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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: October 21, 2015

Comic artists, dealers & discussions at the Portland Comic Expo Sunday

Written by: Ray Routhier

121662_711693-ComicExpoArtInsideWould you call somebody who runs a comic book convention a curator?

Well, maybe if that person picks and chooses from a wide array of talented artists, in a concerted effort appeal to a broad array of comic book fans.

At least that’s how comic artist Andrew MacLean looks at it, when talking about Rick Lowell, organizer of the Portland Comic Expo.

“Some shows are heavy on super hero and main stream comics while others are heavy on alternative and small press comics. Rick seems to have an interest in all of the above,” said MacLean, 31, from his home in Salem, Massachusetts. “And so, as a great talent curator, he is able to pull them all together and really make it a show that has something for everyone.”

Lowell, who has run his Maine-based Casablanca Comics stores for 28 years, says he was hoping to create a comic convention appealing to a range of fans when he started the Portland Comic Expo last year. The second edition of the day-long event will be Sunday at the Portland Exposition Building on Park Avenue.

More than 50 artists will be on hand, sitting at tables in “Artist Alley,” where they will sketch, talk about their work and chat with fans. There will also be comic book dealers and other vendors, plus a children’s area and several scheduled activities.

The expo will give people the chance to walk around and meet the artists and creative minds behind many different comics and graphic novels. The invited guests range from younger artists like MacLean, 31, to Rick Parker, of “Beavis and Butt-head” comics, who began in the business in the 1970s.

MacLean is the creator of “SNIP SNIP” and “Daruma” and is author of the graphic novel “ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for End Times.” He said he’s eager to talk to about his newest work, “Head Lopper” from Image Comics. He’s interested to see what people think of it.

“But really these things are about the fans so anything they want to chat about is fine by me,” said MacLean.

Lowell, who runs Casablanca Comics stores in Portland and Windham, said he wanted the expo to be a “traditional” comic festival with a mix of artists, programming, panel discussion and dealers. He also organizes the Maine Comics Arts Festival, every spring, but that event focuses just on the creative process. While the expo has a little bit of everything.

Photos from last year!

The various events scheduled during the day reflect that diversity:

11 a.m.: A sneak preview of the new Maine-made web series “sHERlock” about a female Sherlock Holmes.

Noon: A discussion with cast members of the TV show “Monsters Underground” about supposed “bigfoot” footage shot in Turner, Maine.

1:30 p.m.: The Iron Cartoonist contest, where three artists on stage are compelled to draw cartoons based on suggestions from the audience.

3 p.m.: The Cosplay Costume Contest, featuring prizes for best costumes.

All day: Kids Con New England will run a dedicated children’s area featuring cartooning workshops, coloring and other activities.

Lowell said that as part of his effort to give the event a broad appeal, he felt it important to keep the admission price low, at $5. Last year, in its first year, the expo drew about 1,500 people.

“We want as many people as possible to come out and we don’t want the admission price to stop anyone,” said Lowell.

MacLean said he likes conventions because his work, and the work of most artists, is solitary. So a convention like this one is a chance to meet lots of people, including fans and fellow artists. He also thinks it’s good to get feedback from comic fans, who are usually passionate about what they read and grateful as well.

“They (fans) say thanks for making it and you say thanks for reading it,” said MacLean. “It’s really a warm exchange.”


MEET THE COMIC CREATORS

A FEW OF THE 50 OR SO artists and special guests scheduled to mix with fans at the Portland Comic Expo.

Alex de Campi: Comic book writer and music video director. Her current comic books include “No Mercy” from Image Comics, “Grindhouse” from Dark Horse Comics and “Archie Vs. Predator” from Archie and Dark Horse.

Braden Lamb: Artist known for “Adventure Time” comic books, from kaboom! studios. He’s also illustrated “The Midas Flesh” and “Ice Age” comics.

Christian DiBari: Artist whose work has appeared in Marvel, DC Comics and Image Comics. His current series “is “Hoax Hunters” from Heavy Metal.

Declan Shalvey: Artist for “Injection” from Image Comics and the latest edition of “Moon Knight” from Marvel.

Jeff Kline: Cape Elizabeth resident, TV producer and comic book publisher. Animated TV shows include “G.I. Joe: Renegades,” “Jackie Chan Adventures,” and “Men in Black: The Animated Series.” Comic book titles include

“Side-Kicked,” “Dead Squad” and “Indestructible.”

Paul Ryan: Artist who has worked for both Marvel and DC Comics, on comics such as “Amazing Spider-Man,” “Fantastic Four,” and “Superman.” He is currently the artist for the “Phantom” newspaper comic strip, from King Features.

Rick Parker: Artist of MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-head” comic book, and a long-time staffer for Marvel Comics.

FOR A FULL LIST of artists and their websites go to portlandcomicexpo.com


PORTLAND COMIC EXPO

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Portland Exposition Building, 293 Park Ave., Portland
HOW MUCH: $5
INFO: portlandcomicexpo.com

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