By Corinne Holroyd
Hampton Union, May 6, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Comic book artist and writer Rich Woodall visited the Lane Memorial
Library as part of Free Comic Book Day. [Corinne Holroyd photo]
HAMPTON — Pizza man, lollipop superheroes and a woman feeding chickens: These characters were all created at a Free Comic Book Day event at Lane Memorial Library in Hampton with local comic book artist and writer Rich Woodall.
Woodall came to the library to give a presentation about his work in the comic book world, the history of comics and how to make a comic. Afterwards, the attendees — ages 8 to 18 — were able to make their own.
"Any time I get to talk to kids about comics I jump at it," Woodall said. "... There's not a lot of kids who read comics."
"Or read in general," added Teen Services Librarian Stacy Mazur, who put the event together.
Woodall is the creator of "Johnny Raygun," a member of an intergalactic law enforcement agency in a comic published locally by JetPack Press in Rochester.
The kids and teens got to put their own comics together, including sketching panels, drawing with pencils, inking in their drawings and stapling the pages together, giving them a front and back cover with six pages inside for their comic.
"When you're doing a comic book, there are no rules," Woodall said. "... If you have a pencil and a napkin, you can make a comic strip."
Thirteen children and teens attended, along with three adults, including parents and library staff.
"It's always good to have programs in the community for teens," Mazur said. "It's really good to have kids in the library."
Winnacunnet High School junior Chris Proctor has made his own comics before, but continued to draw a new one during the event.
"I really like comics," he said. "I started reading them when I was five."
Winnacunnet sophomore Effie Doyle described herself as an artist, but said that, while she usually does not draw cartoons, the event "sounded interesting."
"I didn't know this was going on today, he (Proctor) invited me," she said.
The library has had Free Comic Book Day events before, but this is the first one Mazur has run as the teen services librarian since she took on the role in January.
At the event, attendees received free comics, food and a demonstration from Woodall on how to make a comic.
Mazur also said that this is the first Free Comic Book Day with a presenter. Woodall was recommended to Mazur by the other librarians in Hampton and he accepted the invitation right away.
Woodall said that he was going to come early to find some comics and books about drawing comics, but Mazur had already gathered the ones he would have picked and even mounted some comic book covers on the wall.
"She was pretty much on top of it," Woodall said. "Pretty awesome."
During the event, Woodall spoke about his history with comic books, the general history of comics and how to put a comic together.
Woodall's parents gave him multiple comic books when he was a kid. When he turned eight years old, his father got a job that moved the family around the country every year until Woodall turned 17. During that time he would buy comics at convenience stores and make friends who helped him learn how to make comics better.
Eventually they moved to Nashua, where Woodall took a job at a comic book store and would draw during his free time. A representative from Fruit of the Loom came in, saw his drawings and offered him a job in their sports and licensing division making T-shirts for such companies as Looney Toons, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.
He then joined a small comic company, expecting to be able to draw but instead driving the editor around to different conventions, but at no cost to Woodall. He got to rub elbows with people from the business.
He sent his Johnny Raygun idea to such companies as Marvel and DC Comics and was turned down, but with some suggestions and reassurance.
"It was all very encouraging," Woodall said.
He then married and continued to draw T-shirts, but was not happy despite the money he was making, so he started working for Pixel Media in Portsmouth.
Woodall has done small works with Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics, but mostly works locally.
"No one really knows who I am unless you're local," he said.
Woodall now works at MadPow, a graphic design company where he is a senior visual designer, which has left little time for comics.
"I have to be super choosey which ones I work," he said.
His Mad Pow bosses, however, were happy to let him come to the Lane Memorial Library event, which took place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 2.
Mazur said she eventually wants to get some of the teens in the room to volunteer in a peer advising group she want to put together. The group would let them pick the programs and try to get more teens in the library.
"I've been pushing for more programs," she said.