May 16, 2013

Meet & greet at Maine Comics Arts Festival

Fans and students of the form get face time with some of the biggest-name creators in the business.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

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Jeff Smith, the creator of the popular serials “Bone” and “RASL,” speaks on Saturday at the Portland Public Library.

Courtesy photo

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WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Ocean Gateway, off Thames Street, Portland

HOW MUCH: $5; free for ages 12 and under


WHAT ELSE: Three of the festival's comic artist guests -- Jeff Smith, Rick Parker, and Raina Telgemeier -- will give free talks on Saturday at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square. 


AT RIGHT IS A SCHEDULE of events for the Maine Comics Arts Festival. Saturday events are at the Portland Public Library, and are free. Sunday events are at Ocean Gateway ($5 admission fee), along with more than 100 comic artists displaying and talking about their work. Organizers say more events will be scheduled for Sunday, so check the festival website for updates. 


1 p.m. -- Jeff Smith, creator of "Bone" and "RASL," discusses past work and coming projects.

2 p.m. -- Rick Parker, artist for "Beavis and Butt-Head," "Harry Potty" and others, shares tips and techniques for drawing comics. Members of the audience will be encouraged to draw.

3 p.m. -- Raina Telgemeier, creator of "Smile" and "Drama" and artist of the "Babysitter's Club" series, discusses her current projects and work process. 


10:30 a.m. -- Kid's cartooning class with Maine cartoonist Jeff Pert

11:30 a.m. -- Panel discussion with artists Colleen Venable, John Green and Zack Giallongo

1 p.m. -- Lake Region High School comic class project

2 p.m. -- TBA

3 p.m. -- Sean Murphy panel discusses artist Murphy's past and current work, as well as his coming series "The Wake" with writer Scott Snyder

"I remember reading "Peanuts," and Charlie Brown was always 7 years old and he never changed his shirt," said Smith, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. "But I thought it would be cool to give comics a 'Moby-Dick' structure. That was my big idea."

"Bone" has won numerous Eisner awards -- named after legendary comics creator Will Eisner and considered the equivalent of the Oscars in the comic book industry -- as well as several Harvey awards.

One of Smith's newer projects is a hardcover edition of his story "RASL." He had serialized the work in black and white, but has now turned the story into a full-color book that follows the exploits of a thief/ex-military engineer as he pursues a potentially world-changing scientific breakthrough. The book is due out in September.

Smith says it's very different than "Bone."

"'Bone' was a comedy, but this is sort like a Dashiell Hammett story with hard science mixed in," said Smith.

His newest project is an online comic "Tuki Save the Human," which will be available as a free download. It's set 2 million years ago during one of the first ice ages, and focuses on the first man to flee.

Smith has known Lowell for years, and has wanted to come to Maine for events like MECAF in the past, but the timing never worked out until now. He likes coming to festivals like this one -- where the participants are mostly comics creators -- because of the energy and spirit.

"I like comics that are written and drawn by the same person. Some comics that come out of the corporate structure -- where an editor assigns a writer, an inker, a penciler -- can be very good," said Smith. "But generally, when you have one author, there is a different kind of organic interaction between words and pictures that I think makes the work move and come alive." 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: RayRouthier

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Additional Photos

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