County News

Jan Marc Quisumbing has been spreading the word like Starfleet Capt. James T. Kirk marooned on Regula I.


Quisumbing, aka the Janimal, is the comic book artist and cartoonist behind the Verde Valley Comic Expo. Organized with Anne Roberts at the Cottonwood Public Library, the event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Cottonwood Rec Center, next door to the library on Sixth Street.

Getting the expo set up was “controlled chaos,” he said.
“You’re trying to coordinate and book speakers for the various panels we’ll be having; one artist guest, Tom Filsinger who lives in Sedona is a professor at Northern Arizona University and also has been running a tabletop gaming company, Filsinger Games for over 30 years.”

Add to the talent management the need to set up tables for all the incoming artists and writers, and schedules start to fill.

Getting the word out has been going well, Quisumbing said.

“We had a nice first showing in October so it’s made it known around town who we, the Northern Arizona Cartoonist Association, are,” he said.

He’s even gotten some of his own recognition on the streets, which he said points more to local interest in the medium.

Talent at the tables will span from independent creators to those who work for the Big Two — Marvel and DC. Both avenues in the professional world of comics have their ups and downs, Quisumbing said.

“With working for a major publisher, you have the opportunity for your art to be seen by a wider, almost worldwide audience. But also when working ‘indie’ you can play by your rules. Tell stories you want to tell, not beholden by guidelines set forth by the company you work for,” he said.

In addition to tables full of artists, Quisumbing said there was plenty to look forward to. His wife Gioia will be facepainting, there will be guests in full Avengers and Justice League regalia and more.

Cosplay is encouraged for attendees as well.

“Cosplayers are people too. They put on their gauntlets, utility belts, katana blades, helmets and capes just like the rest of us,” Quisumbing said. “It’s great to see them at shows and I respect the effort that goes into creating their costumes.”

With the event right around the corner, Roberts said she was getting a little nervous about the crowd that may show up.

“Everybody’s talking about it so now we’re like, ‘What have we done?’” she said.

Roberts will have some of her own work at the expo as well, as both she and her husband are artists.

Roberts said the library’s relationship with Quisumbing began when he began teaching a drawing class there. Now, he teaches Cartooning for Kids the first Saturday of the month beginning at 11 a.m., with the exception of May, when first Saturday plays host to the national event Free Comic Book Day.

“He’s a very civic minded gentleman,” she said.

The library will be promoting youth literacy with the $5 admission fee. Kids 10 and under are free. Roberts said that donated canned food items, two of which reduce admission to $3, will go toward local food banks.

“A lot of kids who might be reluctant readers aren’t as intimidated by a comic as they might be with a regular book,” she said.

Follow Quisumbing on Instagram at thejanimaldraws. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Panel by Panel
A schedule of organized discussions and events at the expo:
11 a.m.: Northern Arizona Cartoonist Association — meet the artists.
Noon: Tom Filsinger of Filsinger Games.
1 p.m.: “Occupants” film
3 p.m.: How to create comics, by Dave Beaty.
4 p.m.: Artist sketch off.
Admission to the expo itself is $5, $3 with two canned food items. Children 10 and under are free.

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