May 17, 2012

Book smarts

Comic book and graphic novel fans would be wise to check out this weekend's Maine Comics Arts Festival.

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

Time magazine book of the year winner and a New York Times best-selling author will be the big draws at this Sunday's Maine Comics Arts Festival, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 attendees and upwards of 100 comic book writers, artists and publishers to Portland's Ocean Gateway.

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Those attending the Maine Comics Arts Festival will have the chance to purchase an exclusive festival version of the “Adventure Time” series.

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SATURDAY: Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square; free admission

11 a.m. -- Kids Cartooning Workshop with Jeff Pert

12:30 p.m. -- Meet Ben Bishop, artist of "Lost Trail"

1:30 p.m. -- "How to Draw and Create Manga/Comics" with Dirk Tiede

2:30 p.m. -- "History of Censorship in Comics," presented by Alex Cox, deputy director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

3:30 p.m. -- "Carousel of Comics" with R. Sikoryak

SUNDAY: Ocean Gateway, Thames Street, Portland; $5 admission (free for children under age 12)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- Meet exhibitors

10:30 a.m. -- "Kids Workshop: From Concept to Comic," with John Green, Colleen AF Venable and Zack Giallongo

Noon -- Talk by Raina Telgemeier about her graphic memoir "Smile"

1 p.m. -- Workshop with the Center for Cartoon Studies

2 p.m. -- Monster drawing session with Jon Chad from the Center for Cartoon Studies

3 p.m. -- Web Comics Panel with Sophie Goldstein and Kate Leth

4 p.m. -- "How to Publish Your Comics and the Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing," with Mort Todd, Susan Soares and Everett Soares

INFO: 780-1676;

Kate Beaton, whose "Hark, A Vagrant" garnered a Top 10 fiction book nod from Time in 2011, and Kazu Kibuishi, whose "Amulet" series has spent considerable time on the New York Times best-sellers list, will both be at the festival all day to meet fans and autograph their works.

Now in its fourth year, the festival stands apart from other comic book events that center around dealers, said organizer Rick Lowell, who owns Casablanca Comics in Portland and Windham.

"It's not like a traditional comic convention," Lowell said. "There are no dealers and stores set up. It's just writers, artists and publishers."

So if your main intent is to fill in holes in your comics collection and get a good buy on back issues, this festival isn't for you. However, if you want to meet and probe the minds of those responsible for the creation of comic books, graphic novels, comic strips and more, the Maine Comics Arts Festival will be well worth the $5 admission price.

"It's a way to interact with the people who are producing the books," Lowell said. "In that respect, it's more of an art festival. If you're buying a book, you're probably buying it from the person who actually wrote and drew the book."

While the festival takes place all day Sunday, a series of free pre-festival events happen on Saturday at the Portland Public Library. These events include a Kids Cartooning Workshop and a talk about the history of comic censorship.

Other notable artists scheduled to attend the festival on Sunday include Raina Telgemeier, the author-illustrator of "Smile"; Renae De Liz, who illustrated "The Last Unicorn"; Melissa Mendes, who created "Freddy Stories"; Renee Kurilla, the artist-illustrator of "Zebrafish"; Rick Parker, the artist behind "MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head Comic Book"; and Braden Lamb and Shellie Paroline of KaBooms! "Adventure Time" series.

Festival-goers will have the chance to purchase an exclusive Maine Comics Arts Festival version of the "Adventure Time" series: The book's cover was created by Melanie Tingdahl, who works for Casablanca Comics.

"What we wanted to create was an event where people could interact with the people who were creating the comics," Lowell said. "The two featured guests (Beaton and Kibuishi) have very strong fan followings. They're really going to bring people who haven't attended in the past."

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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