Inside iMagicon 2021: Bob Hall
Published Norther Sentry, April 9
Bob Hall is an American comic artist, playwright, and freelance artist. He has worked with many notable companies in his 45 plus year career, including Marvel and DC.
Hall’s passion for comics began at an early age under some unfortunate circumstances. “When I was four years old, it seemed that I was seriously ill. I was taken to the hospital, and it calmed down a little bit. I still had a fever and they thought there was something wrong with me but they didn’t know what it was. I was a four year old kid going stir-crazy in a hospital, so they kept bringing me comic books to read. I ended up with this giant stack of comics because I was there for about four days. They eventually found out that I had measles and they immediately had to send me home because I was contagious and in the kid’s ward. They said, ‘You have to take that big stack of comics with you.’ So I ended up with a giant stack of comic books, and I read them all. I loved them. I loved the concept of pictures with words.”
As he was growing up, Hall’s passion for comics and storytelling evolved into a love of the theater. He focused on school, eventually going on to major in theater at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduating, Hall moved to New York City to become a theater director. When he realized money was scarce, he knew he had to find another marketable skill if he was going to make it in the city. “I thought to myself, well this is a trap. If you go into a steady job, you have to quit [a creative job] or try to juggle all of this stuff. I thought, I’ve got to find some sort of marketable skill that I can do as a freelancer.”
He had all but forgotten about comic books until a friend suggested that he put his drawing skills to good use creating them. “I put myself through school making posters for the theater department and doing portraits in the local mall. I wasn’t great, but I was okay. I loved comic books when I was a kid, and some of them were really badly drawn, and I thought ‘Well, I can draw badly.’ Comic books were having a renaissance at the time though, and the art was amazing. I didn’t think I could do it, but I really wanted to learn how,” he said.
Hall took a comic drawing class taught by John Buscema, who was “one of Marvel’s absolute best artists.” He was fortunate enough to have more experience in storytelling and art than many of his classmates and was able to land a job at Marvel Comics directly after. He was soon working on projects such as Doctor Doom, The Avengers, Spider-Man, Thor, The New Mutants, and many more.
While he was learning the ins and outs of drawing comics, Hall also continued writing plays. One of his biggest theater successes was an adaptation of The Passion of Dracula, which showed off-Broadway in 1977 and even made its way to London.
Hall’s work draws inspiration from his everyday life and the lives of those around him. “People always told me, write what you know,” he said. He often uses his own experiences and translates them into his comics, such as with his black and white crime comic Armed and Dangerous, which he created while working for Valiant in the late 1990s.
“One of the things I did with Valiant was a crime comic. I set it on the Upper West Side, where I lived for a long time. There was an Irish mob called the Westies that I used as a basis for the whole thing. The Westies overlapped into the theater district, near where I lived. I read once in the newspaper that a severed head was found in a dryer in a laundromat that was a block away from where I lived. For my first issue of the crime comic, I decided I was going to write a story about how that head got into the dryer,” Hall explained.
Hall moved to England as his comic career was at its peak, but the market began to take a downward spiral soon after. “While living there, I also discovered I was adopted. I mean I was 50 years old, and my one remaining relative decided that I needed to know this now,” he said. While still working for Valiant, Hall moved back to his hometown of Lincoln, Neb. and began to pursue new opportunities as the demand for comic books decreased.
He became involved in a local Shakespeare festival and ended up running the event for 15 years. He also continued with what little comic book work came his way while simultaneously venturing into a new artistic world: painting.
“I needed to do something else to make a living. So I went back to school to get an MSA in painting. I really had nothing else to fill my time. I did a lot of painting before but I always wanted to get back to it,” said Hall.
These days, Hall spends his time working on various comic projects, commissions, and is slowly making his way back into the world of comic cons. His most recent projects turn science and learning into fun, readable comics for children.
Bob Hall will be a special guest at iMagicon in Minot, N.D., from April 23-25, 2021. For more information, visit http://www.imagiconnd.com
Inside iMagicon 2021: Cerina Vincent
Published: Northern Sentry, April 16
Cerina Vincent is an American actress and writer born in Las Vegas, Nevada. From an early age, she was involved in a variety of performing arts that helped shape her passion for entertainment. “I guess I had the performer bug from the beginning,” she said. “I grew up playing dress up and doing dance recitals and making up plays.” Vincent’s experience in modeling, performing, and even winning Miss Nevada Teen all helped to put her on the path to her current career in the entertainment industry.
After graduating high school, Vincent moved to Los Angeles, Calif., to learn the ropes of acting. When a Hollywood agent visited her theater class, her career began to blossom. One of her first breakthrough roles was in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy in 1998, and she has since starred in productions such as Cabin Fever, Everybody Wants to be Italian, and Stuck in the Middle. Vincent has also co-authored a book series and has a children’s book, called Everyone Has a Bellybutton, coming out in 2022.
