While comic books, and the heroes and villains living within them, have seen their popularity oscillate over the decades, there’s no question they’re in the midst of one of their most culturally influential periods ever.
And it’s not just the Marvel and DC heroes we easily associate with comic books impacting contemporary culture. Books like the Walking Dead and Outcast have become mainstream culture. Even Archie and the gang are getting an angst-ridden millennial-driven update.
Still, the success of these movies and television shows ultimately stem from the pages of their source material, and more and more people beyond the avid fans are recognizing their artistic value.
“It’s quintessentially an American art form,” said Sumter resident Nick Salcido, who, in addition to being an accomplished multi-media artist and lifelong fan of the genre, will be promoting the artistic endeavor to teenagers and young students interested in learning more about the art behind comics during an upcoming six-week course he’ll be instructing at the Sumter County Gallery of Art.
“I’m hoping to instill in them what comics were for me at that age. Not just a love and appreciation for the art form itself, but also making it a gateway to the arts in general,” Salcido said, who added the various artistic aspects imbedded in the comic book – not just the creation of characters, but also design and storytelling, just to name a few – are becoming increasingly sought after talents. “The individuals having these kinds of skill sets are becoming more and more desirable by employers,” Salcido said.
A part of the class, students will learn the basics of how to draw and design comic art characters and use photos as references for finished drawings, as well as learn about the essentials of creating facial expressions, expressing emotion, poses suggesting action, and more.
The six-week class is open to students ages 9 to 17 and will be held every Thursday, beginning March 16, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The cost of the class is $105 for gallery members, and $120 for non-gallery members. The Sumter County Gallery of Art is located at 200 Hasel Street in the Sumter County Cultural Center and is typically open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, or to enroll in the upcoming lass, contact the gallery at 803-775-0543, or visit their website here.
And Salcido’s class is just one of the events coming up in Sumter that have started to make comic book aficionados take an interest in the Gamecock City.
Coming up at the end of the month – on Friday, Mar. 31 and Saturday, Apr. 1 – the Sumter County Cultural Commission, in conjunction with USC Sumter, will host their annual Comic Arts Symposium, where fans from throughout the southeast will gather to meet and artists from around the nation will be on hand to discuss the art form.
Vendor and cos-player opportunities are still available for the annual symposium. Anyone wishing to participate in the symposium should contact Carmella Bryan, executive director of the cultural commission, at (803) 436-2261.