What is up everybody!
I am truly sorry for the long delay since my last written article, I have been finishing school work, watching movies, and just trying to be a good dad. Sometimes real life sneaks up on you. That being said, I am very pleased to bring to you a brief review of Border Town Comic Con 2018. I had the absolute pleasure of attending this convention with my 15 year old son this last weekend March 17-18, 2018. Border Town Comic Con was held at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon. The cultural center is practically on the border between Oregon and Idaho, hence the name, Border Town Comic Con. This was the con’s third year running and the first year in which it was expanded into two days.
Border Town Comic Con is set up much different than your big city comic conventions. This is not San Diego, Seattle, or New York. What might be missing from the bigger con stage was made up by the intimacy of the setting and the spotlight on local artists. So, while we couldn’t get autographs from our favorite movie and television actors or hear panels from our favorite directors, we did get something much more personal.
The panels that we were able to attend were more like workshops than actual interview settings. The artists took the time to answer questions and have meaningful conversations. This gave the very real feel of experts imparting their knowledge and experience to the next generation of artists. We attended workshops on how to write comics, digital art in comics, diversity in comics, and even a comic book improv session. There are several amazing vendors and artists that I would like to recognize for their outstanding work.
If you’ve been knocking around Malice-Corp for very long then you have probably heard us talk about our friends over at Turbo Comics. I might have missed Border Town Comic Con if not for the superb effort in promoting the event carried out by Max and his team at Turbo Comics. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were flooded with promotional posters and event reminders. Turbo Comics even offered up a raffle for free tickets to the convention through their social media sites. I cannot say enough about the efforts of Turbo Comics to help promote local artists through this convention.
Max and Turbo Comics also made a big impression on my son. He actually told me that he had forgotten just how much he loved comics until he went with me this weekend. Turbo Comics hooked us up with amazing deals on some great comics. Max took the time to talk to my son about some of his favorite comics and favorite characters. Max dropped a ton of comic knowledge on us by referencing first appearances and pointing out the various comic arcs that we should catch up on. The professionalism of Max, Ruben, Kevin, and the rest of the Turbo Comics team is commendable. They genuinely love comics, and they love talking with people about their passion.
Art of Dan Feldmeier
Dan Feldmeier is an artist local to Ontario, Oregon. He says of himself on his artist Facebook page, “I’m a freelance digital artist who loves painting the weird, fun, absurd, and whatever strikes my mood.” We ran into Dan on the showroom floor when my son and I stopped to admire his caricature drawings. We struck up a conversation with him on Saturday about his art and promised to come back again on Sunday. We ended up buying three of his caricature prints that we absolutely love. Dan took the time to talk to us about his work and even show us some playing cards he is currently working on that picture his alien creations.
Digital Art in Comics
Sunday afternoon, we again got the chance to interact with Dan and his artwork. Dan was one of four digital artists hosting a panel on digital art in comics. Again, this was a much different panel than anything I have experienced at other much larger conventions. The panel room was a relatively small room with chairs set up in circles around each artist. The next 45 minutes consisted of each artist showing us the digital equipment they use to create their artwork, how it works, how much it generally costs, and why they like using the equipment they brought.
It was really inspiring to see a generation of artists who started making creations on conventional media like paper and canvas and transitioned to the digital art realm. Furthermore, their ability to show how to use the platforms and how they relate to the traditional media was amazing. While I was too scared to try, Dan even offered to allow members of the audience the opportunity to try drawing on his digital device. I was blown away by how approachable and genuine all of the artists were, but my son and I especially appreciated the short time we were able to spend learning from Dan. You can check out all of his artwork at his Facebook page or on Instagram.
Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan
Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan are a married couple from Portland, Oregon. According to their website www.bigredhair.com, they “are a creative couple who’ve been collaborating in print since 1989.” Paul is known for his artwork. He “co-created Cargonauts, a forerunner of Firefly” and has worked for DC Comics. Anina has an extensive background in writing, having written 5 graphic novels. She has also done work for Dark Horse Comics. Together, they created the all female action hero team found in Heartbreakers. These two artists are very accomplished and have traveled to many more illustrious conventions. They have taught seminars and sat on artist panels at much larger cons. Having these two artists in such a small intimate setting was beautiful.
Saturday morning brought my son and I to a panel on writing for comics. Anina was one of 5 women on the panel. It was very apparent how much respect she had for the other artists and even more so how much they looked up to her. Anina took the time to ask great questions to the other guests to better understand their passions. While it was obvious that she was the most knowledgeable about the industry and the processes involved in writing comics, she elegantly deferred to her colleagues to allow their voices to be heard. It was a great panel discussion. My son and I left feeling honored to have heard from such wonderful female artists.
Sunday brought one of my favorite panels. We attended a comic improv with Anina and Paul. They introduced themselves and then took us on a journey of creating our own comic story. Anina talked about the processes for writing and editing comics while Paul illustrated our ideas. Together, they helped us to develop characters, a setting, and a brief story. What transpired next was 45 minutes of laughter and collaborative thinking from the audience and the artists.
There was one younger child in particular who was somewhat disruptive during the panel. Anina and Paul took the time to listen to his ideas and let him talk to Paul about the drawings. While some of the audience was obviously annoyed with the antics of the young man, Paul and Anina were saints in their response to him. It was very heartwarming to see the way that they worked and to see their passion for their art. They are also passionate about helping others to pursue their dreams of writing and illustrating. Their website www.bigredhair.com has a ton of free resources and guides to help the inspiring artist.
If you ever get a chance to check out a small local comic convention, you really should. The opportunity to meet and work with local artists is something that is unique to smaller settings. The drawbacks obviously are the lack of big name celebrities. The payoff though is in the local artists spotlights and the access that is granted to these local artists. So, take the time to support your local artists wherever you live. I hope to see you at Border Town Comic Con 2019.