Ursula Murray Husted, University of Wisconsin-Stout program director of entertainment design, has garnered an MoCCA Arts Festival Award of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators for her graphic novel “The Lions of Valletta."
Written and drawn by Husted, the book won the silver medal in the Long Form competition at the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Arts Festival this spring in New York.
MoCCA is the largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival in Manhattan. It draws more than 7,000 attendees and 400 artists displaying their work, along with speakers, workshops, lectures and film screenings.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized by the Society of Illustrators,” Husted said. “I’m tremendously flattered. As a comic artist, it has been my genuine honor to have my work seen and valued by the society.”
The book is about two cats looking for the meaning of life in Malta and exploring art, art history, architecture and fish heads. Husted said she came up with the idea while taking a trip to Malta with her father after he was treated for cancer.
“The trip was effused with beauty, and there were cats everywhere,” Husted said. “Some cats ignored people, others wanted love and some looked at people, judged them and moved on. This book is about the third kind of cat and what they might have been looking for.”
Husted became interested in comics as a child and then grew to love them as a teenager. She continues to love drawing and enjoys teaching comics. The entertainment design major offers concentrations in comics and sequential art; animation; and digital cinema.
Diana Green, a comic historian at the Minnesota College of Art and Design, called “The Lions of Valletta” a “funny, fresh story with a timeless moral and possibly more than one. “It’s rendered cleanly and directly but doesn’t skimp on detail,” Green added. “It’s an adventure that manages to be profound without being pedantic. It’s a book that invites the reader into a way of seeing something that is at once new and as old as time.”
Steven Standicki from Seattle, who reviewed the book, said Husted modeled her backdrops on classical art from ancient Egyptian scrolls to Japanese woodblock prints.
“Her art offers loving tributes, the occasional playful jab, several winks to the reader and plenty of examples of the principle that there are few things which cannot be improved by the addition of cats,” Standicki said. “The book is packed so full of references that it would take an art historian to spot them all; fortunately, Husted has included copious footnotes, offering plenty of references for those of us without that much cultural literacy.”
The 144-page book is available for $20 on Husted’s website www.winterprairiepress.com.
Society of Illustrators Executive Director Anelle Miller said exhibitors at the MoCCA Arts Festival are “among the most daring and inventive voices in comics and illustration working today, and we are pleased to celebrate their important work and advance the society's long heritage of recognizing the finest artists in all fields of illustration with the MoCCA Arts Festival Awards of Excellence.”
Founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators is the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America. Notable members have been N.C. Wyeth, Rube Goldberg, Norman Rockwell and many others.
Husted also is contributing to Haawiyat (حاويات), an ongoing short comic for displaced Syrian refugee children. Comics for Youth Refugee Incorporated Collective is a nonprofit to produce and deliver free comic books for refugee children based on folklore from their homes. The goals are to reintroduce lost folklore and cultural resonance, combined with providing the comfort and distraction provided by reading comics. Husted contributed to the first publication last year, and the second comic is slated to be released this summer.
Ursula Murray Husted, UW-Stout program director of entertainment design, this spring garnered an MoCCA Arts Festival Award of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators for her graphic novel “The Lions of Valletta.”
Ursula Murray Husted
The book is about two cats looking for the meaning of life in Malta, inspired by a trip Husted took to Malta with her father.
The Society of Illustrators is the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America.