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The artist behind The League of Extraordinary Researchers


By Meaghan Whelan

Paul Tucker has had a busy few months. In addition to his full-time job as a graphic artist in St. John's, he has been hard at work creating the artwork in The League of Extraordinary Researchers, Memorial University's Research Strategy Framework. The document, created in the style of a graphic novel, required Mr. Tucker to grapple with questions of how someone might look if they were climbing a double-helix and how the North would look from outer space.

More than 40 of Mr. Tucker's illustrations are featured in the document. He said the challenge of working with real-life stories appealed to him.

"I was sent text and some loose suggestions of visuals, and it was up to me to choose the right moment to feature and figure out how to lead the eye to the words," he explained. "That was the magic part – sketching out thumbnails and creating characters and action for each spread."

Mr. Tucker says his love of comic books and graphic novels can be traced back to summers in Catalina, Bonavista Bay, when he would race to the corner store to raid their comic book stand of the latest issues of Savage Dragon and Batman. Sitting on his grandmother's attic stairs, he would immerse himself in another world.

Fast forward nearly 20 years. Mr. Tucker now holds a bachelor of fine arts from Grenfell Campus, has illustrated a graphic novel titled The Underworld Railroad (published by Viper Comics) and co-founded the Breakdown Comic Jam, a free monthly get-together in St. John's for local cartoonists of all ages and skill levels.

"Ideally, I would have a pencil in my hand all day long. I've always loved drawing and I think I'm still trying to satisfy my 10-year-old self," he explained.

Mr. Tucker's talent was immediately evident, according to Christa Steeves, associate director (marketing), Division of Marketing and Communications.

"When we came up with the concept for The League of Extraordinary Researchers, we weren't sure where we would find an artist with the skills to bring it to life in an elegant and interesting way," she said. "Paul really impressed us with his ability to capture emotion and tell a story graphically."

Mr. Tucker credits his time at Grenfell with building his appreciation for fine art, which he says informs his "fun and creative" work as well as building a network of peers.

"To this day, a group of us who went to art school together at Grenfell get together for virtual studio time," he said. "We talk about our projects and get feedback on the work that we do. It's been really helpful to all of us."
Mr. Tucker's work can be seen online at paultuckerart.com.

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