Mississippi Delta High School Students Set World Record For Largest Comic Strip

INDIANOLA, MS – On Saturday June 7, 2003, a team of Gentry High School art students kicked off their summer by setting a world record before many of their peers even got out of bed. The students successfully assembled in their high school’s parking lot what was later confirmed by Guinness to be the World’s Largest Comic Strip. The giant comic strip measured 135 ft. 0 in. wide and 47 ft. 9.5 in. high – big enough to cover 35 school buses.

Longtime friends Norm Suchar of Takoma Park, Maryland and Mark Pett of Indianola, Mississippi developed the idea for setting the record and quickly enlisted Gentry High art teacher Sarah Miller. By the end of the project, 135 students, nine teachers, a hot-air balloon operator, a pilot, a city utility worker, and several local businesses had contributed.

Gentry High students chose from four different selections that Pett had drawn from his comic strip “Lucky Cow” (distributed by Universal Press Syndicate). Pett separated the strip into 1,508 fragments. With the help of their teacher, Miller, the students enlarged the fragments onto 1,508 sheets of poster board donated by the local Dollar General distribution center. Finally, a core group of students taped the rows of poster board together into seventeen sections and touched up the painting to simplify Saturday's work. Students playing notable roles in finishing the comic strip included Reginald Williams, Jamaal Reece, Sheronda Howard, Lazerrick Turner, Marquetta Beckworth, Corlandus Sibley, and Elana Tiggs.

Photographing the record-setting strip proved challenging, especially considering Indianola’s lack of hills or tall buildings. Photos were taken using a hot air balloon, a city utility truck, an airplane, and a weather balloon with a timer-equipped camera to take photos, with hopes that at least one method would yield a good photograph.

“The results were mixed,” said Suchar, when asked about his success using a weather balloon to take photographs. “The camera took a beating.” However, photos taken from a utility truck and hot-air balloon clearly showed the scale and detail of the project.

Some facts about the World’s Largest Comic Strip:

· The giant comic strip was more than 67,000 times the typical size of a newspaper comic strip.

· If you were to lay the 1,508 sheets of poster board end-to-end, they would stretch 2/3 of a mile.

· 4,293 feet of packing tape were used to connect the sheets of poster board together.

· More than 200 bricks were used to weight down the comic strip and keep it from blowing away.

"This was truly a collaborative effort! None of it would have been possible without the hard work and creativity of Gentry's students," remarked Pett.

Documentation of the record was sent to the Guinness Book of World Records™. Guinness has confirmed the record and Gentry High School’s art department now holds the official Guinness record for World’s Largest Comic Strip.

Sheets of poster board from the comic strip were sold on eBay to raise money for Gentry High School’s art program.

Said Elana Tiggs after work on the strip was completed, “I’m really glad we did all that work. It was hard, but I’m really glad we did it. This is tight!”

Students work on the individual panels.

There were more than 1,500 sheets of poster board that made up the final comic strip.

Having laid out the 1,508 sheet of poster board, students put finishing touches on the massive comic strip

The work is finished!

The hot air balloon is unfurled, so an aerial photo can be taken.

Lazerrick Turner helps make sure this is a safe ride.

Lula wishes she could see the comic strip from the sky.

Mike Hanson fires up his balloon so the comic strip can be seen from the sky.

Going up...

And up...

And up...

Sheronda Howard enjoys her first balloon ride.

The official word from Guinness!

The students chose this comic strip to turn into the World's Largest Comic Strip.

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