Ben Bishop of Portland working on the second volume of the Drawing Blood comic series, a collaboration with Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He will appear at the YC3 Con comic convention on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo by Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

WELLS — Southern Maine will have its own version of Comic-Con International on Saturday, Jan. 25 when York County Community College in Wells puts on YC3 Con, its take on the larger annual event which creates awareness of comics and other popular art forms.

Special guests at the San Diego, California, comic convention include artists and writers of recognizable comic book and movie characters like Superman, Captain America, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and many, many more. Likewise, YC3 Con will have its own special guest of notoriety, someone who has worked on one of the biggest comic phenomenons in the country and even the world.

Special guest for YC3 is Steve Lavigne, a comic book illustrator best known for his lettering and coloring on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title for Mirage Studios. He is the creator of Cudley the Cowlick, Sgt. Bananas, and Stump and Sling.

The Turtle comic series that became an international craze was started by a Maine native, Kevin Eastman who grew up in Buxton and then moved to Westbrook and graduated from Westbrook High School — he now lives in San Diego. Turtles co-creator David Laird is originally from Massachusetts.

Comic artist Ben Bishop who also has Turtle lineage will also be featured at YC3 Com. Bishop currently works on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the comic which was later turned into movies, television series and more.

“I started making comics when I was 11,” Bishop said, and started self-publishing his creations when he was 18. After self-publishing his first graphic novel, Nathan the Caveman, he was able to quit his other jobs and support himself solely as a comic artist.

In addition to his work on the Turtles, Bishop who lives in Portland, is penning Eastman’s new comic book series Drawing Blood, which tells the story of a self-published comic book artist who becomes a worldwide sensation — very similar to Eastman’s own life. The first collection of that series will come out in March, Bishop said.

Also participating in YC3 Con is comic artist Tyler Wentland. The York resident who created the two-issue dark fantasy, samurai comic Red Koi that came out in September.

Comic artist Tyler Wentland will be about one of 10 local comic talents to be featured at a comic convention at York County Community College in Wells on Saturday, Jan. 25. Courtesy photo

“I’ve been interested in comics for as long as I can remember,” Wentland said. “I’ve been drawing and trying to capture the world and what’s in my head on paper, ever since I could hold a crayon.”

Wentland said he was thrilled to be invited to participate in YC3 Con by Mike Lee from YCCC, adding, “I love making comics and sharing them and meeting other creators.”

YC3 Con is the brainchild of Lee, head of YCCC’s digital media program. He said he decided the convention was a good idea because it promotes entertainment and contemporary culture which a lot of young people are interested in, and it’s a “good way for them (students and others) to (see) those skill sets being used.” At the convention his students will “see examples of projects they can relate to.”

In addition, other reasons for YC3 Con are “to let the community know we’re here and get a student or two out of the deal,” Lee said.

YCCC usually offers three to four digital media courses per semester, he said, and the college offers a general degree in digital media and a concentration in graphic design as well as one in animation.

In addition to Bishop, Lavigne and Wentland other comic artists to appear Saturday are: Bob Tkacit, Dylan Andrews, Joey Sheehan, Joseph Schmalke, Lee Marquis, Silver Phoenix Presents, Second Generation Disney legend PHILO BARNHART and Charles D. Moisant the fun crafter of Horror.

According to Lee, YC3 Con will feature “a bunch of Portland and local Maine artists and comic artists, a Q&a, panels, selling popular media, dolls, Cosplay, a costume contest” and more. “It should be a lot of fun,” he said.

For those interested in making their own comics, Bishop said, with the internet its easier than ever before. Today, there’s “no excuses,” he said.

The most necessary component is drive, Bishop said, “it (creating comics) has to be the most important thing.”

Practice is also important. For someone interested in becoming a comic artist like himself, he said, “if you’re not good at drawing hands, draw hands for three days and I guarantee on the fourth day you’ll be better.”

Also important, Bishop said, is not taking rejection personally. If you contact a publisher who doesn’t want to publish your work, it might have nothing to do with you and everything to do with what the publishing company’s focus is. With things like kickstarter, Instagram and more people can self-publish and make a living that way.

Wentland has his own advice.

“Start small,” he said. “Don’t jump right into your opus. Often new creators have massive worlds and stories they want to tell, but that can be very daunting when you sit down to write or draw. I say take a short story from your world and give yourself 1-3 pages to give making comics a try. That way you get to create something in your sandbox but don’t over commit on your first go.”

To hear more from these and other comic artists, attend YC3 Con at the York County Community College Wells campus on place Saturday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free to attend but only a limited number of people will be allowed so reservations are required. To make a reservation, go to YCCC.edu and click on the banner ad advertising YC3 Con or go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/yc3-con-2020-tickets-78034062983.

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