Arts Students League Host Inaugural Camden Comic Con

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Comic book fans unite!

The Art Students League at Rutgers–Camden, in conjunction with the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts, hosted Camden Comic Con on Saturday, April 5.

The inaugural comic con will featured guest creators and artists, panel discussions, vendors, live music, and a host of family-friendly activities, promising an authentic, welcoming experience for hardcore fans and newcomers alike, says Miranda Powell, program assistant for arts education and community arts for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts.

“We are bridging the worlds of serious and novice fans, and bringing everyone together,” says Powell, who co-organized the event with Victoria Widener, president of the Arts Students League at Rutgers–Camden. “Here’s the spoiler alert: Everybody wins!”

Vendors stationed in the Multi-Purpose Room, located on the lower level of the Campus Center, will be sold comics from the Silver Age through the present day, as well as a variety of comics-related memorabilia, art, and merchandise.

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“The New Mutants” for Marvel Comics, co-created and illustrated by Bob McLeod

Guest creators, illustrators, and writers were on hand to meet and greet fans, showcase their work, and/or commission their services. Featured guests included: Bob McLeod, co-creator and illustrator of “The New Mutants” for Marvel Comics; Bryan Glass, the multiple Harvey Award-winning co-creator and writer of “The Mice Templar” for Image Comics, and “Furious” for Dark Horse Comics; writer, artist, and comics historian Rob Kelly, co-creator and writer of the award-winning webcomic “Ace Kilroy,” author of the book, Hey Kids, Comics!: True-Life Tales From The Spinner Rack, and co-host of “The Fire and Water” podcast; and Mark Robinson, creator of “I Love Trouble” at Image Comics, and a writer whose credits include “The Incredible Hulk,” “Ghost Rider,” and “Ms. Marvel” for Marvel Comics, and “Dragon Age” for IDW Comics.

In addition, Marc Lombardi, a writer, editor, production assistant, and talent coordinator for GrayHaven Comics, and Jan Marc Quisumbing, art director for Pronto Comics and a 2004 graduate of Rutgers University–New Brunswick, conducted portfolio reviews for aspiring artists.

The event also featured a series of panel discussions in the South ABC Conference Room, located on the lower level of the Campus Center. Julie Still and Zara Wilkinson, reference librarians for the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers–Camden, led a panel discussion on women and gender in science fiction, fantasy, and comics. The panel was a preview of their upcoming interdisciplinary conference, “Buffy to Batgirl: Women and Gender in SciFi, Fantasy, and Comics,” to be held on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, at Rutgers–Camden.

Writer, educator, and film aficionado Robert Repici led a discussion on the evolution of superhero comics, titled “Tall Tales on the Small Screen: The Televisual Superhero and the Molding of the American Mythology.” An alumnus of Rutgers–Camden and Arizona State University, Repici delves into the realms of narrative theory, film authorship, genre evolution, and pop-cultural superhero stories in print and on the screen.

Representatives from GrayHaven Comics, Unlikely Heroes Studios, and Pronto Comics led a panel, titled “How to Kick Start Your Comic.”

Ryan Morrison, co-founder of game development studio Island Officials, led a presentation, titled “Indie Game Development.” Morrison shared his insight and perspective gleaned from leading the development of more than a dozen games and applications at Island Officials.

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Creator and illustrator Mark Robinson

The aforementioned Mark Robinson led a youth workshop on graphic novel basics, creating characters and mythologies, and illustration. 

The aforementioned Julie Still led a youth workshop enabling Girl Scouts to earn their Comic Artist badge.

Robert Emmons, associate director of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences College’s Digital Studies Center at Rutgers–Camden, led a discussion, titled “Diagram for Delinquents: Fredric Wertham and the Crusade Against Comics.” Emmons presented clips from his forthcoming documentary, “Diagram for Delinquents,” which focuses on the anti-comics movement of the 1940s and 50s in America.

Newt Wallen, co-creator of the popular YouTube channel, “Underbelly,” presented a video montage highlighting hilarious superhero episodes, titled “Nerds, Girls, Guns, and Ghouls.” Wallen also offered a sneak peak of Underbelly’s upcoming feature film, “Midnight Show.”

Not to be forgotten, the event also featured arts, crafts, and activities for kids. “Camden Comic Con has really snowballed to include so many different elements for all ages,” says Powell.

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