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~ Marek ~

GraniteCon 2008: A New Hope in the Heart of the Empire

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Whoa… I “tabled” today at the GraniteCon 2008 in Manchester!  This was the first convention I’ve ever been to where the doors were guarded by actual Imperial Stormtroopers (in full battle gear)!  Undaunted, the Comics Workshop table helped convention visitors, fans, parents, and artists alike to cover the walls (and doors) of the convention center with original, collaborative comics… and in the process, maybe we even took a few more steps toward the dream of Galactic Peace.

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(From left to right, that’s a young conventioneer/artist, artist/distributor Colin Tedford, and Marek Bennett in full comics-drawing gear.  In the background, you can see what the crowds were drawing: the GraniteCon 2008 Secret Infinite Comics Jam!  Ugh, sorry, my camera just doesn’t do well in convention center lighting.)  

We had a steady stream of artists of all ages, stopping by on their way between the dealers’ tables ($1 back issues of comics with titles like DeathPool) and the Artists Alley (where Ethan Van Sciver kept a room-long line at his table all day by drawing amazing color sketches… for FREE!).  Both the kids and the adults impressed me with their incredible enthusiasm and willingness to just grab a marker and add their own artwork to our rapidly growing comic strips.  I wish I had taken photos of all the groups and families who came by, but honestly I just got caught up in drawing with them and forgot my camera entirely!

There was, however, one particularly touching success story that comes to mind, and for which I DO have some photos.  All day long, Imperial Stormtroopers were patrolling the convention floor, keeping order and cradling their blasters in their shiny, armored arms.  On a whim, I invited one off-duty Stormtrooper to contribute his one panel to a Star Wars-themed comic some kids were drawing (sample panel below). 

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At first, the trooper refused, claiming he had “no ability to draw,” but I persisted.  (Through the Force, I could feel the good art in him!)  Finally, the Stormtrooper relented; he read through the comic in question, picked up a marker, and with a few slow, cautious strokes, roughed out the first idea that came to him (below).

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Now, on the surface, this may not seem like much… but consider the incredible amount of Imperial brainwashing and conditioning this fellow had to overcome, merely to be able to think creatively enough to compose an original panel for an improvised (decidedly Rebel Alliance-themed) comic strip.  I’m honored to see this kind of breakthrough happening on the convention floor, and who knows where else!  Tonight, that Stormtrooper will lie in his bunk in the Imperial Barracks, and he’ll remember his drawing, and he’ll smile beneath his black and white helmet…  (Wait, do they wear those things to sleep?)

The Trees and Hills gang had a table down at the other end of Artists’ Alley, and they popped in every now and again to draw panels as well. Here are Colin and Keith Moriarty hard at work:

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Here’s the wall presentation behind the table (participants added their ideas and artwork to that, too!):

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But the real heart of the day was the COMICS WE DREW!  I will post more art samples and comic strips from the Secret Infinite Comics Jam over the next few days. Stay tuned!

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2 Comments on “GraniteCon 2008: A New Hope in the Heart of the Empire”

  1. Dad says:

    Dear Marek,
    Thanks for the info…nice to see you received such an enthusiastic crowd and they appreciate your talents.
    Cordially,
    Dad

  2. Marek says:

    You’re welcome, Dad!


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