Cincinnati — While walking through the doors of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center after receiving wristbands, the immense convention floor accommodated Star Wars cosplayers, Lego displays and towering booths of comic artists, writers, producers and vendors from every possible genre in the pop culture world.

Cincy Comic Con, which took place on the weekend of Sept. 12, is unlike most of the larger comic con events around the country. This event focused on artists and writers of comics much more than celebrities and cosplaying.

Tony Moore, the artist of the widely popular comic series and TV adaptation The Walking Dead, created Cincy Comic Con three years ago with the goal of bringing a professional comic convention to Cincinnati.

“It’s more artist-oriented, whereas a lot of the bigger conventions, even though they have their artist alleys, it’s still more focused on the actors and celebrities,” Emily Thompson, a self-illustrator, said.

Artists like Andrew Heath, Jason Phillips and C.W. Jeffery are among many that have come back to Cincy Comic Con this year to display and sell their print illustrations.

Not only were many artists featured, but famous writers in the comic book world like Jeff Parker and Cullen Bunn were there.

Parker, who took over for Geoff Johns as the writer of the "Aquaman: The New 52" series, said he had a lot of freedom to be creative with his writing.

“I had a lot of room, actually I got to do a lot of what I wanted, and I got to do the whole search for Aquaman’s mom,” Parker said. “(DC Comics was) very gracious about letting me do stuff that was pretty much defining his origin.”

Parker, who has garnered a lot of fame for his writings in "X-Men: First Class," "Batman ‘66" and "Flash Gordon," began his career drawing and writing his own graphic novel, "The Interman."

“A lot of people don’t know I draw anymore because I write so much,” Parker said. “But it’s kind of a very gradual progression, I don’t have a good ‘bat flew’ through the window moment.”

The typical artists at Cincy Comic Con may have been illustrators and animators, but one artist who stood out from the crowd was Kevis Mitchell, a wire sculptor from Virginia who has traveled all across the country displaying his work.

“Mom wouldn’t let me take my G.I. Joe men to church and play with them,” Mitchell said. “So I took a piece of wire and made my first stick man in church and from there, the light went on. I can make my own toys.”

A few years ago, one of Mitchell’s cousins mentioned comic cons to him and after trying one out, he found that he fit in well with the people at these events.

“(These are) the sci-fi fans and they love the artwork,” Mitchell said.

When Mitchell served in the military, he used to carry a bag of wire with him on deployment and would make wire sculptures while he was flying in the planes.

“I had to go off of what I could think of,” Mitchell said. “But here, I could look around and see something that’s cool and say, ‘Hey, I wanna make a sculpture of it.’”

While Mitchell’s art is unusual in its form, Chad Nuss, an independent comic creator, has profound and thought-provoking work. In Nuss’ soon-to-be finished book of about 25 pages, "The Silence" follows four characters in a futuristic world where the heroes not only fight, but also struggle with hard life questions.

“I bring up a lot of philosophy and worldview and some religion to make people think,” Nuss said. “Yes there’s some fighting, yes there’s some fun stuff, but also I want to bring up these deeper questions of what you think about life.”

In the art Nuss creates, he means to show his representation of the pain of life. A character named Naomi is born blind and resents this, but is helped by a man Dr. Polaris so that she can see holographically.

“You find out later in the story that the treatments she received are actually killing her,” Nuss said. “She’s wrestling with being born blind and having this death sentence, and she’s very mad at God.”

Nuss spoke about how he wants his work to bring up questions of humanity, reality and religion, rather than just being cheap art that people pass right by.

“I want people to stop and think about it,” Nuss said.

Most people would say that artists each find their own style and create their mark, but commercial illustrator Kevlen Goodner said he arrived at something more complex than a style.

“Around 15 years ago, I kind of found my language for how I wanted to tell a story. And it took me that long to really understand what that would be," Goodner said. "Everybody has a signature, your signature is different from mine even though we understand the same language and write in the same alphabet.”

As Goodner sits next to many other talented artists, he finds that the environment is one very influential for his own work.

“You can’t help but absorb some of that and you learn new techniques,” Goodner said. “Sometimes it’s like an epiphany, an awakening and other times it’s just verification that your ideas actually work.”

Goodner’s son Justice was greatly influenced by his father, who supported him throughout his life, and now works for the two big comic book publishers DC and Marvel.

“I think on top of being a good dad, the fact that he was an artist and that I found a particular interest in art was a reassurance for me that it was OK to do art,” Justice Goodner said. “The support was always there for me. I guess I kind of capitalized on it — pursued that as a career goal.”

Josh Eckert’s independent comic "Son of Bigfoot" had an interesting origin that developed into two short books following a “bigfoot” boy named Iseq who lives in a parallel universe.

“The idea for 'Son of Bigfoot' actually came from a storyboard in a class I was taking when I had to pitch a scene in class from an animated feature that I was writing,” Eckert said. “At the time it was called 'Little Bigfoot' and the pitch went over really well with the class and (I) kept kind of developing it.”

For Eckert, the flexibility of comics allowed him to tell stories and said there are no limitations to the kind of expressions artists can portray in comic books and added that the process can be difficult, time-consuming, funny or even dramatic.

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“It’s always been a thing I felt like was an easy route to take to tell a story, not that it’s not incredibly difficult,” he said.

Echoed by most of the artists at Cincy Comic Con, Eckert raved about the atmosphere of support for artists and creators.

“This show is amazing,” Eckert said. “This is only my second convention selling the book, 'Son of Bigfoot,' and it’s super creator friendly. I’ve never been to a show that is this kind to creators and the crowd is really great.”

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