Visual Storyteller

Greg Stump of Matteo Ricci College brings cartooning to the classroom

Written by Tina Potterf
Photography by Rick Dahms
May 31, 2016

It’s not uncommon or unusual for children to doodle, drawing snapshots of their lives in crayon and marker to be proudly displayed on the refrigerator or taped to a bedroom wall. But for Greg Stump, cartooning as a kid followed him into adulthood and into a career.

For the past decade he has brought his art form of choice to classes he teaches at Matteo Ricci College. Specifically, “Writing with Pictures” and “Cartooning for Future Teachers,” both of which incorporate practice and analysis to deepen students’ understanding of telling stories and conveying ideas with images.

“Professor Stump’s course, ‘Writing with Pictures,’ develops and enhances  the storytelling sensibilities of our students and reminds us all of the importance of engaging the imagination,” says Dean Jodi Kelly. “He is a college treasure and an exemplar of the best of Jesuit education.”

Through his work, Stump demonstrates to his students ways to effectively communicate or express themselves through drawing. While imagination is encouraged, experience is not required.
“I encourage people who may not think of themselves as artists to use visuals to communicate,” says Stump.

A self-taught artist, Stump in his youth was “obsessed” with the “Bloom County” comic strip that he’d read daily in his hometown newspaper in Iowa City. He was also drawn into the work that covered the pages of Mad magazine. A love of cartooning—with political, social and satirical context—continued into high school and college at the University of Iowa, where Stump’s work appeared in the school newspaper.

After college he headed west to Seattle to take a job with Fantagraphics, a well-known publisher of cartoonists and graphic novels. A decade later he was hired as an instructor at Matteo Ricci College.

While his work has appeared in the pages of The Stranger and City Arts magazine, Stump’s latest project has the potential to expose his craft to even more audiences.

Recently he teamed up with students Lauren Brogan and Connor Rice on a promotional video for the college. The video, “Bridging the World from West to East: The Story of Father Matteo Ricci, S.J.,” tells the story of Matteo Ricci—the man—through narration by Rice and highly detailed and descriptive illustrations from Stump.

“I was a little apprehensive at first because I’ve never tried to do an animation like this before,” Stump says, “and I actually had to ask Connor and Lauren not to watch me doing the actual drawing once the camera was set up, because I kept freezing up. But I’m really happy with the way it turned out—even though I know all the little tricks involved it still looks like a feat of magic.”

Outside of class he teaches art at the Richard Hugo House and in public schools through Seattle Arts and Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program.

Like many artists, Stump draws inspiration from the world around him. He enjoys film, music and photography and the work of other cartoonists and illustrators that meet up regularly to share work and ideas.

“And I do a lot of writing in my head,” says Stump, of concepts that come to mind during his daily long walks.

Most of all, he’s inspired by the fact that he is doing what he loves. “My childhood dream was to be a cartoonist.”

Stump is currently working on a second book, following up his debut graphic novel, Disillusioned Illusions.

As an instructor at Matteo Ricci College, Greg Stump is bringing his love of cartooning into the classroom.