A strip of "A Box of Trees," which ran in The Lantern during David Rickert during his studies at Ohio State. Credit: Lantern archives

A strip of “A Box of Trees,” which ran in The Lantern during David Rickert during his studies at Ohio State.
Credit: Lantern archives

As a boy, whenever David Rickert visited Ohio State’s campus, he made it a point to pick up a copy of The Lantern. Upon seeing a comic, he knew what he wanted to do.

“I knew that if I went to Ohio State, maybe I could do this,” Rickert, an alum, high school English teacher and illustrator, said.

Rickert drew a comic strip — called “A Box of Trees” — for The Lantern while attending OSU from 1992 to 1996.

Now, Columbus residents can read comics drawn by Rickert once again. He’s being featured in Columbus Alive, published by the Dispatch Printing Company, as part of its “Sketch in the City” feature.

“Sketch in the City” features local artists in six-week runs. The series is edited by Ken Eppstein, the owner of Nix Comics and a comic artist himself.

Eppstein met Rickert at a monthly gathering for a comics group they are both in. When the two started talking and Eppstein mentioned Columbus Alive, Rickert decided to send in his own submission.

“David’s work was very school-looking in a way that not a lot of artists did,” Eppstein said of Rickert’s technical skill. “I just liked him, too. They were nice, funny comics and David’s a nice, funny guy.”

Rickert is the fifth artist featured in this series. But this is not the first time Rickert has had his work published since his days with The Lantern. Rickert was selected by one of his past professors, Anna Soter, to work on a textbook for her. Soter wrote “Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation: Rhetorical Tools for Literate Uses of Language” and Rickert did all of the illustrations.

Along with his work with Soter, Rickert has been using his illustrations to further education in other ways.

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As an AP English teacher at Hilliard Darby High School, Rickert knows how important it is for students to learn grammatical subjects and how hard some of those are to grasp. To make these subjects easier to teach, Rickert creates and sells comics explaining harder-to-grasp concepts such as “their” compared to “they’re.” While Rickert, who teaches high school seniors, does not use his own illustrations in his own class, many teachers have already purchased his teaching tools, he said.

He also has been illustrating books for English as a second language students. He has completed 44 of a 52-book deal books so far, with about four illustrations per book.

“If you’re an ESL student who comes and you’re learning English for the first time and you’re in middle school or high school, you don’t want to be working with these books that are clearly intended for kindergarteners,” Rickert said. “They feature high school protagonists dealing with everyday problems like dating and school work.”

Rickert has also done a storyboard for a short film called “‘Til Death” which aired at the Gateway Film Center. The basic idea behind storyboards is to draw out the story and specific scenes to see where characters would be with lighting or props around them. A person from Gateway had asked one of Rickert’s friends to produce and make a short film to show before their annual Valentine’s Day showing of “Shaun of the Dead.”

“It was kind of fun to see, when I watched the film, I could see things I had said ‘This would be cool to do,’ and they actually used it,” Rickert said.

Rickert’s work can be viewed on his website, davidrickert.com.

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