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Pittsburgh Day One: If you’re not Frank Miller, use a Bull Horn

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A long line snaked down the corridor at the Monroeville Expomart Friday afternoon, waiting for the Pittsburgh Comicon to open.

Inside, where nearly 300 creators, publishers and retailers were putting the finishing touches to their displays, a loud speaker blared: “Ten minutes until the doors to the Comicon open.”

Nevertheless, autograph seekers were already on the floor lined up to see Daredevil/Dark Knight/Sin City artist/writer Frank Miller at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth. And when the doors did open, and the Frank Miller lines swelled exponentially, Jersey Devil creator Tony DiGerolamo took matters into his own hands to attract attention — with a bull horn.

Dressed in character, DiGerolamo self-publishes the Jersey Devil, a mix of ghost and action stories, and FIX, “about the most powerful substance in the universe and the world’s worst detective.”

He also does Traveler, which has been picked up by Kenzer and Company. “It’s sort of like Dungeons and Dragons meets the Three Stooges.”

How did he get into comics? “Almost every other medium rejected me!” In fact, he originally wrote Jersey Devil as a screenplay.

Across from DiGerolamo, CrossGen artist George Perez was signing autographs to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation, the Pittsburgh Comicon’s favorite charity.

“I’m having a great time of it,” Perez said of his recent move to the industry’s shining upstart, Cross Generations Comics. “It’s so different from doing superheroes.”

He said he was enjoying the fantasy of the Chronicles title, “and the rather family atmosphere of the company.”

Here’s a quick glimpse of just a few of the myriad of creators and exhibitors:

John LaFleur, Acetylene Comics publisher and writer, started self-publishing about three years ago, and just this April he finally got into Diamond Previews.
“It’s been a tough ride,” he said, but he’s excited that his Vesper and Buggs titles finally will be nationally distributed. Vesper, which is drawn by Hannibal King, is about a “former” CIA agent who is trying to transition into life as a civilian police officer. Buggs, drawn by Greg Titus, is centered around an experiment at Chernobyl during World War II.

Patrick Bloch was displaying deceased Carl Barks’ last book, Walt Disney’s Tesori (Treasures), available in Italian and English. It came out in November. “Carl edited it,” he said, and “I did all the art.”

Dave Napoliello, Peregrine publisher, described his core titles:
— Books of Lore, sword and sorcery type.
— Buzzboy, humorous superhero tales.
— Forty Winks, an adventure title about a nine-year-old girl battling a monster in her dreams.

Peregrine also publishes horror titles and will be doing new The Crow books.

In fact, Crow creator James O’Barr and Dawn creator Joseph Michael Linsner collaborated on the cover art for their third annual Independent Voices anthology, with proceeds going to charity.

“Adventures of Raymond Childe” is about a former wild west Pinkerton detective who today is a paranormal investigator. Sarah and Dave Samuelson were selling a prologue story, and giving away a preview to the first issue. Dave is the writer; his brother, Brad, is the artist, and his wife, Sarah helps with inking, plus web design and “moral support.”

David Keye published six bi-monthly issues of Julie’s Journal before taking a hiatus to put together a collected volume of those issues. He mixes photos with artwork to tell his stories, which revolve around a young woman who is imprisoned in a magical hallway full of book shelves. Every time she opens a comic book, Julie is transported into the story.

Alex Robinson is the writer, artist and letterer for Box Office Poison. Antarctic Press published 21 issues, with issue 21 appearing last October, and now Top Shelf is coming out with a collected volume in May.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist,” Robinson said. In 1993 he started a photocopied version of Box Office Poison, and kept sending it to Antarctic Press. It took three years before Antarctic picked it up.

Mike Bocianowski was excited about his complete volume of “Chuck the Ugly American: Book One: A Heck of an Adventure,” which was published last November by Comics Library International.

Twins Brendon and Brian Fraim are artists for Knights of the Dinner Table Illustrated, a bimonthly published by Kenzer and Company. Brian said it was about “four adventurers who hash and slash their way through a fantasy world for treasures.”

Dave White was talking about The Japanese Beetle, his online daily comic strip appearing on World Famous Comics (, when a guy wearing a bucket over his head (representing a comic book character known as “Mr. Bucket Head”) gingerly made his way down the aisle — which was a whole different scene from that of fans scurrying out of the way of a line of unstoppable Star Wars storm troopers.