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Literary Festival 2012 brings comic relief to campuses

Colorful graphics, catchy captions and captivating characters took center stage for this year’s Literary Festival, held April 2-5. Local and national recognized cartoonists and comic book writers shared ideas and discussed their work under the theme of Comic Books and the Graphic Novel: A New Rhetoric.

The free, public festival launched with Scott McCloud, who gave the keynote talk on April 2 in the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center in downtown Norfolk. A major figure in the expanding world of comic books, graphic novels and digital media, McCloud is the author of Understanding Comics, a New York Times Notable Book, currently available in 16 languages. McCloud has lectured and consulted on comics and digital media for Google, MIT, Pixar, Sony and the Smithsonian Institution. McCloud also authored Reinventing Comics, as well as the comic series Zot!

Also featured was Vince White, the writer and illustrator of Will Power, the story of an African-American teenage superhero who has taken the genre by storm. White dabbled in the comic book industry before embarking on a career as a graphic designer. Returning to Virginia from California, he is back to work in the funny pages, producing comics as DarkLight Studios/Primal Paper Comics.

A panel discussion on the genre offered insights from Mike Federali, Bob Frantz and Mike Kuty. A Virginia Beach comic book author, Mike Federali is the writer of the comics The Skyrocket and The Baku. Federali is co-founder of Primal Paper Comics and is artist/writer of the slated online series Wooden Teeth. Co-founder of Primal Paper Comics, Bob Frantz has written thousands of comedy bits for his former radio program, The Mike and Bob Show, and for his long-running podcast, Bob’s Boneyard. Editor-in-chief and co-founder of the independent entertainment/comic book company, Enemy Transmission Inc., Mike Kuty writes the company’s action comic, Valhalla Cindermane, as well as its mythology-meets-sci-fi comic, The Equation.

Guest writer and graphic artist Mark Wheatley has displayed his visual work in the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Huntington Art Museum, the Fitchburg Art Museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum and the Library of Congress, where several of his originals are in the permanent collection. While several of his graphic novels have been optioned for motion pictures, most recently Blood of the Innocent has been scheduled for development by Inferno Entertainment in Hollywood. Wheatley’s comic book creations include Lone Justice, Black Hood, Hammer of the Gods and Titanic Tales.

Nominated in 2005 for two Eisner Awards for his comic book series, Common Grounds, Troy Hickman is a comic book writer, as well as a teacher of creative writing and English at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Ind. Common Grounds has been optioned for an upcoming television series by Starz Media, while Hickman’s other writing for comics includes work on Twilight Guardian, City of Heroes, Witchblade, Turokand The Incredible Hulk.

The eleventh annual festival also included faculty and staff readings on each of TCC’s four campuses.