RVA comic creators drawn together for new expo

Behind the panels and speech balloons is an amazing pool of talent.

Local comic book artists and writers will convene at Gallery5 this weekend to discuss their work and creative processes as well as showcase the city’s under-appreciated comics culture during the RVA Comic Creator Expo put on by local indie publisher Sink/Swim Press

“Richmond…just has a really vibrant and active comics scene that I think is often overlooked,” said James Moffitt, founder of Sink/Swim and who, along with artist Bizhan Khodabandeh,1 co-organized the expo. “I want people to know what’s going on.”

Setting up shop inside Gallery5 will be many of Richmond’s leading comic creators: writers like Rick Spears (Iron Man, Black Metal) and Brian Funk (Enforcer); artists like Meg Gandy (Godspend, Spera), Tim Skirven (Mellow Gold); writer and podcaster Matt Fisher2 (Life Leave Me Alone), Rosarium Publishing (Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond), and more.

“The artists/writers will be selling their books, prints, original drawings, and merchandise,” Khodabandeh said. “This is an opportunity for folks to get signed copies of work as well as ask questions and chat with the creators in person.” Gallery5 will serve beer at a cash bar throughout the day.

In addition to the expo, Moffitt and Khodabandeh recently collaborated on The Little Red Fish, a graphic novel inspired by the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

“It is executed similar to what George Orwell did with Animal Farm. You aren’t going to see an exact timeline or human beings, but you will recognize some key events and players that led up to the revolution,” Khodabandeh said about the graphic novel. “Many Americans are unaware of the CIA involvement in some of the events that would lead up to the revolution, as well as how several non-Muslim organizations were involved in the overthrow of the Shah.”

Sink/Swim will release The Little Red Fish at the expo, and will serve free Persian food as a tie-in to the graphic novel’s subject.

While geared to current or would-be comic creators and readers, Moffitt said comic knowledge isn’t a requirement for admission. “The big thing here is that this is not a comic con, and it’s not an exclusivist event,” he said. “I really want everyone there. If I had it my way, everyone in Richmond would show up. I want anyone and everyone who likes to read and/or look at pictures to come and find something new. If I can create even one new comic enthusiast, I’d be happy.”

Khodabandeh hopes local comic creators, who usually take a back seat to their work, get a chance to shine. “I’m hoping that attendees will see how very talented our local/regional comic creators are,” Khodabandeh said. “We have so many well known or award-winning cartoonists living in this city that many Richmonders aren’t aware of.”

RVA Comic Creator Expo runs Saturday, October 11th from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM at Gallery5. It’s free and open to the public.


Art from The Little Red Fish courtesy of Bizhan Khodabandeh

  1. Disclosure: Bizhan created “Richmond Monuments” that once ran on RVANews
  2. Disclosure: Matt has contributed to RVANews in the past
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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