RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Hundreds of people turned out at Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Branch Cabell Library for the ‘Richmond Indie Comic Expo’ - or RICE.
“Indie comics is a really interesting medium. It’s a medium that a lot of marginalized artists have gravitated to, because you see them historically been edged out by sort of mainstream superhero comics,” said Thea Cheuk, the co-president of RICE and organizer of the expo.
Those in attendance were mostly students, who were also artists, looking to connect with the other creators that paved the way.
Organizers say RICE is unique in that it was able to pull in artists from around the country, such as Boston and Los Angeles, adding that it was all put together by art students from VCU.
In all, about 80 relatively unknown artists came to showcase and sell their work, along with holding panels for aspiring artists and comic fans.
“I’ve met amazing, cool artists from all over the place, people that I follow on Instagram! I got to meet them in person and look at their art,” said student Anh Madeline Dang.
Apart from being a mini “Comic-Con” at VCU, it also served as a means to let student-artists get more exposure for their work.
“I have ‘Together Through the Labyrinthine’, which is my first comic book," said indie artist and student Vim Shye. “It’s really nice to have an outlet too, just to be able to say ‘Hey, I’m here. Not just working retail, but I do art too!’”
And artists like Shye got to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with more seasoned creators, like Melissa Duffy, also a VCU alum.
“Small tabling events for indie artists – you can’t measure the importance of them. This is where you’re making connections, you’re networking, you’re making sales, you’re telling people about what you do,” Duffy said. “For professionals, this is a break from doing huge scale projects for a bigger name brand. You can show off work that is just yours, that you’re very proud of. There’s something special in that you’re seeing people who really are pouring themselves in what they’re showing you."
Organizers say almost 1,000 people visited the expo throughout the day, and they are hoping that based on turnout, RICE can become an annual event.
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