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Currently living near University Heights and North Park, Kuhaupt says, “I attended my first Comic-Con in 1980, and have been attending pretty regularly since 1994. About three years ago, I felt the urge to start drawing again, and my interest in comics was rekindled.”

He’s walking into the 2011 Con with a fair amount of experience in commercial cartooning, but having only worked on one traditional panel-by-panel comic book, the somewhat obscure Legend of Rudy McBacon.

The Greatest Weapon in Human History, by Rich Kuhaupt

However, “I’m developing my own comic, which I plan to self-publish, a mini-comic project called “The Greatest Weapon in Human History.” It’s a humorous look at the history of weapons development. I’ve posted the story so far in a photo album on my Facebook page, and the feedback has been very positive.”

“Greatest Weapon” is visually akin to the Rip Off Press series Cartoon History of the Universe, matching well-researched docutext with expressive, if somewhat rubbery, cartoon enactments.

“I don’t have a portfolio to speak of, so I’ll spend Comic-Con looking at how other artists are making a living at comics. I’d like to learn more about the business side and the trends in comic books. I’ll also be spending much of my time in the small-press area. I just want a job in the comic industry, whether it’s as an artist or as a lesser worker bee.”

He says a friend once mentioned a possible job at DC Comics’ La Jolla office. “The work was changing Japanese word balloons to English, and little else. I’d be thrilled with something like that.”

∗ ∗ ∗

“I’m a corporate cube farmer by day, and a freelance writer by night and by train,” says 35-year-old comic writer Erik W. Hendrix. Currently living in Oceanside, Hendrix spent over a decade wearing his not-so-secret corporate identity at Unisys Logistics and Order Management in Rancho Bernardo. “I was the lead in the logistics department for a long time.”

Hendrix has long aspired to be a writer, but hadn’t considered comics until around 2008. “I was working on my first novel, and I had a ton of ideas gnawing at my brain. Just jotting them down didn’t clear them from my thoughts, so I started dabbling in comic scripts, tying together my love of writing with my love of comics.”

Last year, he took a job as VP of promotions at Arcana Comics, which publishes his 1950s Vegas mob thriller SideShows, drawn by Michael Nelsen. “It ties together my biggest loves: superheroes and old Vegas. It tells the story of some circus folk enlisted by a mob boss in Vegas, who is trying to control the burgeoning underbelly of the town’s gambling.”

Hendrix says he’ll spend much of Comic-Con behind the Arcana table, promoting the series with preview copies of the first issue, due to ship shortly after the convention.

“Do I feel my life could be changed by what happens at the Con? I’d love to take 2000 copies of my book and sell out. I’d love for the media to fall in love with the book. It’s not about the money, because I don’t think anyone goes into comics looking at dollar signs. It’s about creating something and sharing it with as many people as possible.”

Hendrix insists that “It can happen here. In 2008, I was a fan. In 2009, an aspiring creator walking around with flyers and pitches. In 2010, I was working at a booth and had contracts. For 2011, I’ll be running Arcana’s booth and debuting my first mass-distributed graphic novel.

“What will 2012 bring?”

∗ ∗ ∗

“I’ve been attending Comic-Con in San Diego every year since the seventh grade,” says 28-year-old Francis Jay Bautista, who heads up a five-person group of webcomic creators called Team Mixed Nuts.

“Right now, we have our hands full with our Strawberry Scented Burnout webcomic, a story about geek redemption and pride. Dumped by his girlfriend for his geeky nature, Francis, the hero, struggles to find his self-worth and the power to stand up for all that is sacred and holy in the geekiverse.”

The stories, like Bautista, are based in San Diego. “Since we’re all fans of manga and anime, the comic has a very Japanese manga feel to it.”

He and his fellow Mixed Nuts are hoping that Comic-Con will provide an avenue for their webcomics to leap onto the printed page. “It’s a really good opportunity to break into the comic industry, since most of the major comic companies have panel reviews, meet-and-greets, and other events. It’s one of the few places where the comic-industry execs can get up close and personal with their fanbase. For better or worse.”

Bautista’s game plan for the convention? “Probably walking down Artists’ Alley and talking to all the small-press people. They’re just like me, putting their hopes and dreams on paper, or on the internet, and trying to get people to read it. I always get a sense of camaraderie when I walk down that section.

“Plus, since it’s an awesome gathering of geeks from all over the world, a chance to be a geek without restraint.”

∗ ∗ ∗

Twenty-seven-year-old photographer Kimberly Prue lives near SDSU and works as a pizza chef at Famous Famiglia restaurant. She has attended two Comic-Cons in San Diego, 2005 and 2010, having spent the intervening years serving in the U.S. Navy. However, she says, “I’ve been able to attend several other conventions, including Komiket and International Anime Fair in Tokyo, Anime Expo, NekoCon, Anime Banzai, and Sac-Anime.

“I’m kind of new at doing comics, so it was a big personal accomplishment to be acknowledged with verified professional status this year by the staff at Comic-Con.” Of course, what constitutes a “professional level” is a subjective call. Prue says, “Anime and manga-style art is what I base most of my drawing technique off of. I’m working on two projects right now. One is called “Dreams and Secrets,” which is what I term a soap-opera comic. The main character, Monica Phillips, is based on me. She’s a professional photographer getting to realize her dreams.”

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