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The Spirit of the "Con"

Special to Informer | , Derry Sexton | 8/23/2012, 4:19 p.m.

Did you love the Avengers movie? Disappointed that Christopher Nolan is not doing anymore Batman movies? Have you read all of the books in the Twilight saga or the Hunger Games saga and hated the movies afterward? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, you may represent a growing number of Americans who embrace the "Spirit of the 'Con'." The "Con" is any of several annual gatherings that celebrate all things science fiction, including comic books, movies, novels, games, and cartoons. Recently, Chicago hosted its annual Chicago Comic Con, presented by Wizard World, which along with C2E2 (Chicago's Comic and Entertainment Expo), created an amazing bookend to summer entertainment.

While the official tally of participants has yet to come in, it is believed that close to 70,000 comic an sci-fi fans converged on the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, many in superhero costumes, to meet their favorite artists, purchase signed artwork, and network.

One of the more popular showcases of Wizard World Chicago (as well as C2E2) was the Artist's Alley, a pavilion where independent artists trying to get a foot in the door and legendary comic book artists showcase their best works, side-by-side.

The artists are not there just to make a quick buck selling their prints or originals though; many, if not most, are there to show their love for comic book art and get noticed. One such artist at this year's event was Anthony Belmontez, creator of First Strike Comics and writer/artist for the independent comic, Heroic 5. For Belmontez, the Con was an opportunity to gain fan recognition for both himself and his company.

"I'm just glad they admitted me. I know I'm just starting out," stated Belmontez. "I'm taking all criticism, both good and bad. It's the only way I will grow as an artist."

Another artist, Jamie Tyndall, has only been in the industry a year, but his artwork looks like that of a decades-long professional. Formerly a photographer and marketing director in his native Canada, Tyndall's artwork has graced the covers of Grimm Fairy Tales, the popular horror anthology comic published by Zenescope Entertainment. Tyndall, 40, gave solid advice to two budding college art majors during his interview with the Informer, "Do something. Get involved while you are in school," he told them. "A degree demonstrates that you can learn, your portfolio shows what you did with that learning and also shows you can make deadlines."

Tyndall further explained that he would hire someone who was only an average student in college but could demonstrate through their work an ability to meet deadlines before he hired someone with Dean's List scholar on their resume.

"Solid experience is still key. That is not a knock against formal education, but I must stress the importance of actively applying what you learn," he said.

Fans and admirers purchased original signed prints or commissions on the spot. Among this writer's favorites on hand this year were artists and comic book legends, George Perez, who came to prominence illustrating Marvel's The Avengers and Fantastic Four, and Brian Pulido, creator of the legendary "Lady Death" character. Lady Death remains in publication despite the closure of Chaos Comics, the company that made her their flagship character.