Suffolk Comic & Art Expo coming to Brentwood
For comic fans, Comic Con is a once-a-year event—if that often.
But for working comic book writers and artists, smaller and lesser-known conventions, like the Suffolk Comic & Art Expo being held at the Brentwood campus of Suffolk County Community College on Oct. 26, are a way of life.
One of the featured artists who will be working the booths and tables at the upcoming expo is James Avila. Avila, a Melville resident, has been a lifelong comic fan but the first book he illustrated came out in 2017. He’s currently working on his own comic, “All I Have to do is Dream,” which he writes and illustrates.
“It’s a modern fantasy story about a girl who gets cursed to physically enter the world of her dreams, only she can’t control when the jump happens or what type of dream she’ll be thrown into,” the comic’s creator explained.
Aside from his comic series, Avila has done some cover work and penciled books for other indie titles, such as “Deathwitch: The Faerie Tale of Trinity Cross.”
Later this month marks his third time at the Suffolk Comic & Art Expo. He has also been attending other comic conventions throughout the New York area since early last year. Other than getting the opportunity to promote his work, Avila says he enjoys doing conventions because he gets to meet other artists.
“It’s great to meet people doing what you’re doing and see all the different styles of art represented at these shows,” he said. “As a fan myself, I also get a real charge [out of] meeting artists who I’ve looked up to and who are sometimes just a table or two down from me.”
Anthony J. Biondolillo, an artist from Oceanside, has been “working on [his] craft” for his entire life, but only started working the convention circuit about two years ago. He has numerous influences from the comic world, but says his biggest creative idols include Leonardo da Vinci and Edward Hopper.
“I love the idea of modern pop culture as it may have been portrayed by artists of another time – sort of a retro-futurism,” Biondolillo said, adding that while he works in styles and mediums very akin to modern comics, his favorite art form is painting. “I like to put my own spin on familiar characters, and I like to connect my work with the original source material and not necessarily their most famous representations.”
Biondolillo says the best thing about conventions is meeting with fans and other artists, discussing art and hearing various interpretations. He also says there’s “no greater feeling” than knowing someone has “connected” with a piece that he created.
Another featured artist, Sean Carlson, published his first graphic novel, “Guadalcanal Had it All!,” a work of non-fiction about World War II, last year. He has also worked as a freelance artist for the last several years.
Carlson lived in North Massapequa his whole life up until about a year ago when he moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn. He says his favorite comic has always been the “X-Men.”
“As a kid you’re attracted to all the flashy stuff: the costumes, the superpowers, the action and adventure of it all,” the writer and illustrator said. “But when you get older, you really start to see and appreciate the social commentary of [the ‘X-Men’] stories.”
Carlson says the Marvel series has always been about “society’s fear and mistrust of ‘the other,’” adding that the main protagonist and antagonist, Professor X and Magneto, work as allegories for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
When asked about other artists who have influenced his work, Carlson laughed: “That’s a very long list.” He named a handful of artists and writers who the average person with only a vague knowledge about comics—which comes largely from the movies—would never know.
“I often tell people that comic [conventions] are the closest thing to walking into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the first time,” Carlson added. “There is just so much incredible stuff; all the color, lights, sounds, and costumes you could ever imagine. It is overwhelming in the best possible way. Every show I always make it a point to carve out a little time to walk around and see what’s new, who people are dressing up as, and just be a fan.”