Local comics fans got a close-up look at the work that goes into TV animation this weekend when the Stettler Public Library hosted its first Halloween ComicFest.
The event, held at the library on Saturday, Oct. 25, was a celebration of all things comics-related, attended by an enthusiastic group of about 20.
Kids were invited to bring their own comics to share or trade, or to take some free comic books home from the library.
Soda floats and popcorn were served, and prizes were awarded to those who arrived in costume.
The group also got to chat via Skype with Chris Woods, a Vancouver-based animator who has worked on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series that currently appears on YTV in Canada.
Over the course of an hour, Woods gave a demonstration of his work, showing the computer programs he uses to design and animate characters.
“We basically get to control little puppets inside the computer,” he explained, also showing how animators use simple thumbnail drawings to sketch out a scene before turning it into more polished drawings.
He drew a basic fighting scene featuring one of the Ninja Turtles, Raphael, explaining that the red-masked, sai-carrying turtle is his personal favourite.
“He has so much personality,” Woods explained. “He’s just always been my favourite, since I was a little kid.”
Woods, who is employed by Bardel Entertainment Inc., is the nephew of Darlene Philpot, the library’s program manager.
She beamed with pride as she told stories of how his teachers would tell him to stop drawing in class and focus on his work. He has since turned what they saw as a distraction into a successful career.
Woods also took questions from the audience and then drew a more elaborate scene with a fire-breathing dragon, flying above a forest, being attacked by an overgrown mushroom with trees for claws.
The audience called out a steady stream of wild suggestions, but Woods kept up with the requests admirably. As a final touch, he added another Ninja Turtle, Leonardo, who rode atop the dragon.
Woods said he would send a cleaned-up, coloured final version of the drawing to the library. Philpot said she’d like to print it out and put it on display.
Two Ninja Turtles posters, signed by the show’s staff, were awarded to attendees who came in costume: Shawn Werbowesky, who dressed as Raphael, and Matthew Clark, dressed as a giant chicken.
Afterward, library staff handed out blank comic pages and invited the kids to draw their own comics.
The library’s assistant manager, Crystal Friars, said that their collection of comics, manga and graphic novels has grown in size and popularity.
“That’s one collection we’ve been really focusing on lately,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest up-and-coming parts of the collection.”
The library has titles targeted at adults, young adults and junior readers, said Friars.
“They go out to all ages,” she said. “Some love the superhero stories, some just love the art.”