Occasionally, a comics illustrator must draw on his special powers. And two of those must be patience and persistence.
Indianapolis resident Gavin Smith sketches that overview of part of his life as a mostly freelance comic book illustrator bringing to life truth, justice and awesome, fanny-kicking images. He will be among 11 vendors — several more than last year’s inaugural gathering — slated to be a part of the University Library of Columbus ComicCon 2018 on April 5 at the Columbus Learning Center.
The 2017 celebration drew about 200 people — and provided Ivy Tech Community College visual communications students with plenty of inspiration.
“I’m trying to be part of that (larger comics outlet),” Smith said, speaking by phone from his home where he works.
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Smith referred to dealing with serious inquiries about his artwork from huge, major comics publishers and then sometimes seeing opportunities inexplicably evaporate. But he speaks with a super-strong zeal about the industry, his work on such comics as “The Accelerators” and the ComicCon and comics convention universe that is flexing more fan and financial muscle every year, according to Eventbrite and other international sources.
He knows firsthand. The 32-year-old artist who jumped full-time into the business in 2012 served as a vendor at about 20 such shows last year, and already this year, there has been St. Louis, Seattle, Dayton, Ohio, and more on his schedule. And the day after Columbus’ event, he leaves for more fandom in Chicago.
“Comics definitely give us a distraction from the real world,” Smith said.
They also provide a road to a real career, said Lloyd Brooks, program chair of Ivy Tech’s visual communications department.
“Many of our students end up going into some aspect of a field such as gaming or illustration,” Brooks said. “So, having an illustrator here fits into our program really well.”
Graphic artists and Ivy Tech grads Yukimi Wintel and Mikinna Jo, also a tattoo artist, return to the local ComicCon as vendors. Also, the event will feature in the library a Cosplay Contest — dressing in character. Plus, Sarah Johnson of Beauties & Beasts in Indianapolis will coordinate visitors’ makeup from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dancing Goat Coffee, a local business, will serve drinks such as Excelsior Expresso and Captain Americano in keeping with the day’s theme.
Ivy Tech library director Bethany Messersmith launched the idea last year after seeing a ComicCon success at her previous post at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri.
“I just thought it would be a good and fun way to engage our student audience,” Messersmith said.
This year, she already has noted “a ton of traffic” on social media about the event. She mentioned that she slightly is surprised that local retailers haven’t picked up on merchandise related to ComicCons here and elsewhere.
“You have to go to Greenwood or Bloomington,” she said.
Yet, she can envision a growing potential for the local ComicCon, which the Bartholomew County Public Library originally presented on a smaller scale in Columbus.
“I feel like we’re just scratching the surface with this,” Messersmith said. “We definitely will have opportunities to network more.”
Illustrator Smith looks at the most recent superhero boom with the Wonder Woman and Black Panther movies and sees a kind of their-time-has-come mushrooming.
“With the big, current popularity of characters such as Wonder Woman and Black Panther, part of it might have to do with under-representation in the past,” Smith said. “For example, there probably has not been a prominent black-led superhero movie made since ‘Blade’ (in 1998).”
What: University Library of Columbus ComicCon 2018.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 5.
Where: Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave. Ivy Tech Community College is host with the support of IUPUC.
Food and drink: Available from a few vendors.
Information: Facebook page for University Library of Columbus ComicCon.