UToledo School of Visual and Performing Arts

Posts Tagged ‘Diamond in the Rough’

Art Alumni Supporting Inclusion and Diversity – Jym Shipman

Diamond in the Rough cast image.

Diamond in the Rough title.

The UToledo Department of Art is proud to feature our alumni who are supporting inclusion and diversity in their careers and artistic activities.

Jym Shipman is currently the Member Experience Coordinator for the Sylvania YMAC/JCC at YMCA of Greater Toledo.  Jym Shipman, BFA ’04, reaches thousands of readers every week all over the world with his LGBTQ comic strip, “Diamond in the Rough.” Shipman launched the comic strip on his birthday, May 25, 2013, intending to expand the audience for stories about LGBTQ people. “My goal was to produce an LGBTQ comic strip that was family friendly,” says Shipman. When he decided to share his storylines, most LGBTQ comic strips focused on adults and many were sexualized.

“I want my readers to leave my strip with the ‘warm fuzzies,’ he says. “Even though many of my storylines are serious, I try to spin them in a way that uplifts the readers. It’s what I look for and read in the strips I follow.”

Portrait of Jym Shipman, artist of the LGBTQ comic strip "Diamond in the Rough."

Two fellow cartoonists, Bart deGraaf and Tom Batiuk, offered Shipman support and nudged him to put his art out there for the world to see. He took their advice. While “Diamond in the Rough” began on Facebook, it now is published on Webtoon, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Boredpanda, Tapas, Ello, and Tagpacker.

In the past, Shipman’s strip appeared in print, but most of the traditional print publications are either obsolete or transitioned to online only. “Universal Click and Comics Kingdom are the two all-in-one big players of the day,” says Shipman about current sites featuring LGBTQ comic strips. “It brings me joy knowing that the voices in my head that brought me comfort as a gay child and now as an adult are being viewed in physical form via “Diamond in the Rough” — not just locally or in the United States, but all over the world.”

Creating “Diamond in the Rough” helps heal the tough experiences of living an LGBTQ life, says Shipman, as does the feedback from his audiences. “Being LGBTQ is not a curse. It’s a blessing.”


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