- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

MENDOTA, Ill. (AP) - Mild mannered football coach and art teacher Brock Sondgeroth of Mendota was musing one day about his final project for an art history class on comics at Eastern Illinois University.

“Before taking the class I never knew there was so much about comics that there would be an entire class based on comic books,” he said. “It was actually very interesting and we learned a lot.”

As he worked through the history of comics, his professor gave the students a choice: either compose a 6,000-word essay or develop a comic using one of the classic styles.

Sondgeroth didn’t hesitate.

“I based mine on (the Flash) and it starts out with me reading and kind of daydreaming about the Flash and being like the Flash,” he said. “Why couldn’t a fat, short white guy like me be the Flash? I basically make myself become a version of the Flash and I find out I have super powers.

“It was really, really fun, honestly, to draw all this.”

The Silver Age of comics also depended heavily on what Sondgeroth called bad science.

Really bad science, like the kind that would turn a kid into a spider or a mild-mannered art teacher into a life-saving superhero.

Silver Age

The Silver Age of comics started in 1954 when the Comics Code Authority was developed. A type of ratings system, it was created in response to a growing number of comics with risque or lewd subject material.

The Silver Age also utilized particular drawing styles to depict motion, speed and other action in the comic story. The Silver Age continued until about 1970.

Sondgeroth’s assignment was to insert himself into a Silver Age style of comic. After devising a story line, he then recruited family and friends to pose for drawings.

Ultrasonic Virtuoso, Issue 1

Sondgeroth’s comic was based on drawings he made from actual photos.

He had his wife, Kim, take photos and he used photos from social media and even took quite a few selfies before he had enough to fill out the comic story.

Then he called on fellow Mendota High School teachers Kevin Wohrley and John Holzman to be in the comic.

“He called for permission to include me in his book, which I gladly granted,” Wohrley said in an e-mail. “Whatever he chose to do with my character I was good with, though I was prepared (even hoping) to be altered into a villain.”

Alas, the story’s fictional explosion didn’t turn Wohrley into a villain. Instead, it creates an altered state that he can’t control. Sondgeroth must use his newfound speed to race around the globe and collect the items needed to save his friend.

As with any good comic book, Sondgeroth does save the day.

But don’t expect him to keep his powers.

Ultrasonic Virtuoso, Issue 2?

As fun as it was to learn the history of comics and to create an original work, Sondgeroth said he probably won’t produce another issue.

“I had a lot of fun with it but I’m probably not going to keep moving on with it,” he said. “For me, it was way better than writing a 6,000 word paper.”

That isn’t good news for Wohrley.

“Every good hero needs a nemesis! Maybe in the next book,” Wohrley said.

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Source: (LaSalle) News Tribune, https://bit.ly/2hVtsIl

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Information from: News-Tribune, https://www.newstrib.com

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