Friday, September 12, 2014

Come see me at Creative Con tomorrow!

PANAMA CITY CREATIVE CON
What: A gathering of writers, artists, actors, publishers, dancers, musicians and other fantastic creators to meet the public and share their talents
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13
Where: Gulf Coast State College, Student Union East Building, Panama City
Cost: $10 for adults, free to children age 6 and younger

Creative Con grows into new venue
Guests include ‘Pluggers’ artist, actors, musicians, more

PANAMA CITY — Having outgrown its original home, Panama City Creative Con shows no signs of slowing down.

This year’s Creative Con showroom will be on the second floor of the Student Union East building at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. The show floor will be in the main lecture hall with a kids’ art program and guest panels located in two adjacent classrooms.

Creative Con is a day celebrating sequential art, comics, costumes (or “cosplay”), writing, publishing — and tons of other creative endeavors, such as dancing, filmmaking, music and more. Originally housed in the children’s department of the Bay County Public Library, and supported by the Library Foundation, massive attendance last year convinced organizers Jayson Kretzer and Bettina Mead to seek a roomier location.

“The new venue allows the opportunity to showcase more creative guests as well as expand the activities we can have the day of the show, such as live acoustic music in our singer/songwriter series, movie screenings, food on site and more,” said Kretzer, a comic artist, writer and graphic designer.

More than 50 guests are scheduled, representing a wide variety of creative and artistic careers. Special guests are Gary Brookins, cartoonist for the “Pluggers” and “Shoe” comic strips, and Jeff Parker, the award winning co-creator of the daily comic strip, “Dustin.”

“This show is not just another comic convention — it’s a creative career path convention,” Kretzer said. “We have a lot of guests this year who grew up or went to school in Bay County and have gone on to find work in the creative career of their choice, such as Gary Brookins and Michael Pedro (who worked on concept art for the video games ‘Halo 4’ and ‘DCU Online’), so I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to bring them back to Panama City to share their experiences with our up-and-coming creatives.”

Other guests include:

  • Artists Josh Hughes (“Atomic Terrier”), John Russo, Amanda Rachels, Victor Strickland, Mark Maddox, Katie Bracewell, Nathan Smith, Matthew Shelley, K. Michael Russell (“Hack/Slash,” “Justice League”), Clint Hagler, Aaron Hazouri, Brett Brooks (“Dust Bunny”), Randolph Dixon (“Absentee”),  Edmund Dansart and John Holland.
  • Writers Chris Arrant, Mark Boss (“One Bullet”), Bobby Nash, Evelyn Rainey, Shaun Phelps, Michael Lowe (LETO-1), Erica Heflin, Chris Widdop (“Velcro: The Ninja Cat”), Wes Locher, Kevin Laporte, poet and professor Lynn Wallace, and this writer (“Tales of the Awakening Dead” and others).
  • Cosplayers Alice Infinity, Lozziepop Cosplay, Emerald Coast Cosplay, Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club, and Jo Roberts.
  • Actors Dawn Buvurger (“Cremain”), Savana Jade Wehunt (“The Walking Dead”), and Daniel Emery Taylor (“The Return of Swamp Thing”).
  • Publishers Martinez/Butler, Inverse Press, and Graphic Knowledge Magazine (gkthemag.com).

Other guests are educator Kat Kan, stuntman Jim O’Rear, podcaster Deadpool Speaks, rock band Rogues Gallery, toymaker Roderick Hall, humorist Teresa Roberts Logan, ghost hunters Panhandle Paranormal Investigations, videographer Lou Columbus, and dancers from Blues and Lindy in the Panhandle.

A children’s activity booth will open at 11 a.m. The costume contest will be at 1 p.m., with three age divisions: Junior (ages 12 and younger), General (ages 13 and older), and Group (two or more people, all ages).

Other events include:
  • Two cosplay panels with tips and advice on makeup, custom creating costumes, places to shop for materials, and how to make props.
  • Making Comics, the Inverse Press experience using crowd funding to market independent comics.
  • Comics to Screen, a panel discussion with Wallace, Arrant and Columbus
  • Movie screening of “Fat Chance,” directed by guests O’Rear and Taylor, will show at 2 p.m. in the Theater Room (anyone under the age of 18 must have parental guidance due to some mature subject matter).

A full schedule is available at PCCreativeCon.com.

ART AS A CAREER
Kretzer said he has been intrigued by art since he received his first comic book as a pre-teen. However, growing up in the Panhandle, he never had an opportunity to meet professional artists and illustrators or learn about these types of career paths.

“Finally at age 25, I was able to go to a comic convention,” Kretzer said. “I met many industry professionals face-to-face who helped put me on the right track for my career.”

For 15 years, he has worked from home doing freelance illustration, graphic arts and website design. His work also includes sketch cards created for Marvel and Cartoon Network licensed products, and two self-published books. He often teaches or speaks in local schools and other venues, which gave him chances to share information with younger students.

But he hopes to go further with Creative Con by inspiring young artists the way he was inspired.

“The goal of Creative Con is three-fold,” Kretzer said. “To give young people in our area access to mentors in the field they are interested in; to show K-12 students educational opportunities in our area that will help them fulfill their dreams; and, to provide children with the tools they need to succeed staying right here.” 

Today, comic book movies are on the big screen, which Kretzer hopes will encourage use of graphic novels in the classroom as a learning tool and bring about a renewed interest in sequential art. There is a push from STEM to STEAM education, adding the “A” for arts back into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum.

Creative Con attendees can participate in career discussions in the fields of game development, costume design, sequential art, songwriting, creative writing and more. GCSC will share information about course offerings like the new Digital Media bachelors degree, and Haney Technical Center representatives will address their Digital Design program.


“Art spurs innovation and growth within children of all ages,” said Kretzer, who identified himself as a visual learner. “Art and design are an integral part of many new-age jobs.” 
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