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UNDER THE DOME

Exhibition design, print design, illustration | 2023

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Mental health is something everyone struggles with—an issue that was emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, many people’s mental health took a dive, with 85% of college students reporting an increase in stress and anxiety. It was a very isolated time for everyone, no pun intended. On a good day, these issues can take a very minor role in people’s lives. On bad days, it’s a fight to stay out of bed and upright. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are issues the American Psychological Association says 60% of college students face. As a nation, we are face-to-face with the struggles of mental health.

Mental health is difficult, but talking about it shouldn’t be. Mental health is an issue for everyone, and it’s important we show the value of talking about it. With the Under the Dome Project, starting a conversation is as easy as picking up a book. In today’s technology-focused world, the Under the Dome Project utilizes printed materials to begin a discussion about mental health. As everything moves at a faster pace, it’s important to sit back, relax, and read. So, take a peek at Under the Dome Project’s graphic novel, and start your conversation today. Follow one man’s journey across space and desert planets on his search for peace and mental stability, as you begin your journey to find yours.

This was created for Simon's graphic design senior project at Grand Valley State University.

DESIGN DIRECTION

In Simon's previous comics, and his designs in general, he tends toward more timid imagery. Under the Dome gathers thematic inspiration from shows such as Midnight Mass and Your Honor, as well as artistic inspiration from rapper MF Doom, trippy tattoo designs and manga series One Punch Man.

Here are some places Simon drew inspiration from:

  • The shading styles and action-oriented sequences of anime and manga

  • Rusty Brown and other comics by Chris Ware show that comic bookscan cover heavy topics

  • The bright style of printmaking techniques, such as screen printing

  • Thematic elements from graphic memoirs such as The Best We CouldDo by Thi Bui, With the Light by Keiko Tobe, and Mr. Lightbulb by Wo-jciech Wawszczyk

  • The writing style of graphic novels such as River of Ink by EtienneAppert and Highwayman by Koren Shadmi

PLOT

After highly decorated general Hester Clarke survives a deadly spaceship crash on a desert planet that leaves no survivors, there seems to be no recovery. He’s left with a cracked helmet and a worn out space suit. Memories of the crash keep resurfacing, causing more anguish as he wanders through the desert trying to find shelter.

As he wanders through the desert, Hester finds a mysterious dome that’s used to shelter other people who are lost in the desert. It appears they have created a community of people like him—broken, hurting, and weary people—whose focus is on becoming better humans. Though he is skeptical of this mysterious group at first, they help Hester to grow past his struggles, accept his flaws, and be happy with who he has become. He becomes a part of the community, helping newcomers and the community.

THE EXHIBIT

Under the Dome was a semester-long project, culminating in an exhibit showcasing the work we did over the past four months. It was exciting to see everything set up, ready for people to see.

To see more of the behind the scenes of Under the Dome, take a look at my YouTube Channel or by subscribing to my Patreon.

Photo credit: Grand Valley State University VMA department