With Great Artwork Comes Great Story Lines; ComiCon Celebrates Still-Thriving World of Comic Books, Graphic Novels

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Byline: Drew Dixon

Not even lightning, high winds or pelting rains can stop a superhero. Those conditions can't stop their fans, either, as droves of comic book and graphic novel enthusiasts flocked to the Beaches branch library in Neptune Beach Saturday afternoon, despite stormy conditions.

For about three hours from 2 to 5 p.m., fans of comic books and active imaginations descended on the library for the first "ComiCon." The event showcased the works of local comic book creators James Greene, Aaron Hazouri and Henry Gonzalez, who displayed some of their works. But adding to the flavor was an invitation for many of the visitors to dress up as their favorite superheroes so there were plenty of miniature Batmen, Spider-Men and Supermen roaming the event.

"I like how much effort they put into drawing all the pictures; the detail," said 11-year-old Max McBride who went from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach to the event. "They make the stories interesting and not boring so you keep reading."

Max's mother, Beth McBride, said the family felt compelled to go to ComiCon because not only Max, but also his 9-year-old brother Cody are addicted to comics and their favorite is the long-running "Archie" series.

"That's why he reads," Beth McBride said.

In the age of the Internet and video games, comics still have a solid core of fans. Gonzalez was on hand with displays of his original work. He's in the final stages of a graphic novel he calls "Junkyard Cat," about a girl who tries to make a documentary about the Jacksonville Jaguars football team, but has her idea stolen by one of her college professors.

"I wanted to do something that's entertaining and exciting that's not superhero and not autobiographical," Gonzales said.

The concept is not an easy haul to make into a graphic novel, Gonzalez said. He said he's aiming for a 200-page graphic novel and each page takes him about 8 to 10 hours to illustrate and add dialogue. He hopes to have it done within a year.

"I love drawing and I've been drawing since I was a kid," Gonzalez said. "When I see images in my head, they're not static, they move. …