Comics More Than Just Stories

Verdis Webb
Verdis Webb IV (ThreeSixty Journalism/Aaliyah Demry)

By Fatima Abdurahman and Allison Brodin

Verdis Webb IV was a soon-to-be first-year student at Dougherty Family College when he started his first day of orientation in 2018. His excitement soon turned to dread as he began to feel like he was back in elementary school, eating lunch alone and not fitting in. He channeled those emotions into his favorite outlet, comic strip writing, and created “The Loner.” Webb is now a senior English major at the University of St. Thomas. He published his first story, “The Loner,” in November. 

What brought you to DFC? 

Verdis Webb IV: “When I was a senior back in high school, we had a couple people from the DFC come in and talk to us. I still remember that day because they were talking about how easy it is to apply. After the presentation I ran out the room, grabbed a laptop from a different room and ran all the way back. I logged in and submitted my application then and there.” 

Why do you want to tell stories? 

Verdis Webb IV: “It’s always been a way to not only express myself, but to inspire other people.” 

When did your passion for writing first start? 

Verdis Webb IV: “In my last year of middle school, I participated in a writing competition and I won. I took my story that I wrote and went to the Minnesota State Capitol and read it out loud. From that moment on, I knew that I liked writing and storytelling. I just didn’t know what stories I wanted to write. 

Once I was in high school, I had an English teacher give me motivation and push me to go into comics. At the same time, I had a different English teacher, Ms. Erikson, push me toward writing because she saw how creative I was. Those experiences led me to say to myself, ‘Why not just combine both?’” 

What sparked your interest in comics? 

Verdis Webb IV: “Growing up, I loved Spider-Man. He’s my favorite fictional comic book character. I was first exposed to Spider-Man when I was 7. After that, I would go to the library in my elementary school and read Spider-Man comics. I would bring a notebook with me and write down other characters who showed up that I didn’t know, so that I could go read their comics next. 

The No. 1 thing about fiction that I love is that writers had to sit down and come up with these out-of-the-box ideas.” 

Tell us about your writing style. 

Verdis Webb IV: “When I’m writing, I like to bring in more aspects. If I am writing a superhero comic, I might go watch a reality TV show and a rom-com so that I can bring all of those aspects into the comic. 

At DFC I met all different types of people. I may want to use a guy I met in physics class’s personality as for this type of character or a professor who talks mean would be a good villain. I am taking in the experiences I see around me to take pieces of, ‘OK, that could work here, that can work there’ and try to figure it out like a puzzle.” 

Could you tell us about “The Loner”? 

Verdis Webb IV: “During orientation at DFC, I felt lonely. I was feeling in a mood and I started writing my comic strip, ‘The Loner.’ For me, comic books and writing are my way of expressing myself. The message of the whole story is that everyone has their own way of expressing themselves.” 

What made you decide to continue at St. Thomas after your two years of DFC? 

Verdis Webb IV: “After I went to DFC, I wanted to continue at St.Thomas and I am currently a senior majoring in English but specifically creative writing.” 

What do you hope to accomplish in the future? 

Verdis Webb IV: “I just hope that I’m working somewhere that I’m able to tell stories and inspire people. I hope that one day my stories inspire someone else to do something that they may not have been able to do or accomplish otherwise.” 

This story was produced with the University of St .Thomas Marketing, Insights & Communications team. Student profiled St. Thomas changemakers involved with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the university at Winter News Team.

By Fatima Abdurahman, Rosemount High School; and Allison Brodin, Mounds View High School