Rose City Comic Con this past weekend brought a diverse, well-rounded group of artists and creators to line the floor of Maker’s Market and Artist Alley. While bigger conventions have fans lining up for hours at a time to see some of comics’ biggest artists (usually featured in the big three: DC, Marvel, or Image), sometimes the smaller tables can get lost — leaving lots of fans unaware of the immense talent that sits behind the tables of indie artists strewn across the show floor. Thankfully these smaller shows are perfect for showcasing exactly that; but just in case, here is a list of 15 artists and indie creators that you may have missed in Artist Alley at RCCC, but definitely don’t want to miss out on for good.
1. Cryo Mera
To start off, I’m not saying that I love overly-intricate and super-drippy art…but I really do. So finding the Cryo Mera booth with their prints, T-shirts, and stickers with these highly detailed piece was just a delight. The creator was very kind and was so proud of their work — and it’s very easy to see why. (Not to mention their shirts are all hand-stamped and super, super soft!)
Living out all of our queer goth rock fantasies is Murd Comics. Run by Alex and James Murd, this booth was packed to the gills with breathtaking art in tribute to all of the death rock and goth musicians and silent film stars. Not only that, they have their comic — Umbrae Libro — which featured deeply-saturated and even more deeply emotional sketch-style artwork. (Perhaps I am a little bit biased. I bought myself a print of Nick Cave…and another of Buster Keaton.)
Jess Herron has been creating the competitive and compelling sports story Midnight Furies, available right now as a webcomic. When Zoe has to drop out of school to take care of her brothers, she finds her way to use her basketball skills in a relentless basketball tournament that could add — or end — her life. The art is as one-of-a-kind as the story sounds, and each chapter draws the reader in just a little bit further. I gotta tell you — I’m not usually a fan of sports, but this had me on the hook and reading for over an hour!
4. Hazel Arch
Not often do you see fine art at comics conventions (unless you’re really seeking out Kent Williams, let’s be honest) and I was thrilled to see exactly that at the Hazel Arch booth. Abandoning digital art and pre-printed pieces and selling only original life drawing sketchbook pages, each piece was truly masterful and deserving of being framed.
5. Nate Taylor Cartoonish, nerdy, and just downright fun, I immediately recognized Nate Taylor’s art from his illustration on Patrick Rothfuss’ “children’s book” (it’s not) The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed. Taylor does an incredible job of mixing macabre, traditional wise-eyed cartooning, rich inking, and imaginative reimagining of creatures in nerd culture to create some fantastic art that is definitely difficult to resist.
6. Tabitha Grow Tabitha Grow’s booth was basically a delightfully queer beacon that called out to me. Between pastel queer stickers, colorful, identity-affirming koi, LGBTQ+ polyhedral dice, and some super cute prints of Sailor Moon and gaming characters, this is the colorful, validating queer creator you need in your life.
Hainanu “Nooligan” Saulque is a visual artist and comic creator you might recognize from some of his DC Comics figurines, but his sketches are where you find the real deal. Reimagining the characters from comics that we all know and love, Saulque’s designs add a nostalgic flare for cartooning and some bizarre proportions that really know how to draw the eye.
Natalie Metzger’s illustrations manage to marry strange, adorable, and creepy all into one amalgamation of fantastic. There’s a cartoonish quality to her illustrations, but that doesn’t lessen her ability to find the oddities of nature and make them fun. As if that isn’t enough to draw you in, Metzger also collaborates on several webcomics like Cthulhu Slippers, a comic about what happens when the Old One rises to create a mega-corp; and Over-Encumbered, a story of contrasting Dungeons and Dragons races sharing an apartment building.
If you haven’t heard of Aud Koch yet, I have to ask that you stop what you’re doing immediately and find her work online. Koch’s work has been featured in mainstream titles such as issues #7 and #8 of Al Ewing’s Marvel Ultimates 2, Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked + The Divine: 1923, and an 8-page mini in Kel McDonald’s comics anthology, Can I Pet Your Werewolf? Though there’s no denying Koch’s talent on every comic she’s laid hands on, the gems are found best in her illustration projects (to include Lord of the Rings, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Loki) and her diary-style sketch pages.
An illustrator of silly, creepy things, vampires, monsters, and various foodstuffs, as well as children’s books, Bree Paulson’s art is as spooky as it is charming. She is also the creator of a fun webcomic called Patrik the Vampire about a fun-loving vampire that’s chock-full of gore, feelings, and baking. With pins, patches, stickers, and a fantastic webcomic, it’s hard not to be drawn to Paulson’s whimsical stylization.
Roderick Constance initially caught my eye with the breathtaking artwork on display at his booth, but had me on the hook when I saw that he also wrote and illustrated comics. His comic, Dusk, serves as a vignette of a new relationship between a young couple in a newly-post-apocalyptic world, and is written as captivatingly as is it drawn. And if comics aren’t necessarily your thing, his portfolio of dynamic sketches and illustrations are enough to knock you off your feet.
13. Valentine Barker Girl power, black power, but most of all — the power of just having fun and being positive is the best way to go about describing Valentine Barker’s work. A skilled painter and illustrator, his most notable pieces are his prints featuring women…well, basically just completely kicking ass and having a good time doing it. I cannot express enough how much you should check out his online shop. I can guarantee there will be something you have to have.
14. Sienna Art Studios Have you every wanted a beautiful drawing created by combining art and equations? I’ve found your happy place then. Sienna Morris specializes in creating beautiful numeric pieces comprised entirely of equations to represent the figure. For instance, the jellyfish in her piece above (titled “Noticula”) is made up of the pattern for the chemical Luciferin — the thing that makes the pelagic noctiluca glow. She’s not just limited to nature, though. She also uses her heavily-researched equations to show anatomy, love, music, and space
15. Kelly McKernan Kelly McKernan’s art is nothing short of stunning. Revolving primarily around the female form and the complimentary (and sometimes contrasting) worlds surrounding them, these watercolor and acrylic pieces are not ones to sleep on. She currently has prints, pins, shirts, and jewelry available.