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Ink tales


May 2013

Milwaukee is known as Brew City, but it has enough talented comic book artists that it could adopt the name Ink City. For years these creative individuals have produced their own small press publications and developed fans in Milwaukee and beyond. Here are five fresh local projects worth finding.

Night Light Comics

Matt Chicorel (who signs his work simply, "Chic"), 31, has been drawing his self-published venture — "Night Light Comics" — since 2004. You can also frequently find his work as art on fliers for local bands. Chic’s distinct style features some of his favorite motifs — ninjas, dinosaurs, pizza and cute punk rock girls.

Chic’s latest project is a 216-page graphic novel titled "Egyptian Shumba," a comedy adventure, starring an eccentric cast from his "Night Light Comics."

"I liked the idea of having all the room I wanted to get out the jokes and storyline ideas I had in my head," Chic says. "It took a lot of time and effort, but I’m totally happy with it. I’m already working on the next book."

Ross Wellington

It sounds like a science fiction title, but "Ross Wellington," by local artists Brian Ellis and Mark Van Handel, is more rooted in crime noir than outer space. Its title character — which sounds a lot like alleged UFO crash site Roswell, N.M. — is part alien, part Sam Spade and meets a rogue’s gallery of pulp fiction villains on the trail of his mystery solving.

Ellis, 32, and Van Handel,33, have uploaded their first four-part story, "The Victor Romeo Tango," to Amazon, and are hoping to complete eight more issues in the series if they can spark enough interest in the hardboiled alien.






The Riverwest Currents Comics Page

The Riverwest Currents is a monthly newspaper that reports on news of the Riverwest neighborhood and spotlights some of the creative talent that resides there. They’ve featured a comics page of homegrown talent since 2003.

Laura Maker, 31, has been contributing comic panels to the paper since 2007 and became the Page’s first female editor earlier this year. She pens her own strip featuring her offbeat humor and oversees comics from longtime contributors Michael Cothroll, Dan Hernandez and David Beyer Jr. They draw strips about gardening, autobiographical stories and cartoon vegetables behaving badly, respectfully.




Union Comics

Lance Orr, 22, developed his love for cartooning from his father, who drew a superhero title called "Union Comics" in 1967.

"Being a poor inner city kid, he would draw on anything he could get his hands on," Orr says. "He would even bind his notebook-drawn comics with loose strands of carpet."

Lance picked up the legacy in 2008, naming his own comic-zine "Union Comics," a mix of action and comedy starring his superhero character Squidman.

Drink N Draw Social Club

Cartooning can notoriously be a lonely hobby, with long hours spent at the drawing board. One group, The Drink N Draw Social Club, has found away around these solitary blues.

"It was born out of a need to get out of the studios, away from the day jobs, free of restraints and be surrounded by like-minded individuals of all skill sets, talents and inclinations," says "Brother" Terry Haller, 44, who founded the Milwaukee group in 2007 with his friend "Friar" Tim Demeter, 33.

"That and thirst," he adds.

Meetups are monthly, and location rotates to different bars. Any artist is welcome to join in for free as long as they bring their own drawing supplies, and a safe way home.


This story ran in the May 2013 issue of: