Vischer’s Ferry — Transferring all that dwells in one’s imagination to paper through art is a fundamental part of childhood — one that many let fall to the wayside as adults.
“As a kid, I always drew. Little kids just draw but at some point kids stop and taper off. I never tapered off,” said Marcus Anderson, a Vischers Ferry based painter and comic book artist.
Anderson moved to the Capital Region from his home in Kingston, Jamaica with his family when he was only a year old. After a cousin showed him X-Men when he was young, Anderson was hooked. “It felt cool because the subject area they dealt with was stuff that was a little more mature, subject-wise. Felt like something I wasn’t supposed to be reading.”
Anderson began copying pages and eventually started creating his own characters and his own unique story lines. Anderson’s commitment to improving his work caught the attention of one of his teachers, Mrs. Pace.
“She told me flat out I was her favorite student,” he laughed. “She made time after school to take me to meet a local comic book artist,“ he recalled. Mrs. Pace made it clear that it wasn’t a matter of if Anderson would go to college for art, but rather just a question of where.
“When it came time to look at colleges, my dad said I should look at illustration and graphic design. He didn’t want me to be a starving artist,” said Anderson. With his family’s support and the encouragement from Mrs. Pace, Anderson began his collegiate career at SUNY Fredonia.
“If it was a movie, you would be the director, writer, camera person and costume designer,” said Anderson, explaining the amount of energy and attention to detail required when making comics.
He and his friend Leonardo Faierman, who have known each other for about 17 years, created a comic called Snowdaze which is loosely cased on Leo’s experience making money by shoveling snow as a kid. “Leo got into a minor turf situation. That sowed the seeds later… what if these kids had a super lucrative snow shoveling business,” said Anderson. The pair released their first issue in 2014.
His most recent comic, Cash and Carrie, revolves around the adventures of two young detectives.
Anderson has been working as an art instructor for individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities through Living Resources at the Carriage House Art Center in Albany since 1999. It was there that he met his wife, Jen, who is also an artist. The couple has an eight-year-old daughter, Jenny Adama, who has shown a flair for the arts already.
“We try not to live out our dreams on our kids. We’re not going to force it on her but she sees it around her all the time. It’s natural. If you leave her alone, she will just make things out of whatever is around. She’s into fashion. She’s obviously a very big inspiration for both of us. I feel fortunate to have a home where everybody is creative.”
Anderson is also a host on a podcast called the Black Comics Show.
Anderson said he and his wife have a very natural way of communicating and collaborating. Where other couples might have to deal with combatting egos, Anderson said that isn’t the case in their relationship. “We each other’s best interest at heart. We trust each other’s advice,“ he said.
While the couple are busy with their individual projects they collaborate on projects from time to time as well. They have been working on a project that involves tiny buildings and people made out of wood and painted in intricate detail called the “City of Dreams.“ Anderson said the pair have been working on that project on and off for about five years.
Anderson looks at his art as a way to give back. When he worked on murals in Troy and Schenectady, Anderson made sure to not only seek input from community members but to give them the opportunity to participate in the art directly. “Art as a bridge within the community has always been important,“ he said.
Anderson noted the feeling among many artists that it is more important than ever to keep expressing themselves and what they stand for, through their work. “I want to get back into my paintings and ink drawings — there’s a more direct line to the social ideas I want to touch on.“