ISU alumnus finalist in cartoon contest

ISU alumnus finalist in cartoon contest

ISU alumnus finalist in cartoon contest

Sara Schlueter –

Inspired by his experiences living in small-town Iowa, ISU alumnus Eric Gapstur is among the top 10 finalists in the “Comic Strip Superstar” contest.

Gapstur graduated from Iowa State with a degree in art and design and was among 5,000 other artists who entered their comic strips for a chance to win a full publishing contract with Andrews McMeel Publishing. The company sponsored the contest and plans to distribute the winning comic strips as a published book.

The inspiration for Gapstur’s comic, “Belle Plaine,” came from some of his own experiences living in Iowa. 

“The characters in the comic strip are based on the friends and personalities that I knew,” Gapstur said. 

The comic profiles the day-to-day adventures of two fifth-grade boys, Josh and Collingwood, who live in a small town.

Gapstur said he has been drawing and sketching comic strips for as long as he can remember. 

“I have been doing this since I could hold a pencil,” Gapstur said. “I used to copy superhero comics and then became more serious about it in high school.”

In college, Gapstur explored the art of comics by working at the Iowa State Daily as a cartoonist and then Mayhem Collectibles, Inc. in Campustown doing store inventory.

“Working at the Iowa State Daily really helped, because that was my learning background,” Gapstur said. “I got the opportunity to do up to three comics a day. It was great in learning the job experience.” 

“He had a really good work ethic. It was because he was really passionate about comics,” said Robert Josephson, manager of the store.

Gapstur also had some experience working with the newspaper industry in the past. 

“I tried three to four syndicates, but I was met with rejection,” Gapstur said. “I have had an interview with Marvel Comics, which was a really great experience.”

Winning this contest would be a huge step forward for Gapstur’s cartoonist career. 

“I would be able to get in the newspapers and get a development deal. I want to get paid to tell the story I want to tell,” Gapstur said.

Mayhem Collectibles is promoting Gapstur’s involvement in the contest. The store posted flyers and it is promoting the event on its Facebook pages as well. 

“We were always really impressed with his work, and it’s been great to see him grow,” Josephson said. 

Voting for the contest ends Friday.

To vote for the new “Comic Strip Superstar” visit: