Flying Colors Comics throws spotlight on
­independent artists at August convention

By Kara Navolio on August 7, 2017

Ben Ferrari for websiteThere’s much more to comic books than superheroes. At Flying Colors Comics in Concord, the superheroes of the Marvel and DC universes make up only a small part of sales.

“Comic books cover almost every category you would find in a bookstore, like biography, history, romance, sci-fi, horror and mystery,” says Joe Field, who founded the store in 1988.

“My goal is to make comics accessible to everyone,” he adds. “When I first started the business, the clientele was mostly males 18-30 years old. Now we have all ages. We have more women customers and parents buying for their kids. We have a kids’ section with titles the whole family can enjoy.”

On Aug. 26, Flying Colors Comics will host its 3rd annual Mini Indie-Con It’s a chance for Field to support independent local artists who are creating and publishing their own books and to expose the local audience to new voices.

Clayton resident Ben Ferrari, owner of Pilot Studios, has been an independent publisher since 2009. He looks forward to showing his company’s high-quality work at the Mini Inde-Con.

Pilot Studios produces comic books, graphic novels, coloring books and puzzles. Ferrari publishes some titles for other artists, but others are his own creations – like “Son Chasers,” the fictionalized story of Hitler’s son who is trying to make up for the sins of his father, and “The Carriers,” about weaponized carrier pigeons.

Ferrari, who works as an electrician by day, has been drawing since he was a child. He learned how to make comic books in the 1990s while working at Image Comics, the No. 3 producer of comic books in America – most famous for “The Walking Dead” stories.

“This is what I love to do,” he says. “It’s my hobby. I’m building it into a business, but when you only get to do it part-time, it can take months to finish one 22-page comic book.”

Every Wednesday, buyers can find 100 new titles at Flying Colors. The rise of graphic novels over the past 20 years has boosted Field’s business. Graphic novels used to be bound collections of comic books, but they have become stand-alone stories in recent years.

Some have also become award-winning books. In 1992, “Maus” by Art Spiegelman became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. It is a serialized collection detailing his father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor. In the kids’ section, “El Deafo” by Cece Bell was a Newberry Honor Book in 2015.

Comics are an original American art form started in the 1930s. For some kids, comic books are the entryway into enjoying reading. Field speaks to teachers in the master’s program at the University of the Pacific about how to incorporate comics into the reading curriculum.

“Comics work both the left and right sides of the brain,” Field explains. “The reading is both interpretive and cognitive. The reader has to fill in the way things are said and the transitions between frames.”

The Mini Inde-Con runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at Flying Colors, 2980 Treat Blvd., Concord. For more information, visit www.flyingcolorscomics.com and www.pilotcomics.com.

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