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UMES Students Showcase Drawing, Storytelling Skills

  • Monday, August 30, 2010

    By Earl Holland, The Daily Times   

    PRINCESS ANNE (Aug. 27, 2010) -- Rob Bennett has been interested in drawing comic books since he was a teenager.  Bennett would doodle on any type of paper he could get his hands on, including a brown paper lunch bag.

    Now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore senior and art major will have the opportunity to show off his work at this weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con.  The event features some of the biggest names in the comic book industry as well as comic merchandise and a comic book character costume contest.

    "It's kind of surreal," he said. "Your work is right there on display with a lot of the big names in the industry. It kind of gives you a sense of accomplishment."

    Bennett, whose pin-ups of Marvel and DC Comics characters will be shown at Saturday and Sunday's event, is one of at least six students whose concentrations is sequential art.

    Brad Hudson, a fine arts instructor at the university, began teaching sequential art in 2005. It became a full-fledged concentration at the start of the Fall 2009 semester and consists of cartooning and comic book illustration classes as well as a sequential art history class and an internship.

    Hudson said the students are able to get good advice and suggestions from the biggest names in the field.

    "It makes all the difference in the world," he said. "The comic field is not typical. It's not like applying for a job like any other field; it's something you have to pursue. Comic-Con is something that allows comic book editors to give the students feedback and constructive criticism."

    It will not only be UMES art students and faculty members taking part in the convention.

    Josh Shockley, a UMES alumnus who works in the university's Sponsored Research Office, will also have some of his work on display. Co-founder of PLB Comics, Shockley is selling his recently co-created "The Fall: Vengeance & Justice" book during the show.

    Shockley said going to the show as a vendor rather than as an aspiring artist is a bit of a change.

    "When I first went to Comic-Con, it was very mind-blowing," he said. "If you've never been before, it's an interesting experience. You see a lot of industry professionals and you're able to get a lot feedback from them. Now I'm exhibiting and it's more like a
    business trip. We still have fun with it but it's a bit more serious."

    Bennett said he looks to take whatever feedback he receives and put it to good use.

    "I would love to have my own graphic novels published or even be able to work for one of the major comic book companies," he said. "You always look to get good feedback, but even if you don't, you look for that constructive criticism to take back to the drawing board in order to make yourself grow as an artist."

    Reproduced with permission of The (Salisbury) Daily Times.