The Amazing Artists of the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival (Part 2)

Laura Nalven and husband of Aw, Applesauce

People being caricatured by Oakbridge Academy of Arts staff
This is Part Two of our coverage of the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival. Click here to visit Part One.

How many artists did we meet at the Comic Arts Festival, you ask? Many. Here we bring you part two of the cartoonists and characters we met:

Anthony Letizia, Geek Pittsburgh

Anthony Letizia of Geek Pittsburgh

Did you know that Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black is from Pittsburgh, or that actors Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), Gillian Jacobs (Community), and Julie Bentz (Dexter) were all born and raised in Pittsburgh? Anthony Litizia sure does. Tony is the creator of Geek Pittsburgh, the one-man operation that aims to chronicle each one of Pittsburgh’s appearances in geek works from around the world. Tony has been officially “exploring geek culture within the confines of Steel City” since January and covers everything from interesting geek facts about the ‘Burgh to the accomplishments and interesting stories of a local geek. Keep up the good work, Tony, we’re excited to see more from you!

Marcel Walker, Hero Corp.

Marcel Walker of Hero Corp

Marcel Walker puts a unique spin on the super hero story in his Pittsburgh-based comic Hero Corp. The idea for Hero Corp. came to Marcel as he created submissions to big-name publishers like Marvel. As Marcel created a series to submit, he asked himself how a superhero could realistically bring home the bread if he wasn’t being paid for his superhero services. What started as an idea to convince other publishers let Marcel draw for their comics has now developed into Marcel’s own project. In Hero Corp. super heroes offer their services through an international corporation in order to be paid for their work. Hero Corp. is a fun yet sharp critique of corporate culture and, entertainingly, most of Marcel’s characters are based on himself and his friends and take place in a fictionalized Pittsburgh called “New Pittsburgh.” “That’s all the stuff I like: superheroes, my friends, and Pittsburgh,” Marcel said regarding the inspiration for his comic.

Todd Tondera, Photographer

Todd Tondera, admission offer at Oakbridge Academy of Arts

Todd Tondera is a photographer who describes his work as “a little off.” An admissions coordinator at Oakbridge Academy of Arts in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, Todd aims for his photographs to make passersby stop in their tracks with surprise and confusion. He photographs whatever occurs to him, whether that be a group of masked people gathered in the woods or an abandoned sandwich he finds on the street.

Laura Nalven, Aw, Applesauce!

Laura Nalven and husband of Aw, Applesauce

Laura Nalven runs her own store of artwork, plushes, vintage finds, and more called Aw, Applesauce! Laura describes her work as “kind of ghosty flappers meet silent films.” Some of Laura’s more flapper-inspired work started as her thesis project and she’s since included interpretations of silent film characters. That guy in the picture is her super nice husband helping Laura run her table. Ah, true love.

Jeff Keane, The Family Circus

Jeff Keane, The Family Circus

Jeff Keane’s father started The Family Circus comic in 1960, just after Jeff was born. Jeff, who prides himself as being his father’s first cartoon model, now runs the show. The Family Circus is published by over 1500 newspapers.

Paul Combs, Art Studio Seven

Paul Combs, Illustrator

Paul Combs is an illustrator who’s been published worldwide in newspapers, print and online magazines, and books. Paul describes his style as one that “married classical realism, manic energy, and a zany imagination for caricature.” Interestingly, in addition to illustrating Paul also serves as a firefighter/EMT.

Polly Keener, Hamster Alley

Polly Keener, Hamster Alley

Polly Keener creates the weekly comic Hamster Alley as well as the puzzle/cartoon feature Mystery Mosaic, both nationally syndicated. A founding member of the ToonSeum board, Polly now works soley in Akron, Ohio where she teaches cartooning through The University of Akron’s Continuing Education program. Polly authored Cartooning with Jim Davis in 1992, The Writer’s Little Instruction Book: 385 Secrets for Writing Well and Getting Published with Paul Raymond Martin in 1998, and occasionally lectures on cartooning.

Seamas Navarro, Beat Artist

Seamas Navarro, beat poet

Perhaps our biggest surprise at the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Fest was meeting beat poet Seamas Navarro. Seamas hails from Santa Barbara, California, and has been traveling and performing his poems in cities across the nation, including L.A., New York, Boston, Portland, Madison, and Nashville. When we asked Seamas which has been his favorite city to perform in he told us Boston, at Harvard Square to be exact, for the people’s love of literature there. When Seamas told me he’s been living exclusively from his earnings as a performance artist and poet since 2004 we were so impressed we asked him to perform for us. Here I present to you Seamas Navarro performing “Sometimes the Kids Aren’t Alright.”

Have you come across any interesting comics artists lately?

Lauren Mobertz

By Lauren Mobertz

Lauren is the former managing editor for DashBurst. One part geek, one part urban nomad, she is constantly scouting for the latest tech and world news. In the evenings you'll find Lauren running in strange places or attempting to dance salsa.

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