Monday, June 9, 2014

Stranger than science fiction: Comic artist combines sci-fi with real history

Photo by Stefano Giovannini
Some comic artists envision history a little differently to the rest of us.
Comic book illustrator Nick Bertozzi has spent his career drawing studies of historical events, absurdist science fiction, and sometimes a combination of both.
“I am all over the map,” said Bertozzi. “I am kind of a spaz, so that fits my genre. It is the spaz genre.”


The artist, who has been drawing for 22 years, started his career with a book called “The Salon” about what would happen if Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque could climb inside famous paintings and have adventures. The book drew the attention of the big comic houses, who contracted him to write a comic book about the explorations of Lewis and Clark.
Now, Bertozzi concentrates mostly on sci-fi romps, such as his new book “Persimmon Cup,” which he calls an amalgam of 1973 French stop-motion surrealist sci-fi film “Fantastic Planet” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” The book, which began as a webcomic, chronicles the adventures of a weaver and a loom cleaner, as they encounter pirates, drones, and other strange creatures.
Bertozzi, who lives in Queens, is one of more than 30 exhibitors who will show off their comic books at the Grand Comics Festival at Williamsburg’s Bird River Studios on June 7.
The goal of the festival, now in its second year, is to showcase a smattering of local comic artists who create small press and handmade books. New York is hardly wanting for more comic fests, but the organizer says that one of the things that makes his event different is that the price to participate is more accessible for impoverished illustrators. Artists at Grand can get half a table of selling space for $50 — far less than events such as New York Comic Con, where a half-table runs about $400.
“I know how hard that is, especially when you are selling $3 comics,” said organizer Patrick Dorian, who is a comic artist himself. “That is a lot of comics to sell.”
Grand Comics Festival at Bird River Studios (343 Grand St. between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg, www.grandcomicsfestival.com). June 7 at 11 am. Free.
Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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