Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
I've seen photos. I've heard stories. And I've read news articles (yes, the local papers in Iowa's communities were well ahead of the national media, so do start looking to them more often than the talking heads). The destruction in other areas of the state is hard to encapsulate, but Iowa's strength doesn't lie in its corn or it's Main Streets. The strength comes through those things, but it comes from the people. I originally thought to title this panel "Iowa Nice." In any crisis, you can find neighbors helping neighbors, and this I believe is especially true in our state.
The unfathomable storms didn't touch folks, such as myself, in the northwest corner of the state, so I don't know first hand that my fellow Iowans are showing their kinder sides to one another as they try to recover from the storm damage. I'm trusting that they are. However, if they are not, let this panel be a call to them. Remember we are all part of a community large or small. We all can do something because we will all need help some time. And a little bit from everyone can make a world of difference to the ones suffering the most.
Of course, one can get into symbolism of the color scheme, (and some of that was intentional) but reds and blues are some of the more effective colors in cartooning, so I suggest basing any political interpretation on the clouds. For that matter, I made sure there were hues of blue and red in both the main figure as well as the crowd in order to say that, while Iowa is typically perceived as a red state, there are shades of purple throughout.
And that's the bottom line I suppose. In times of trouble like this I hope – and frankly expect – Iowans will toss political divisions right out the window and help those in need.
The vertical composition was necessary to allow for an expanse of sky that would evoke the mood of the cartoon. In the end, it also made for a great contrast between the textures of the clouds and the debris on the ground. The centrality of it all was pretty necessary too. If I had to do it over again, I might use an earlier idea with the figure viewed from the side on a much smaller scale with the fallen corn much more heavily emphasized in black ink.
However, that would have made it more difficult to show the help coming his way, and that was the real message of the piece – in Iowa, you don't suffer alone. That's probably why the first person I drew in the crowd is holding food.
The figure's hands were very important to get right (though I'm not entirely satisfied with them), but the most important thing was the expression on his face. You'll notice I slowed down that portion of the process animation below. I also chose to keep the figure very thin and tall, as it expressed more exhaustion and evoked a bit more of a mood. Similarly, the figure serves as a sort of bottle neck for the transition from soft clouds to textured ground – his shirt is somewhat smooth with a few texture marks, while his jeans and shoes are more heavily textured as they approach the ground plane.
This piece took between five and six hours to complete and was split over two days.