WHITMAN – They say opportunity only knocks once.
Whitman resident Coryn MacPherson was a junior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she majored in sequential art, answered when the knock of opportunity came to her at the school in 2021.
Within that major, she specialized in comic book and graphic novel art.
“They’re a tough school, but they’re great,” the 2018 graduate of W-H Regional High said of SCAD.
“The school … had an event specifically for people wanting to get into comics,” she said. “They would bring in art directors and editors from those [publishers] and Scholastic was one of them.”
Students had the opportunity to submit their portfolios for the publishing representatives to look at and review. Two months later, she received an email with an offer from the art director.
Graphix, a graphic novel imprint of Scholastic, was looking for illustrators for its Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, based on a video game.
Was Coryn interested?
It didn’t take her long to say, “Yes.”
Her work is featured in the last story of “Five Nights at Freddy’s: Fazbear Frights Graphic Novel Collection, Vol. 2.” That story is titled “The New Kid.”
A kid is jealous of his best friend’s new friend, makes the new kid disappear, she said of the plot line.
It was the first step on a career path which she wants to see lead to writing and illustrating her own graphic novels. MacPherson had already been working on the script for one of her own.
“It’s a fairy tale,” she said.
In a way, she’s been living one. MacPherson, who graduated magna cum laude from SCAD in June 2022, is also working from a disability, her mother Julie Ryan said.
“She can’t see out of one of her eyes, so the fact that she draws as well is pretty extraordinary,” Ryan said. “And it’s a big deal for somebody still in college to land a job like that.”
And her career is taking off since the book came out recently. MacPherson has already seen more interest in her work through social media such as LinkedIn, but the opportunity was the stuff of movie magic.
“It’s a New York Times best-seller franchise,” her mom Julie said.
Asked for details on the story line, Coryn paused and said with a laugh “It’s … um … animatronics that kill kids. It’s a really popular franchise and they’re currently filming a movie for it down in Louisiana.”
Matthew Lillard, who played “Shaggy” in the “Scooby-Doo” film is in it as well as a former member of the “Scream” cast and Josh Hutchinson from the “Hunger Games” is in it.
While MacPherson is not involved in the film project, her work on the graphic story books is keeping her busy.
She said the 10-year-old franchise is massive, with dozens of books and eight video games based on it, as well as board games, in addition to the movie.
“The books are kind of tie-ins for the games,” MacPherson said. “What’s being adapted [in the film] is the game play, whereas these are little stories that take place I the same world.”
Published for ages 12 and up and released about three weeks ago, the book is now available at area stores like Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart. The day her book came out, MacPherson said she went to Barnes & Noble and signed nine copies.
“They all sold out in a day,’ she said.
The copies had been identified by the Barnes & Noble staff so potential buyers would know they are a signed copy.
The publisher sent her an email about when the release date was.
“We were there, looking,” Ryan said.
Having just completed her third project for the Scholastic franchise, for whom she is working almost exclusively right now and is already at work on her next project. She said she has also applied for another position in Boston, doing similar work for this year’s Anime Boston convention in April.
“The art, I don’t think anyone is going to see until the actual convention,” she said.
Like a lot of careers today – especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, MacPherson can work just about anywhere she can take her tablet, but she added, it’s not really a new development in her field.
“Comics are pretty much always remote, because the artists are all over the world,” she said. “The other two artists on the book I just worked on, live in Argentina.”
MacPherson herself has studied in southern France and was briefly in Osaka, Japan, where a job teaching English didn’t work out. She’s now thinking about trying life in London.
“They’re taking away so much of the arts in school now to see something like this is uplifting for kids that are interested in art,” Julie said. “You wouldn’t have football uniforms if people weren’t around to create them. You wouldn’t have a band if somebody didn’t create the music.”
“Just let kids draw,” she said.
While Julie said Coryn had done an amazing essay during her senior year at W-H on the importance of art in people’s lives, but by that time she had already been accepted at college before her senior year of high school even started.
MacPherson has also had an essay published in one of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books on women empowerment while she was in college.
“This is dumb luck,” she insisted.
“When it comes to her work, shows through it,” Ryan said of her daughter’s self-professed tendency toward introversion.
“I try,” she said.
MacPherson said the franchise has not yet encountered any issues with book-banning efforts around the country.
“But, honestly, with the graphicness of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets affected,” she said. “It is something I worry about a little bit, because they are really graphic stories.”
Whenever she gets a new script the worry returns, she said.
“They are really violent books … but even if the book-banning wasn’t happening, I’d still be a little worried just because of the content in these and how scary they are,” she said.
Taking a point of personal privilege to leave an Easter egg in the book, MacPherson has included her former college roommates and best friends. McKenzie and Eve, as “bit players” on the last page.
“I told them, ‘You guys dealt with me when I was stressed with this, so I’m going to put you in it,” she said. “So, the three of us are on the last page.”
Game for YA books
WHITMAN – They say opportunity only knocks once.