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.
The show also has a huge focus on kids and families—a wise slant given the area demographics. Programming takes place over two days with the festival on Sunday, and Saturday’s events at the lovely main library building:
Saturday, May 19th- Portland Public Library Main Branch
11:00 AM- Children’s Area- Kids Cartooning Workshop with Jeff Pert- Jeff Pert is a native Mainer, born and breaded, like a clam. His cartoons have appeared in publications since 1982 though he has no recollection of anything prior to 1995, including where that elk in a tutu came from. Jeff’s first cartoon collection, “Cartoons from Maine: How’s the Water, Bob? Bob?! BOB!!”, is recently out from Down East Books.
12:30 PM- Rines Auditorium Ben Bishop, artist of “Lost Trail”
1:30 PM Teen Center- Dirk Tiede- The Process: How to Draw & Create Manga/Comics: So, you have an epic you’re dying to draw, but where do you start? Taking a comic from an idea to the finished page is more than just drawing a few pictures on a page: you have to tell a story, too. Fortunately, following a few easy steps makes it easy. Comics veteran Dirk I. Tiede, creator of Paradigm Shift, breaks the creation of a comic page down from start to finish, and covers scripting, thumbnails, layout, character and background basics, inking, digital touchup and screentones. Visit his website at http://www.dynamanga.net/
2:30 PM Rines Auditorium- The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund History of Censorship in Comics. Presented by CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox. “A History of Comics Censorship,” a guided tour through censorship in comics, from Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent to today.
3:30 PM- Carousel of Comics; Since 1997, R. Sikoryak has hosted Carousel, a series of slide show readings by cartoonists and performers. The presentations are a hybrid, somewhat reminiscent of a radio show (usually with live narration, often with music and sound effects) combined with wildly creative imagery. From stick figures, to lush illustrations, to the occasional photograph, Carousel embraces all forms of visual storytelling. While many presentations share a sense of humor, the stories vary greatly in theme; some are autobiographical, some historical or educational, and others are philosophical or fanciful. Look for special guests from the Maine Comics Arts Festival.
Festival programming Sunday, May 20th at Ocean Gateway, Portland, Maine.
10:30 AM- Kids Workshop: From Concept to Comic
Learn how an idea in your head becomes a comic on a page. John Green (co-creator of Teen Boat! and illustrator for Phineas and Ferb), Colleen AF Venable (author of Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye and designer for First Second Books), and Zack Giallongo (Broxo) will take you on a collaborative journey through the process of creating characters and stories for comics.
Noon: Join Raina Telgemeier, winner of the Maine Student Book Award, for a fun visual talk about her book, SMILE, and what exactly it means to be a graphic novelist! Raina will do some live drawing and give away some prizes, too!
1:00 PM- The Center for Cartoon Studies One Sheet Workshop
2:00 PM- Monster Alert! Junior Cartoonists Needed!
The Fizzmont Institute of Rad Science is looking for young, excited cartoonists that can draw ferocious monsters and deadly dwellers of the deep! Our famed scientist, Leo Geo, has gone missing on his experiment to the center of the earth, and we need help drawing the monsters that might have taken him! Join Jon Chad, from the Center for Cartoon Studies, as he leads a monster drawing session and an interactive reading from his new book, Leo Geo.
3:00 PM- Web Comics Panel with Sophie Goldstein (http://dcisgoingtohell.com), Kate Leth (http://kateordiecomics.com) and others.
4:00 PM- How to Publish your Comics and the Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing with Mort Todd, Susan and Everett Soares.
We’re always bummed when our schedule doesn’t allow going to MeCAF. As always, we welcome scene reports!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.