Kent State University has never been so animated.
The works of more than a dozen of the area's most well-known and illustrators will come to life on campus for the first-ever Kent Comic Arts Festival.
"It's an educational, cultural and social event dedicated to the art of graphic storytelling," said event founder Wayne Harold, a 1988 Kent State alumnus, "which is a slightly fancier way of saying 'comics."'
The one-day convention features seven hours of programming at the Kent Student Center and Kiva from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Kent Campus.
"It's educational in the sense that a number of our Kiva programs will discuss the actual nut-and-bolts process of creating comics, of telling stories in a visual manner," he said. "It's cultural in the sense that we want to promote the medium of comics as an actual, true art form -- it's just as legitimate as film, theater, prose or poetry."
Unlike the atmosphere of larger comic-con events, Harold said, the festival offers a less-intense social element for the fans and guest artists, most of whom boast connections to Northeastern Ohio, which will feel more personal and educational.
"It's a going to be a more intimate event than most comic-book conventions with more opportunities for attendees to have actual quality face time with the artists," he added.
The festival came to fruition as a result of Harold's working with the namesake of the educational DVD series, "P. Craig Russell's Guide to Graphic Storytelling," for which a fourth volume is in the works.
Russell, who is the festival's guest of honor, works at a bright, in-home studio tucked in with student housing about one block from campus on College Avenue. Most of his upstairs walls are lined with classic comic strips and cells he's collected and bartered for with fellow cartoonists.
Russell, whose works include contributions to graphic novels from "The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde," "The Ring of Nibelung," "Coraline," "Dr. Strange" and "The Graveyard Book," was first professionally published while working with renowned Marvel Comics illustrator and inker Dan Adkins.
Russell said his presentation will be a sort of live version of the ongoing DVD series where he will discuss "the bones" of a graphic illustrator's creative and decision-making process and how all the pieces come together in a complete story.
"It's not a sort of technical thing over anyone's head," he said.
There will also be a panel with Russell's fellow artists, Scott Hampton and Jill Thompson, who are collaborating on "The Graveyard Book", an illustrated adaptation of the 2008 children's fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman.
He said the event will be a sort of homecoming for many of the guests who have ties to the area including "Funky Winkerbean" creator and 1969 KSU alumnus Tom Batiuk.
The festival is "not just for die-hard comic-book fans," Harold said.
"If you're just interested in creativity in general you should swing by -- you might leave with a heavy dose of inspiration," he said.
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IF YOU GO:
The main portion of the Kent Comic Arts Fest will take place at Kent State University on Saturday. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guest creators and select exhibitors will be located at the Kent State Student Center and programming will take place nearby at the KSU Kiva.
The KentCAF Guest Alley & Marketplace will be located on the 2nd floor of the Kent State Student Center and admission will be free.
A Standard ticket is $15 and will give ticket holders easy access to the Guest Alley & Marketplace PLUS admittance to all KentCAF Kiva programs.
A Student ticket is $10 and includes everything in the Standard ticket plus a $5 savings for current KSU students (student ticket holders must have a valid Kent State student ID with them at KentCAF 2013 check-in).
A VIP ticket is $75 (available via pre-order only) and includes everything in the Standard ticket plus admittance to Saturday night's exclusive VIP Party--where VIP ticket holders can enjoy food and refreshments and socialize with our guest creators. The VIP Party is for adults only (21 and over). Only 50 VIP tickets are being offered and they must be purchased in advance of the show.
For a complete list of featured artists and exhibitors and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.kentcomicartsfest.com.
The KentCAF VIP Party will take place on Saturday evening, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Zephyr Pub in downtown Kent. Attendees can enjoy food and refreshments and socialize with our guest creators. The VIP Party is for adults only (21 and over).
KentCAF Kiva Programming Schedule:
11 a.m.: 40 Years of Funky Winkerbean (with Tom Batiuk)
noon: My Friend Dahmer (with Derf Backderf)
1 p.m.: Spotlight on Jill Thompson
2 p.m.: Guide to Graphic Storytelling Live Master Class (with P. Craig Russell)
3 p.m.: The Artists of The Graveyard Book (with P. Craig Russell, Jill Thompson, Scott Hampton and Galen Showman)
4:15 p.m.: P. Craig Russell Piano Musicale to Benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund