The Press

Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:03 am

By Thomas Musgrave Georgetown News-Graphic

     Petra Burkhalter has been drawing comics since she was a student at Scott County Middle School. Now the 2009 Scott County High School graduate is taking her art to a higher level as one of more than 120 central Kentucky comic artists who form the founding corps of Blueprint Saints magazine.
     The idea for Blueprint Saints belongs to Ben Kuchera, a former college art professor and filmmaker who wanted to give voice to a crop of unrecognized artistic talent in central Kentucky. He used his experience studying at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Chicago's School of Arts as inspiration."These are schools where the best teachers in the world beat you down so far. Graduates come out of those programs never wanting to draw again," Kuchera said. "When I became a college teacher I wanted to do the complete opposite. I wanted to reinforce them. What I was seeing in my last year teaching was fantastic. There were two guys drawing comics and it was amazing. They had tried to get their political cartoons in the Herald-Leader and that was the moment I realized I wanted to create an environment for these guys to be seen."
     The excitement over creating a comic art community has been infectious, Burkhalter said. Now a sophomore at the School of Art Academy of Cincinnati, the 20-year-old comic creator says becoming one of Blueprint Saints' founding artists has ignited a fire beneath her. "I've really been intensely focused the last couple of years," she said. "Blueprint Saints made me realize others were focused on it too, and it caused me to gain focus."
     Although the magazine is about two years away from its launch, Kuchera and the artists are ready for their coming-out party as a force in the comic book industry. Having met monthly behind closed doors for the past few years, they will hold their first public meeting at 2 p.m. March 19 at the Lexington Public Library.
     The magazine, when it is published, will feature work by artists such as Burkhalter, giving them a print venue for their stories and art. To maintain the integrity of the work and the ownership of the artist, none of the magazine's content will be put on the Internet, Kuchera said.
"We believe the next generation of comic creators want a sense of ownership," Kuchera said. "This is an opportunity for 124 comic creators to be seen by an entire city, as opposed to just putting something out on the Internet where someone stumbles upon your work, stuff that they will never buy on their own. "I was surprised at the number of people in my own area who were really into comics and making them," Burkhalter said. "They're all artists and they're really good. Ben inspired me, too. He was going after it so hard. It's a good environment to be in for artists."
Burkhalter's current project for Blueprint Saints is called Monsters of Morbidia, a "lighthearted horror/fantasy storyline" in which monsters such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and gremlins exist in a world much like ours. They plug away at careers, keep up with the latest monster pop stars and pay their bills. Her story focuses on three characters: a scarecrow, a werewolf and a gremlin. They are fighting against a movement in the Morbidian parliament to impose segregation on the monsters based on how "human" they are."It allows me to explore themes of discrimination, but also tell a good story," she said.
     Having an artist like Burkhalter helps Kuchera achieve one of the goals he has for Blueprint Saints: breaking the glass ceiling in the comics industry."It's nearly impossible to find female creators," he said. "We've got 16 or 17 now. Our project will show them they have a place in visual storytelling."The lack of women in comics is noticeable," Burkhalter said. "If I see something by a woman, I'm like, 'you go, girl.' And since I have the capacity to make comics, I think I should show them what I can do. "There's a lot of tradition in the industry and the best way to fight it is to start doing what you want to do." In fighting that battle, Burkhalter has found kindred spirits in her fellow artists of Blueprint Saints."It gives you a sense that you are a part of something big," she said. "I've met a lot of people who inspire me and I like to hang out with, people I would have never met before."

News-Graphic

By Katharine Sagan

This is the first post in a weekly series profiling all of the Awesome Inc. companies.

     The vision of The Comic Arts Partnership, or The Comic AP, is to engage the local community in the experience of the visual narrative of the Comic Arts. They foster local talent and provide an outlet for their content to be seen in Lexington, Ky.

The Comic AP produces Blueprint Saint Magazine (blueprintsaintsmagazine.com), which promotes visual sequential art, the formal name for graphic novels and comic books. Designed for the every man, the magazine is bringing together regional artists for a regional audience.

     The Comic AP is run democratically by nine board members that make up a team called Architect, including Blueprint Saints founder B.D. Kuchera, who leads the social element of the project which is called CCLive (Comic Creators Live). There are no paid staff members; they are all permanent volunteers. There are 124 comic creators being featured in the magazine, twelve writers, twelve fine artists, and a ten person design team.

Blueprint Saints Magazine is a seventy two page, 11.25 x 13.5 inch, full color publication. 10,000 issues will be released every month. Since The Comic AP is a nonprofit entity, there is no cost to the reader and no advertisements in the magazine. There are thirteen styles or themes of comics. Knowing that every reader has their own taste, The Comic AP wants to enable the public to see the full gambit of the comic arts.

     Blueprint Saints Magazine is an open source print environment for comic creators, which means that all artists inside the publication retain their intellectual property. The Open Age of Comics allows for comic creators to be seen in print, yet still own all their property. Blueprint Saints Magazine does not take any ownership to any content created by the artists involved; they take no percentages, no membership dues, and have no requirement for any of the artists to stay. The Comic AP does not take funding from comic organizations in order to print Blueprint Saints Magazine, but takes funding only from arts organizations. Blueprint Saints Magazine is not a comic label, but an arts foundation that promotes Comic Arts.

     This is a risky, new idea that has faced resistance from certain facets of the local comic community. However, undaunted, The Comic AP, Comic Creators Live, and Blueprint Saints Magazine is venturing forward, sustaining and protecting the printed comic which has been around for eighty years. The team of Blueprint Saints Magazine has vowed to never make an electronic version of Blueprint Saints, as that would undermine the entire purpose of protecting the physical comic. Inspired by Harvey Pekar in Cleveland, Ohio, who started the underground comic movement, The Comic AP is not about changing how comics are drawn or read, but changing the environment in which they are created. As they say, we have a giraffe, and were going to release it down Main Street. When you do that, all social media and digital technology will react. You dont get that from a website no one will ever see. So, in other words, people will notice this magazine.

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