of the original film,” Evensen said. “There’s always a little bit of sensitivity that you have to carry when working with such a beloved franchise.”
Evensen partnered with Ghostbusters writer Erik Burnham to produce a 6-page lead-in story entitled “The Field Trip,” which was released on Jan. 29. This story featured an offshoot Chicago branch of the Ghostbusters taking care of paranormal activity in a spooky museum. “The Field Trip” sets the groundwork for “Mass Hysteria,” IDW’s upcoming 30th anniversary series.
“’Mass Hysteria’ is the culmination of elements from various Ghostbusters stories and spin-offs into one epic tribute,” Evensen said. “I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
Working on a side story with lesser-known characters afforded Evensen some artistic freedom, though he was still careful about staying true to the original Ghostbusters spirit.
“I wanted to keep things fairly grounded within that universe,” Evensen said. “My goal was to merge my own art style with the tone of the original film.”
Aside from this recent ghostly encounter, Evensen possesses a vast repertoire of art and design work, although he’s gained most of his notoriety through his own graphic novels.
“Gods of Asgard,” an award-winning retelling of ancient Norse myths, and “The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay,” a modern sci-fi take on the epic poem Beowulf, clearly show Evensen’s love of mythology and folklore.
“I see stories in modern pop culture as being natural descendants of mythology,” Evensen stated.
Evensen had developed a large audience with “The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay” in particular, as the book was successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Having raised over $15,000 from loyal fans, Evensen is certainly vocal in his praise for crowdfunding.
“I think, by and large, Kickstarter is becoming a real go-to area for many independent artists. It allows you to bypass publishers and still reach a niche audience,” Evensen said.
Evensen’s graphic novel successes have paved the way for future projects, which begs the question: what’s on the horizon for Professor Evensen?
“Nothing’s in the works now, but that doesn’t mean that won’t be the case in a couple months,” Evensen said coyly.
Wherever the world of comics takes him, there’s no doubt that Evensen will continue to deliver riveting content.
Evensen’s work, including the latest Ghostbusters comic, can be purchased from various online retailers and in digital form on comixology.com. For those who prefer old-fashioned paperback comics, Evensen recommends a visit to The Source comics shop in Roseville, Minn.