Comicon: From Marvel legends to online upstarts

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April has meant Pittsburgh Comicon in Monroeville for all of the event's 18 years, starting at the defunct Expomart and now ensconced in the convention center on Mall Boulevard.

The event, which began in 1994, will bring more than 300 of the comic-book kingdom's top artists, pencilers, inkers and writers to town this weekend, along with a couple of TV series stars. Sam Witwer and Sarah Allen from the Syfy Channel's "Being Human" and young Chandler Riggs from AMC's "The Walking Dead" are featured guests, along with George Perez and Phil Jimenez, whose work stars on the pages of DC's Wonder Woman books, the "Infinite Crisis" series and more.

Pittsburgh Comicon

Where: Monroeville Convention Center

When: 1-7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Autographs: $25 each for Sam Witwer, Sarah Allen and Chandler Riggs.

Tickets: $18; two-day pass $35; three-day pass $45. Children 8 and under admitted free with paid adult admission Friday and Saturday; 12 and under admitted free on Sunday, when costumed adults get in free.

Information: pittsburghcomicon.com.

You also may have noticed Mr. Jimenez's moment in the movie spotlight: He provided art for the 2002 film "Spider-Man," in which actor Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker is seen "creating" sketches of his costume. Among Mr. Perez's many credits is the relaunch of Wonder Woman in 1987 and the third series of The Avengers with writer Kurt Busiek.

Joe Sinnott (Marvel superheroes including The Mighty Thor), Herb Trimpe (The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine) and Ernie Chan (Batman, Conan the Barbarian) are back for a second year in a row. Charles Paul Wilson III, a penciler for "The Stuff of Legend," and Dexter Vines, the current inker of "Ultimate Thor," are among the many names in artists' alley.

Patrick Thomas, marketing director for Pittsburgh Comicon, said typical attendance in recent years has been between 8,500 to 10,000.

"Two years ago when Stan Lee was our guest of honor, we pulled 10,000; last year was around 9,000," he said.

The show has raised more than $250,000 for The Make-A-Wish Foundation through events and auctions, which this year include the auctioning of Mr. Perez's original Green Lantern artwork for the convention's T-shirt.

The biggest changes he's seen over the years are the influx of self-published guests and the online world of digital comic books, although "people are still clamoring for books from their favorite creators and starring their favorite characters, such as Batman and Spider-Man."

Mr. Thomas gave an example of the new world order in which anyone can put work online without first submitting it to a publisher: He had recently downloaded "The Field on the Edge of the Woods" by Pittsburgh Comicon guest Michael "Frick" Weber onto his wife's Kindle.

"They can build an audience online, and if their product looks to have potential they can then release works in print form to sell, or stay digital and sell their works that way. It has given a lot of talented people a forum they may not have had before. The mainstream comic companies are all experimenting with digital comics as well. In a world where so much time is spent on digital devices, digital comics are clearly a huge market that didn't exist in 1994."


Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.


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