Chattanooga Recap

James put this in the comments down below, but it warrants its own post, don’t you think?

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As I [James] finished the final page of chapter one yesterday (whew) there’s a little time to recap the events of Saturday’s visit to Chattanooga’s Hamilton County Bicentennial Library (for those of you who might care to hear about such things).

Saturday morning May 1, 2010 could not have been more beautiful here in the mountains of NC as I took off down Highway 74 (which runs right between home and the studio). While others further west were suffering tornados and flooding–Western North Carolina and Southeast Tennessee were having great weather. I drove through two of the most scenic locales east of the Mississippi–Natahala National Forest and Copper Creek–on the way to Chattanooga. Both of which are havens for whitewater sports, and both were filled with rafts and kayaks. (Note to kayakers: it seems to me a lot easier to go downstream fellows–turn those boats around!) The leaves were spring green and the sky was light blue as I drove through “the land of the midday sun”. While I missed having my wife, Karin, along the trip was an opportunity to spend a bit of time in prayer, just talking with The LORD and thanking Him for the beauty (as well as sending up some sweaty-palmed requests that things would go well at the library).

Arrived in Chattanooga without incident (a rare occurrence for this driver, who had neither navigator nor Tom-tom to guide–so thanks to God are in order for that as well) found a parking space (free) right by the HCBL and arrived just in time to interrupt everyone’s lunch!

Seriously, the hostess of the event–young adult’s librarian, Margaret “Ali” Banks, was having her lunch and I spent an amusing few minutes waiting by the circulation desk checking out the expansive building, concluding it was indeed built during 1976 (thus the title “Bicentennial”) while various other library employees and volunteers reassured me that Ali was on her way any minute now. I really didn’t care, I’d been driving for 3 hours straight and just wanted to wake up my legs.

Ali did arrive in a short time and she is a very kind and friendly woman with a terrific British accent–we hit it off right away. Members of the teen advisory committee were also there and kind enough to offer me a slice of pizza. Thanks girls, but I’d already eaten on the way in.

I was also interviewed by a reporter for the Hamilton County Pulse–expect to see that mentioned in a week or so. The day’s events began officially at 2:30 with a showing of IRON MAN in the auditorium, while the cartoonist’s presentation was set up in the atrium around the corner. I have to say that this had to be one of the nicest spaces I’ve ever given a presentation in. The atrium has a glass wall on two sides looking out on downtown Chattanooga–as an artist I’d have liked to have been able to look at things for a while, but I had to give a presentation.

We began with a short introduction about “freelance illustration” and an overview of comics publishing in America. As I told the audience, as a fan, I could go on for hours talking about this, and given the relaxed time restraints for this presentation (normally this presentation is done 4-6 times in a day at an elementary school situation, where 30 minutes is pushing things) I went on a lot longer than normal. Next the small (but honestly interested) audience was given an insight into the grammar of the comics panel, and then we brainstormed for several minutes to develop the powers and unique characteristics that would drive this new creation.

Then I began sketching a character who was an alien with the powers of flight, x-ray vision, clairvoyance, and (most interestingly) the power to divide himself by turning into liquid at key points of his body. Ultimately the group decided on the name “The Splash”, and a new character was born!

I had a great time speaking with the various folks who came out, and particularly enjoyed the looks on the faces of the two individuals who won door prizes of a page from The PLUS and Dark Candle. It’s a real pleasure to get that sort of reaction. The day ended too soon, but I was happy that so many people were interested in speaking to me and even having their picture taken with me (what am I, famous?). It was all very flattering. The folks at HCBL have already asked me to come back (and bring more cartoonists along next time), and it appears I’ll be back in the area soon–this time in Chickamauga, GA. Hope some of the readers can come out for that–we’ll keep you posted as this develops.

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