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Inside Tucson's Comic Book Culture

Posted at 9:22 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 07:40:50-05
Tucson is a place where artists like to gather.  Now it's becoming more of a center for the sort of art your mom and dad might have complained about---but it's a type of art getting more and more respect.
           
We're talking about comic books.  
           
Tucson's relaxed, creative vibe is nurturing creative artists putting together sophisticated comic art.
     
The Xpanded Universe gallery is one of the places you can tap into Tucson's comics culture.
      
Santino Arturo is one of the artists we met there.  He says writing and drawing comics is a great way to tell rich, vivid stories.
 
"I used to want to do film, like directing.  I was very inspired by Robert Rodriguez, the director.  I decided I wanted to do that. It's free actors, free cameras and when you draw all that, that's exactly what that is."
        
Holly Randall studied illustration and design at UA but started drawing comics long before that.
 
"I had an older brother who I idolized and he read comics so I read comics and from that point on because I was really into art so young as well that I would draw from the comics books."
         
And she says anyone who thinks comic books are strictly a guy thing is mistaken. 
 
"I definitely tend to like more slice of life kind of stuff as opposed to maybe the big action sequences kind of stuff or work stories but I think women can like the action stuff just as much as the love stuff."
      
Santino Arturo has created titles like Pink Lasers.  He likes action but with a twist.
 
"I have a lot of unreal things like people who can jump through dimensions but then have things like holding it to reality like a talent agency for hired killers.  There's still the reality of trying to find a job and trying to pay rents and there's still video cassette stores and things like that."
 
Tucson's comic culture is strong enough to support a big comic convention, or comic con.
       
Mike Olivares of Xpanded Universe organizes them.  He says they've drawn as many as 18 thousand people over a weekend.  He's putting together Tucson ComicCon number nine.
        
They're an opportunity for fun, and a chance to comics fans to get to know and buy the work of local artists.  But he says almost any comics shop in Tucson can be a gateway to local artists.
 
"You can go to pretty much any local comic book shop in Tucson now because mostly every shop is going to have a local shelf which is comic books produced by local comic book creators."
        
And he says major comic book publishers have been scouting Tucson artists to take some of that Tucson style nationwide.