CAMDEN, NJ — Camden Comic Con, canceled last year by Rutgers due to COVID-19, will shift to a seven-week virtual exhibit starting April 1.
Although there won’t be 12 Spider-men web-slinging in front of the student center and boxes of old issues to rifle through, organizers say this year will still offer an opportunity to support local artists and get into the thought-bubble spirit.
“It’s going to be a very scaled back version, so we want people to have the right set of expectations going in. We can’t gather, but we’re going to feature some local and regional artists in a virtual gallery space,” Miranda Powell, arts education & community arts program assistant at Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, told TAPinto Camden.
Powell founded the event along with her husband, Bill Haas, who runs Secret Origins Comics in Collingswood, roughly six years ago.
“I’ve become a comic book person by virtue of doing this program,” Powell joked.
The 2021 Camden Comic Con, which will run from April 1 to May 15, is accepting submissions through March 8. There is no cost to attend or send in your work.
So far, Powell says roughly 20 artists have sent in sketches, finished digital paintings, comic panels, full page panels, as well as 3-D artwork and sculptures which attendees will be able to virtually peruse.
Ryan Brady, creator of “The Bolt,” will showcase images from his forthcoming Issues #9 and #10.
The Bolt, a Camden-born superhero who studies at Rutgers-Camden and vows to protect the city’s denizens, made his debut in 2013.
“For me, it’s about telling stories and the way people connect with comic books,” Brady said over the phone. “Originally I did it for myself, but so many people liked it that I kept going. It helped me open up too.”
Brady, who releases The Bolt under his Camden’s Comics brand, was asked to submit five digital pieces.
The birth of his daughter last August understandably took his attention away from his creative work, but Brady hopes his appearance at Camden Comic Con - he’s been to every one - will be a reminder to readers and fellow artists that “he’s not out of the game.”
“I’ve been to Philadelphia’s Comic Con. It’s very big and easy to get lost in the shuffle if you’re independent, and you’re not Marvel or DC. I like Camden Comic Con because it’s geared to independent creators,” Brady added.
For anyone needing a mental break from the pandemic, Brady says The Bolt offers that as well.
“No, The Bolt’s not dealing with COVID,” he said, laughing.
And for followers of the Bolt, Brady shared that issues that will be on display at the convention hold key origin information for his protagonist.
Lee Angerstein, who says he’s been drawing since he was a kid, started as a full-time artist about 5 years ago.
Since then, through Rad Robot, he’s added animator and teacher to his background. Angerstein, who is based out of a Haddon Township studio, has bred life into various new characters. Namely the title characters of his “Chup and Lyle” series.
“Two best bros Chup, a highly manic personality working at a donut shop he hates, and Lyle, the chillest being alive with seemingly no responsibilities, get into many a hi-jinx in their hometown of DudeTown,’” reads a description on his website.
Angerstein remembers being on edge two years ago - nervous because he was premiering an animated series during Camden Comic Con.
“But then everyone enjoyed it,” Angerstein said, recalling the relief he felt. “Afterward a little kid came up to me and hugged me. It was overwhelming and just a great feeling.”
For the 2021 Camden Comic Con, Angerstein will present live “Doodles and Dialogue” classes for kids on April 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. and for adults on April 16 from 7 to 9 p.m.
The role-playing/ choose-your-own-adventure courses ask participants to draw their way through an animated world like no other they've encountered.
“You don’t have to be an awesome artist to do it. No matter who you are you’ll have fun and have a chance to be creative," Angerstein said.
The same goes for submissions, with Rutgers organizers emphasizing that all should feel encouraged to send in their work. Powell noted that attendees should keep an eye out for convention updates too, in case additional events are added.