Comic artists ready to show their work

Zing Comics is an anthology series printed by Scottsbluff-based Ideal Comics. The business owners will be sponsoring the High Plains Mini-Con comic gathering at Monument Mall in October.

SCOTTSBLUFF — The comics’ world is coming to the valley on Oct. 6-7 as local publisher Ideal Comics and Monument Mall team up to host the first High Plains Mini-Con.

“Local comic creators will be coming to display and sell their books,” said Ideal Comics co-owner Matthew Rhys. “We’re reaching out to other local fans and creators, including folks in the Front Range comic community. We’re calling this a nerd-centric comics and pop culture event.”

He said that last year, he approached Monument Mall about including his comics booth during the annual coins, cards and collectibles show. That led to a discussion about the comics world and grew into plans for a full-blown comics mini-convention.

“I talked with my business partners and other creators I know and they all thought it would be a great idea to pursue,” Rhys said.

The High Plains Mini-Con is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7, throughout the day in the Center Court area at Monument Mall.

Some of the artists will take part in a nationwide event called 24 Hour Comic Book Day. It’s a challenge to create a 24-page comic book in 24 hours, from idea to completed product. It’s an opportunity for visitors to see comic artists at work.

Also featured will be panel discussions on the comics industry, live music and a costume contest with prizes to be awarded.

The first High Plains Mini-Con is just the latest creative project for Rhys and partners Chris Lawton and Barry Tetz.

“Chris and I grew up reading comics and in our 20s, we wanted to break into the industry,” Rhys said. “We spent the first few years collecting rejection letters, so in 2005, we realized we both had similar themes we wanted to pursue, what we call a cohesive universe of stories. That’s when we decided to form our own company with our own superheroes. That’s the origin of Ideal Comics.”

Their first project was an ongoing web comic series called “Forces of Good and Evil” that’s still online at www.idealcomics.net. Rhys called the online series “kind of ‘X-Men’ meets ‘Head of the Class.’”

Other comic works are also featured at the site, including a short comic series called “The Short Box.”

Rhys admitted that both he and Lawton are “meager” cartoonists.

“Both Chris and I consider ourselves first as writers,” he said. “Cartooning is a way for us to tell our stories.”

Last spring, Rhys and Tetz taught a class in introductory comic book art at West Nebraska Art Center. About a dozen local cartoonists showed up, who also plan to have their works on display at the mini-con.

Ideal Comics is more than just an online business. Under their imprint, they’ve produced two printed anthology series, called Zing Comics, created by comic artists from around the region. Those issues are being sold by Game Time in downtown Scottsbluff.

Of course, other projects are in the works. For more information, visit their website or follow them on facebook.com/the.real.ideal.comics.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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