Since giving birth to her son two years ago, Cerina has also become even more passionate about parenting and has recently started a new podcast called “Raising Amazing,” which she hosts alongside Pediatrician Dr. Joel Gator Warsh. On the podcast, she speaks with celebrities, experts, and aims to create a close knit community through fact-based information for parents to use on their journey to raising children.
While she doesn’t often have free time, Cerina is proud of her hard work and hopes to continue growing her career in the future. “It’s a hustle all the time… I just want to do it all! I don’t want to have to choose,” she said. “I want to believe that I can be a good parent, a good actor, a good writer, a good podcaster… and I have no plans of ever stopping.”
In the crazy world of entertainment, it can be easy to get swept up in the rush of constant auditions, rejections, and new roles. So how does Cerina Vincent stay grounded in an industry that’s all about being someone else? She said, “I started acting in 1998 before Instagram, Twitter, and social media. So I really started from an authentic place. I think things have changed and now people want to be famous just for the sake of being famous and it can be very easy for people. If you’re not grounded in who you really are, if you are not connected to your authentic self, this business will eat you alive. You have to have more going on than this business. You have to love who you are when you’re working and when you’re not working. You have to make who you are, your family, and your friends the most important thing. You have to pour your heart and soul into it to keep it going but you have to know what’s most important and that’s staying true to yourself, being authentic, and having more going on in your life.”
Vincent is grateful for each role she plays but said that her character in Cabin Fever was a starting point for her career. Her part in the movie opened her up to a whole new genre of acting, one she is incredibly grateful for. “It was never something that I thought I would do. I wasn’t setting out to do horror or to do comedy, but I love it all.” She is drawn to the horror community for one big reason: the fans. “The horror fans are unlike any other. There’s really a special bond in the horror community between the actors, the directors and the fans that is very different and special than, I would say, any other genre.”
“The Power Rangers are also a huge fan base that is very similar. They just have this love, bond, and this authenticity,” she said. Cerina loves her fans, and she often has the opportunity to meet up with them at comic cons like iMagicon. This year will be her first comic con since before the pandemic began, and she is looking forward to the feeling of normalcy.
To find out more about the Raising Amazing podcast, go to @raisingamazingpodcast on social media or find Raising Amazing wherever you listen to podcasts.
Cerina Vincent will be a special guest at iMagicon in Minot, N.D., from April 23-25, 2021. For more information, visit http://www.imagiconnd.com.
Inside iMagicon 2021: Eric Stevens
Published: Northern Sentry, April 2
Eric Stevens, owner and creator of ByCats4Cats, has a passion for creating. His business targets a very specific demographic: animal mascot (also known as fursuit) enthusiasts. Fursuits come in a variety of styles, giving each person the ability to become an entirely new character, even if only for a moment.
Stevens’ journey with fursuits began in 1999, when he took a camping trip with some of his friends from online. He never could have imagined the trajectory that the trip would send his life on. “One guy had a tiger mascot costume. I figured I’d try it on, and it was so much fun. You’re not you anymore, you’re a tiger,” said Stevens. ”I went home and I researched what these things cost, because I had to get one, and I actually bought one but decided I didn’t like it. So, I decided I’m going to try to make one. I taught myself how to sew and I did it as a hobby.”
In 2009, Stevens began selling his fursuits and by 2012, he took a leap of faith and quit his job at Paypal.com to pursue his business full-time. ByCats4Cats has taken off, and Stevens has sold over 350 fursuits to customers in 16 different countries across the world. “What’s really cool is that I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever wanted to do out of my business. Right now, I hope that the demand stays high and I can continue putting out a product that people want. That’s something I want to do until I retire.”
The process of making a fursuit begins with a commission request, where a customer will bring photos or drawings of ideas to Stevens. He will then send a quote and begin creating the suit, which can take anywhere from days to weeks to make. Stevens runs a one-man show and does all of the design and production of the fursuits on his own in his studio in White Bear Lake, Minn.
Each customer has his or her own reasons for wearing fursuits. Some people do it to escape reality for a while, some use it as a way to come out of their shell and show off a different side of their personality, and some want to just have fun! “It’s something that somebody personally creates for themselves. It’s like roleplaying or cosplaying but a lot more personal. When you put on the suit, you just lose all your inhibitions, and you’re not yourself anymore. The simplest way to put it is that you just do it for fun,” said Stevens.
Eric Stevens will be a guest of honor at iMagicon from April 23-25, 2021. For more information, visit http://www.imagiconnd.com