The University of Mississippi hosts a colorful range of talented artists and musicians. One typically passionate artist, freshman Wilson Moyer–songwriter, guitarist, and illustrator–has a specialty in what many people overlook as an artistic medium: comics.
Since early childhood, Moyer has polished his skills drawing pages and pages of illustrations, assembling an impressive portfolio along the way. Despite only being 18, Moyer’s works have the look of a professional illustrator. “I remember drawing a robot, superhero type thing in second grade. And then, I remember doing a lot of drawing in the 4th and 5th grades. I would get in trouble in class for drawing so much.”
From Franklin, TN, Moyer’s background is that of a loving, middle class family. He was allowed to embrace his natural artistic imagination with the supportive upbringing his parents provided. In fact, his first exposure to comics came from the discovery of his father’s own comic collection. Wilson’s brother, Hal, is three years older and shares his love of comics. Both his father and brother are key influences that have enabled him to engage his creativity meaningfully throughout his life. “We’ve been growing together in our skills for as long as I can remember,” said Hal.
What draws Moyer to comics, according to him, is its unique ability to convey stories. “The goal of art is truth, beauty, and goodness,” says Moyer. “Beauty is seldom portraying a more perfect version of the world… Human emotion, experience, and truth can be beautiful,” says Moyer.
Comics are a visual telling of characters and events, often described as “sequential art.” It is a medium that allows an artist to tell stories with pictures and words instead of strictly prose. Comic book pages are made up of “panels,” which are boxes that depict the events of the story in a linear sequence.
“Comics can communicate stories that purely verbal narratives cannot. And that purely pictorial art cannot. Both Wilson and I have been highly influenced by Scott McCloud’s theories on comics,” said Hal.
The perception of comics in mainstream society tends to be that of superheroes and corny punchlines. For many people, the phrase “comic book” will evoke images of obsessed, socially awkward fanboys huddled in the aisles of a comic store. But that’s not all comics are today—kid’s superhero stories. In fact, it’s a fraction. Comics can tell any story to any audience, and there is a wide spectrum of different categories, just like in film.
“There are things you can convey in images that you can never portray in words, and vice versa,” explains Moyer. “When you have the marriage of pictures and words like in comics, there is so much more that the reader can appreciate about the story and the characters.” Like the wedding of pictures and words, Moyer wants to wed realist themes–such as raw human experiences–with cartoon depictions in his work. “I’m interested in people. I would say cartooning is the art of drawing things exactly as they feel, and that is the precision of realism in some ways.”
Moyer wants to express in his comics that even dark human experiences, like loneliness or emptiness, can be beautiful, simply because they’re true and honest. “I think there are things that people NEED to see in art that bear just as much as weight as science or mathematics.” According to Hal this line of thought is a pillar of Moyer’s artistic philosophy. “I would point to his faith, his desire to portray anything and everything with emotional honesty, and his ultimately hopeful convictions as the things most central to his artwork.
During his time at Ole Miss, he wants to get as much time to himself as possible as he works on his English major. “I do a lot of creativity in relative solitude. As an illustrator, though, I want to get myself out there. That involves marketing and streamlining my production. On the whole, I just want to get better at drawing.”
This desire to become a better comicker shows him to be very passionate and ambitious about his art. The detail of his drawings show an artist who, already, has been doing it for a long time.
“Wilson’s strength as always been his passion for improvement. We loved the Step Up movies in high school, and over the course of a couple months he taught himself how to be a proficient dancer. He takes the same approach to everything. If he loves something, he will learn it inside out and push himself to continue growing,” explained Wilson’s brother and main collaborative partner, Hal. “He has already reached a professional level as a comicker and and illustrator. And he’s only going to continue upwards. I’m sure of it.”
Moyer is regularly commissioned by friends and family members to draw pictures, concepts, and tattoos for them. For the next four years, while going to school at Ole Miss, he will only gain more exposure. The opportunities for Wilson Moyer in Oxford, MS, look bright.