COD Professor and Comics Artist Connects Kids to Art While Sheltering at Home

By: Angela Mennecke

One of Adam Fotos' daily coloring book activities

Chicago-based comics artist and College of DuPage Assistant Professor of Humanities Adam Fotos has a knack for creativity and is now using his time away from the classroom to spark creativity in kids and adults alike.

After the first two weeks at home with his young daughter, he began conversing with other parents and realized that they were all struggling to keep their children entertained around the clock. As the creator of “Dragon and Goat,” a quirky, full-page comic series spanning nine volumes, he decided to make his next comic into a free daily coloring and activity book he named Quarantinuum Quoloring Book.” Every morning, a new coloring page in the story of Dragon and Goat’s survival in the face of COVID-19 is available for download. 

“Kids are being inundated with cartoons and popular culture, and those things are great, but what I really want kids to do is hack into the cartoon worlds and think about ways to get creative themselves,” he said. “There are so many ways to play with imaginary worlds through art.”

Fotos’ daily coloring book activities always include an adventure component encouraging kids and their parents to explore their own creativity and to think outside of the box. 

“This is a way to do something off of screens,” he said. “I want us to take advantage of this unstructured imaginative time that we rarely get to explore anymore. One week I focused on science experiments, the next on space travel and this past week was a cardboard quest making good use out of the empty boxes everyone has piling up in their houses.”

While drawing daily comics and coming up with new ideas is time consuming, Fotos sees this as an opportunity to connect with people through art. As a teaching artist with Chicago-area youth through Marwen and Urban Gateways, two arts non-profits that reach out into under-served communities, Fotos said he has seen firsthand how art brings people together.

“Art transcends barriers of distance, culture, and age and connects us in a unique way,” he said. “In these trying times we need art more than ever.”

Fotos started teaching at COD in 2010 as an adjunct professor for studio art and graphic design classes before shifting to Humanities, a discipline he felt could be explored through art.

 “Merging the practice of art and the study of humanities has always intrigued me,” he said. “In humanities you are looking at politics, history, philosophy, religion, art and how they connect. Co-mixing disciplines, you can explore issues the people face across place and time and how to talk about them.”

Fotos incorporates comics into his classes as a way to get his students to explore ideas and readings in a process of making, using visual and critical thinking.

“It’s an intimidating medium if you are approaching it as an outsider, especially if you aren’t a drawer or writer, but I want students to think about breaking down texts with pictures,” he said. “I want them to have fun with it and think about how they can pace out a story. It’s all about getting back to saying yes to being creative and shutting out the ‘no’s”’ that keep us from making things and being more engaged in our world.”