The Indie Comic Adventure

For a time, I resisted calling myself a writer. The simple reason for this is I felt writer is closely connected with artist. I didn’t feel like I was an artist. Artists seemed to lack any joy in their work. Even more strange, they almost felt insulted if people LIKED their work or somehow identified with it. Kurt Cobain is a prime example of this. He could never understood why his work got so popular. Tragically, he couldn’t deal with it. And it’s not just Kurt. Artistic history  is full of people who just couldn’t deal with the fame or sudden popularity. They took drugs, had as much sex as they could and drove their lives over a cliff. The whole fun of being an artist, creating things, often gets thrown into the skubulos heap.

This is what I wanted to be as a writer. I wanted to joyfully create. I wanted to experience a thrill in what I wrote. I WANTED (and still do) people to read my work, enjoy it and tell me about it. I love being around people who love to create AND want other people to love their work.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a moody side to being an artist. There is. Artists are people who wear their emotions on their sleeves and that can make us seem like train wrecks. I can’t explain it, but it’s so. Still, most of us, live to create beautiful things AND have people love what we do.

I met a bunch of those people at the S.P.A.C.E Indie Publisher and artist expo in Columbus yesterday. Lord willing, I’ll be introducing you to these amazing people in the next couple of weeks through a series of interviews. I want you to meet them because their stories will move you and you’ll catch their passion.

Here is sort of a “snapshot” of my time at S.P.A.C.E:

-The one panel discussion I went to was about the creation of District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington D.C.    Under the direction of Matt Demicki, indie writers and artists created a beautiful book about the history of Washington D.C. through a series of unheard stories. I’ll be talking more about this book in the coming week when I finish reading it. I loved listening to the writers and artists interact. The amount of research, time, effort and artistic study involved in this project was instructive. Why? It showed how much these folks cared about their work, took it seriously and proved their right to be called artists. I always find it down right snobby and dumb when people poo poo comic book artists. These men and women create beautiful art by working HARD and they do it with passion. Even more, they love their art and it’s the consuming passion of their life, even as most of them have “day jobs”.

-After that, I was off to the exhibitor main floor to meet the artists and look at their tables. Every artist had these cool mini-comics either for free or for a very reasonable price. All pieces of mini-art.

-I loved the 5 Star Comic Table and the work of Terence Hanley. Terence and I had a great conversation about how he wants his comics to be read by kids and avoid the nihilism present in some modern comics. Plus, he loves (or fears) the Mothman. Much of his artwork featured this terrifying monster of my childhood nightmares. So, of course, I had to buy his comic with the story “Moth Man Versus Mothman” featuring a public domain superhero from the 1940′s. We even talked about me doing a story for him. Me being involved in an Indie Comic? Yes, please.

-One of the most compelling pieces I saw was Katherine Wirick’s poster size work about her father, the Kent State Massacre, and his passing. She showed me how she planned the work and the flow of the storytelling.

-Of course, what would be an indie con without a conversation with the legendary Max Ink? I had one. Gonna have more that I’ll post here soon. He is the creator of the amazing “Blink” comic.

-Had a great conversation with Jacob Warrenfeltz about his new comic, Villians Galore. The story follows the idea of villains trying to go respectable and their resulting struggles. Jacob is also one of the artists on the District Comic works. I’ll be interviewing him very soon as well.

-Nix Comics had the best “mini-comics” fully illustrated. Plus, they had a story called “The Vicar” about a guy dressed as a priest who plays in rock band and also kills monsters. Yeah, it’s awesome. I’ll be interviewing Ken Epstein in an upcoming blog.

There were some other artists and writers I was able to meet. I’ll be introducing them to you at a later date.

So, there you have it, comic fans. I loved all of these folks. Loved their art. Loved their passion. They renewed my own love of creating out of joy. Yes, I found joy at an Indie Comic Con. Next time there is one in your area, go. You’ll find it too.

Then there was this very cool button courtesy of Max Ink:

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out early next year along with a powerful new Young Adult Trilogy, Revolution of the Wolf and a moving middle grade series, Ghost Bear.

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  • Mini Mouth

    Jonathan: I’d like to publish this in the summer issue of Mini-Mouths, a ‘zine about mini-comics. I’ve revised your piece for length and content. If you are interested in having your piece published in an edited form in Mini-Mouths, then reply here with a way for me to contact you in private.

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