Beth Sobel, who lives in Bellingham’s Columbia neighborhood, says she’s been illustrating professionally for just over three years. She studied art, she says, but struggled with gallery shows because she’s shy and has a difficult time with self-promotion. Illustration solved those problems and gave her assignments, which she loves, she says.
Sobel is one of dozens of artists, retailers and publishers participating in Bellingham ComiCon, Saturday, Oct. 24, at Ferndale Events Center. It’s her second year at the sixth annual event; she’ll be selling her prints and postcards.
Sobel’s shyness doesn’t seem to be an issue for the event, which draws fans of comic books, cosplay and pop culture.
“I enjoy cons because I get to experience the wonderful enthusiasm people share for the hobbies and interests they love,” she says.
Sobel illustrates board games, card games, and tabletop role-playing games. She is the primary or only illustrator for such board games as Viticulture, Tuscany, Lanterns: the Harvest Festival, Between Two Cities, and World’s Fair 1893, and is one contributor of many for Legend of the Five Rings and Lord of the Rings LCG, and for the Firefly and Star Wars role-playing games.
Bellingham ComiCon is an affordable family show with $8 tickets and ages 7 and younger free.
She’s currently working on developing a card game with her husband, Daniel Sobel, titled “Wildwood.”
Eric Burris, the founder of Bellingham ComiCon, says the first show, in 2009, took place at Hampton Inn’s Fox Hall and drew 250 fans.
“Since 2010, we’ve been at the Ferndale Events Center and attendance in 2014 was 1,800,” he says.
Before Burris founded Bellingham ComiCon, he was a convention dealer for 25 years at the Portland, Ore., Comic Book Show and the Seattle Center Con.
“Eventually I began volunteering behind the scenes,” he says.
“During my years as a volunteer, I found I really enjoyed event planning; it became my creative outlet,” Burris says. “Both promoters are retired now but mentored me during the inception of the Bellingham ComiCon, and still continue each year.”
“I especially enjoy shows like the Bellingham ComiCon because it’s an affordable family show,” he says.
Burris, like many who are participating and attending the event, grew up reading comics. He especially liked Captain America, and says he was part of the generation that watched such classic TV shows a “Star Trek,” “Batman,” “Combat” and “Wild Wild West.”
A couple of the highlights this year are a costume contest for cosplayers, and an appearance by the 501st Legion, a group famous for its Star Wars costumes. Guests this year include Randy Emberlin, Mick Gray, Rick Hoberg, Aaron Lopresti, Bob Smith and Keith Tucker.
It allows me to get my geek on and have fun.
Ben Hansen, Bellingham artist
Travis Bundy, who lives in Auburn, owns and operates Creator’s Edge Press, an indie comic company. He’s also a writer and artist for two of his company’s releases, “Jeff” and “Billy Love Nibbles.”
Bundy attended Western Washington University from 1996 to 1999 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and illustration. He has attended all of the Bellingham ComiCons.
“I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon,” says Bundy.
He says he was always a storyteller, so his career was a natural progression.
“My first real love was film, but since my folks didn’t have a video camera I had to draw my stories out in panels,” Bundy says. “I guess that was the real beginning.”
Bellingham’s Ben Hansen does a wide variety of things, from character designs to covers and digital painting. He participates in about four conventions a year, including the Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle and the Lilac City ComiCon in Spokane.
“I really enjoy these events as I am still a fan myself,” Hansen says. “It allows me to get my geek on and have fun.”
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24
Where: Ferndale Events Center, 5715 Barrett Road
Cost: $8 adults, free for ages 7 and younger; at Brown Paper Tickets.
More: Bellingham ComiCon, the annual Comic Book and Pop Culture event, welcomes special guests Randy Emberlin, Rick Hoberg, Keith Tucker, Mick Gray, Bob Smith and Aaron Lopresti as well as local artists, a special appearance by the 501st Legion, vendors with thousands of comics and related collectibles, plus a costume contest, freebies and door prizes.