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City Paper talks to Pittsburgh-based artists featured at Wizard World Comic Con

Video by Aaron Warnick

Amongst the toy-selling vendors, cosplayers, and weaving lines for autographs and photo ops, Pittsburgh-based artists showcased their work at the nationally touring Wizard World Comic Con that rolled through town this past weekend.

“We enjoy doing shows. It’s not like work to us,” said Patrick Block, who’s been a Pittsburgh-based freelance artist for Walt Disney for more than 20 years, along with his wife Shelly. “It’s fun to get to meet other people who do what we do, but to also [to meet] the actors and different people who come to shows.”

On their table sat a display of several Donald Duck comics the two had written and drawn.

“Shelly does most of the writing, and I do most of the drawing,” says Block. “But it’s a real back-and-forth kind of thing, so it’s hard to define borders of where we stop and start.”

The Block’s art student Amanda Poland sat next to them, displaying her pin-up style drawings.

“They really push me, and say, ‘Oh you can do that,’ because I have a lot of self-doubt sometimes about my work,” Poland says. “But they say, ‘You got this, go on!’”

Down the aisle, Joe Wos, founder and former director of Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, showed his new illustrated children’s book, The Three Little Pigsburghers: As Told in Pittsburghese.

“It’s great for me. I have not done a lot of comic conventions, not as myself. I’ve done them, but always with the ToonSeum,” said Wos. “Now being featured as an artist, it’s such a great thrill. There’s a lot of talent here, a lot of up-and-coming young talent.”

Wos also showcased his syndicated feature MazeToons, an illustrated maze puzzle with various characters and cartoons incorporated within.

Carol Vicini, whose table was set up next to a pirate ship full of rowdy cosplayers, still managed to attract attendees with her black-and-gold-outfitted dog, on which her illustrated stories The Adventures of Steel Dog are based.

“I have two books and two comic books. We travel to hospitals and nursing homes, schools and libraries, and we present our program,” Vicini said. ” We are so excited that Wizard [World] is here in Pittsburgh.”

Other Pittsburgh-based artists — some Eisner Award Winners — who were featured at Wizard World included D.J.Coffman, Don Simpson, Ron Frenz, Mikey Wood, Jim Rugg, Scott Hedlund, Shawn Atkins, Byron Winton and Barry Linck.

“All artists’ goals are one thing: to be able to do what we love for a living,” said Shelly Block.

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