SUMMIT, NJ - Once dismissed as a genre for children, graphic novels and comic books have become a medium that has truly become an art form worthy of recognition and attention. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is doing its part by hosting “Getting Graphic: Novels, Memoirs & Comics," December 2, from 12 - 5 p.m.

Conceived in conjunction with the exhibition Drawing it Out, currently on display in the Center’s Eisenberg Gallery, the free event will see graphic novelists and comic book artists will be set up throughout the art center, showcasing and discussing their work, offering workshops and book signings, and selling merchandise.

Sarah Walko, the Art Center's Director of Programs, says, “In delving into the genre of graphic novels and memoirs, our staff and artists discovered so many interesting and unique stories,” said Sarah Walko, Director of Programs at the Visual Arts Center. “We wanted to create an event where the audience would be exposed to as many of these works as we could manage and could then meet the artists themselves.”

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Following a brief welcome and introduction, four artists will participate in two talks in the main gallery. The first, running from 2 - 2:30 p.m., will include artists Howard Saunders and Julia Alekseyva. Saunders spent 30 years as an illustrator, cartoonist, animator and a writer and created his alter-ego and the main character of his work, AxeMan, as a way to express his artistic independence post-retirement. Alekseyva, born in the USSR but raised in Chicago, is a cartoonist and illustrator who specializes in multi-media drawing. She won awards for illustrating the first graphic novel legal brief ever created (written by Bob Kohn). Her first full-length graphic novel, titled “Soviet Daughter” was published in January, 2017.

The second talk, which will take place between 4 - 4:30 p.m, will feature Darrell Goza and Dana Walwrath. Goza was a studio assistant for 15 years before becoming a creative director for Beatnik Productions and Dreadlockedninja Publications. For the past ten years he’s self-published through his own imprint Goza Creative / ScriptGraphics. Walrath is a writer, artist, and anthropologist and has won recognition and numerous awards for her writing, including her graphic memoir series “Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass,” about life with her mother, Alice, before and during her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional Artists appearing include:

Michael Parla
Doug Baron 
Lauren Purje
Glenn Whitmore 
Amanda Scurti
Neil Vokes
Seamus Liam O’Brien 
Kirsten Kramer 
Criss Madd 
Edward Dippolito

In addition to the two artist talks, children will have the opportunity to create comic book covers to use as holiday cards in one of the day’s two workshops. The first session is for children ages 6-9, and runs from 12:30 – 2 p.m. at a cost of $35. The second session is for children ages 9-12, and runs from  2:30 – 4 p.m.  at a cost of  $50. Food and drink will also be available for purchase.

For more information on “Getting Graphic” visit artcenternj.org. To preregister for either workshop, please contact Sarah Walko at swalko@artcenternj.org. Drop-ins are also welcome.