Public Safety building displays anime artwork from alumnus

April 1, 2013

April Wefler
[email protected]

A wall in the Public Safety building is now home to anime characters, courtesy of an auxiliary award art program through the Galleries of Contemporary Art.

The program was created two years ago to connect a hybrid auxiliary and academic program and give students a cash reward.

The current piece on the wall, “The First Page,” done by UCCS alumnus Kyle Smith, portrays various anime characters. Smith said that he drew his inspiration for the work from American and Japanese comics.

“I guess I first got into comics because I grew up poor, so that was the only thing I could really afford to entertain myself with,” Smith said.

“I’ve always had a creative imagination, so I used to make little comics for myself,” he added.

Smith said that his favorite comics are the American “Spawn” and the Japanese “Claymore.” As noted on its website, “Spawn” is “one of the longest-running and most respected independent comics of all time.”

In “Spawn,” Al Simmons, “once the U.S. government’s greatest soldier and most effective assassin,” was killed by his own men.

After being resurrected from the ashes of his own grave, he is reborn as a Hellspawn and the site explains that “now Spawn must choose between his life on Earth and his place on a throne in Hell.”

In contrast, “Claymore” is a manga that takes place “in a world where monsters called Yoma prey on humans and live among them in disguise.”

According to, the Claymores are girls that become half-monster to destroy the enemy.

Smith said that when he got older, he started buying books about Picasso and other famous artists in addition to books about comics.

“I wanted to keep true to my roots and show people that comics are just as much art as an oil painting from Van Gogh or Picasso,” Smith said.

“The First Page,” created in 2011, consists of six Japanese characters and six American characters, with Smith in the middle. “It’s really me focusing on both sides of the world, east and west,” Smith said.

“That one was done kind of like the Last Supper laying down the foundations of Christianity. It was me laying down the foundation for my future art – also showing people that comics can be considered actual art that you see in galleries,” he added.

Smith, who is now an independent full-time artist, a comic book illustrator and a video game artist, said “The First Page” is one of his top picks from art that he’s done, as well as one of his better ones and a top favorite.

“I paint every day, so I get new works anywhere from seven paintings a week to one or two paintings a week,” he said.

Smith travels the country doing art shows and conventions to show off his work. “You get to fit your own hours and do what you want. I’ve always considered the fact that if you do what you love, you’re never working a day in your life.”

Daisy McConnell, director of GOCA, said that GOCA is a hybrid auxiliary and academic program.

Susan Szpyrka, vice chancellor for Administration and Finance, created the auxiliary award art program two years ago to connect the two and give cash rewards to students. She added that it was very much driven by wanting to recognize and support students.

“We invite all the directors of different auxiliary programs, and they pick out ones that fit well in the space and are high quality and interesting content,” she said.

McConnell said that “The First Page” was picked for Public Safety because it brightened up the space and was visually interesting. “It gives someone something to think about other than paying their parking ticket.”

The work will be up in Public Safety until the end of June.