7,000 B.C. saves the day for aspiring artists

By: Daniel Monaño, Staff Reporter | Photos By: Daniel Johnson

1It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Melvin Van Peebles reference!

7,000 B.C. might have chosen the name whim­sically, the B.C. stands for Baadasssss Comics, in homage to Van Peebles’ acclaimed independent film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, but the group takes comic books seriously, Chuck Larantz, president of 7kBC said.

7kBC is a local non­profit organization that supports current and aspiring independent comic book writers and artists in New Mexico while promoting an understanding of the cul­tural significance of comic art through seminars and workshops around New Mexico, Larantz said.

The group rotates meeting locations between Albuquerque and Santa Fe on a monthly basis. The next meeting will be in Albuquerque, he said. Details about the next meeting will be posted on the group’s website, 7000bc.org.

“For five bucks, which is our monthly dues, if we ever collect them—we’ve been kind of lax about that— anyone can attend our meetings and we encourage anyone inter­ested in comics to come out to one of our events.”

Jenn and John Meyers are a comic book writing and drawing duo based out of Albuquerque, and the married couple also serve as board members of the group, and help orga­nize events and projects, of 7kBC, they said.

John said that the meetings have pro­vided him with a good place to get another set of eyes on his work in order to improve it.

“It’s a nice outlet to go to other people who work in the same field and get support, get help, get feed­back and stuff like that. So it’s been a really rewarding experience,” John said.

Jenn graduated from CNM with an associate degree in Fine Art, and said that 7kBC is a great place for aspiring artists to get feedback from peers and refine their craft in a comfortable environment.

“For me it almost worked like therapy, because there’s a certain point where you’re work­ing and you think you’re not going to make it as a comic book artist. And when you’re around these other people they tell you their experience and you find out it’s not just you that can’t sell, it’s just been a bad year or it was just that convention that was like that. So it’s been really supportive and encouraging,” Jenn said. Alina Mackenzie, a member of 7kBC, said that the meetings focus on peer-editing of mem­bers’ work and lessons on the logistical aspects of making a comic, such as making thumbnails, sto­ryboarding and printing a finished comic.

7kBC has helped Mackenzie to integrate her fine arts background into her comics, she said.

“It’s a perfect place for people to come and get more involved (in comics). I’m an art stu­dent at UNM and it has really helped me learn about developing comics, especially using fine art to tell a story with pictures,” Mackenzie said.

Todd Bernardy is an independent comic book writer and artist who is currently self-publishing a comic book called “Kukui Project” and who said that 7kBC helped him to find his focus in comic making.

“7,000 B.C. really helped me focus on get­ting the first thing fin­ished, and the first thing is the first issue. Getting 22 pages of artwork that’s lettered in a printable form and getting out there and going to the shows. That’s what hap­pened at 7,000 B.C.— that’s how I got into doing conventions and that’s how I got into doing shows,” Bernardy said.

It can be difficult, especially for artists, to earn a living in the comic industry, so when some­one first begins making comic books they need to have a clear idea of what they want to do, to focus on each individual step of the process, and to prac­tice, he said.

7kBC played an important role in refining each of those aspects for Bernardy, he said.

“At 7kBC everybody was really responsive to my work and was really constructive to my draw­ings. At all the meetings you go to everybody is really supportive and I’ve never been to a meeting where anyone has been overly critical. They’ve also been really constructive.”

Every year 7kBC puts on a 24-hour workshop in which the participants have to draw and write a 24 page comic in 24 hours, Larantz said.

Aliina Mackenzie said that the 24-hour comic day is a great way to immerse oneself in comics and that she looks forward to it all year.

“It’s my favorite day of the year, I like it more than my birthday,” Mackenzie said.

Todd Bernardy said that he got the idea for one of his projects from the 24-hour comic day.

One year during the 24-hour comic day he said that at 3 a.m. he had the horrifying thought of running out of coffee and invented Java Man, the coffee-defending hero of his series “Thunder Groove Bone.”

Jenn Myers said she had never participated in the 24-hour comic day but that she commends the artists and writers who can get it done.

“I have done it on my own and I think it’s crazy. I have no ability to stay up. I have to sleep a lot so I don’t know how they do it,” Myers said.

For more infor­mation on 7,000 B.C. visit 7000bc.org or the Facebook page at face­book.com/7000bc.

To check out Jenn and John Myers’ comics “All the Growing Things”, “The Vagus Rehabilitation” Project and much more, visit typodmary.com.

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