November 7, 2013

Coast City Comicon brings comics, film, pop culture to South Portland

'Batman' artist Chris Burnham will be among the featured guests at the event held at the Double Tree Hilton in South Portland on Saturday and Sunday.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

How much attention do we need to pay to Batman’s nostrils?

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Art from a comic book cover by Batman Inc. artist Chris Burnham, who will be speaking at Comicon

Courtesy photos

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Most of us see a picture or drawing of the legendary Caped Crusader and all we need to confirm his identity is the cowl. But for Chris Burnham, one of the artists who has drawn Batman in comics over the years, the nostrils, ears, or contour of his chest are as important to Batman’s look as anything else.

“Every (artist) draws Batman a little differently, and one of things is figuring out how to handle the nostrils. Sometimes you can see the nostrils, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes it just looks like he has a beak,” said Burnham, an artist for the “Batman Incorporated” comics. “I draw the nostrils when he’s looking up. But I like to draw him looking down. To me, no matter who you are, Batman is always taller than you.”

Burnham will be one of more than two dozen featured guests this weekend at the third Coast City Comicon, a comics/film/pop culture convention being held at the Double Tree Hilton in South Portland on Saturday and Sunday.

Each day there will be more than a dozen events, including talks by artists, film screenings and appearances by TV personalities. Sharon Smyth Lentz of the original “Dark Shadows” TV show will be screening her favorite episodes, and the voice actors of the cult TV show “MST3K” will do a Q&A. (For more on the film and TV aspects of Comicon, see Dennis Perkins’ column on Page E34.)

Some of the scheduled highlights, in terms of unique pop culture experiences, include: Super Lucha Explosiva, a local Mexican wrestling troupe performing at noon Saturday; Leatherface’s Chili Cook-Off, where Maine actor Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” will judge your chili; and a panel of G.I. Joe artists will discuss how your favorite toy soldier has changed in comics over the years.

There will also be a pre-Comicon Nerd Rave on Friday at 8 p.m. at Empire on Congress Street. That event will feature music and dancing, stand-up comedy and a performance by escape artist Sean Van Gorman.

Burnham will be speaking at Comicon, along with fellow “Batman Incorporated” artist Yanick Paquette, during a presentation titled “Battle for the Cowl: Drawing and Discussing Batman” from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Challenges facing Batman artists include updates in the Crusader’s costume. Burnham says the latest design parameters from DC Comics include angles and lines that make Batman’s suit look like “a cyborg battle suit.” But Burnham usually tones it down a little.

“Some artists draw it almost like robot,” said Burnham, 36, of Chicago. “For me the trick is to figure out how many lines to draw to make it recognizable as the new guy, without making it too much.”

Comicon is organized by Portland comics store Coast City Comics. The scope of the convention has grown every year, culminating in this year’s addition of films and TV stars, said Jarrett Melendez of Coast City Comics.

For an example of the diversity of the convention, just browse the first few events Saturday. At 11 a.m. there’s a screening of the horror movie “Hillbilly Bob Zombie” in one room and discussion of all things related to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in another. At noon there’s Mexican wrestling outside, and a performance by horror film hosts Penny Dreadful XIII and Garou indoors. At 4 p.m. there’s a discussion comparing horror in comics with film, featuring Hansen, Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”) and others.

“I think it’s grown into other pop culture areas because these are the kinds of things that our customers can relate to,” said Melendez, 28. “The horror films, TV, Mexican wrestling, it’s all kind of related. But we’ll have some people who come just for the comics.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791- 6454 or at: rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Gunnar Hansen played “Leatherface” 30 years years ago in the movie “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

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