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Meet comic book illustrators who call Capital Region home

Meet comic book illustrators who call Capital Region home

Electric City Comic Con introduces 'Voltage'
Meet comic book illustrators who call Capital Region home
Dressed as Wonder Woman, Luella Downing, 10, strikes a pose with her friend, Layla Gaureau, 9, dressed as Superwoman.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

Ask a comic book illustrator for their best advice for aspiring artists and you get a derivative of the same answer over and over: draw — a lot.

“I always tell people to just draw a lot, that’s what worked for me,” said comic artist Marcus Anderson, of Vischer Ferry.

That’s what the artists at Saturday’s Electric City Comic Con hosted by and at the Schenectady County Public Library, now in its third year.

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Kids dressed in Superman costumes and adults decked out as Star Wars characters spilled in and out of the central library on Saturday as they mingled with over a dozen professional artists and made a little art of their own.

“We hope they have a renewed interest in comic books if they haven’t read one in a while,” said adult services librarian and event organizer Leah LaFera. “If they haven’t read them, I hope they’re going to now.”

Some of the artists hailed from New York City or the Boston areas, but a handful call the Capital Region home.

Marcus Anderson of Vischer Ferry

Anderson dabbles in a range of artistic types, from fine art and paintings to illustrations in comics. At Saturday’s even he showed off his personal comic series: Snowdaze.

With a first issue, Snowdaze tells the story of a group of mischief-making teens in a small town.

Anderson went to high school in Bethlehem and was taken to a professional illustrator’s studio by one of his high school teachers.

He likes the comic con events, said Anderson, who also has had a volume of short stories on the market, because it gives him a chance to show off drawing his own favorite characters — Wonder Woman, Storm, Luke Cage.

“I like the X-Men,” Anderson said.

But he also uses the comic form to tell non-superhero stories. Aside from “draw a lot,” Anderson also recommends aspiring artists be inspired by the world around them. 

“Draw from life,” Anderson said.

Shane Moore of Scotia

Shane Moore, of Scotia, originally from West Virginia, Moore is a committee member for the group that established the first Schenectady Comic Con. He drew the event’s official mascot: Voltage, Schenectady’s teenage superhero.

“She has superpowers,” Moore said, like super strength and flight. “But she also uses the library to solve crime.”

A perfect fit for the Electric City, Voltage draws her powers directly from electricity, and she roams the Capital Region battling super villains on behalf of the innocent masses. Moore is working on a full-length comic that includes Voltage as she assists Lady, an older woman who is new to superherodom.

“Anything you would need a superhero to do,” Moore said of Voltage. “Apartment fires, giant robots trying to take over the casino.”

Like the other comic illustrators on hand, Moore has been drawing, doodling and sketching since he was young. He has been getting his work published since 2009.

“I don’t think I would ever not do this,” Moore said.

T.J. Kirsch of Troy

T.J. Kirsch, of Troy, is a graduate of Columbia High School in East Greenbush. Kirsch studied cartooning at the Kubert School in New Jersey. Out of school, he took a job at the publisher of the well-known cartoon, “Archie,” where he worked as an art intern.

He then started freelancing for an independent comic publisher based in Portland, Ore., working on the story, “Uncle Slam Fights Back.”

“It’s sort of like Captain America if he was brainwashed by Fox News, basically,” Kirsch said, describing the character.

He published with a fellow artist a graphic novel about a Japanese-American private investigator who gets wrapped up in a missing persons case that turns into a murder mystery.

In September, Kirsch’s first work that he wrote and illustrated goes up for sale. The book, “Pride of the Decent Man,” tells the story of a small-town guy haunted by a past of bad choices who tries to turn his life around after learning about his daughter. He said it’s a simple story in a familiar setting and filled with hints about his own life. The story veers in a far different direction than the traditional superhero fare, but Kirsch said the market is gradually broadening and starting to take comics more seriously as a legitimate form of literature.

“I like superheros in small doses,” Kirsch said.

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