Everett — a native of Mapleton, Utah — will graduate with a BFA in illustration in April
Rachel Allen Everett grew up in a home that not only welcomed creativity but cultivated it. When she decided she wanted to be an artist, her parents were not at all surprised.
As a child, Everett struggled with reading. Her strong visual leanings kept her away from books until she found collections of graphic novels on the bookshelves of her junior high classroom. Clive Barker’s ‘The Thief of Always,’ and Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ became cherished literature.
“I was drawn to pursue comics after seeing a one-page story by BYU alum Jake Wyatt in an anthology of comics by BYU alumni,” said Everett.
For years, Everett dreamed of making her own graphic novel. When the time came for her to create her Capstone project, the culminating work of her undergraduate degree, it was the perfect opportunity for her to start bringing her vision to life.
“13 Light-Years Away” centers around a boy named Felix who is the last survivor on earth after a plague killed everyone. Felix’s only bridge to humanity is through a space probe that connects to another planet 13 light-years away. Through the probe, he meets a girl named Shrift and together they discover the mysteries that connect their worlds.
Everett said she was inspired by the 1950s space age and films like “Coraline,” “Nausicaa,” “Star Wars” and “Back to the Future.” Her inspiration for the landscape in her story draws influence from Anasazi cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
“The story would be best categorized today as a combination of retro-futurism, afro and indigenous futurism, and solar punk,” said Everett.
In order to understand the world in her story, Everett had to dive deep into geology and astronomy. “I’ve had to learn about some theories of space travel, theories about how other planets can form, and what puts exoplanets in the habitable zone,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Everett was able to fully develop Felix’s character arc and understand how he copes with isolation by seeing how the world reacted to being in quarantine.
Everett said she hopes to dedicate her career to the creation of comic books and be the writer and illustrator of her own stories.
“I love comics because you have a lot more room and power to control a number of different aspects and I like to have that creative control,” said Everett.
Everett hopes to eventually publish the comic as a graphic novel. For her capstone project, she displayed visual development for the story in the HFAC BF Larsen Gallery on March 12 to the 24. She will receive her BFA in Illustration this spring.
Post-grad Everett has plans to apply as an illustrator to various comic book labels and share different works she’s created with comic book professionals. She hopes to be drawing and writing comics full-time by January 2022.