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Huntington Museum of Art, local writer to host gallery walk of comic book art

Apr. 10, 2010 @ 11:16 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Art and comic book fans alike will have the unique opportunity to see some original work through the eyes of the artist today, April 11 at the Huntington Museum of Art.

Ceredo-based comic book author Beau Smith will be hosting a gallery walk at 2 p.m. today at the Huntington Museum of Art. Smith has been collecting comic art since the late 1970s. The collection is part of a larger exhibit called LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel which has been up in the Daywood Gallery since Feb. 28, and will be on display through May 23. Smith's walk through will be in the Bridge Gallery.

Today's event is also in conjunction with the Ohio River Festival of Books which continues through April 17 at libraries and other venues throughout the Tri-State.

"I probably have over 200 pieces of original art that I've had since the late 70s," Smith said. "Every year the (Huntington) Museum of Art has it's annual used book festival, which I'm a big fan of. Chris Hatton the director of the museum library contacted me about the graphic novel exhibit and asked if I wanted to put some of mine up for exhibition. He put me in contact with Jenine Culigan (senior curator) at the museum. I probably brought in 90 pieces from my art collection and we then narrowed that down to 36 pieces which are on exhibit."

The works come from a variety of places.

"Some of the art is from the books that I've written, some is art that I've been given over the years, and others are pieces that I purchased at conventions," Smith said. "I have examples of work from John Bushema (a longtime artist for Marvel Comics), Gary Kwapisz (best known for his work on Conan comics) and Graham Nolan (cartoonist of the newspaper strip Rex Morgan, MD). There's also works by Ron Frenz, Flint Henry and Billy Tucci."

Smith's collection also includes art from "Batman," "The Punisher" and "Sgt. Rock," as well as his own projects like "Wynona Earp."

"The collection features the first piece of comic original art I ever purchased, a page from World's Finest featuring Superman and Aquaman that I bought at a convention for $5," he said. "Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine what it's worth today."

With such upcoming comic book- and graphic novel-based movies as "Kick-Ass," "Iron-Man 2," "The Losers," and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" bringing more mainstream attention to the medium, Smith wants to share some insight into how the books are created.

"The process of making comics is generally not well known outside of the fandom," he said. "I'm going to explain the history of each piece of art and answer any questions people have. We have regular published pieces of original art as well as "cover roughs" which are the artist's layouts made before the final book cover is drawn. There are also model sheets used to design new characters.

"Today most comics are colored by computers which are also used for lettering," he added. "Earlier they were hand colored and the text was all written by hand. We have color guides which were used in the hand-coloring process. In some cases the text was written over the original art, and some artists asked that the text was done on over-lays so it would be separate so they could sell the original art later. Some writers such as Mike Baron and Keith Giffen even do little thumbnail or stick-figure versions of the panels. Unfortunately, I can't draw a straight line with a ruler so that wasn't an option for me, though I did do stick-figure versions of some of the cover designs."

A native of Ceredo and a graduate of Marshall University, Smith first broke into the comic industry in 1985 writing a gag strip for Scout Magazine. Smith's body of work includes "Guy Gardner: Warrior," "Lost & Found," "Wynona Earp" and "Cobb." He is also the author of "No Guts No Glory: How to Market Yourself In Comics."

Smith has also written dialogue script for major motion picture studios. Batman, Superman, Wolverine, Jack Bauer/24 and Star War's Boba Fett are some of the well known characters for whom he has written.

Behind the scenes, he has served as former vice president of marketing and publishing for three publishers, Eclipse Comics, Image Comics and IDW as well as the toy company Todd McFarlane Productions/McFarlane Toys. He is currently a columnist for the Web site Comics Bulletin and serves as the director of product information for toy maker JUN Planning USA. He has written an upcoming "Green Lantern Corps Annual" story for DC and an update on 60s super-hero "Captain Action" for Moonstone Publishing. He also wrote a Christmas story for last year's DC Holiday Special staring one of the company's most obscure heroes, B'wana Beast.

"The gallery walk is open to the public and everyone is invited," Smith said. "This is a real honor for me because I honestly think a lot of people don't know what a really good museum we have. If I can do some small part to draw some people up to see what a wonderful and beautiful museum we have that would be a huge deal. I wish there was an outlet like this when I was a kid, because had I of known more I would have created comics a lot earlier."

For more information on the Huntington Museum of Art, go online at www.hmoa.org/. More information on Beau Smith and his latest writings can be found at www.flyingfistranch.com/.

Festival schedule

Here is the schedule of events for today, April 11, for the Ohio River Festival of Books. The event continues through Saturday, April 17.

Sunday, April 11

2 to 3:30 p.m. -- At the Cabell County Public Library, 455 9th St., Huntington. The presentation of "Poems at an Exhibition," by Matthew C. Wolfe, of Huntington. Wolfe has been a full-time college teacher at Ohio University, Marshall University and West Virginia University. He has a bachelor's degree in music performance and a master's degree in music history from Marshall, and a doctorate in medieval literature and books from West Virginia University. His published work includes selected poems in "Wild Sweet Notes, Vol. 2" a mystical short story, "7:58," in Fantastical Visions; and "Placing Chaucer's Retraction for a Reception of Closure" in The Chaucer Review. In 2000, Wolfe wrote a full-length science fiction novel, "HeartBeat." He also participated in and led talks for the Cabell County Public Library's Jewish Literature Series in 2008 and 2009.

2 to 3:30 p.m. -- At the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington, a Gallery Walk with Beau Smith, a Ceredo-based writer and artist. Join Smith in the Bridge Gallery at the Huntington Museum of Art for a walk-through of his collection of original art works from many of the comic illustrators with whom he has worked. As an author for comic books, Smith has worked with Sam Glanzman, Brad Gorby, Flint Henry, Gary Kwapisz, Graham Nolan, Billy Tucci, Enrique Villagran, and many more. Various techniques and stages of development are represented in the collection. Admission is free.

5:30-7:30 p.m. -- At the B'nai Shalom Synagogue, 949 10th Ave., Huntington, a presentation of "This is Home Now: Kentucky Holocaust Survivors," hosted by author Arwen Donahue.

For more information, go to www.ohioriverbooks.org or call the Library at 304-528-5700.

-- The Herald-Dispatch

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