Though James's academic background is in English and poetry, he recently started pursuing a new passion: comic book writing.
As he put pen to paper toward his newest poems, the doodles that he made in the margins of his notes started to become key elements of his writing. His love for poetry bled into a new art medium of pencil-drawn comics and illustrations.
"All forms of art are interconnected, so whether you are writing or drawing or painting or sculpting or filmmaking," James said. "At the heart of it is this strive to create something in the world that wasn't there before."
James's comic book adventures started as scratches and doodles, but now they've become an art of their own. "From the Neck Up" was recently featured at the Sheldon Museum of Art in the "Person of Interest" symposium.
The comics give a personal look at James's perspective as he transitioned genders. They capture raw feelings and real moments, all because James was using the artistic medium to decompress. He channeled the stress and anxiety he felt at the time into his work and found a space that allowed him to be honest and vulnerable.
James hopes to one day be able to publish "From the Neck Up," but he's not in any hurry. He's happy with what he's created and the community he's found. He doesn't need a published book to make this memory meaningful — because he's already found it.
"If this is something I enjoy, even if it never sees the light of day, even if I don't get great at it — it's still something that is meaningful to me, and it's something that's helping me have new thoughts and work through old thoughts," James said. "And I just decided to let that be enough."
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James Brunton is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of English.