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Columbus Comics bring horror (and humor) close to home

Combining horror and humor can be a tough idea to sell, but local writer Ken Eppstein, the owner and editor of Nix Comics Quarterly, was inspired to make this dream come true. He held a release party at Kafe Kerouac on Friday.

Eppstein said he drew inspiration for the comic book from his college experiences.

“How to hang out in seedy bars watching garage punk bands, how to stay up late watching B-movies, how to chat up crazy people waiting for the bus,” as he described.

His story “Tuesday Night in Ohio” focuses on bar patrons who are preyed on by vampires.

With the help of a mix of artists who illustrated his stories, Eppstein managed to pull the project out of imagination and into reality.

“The nicest thing about doing a comic book is people have really stepped up to the plate to help,” he said.

The overall horror and humor theme of the comic appealed to all the artists involved, reminding them of shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Tales From the Crypt.”

One of the artists, Rich Trask, said he liked the theme because of “the fun and fright aspects, the spectrum of classic dark horror to ‘worst-case scenario’ sci-fi and everything between.”

Other contributors to the illustration of the stories are Ryan Brinkerhoff, Michael Neno, David Pickard and Darren Merinuk, each with their own arsenal of artistic skill and coming from different creative backgrounds. Some worked on previous projects with Eppstein and others were found through mutual friends.

“While drawing it, I was thinking back to the classic EC-brand horror comic books of the ‘50s,” Neno said. “EC comic stories were short and powerful, like early rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock.”

According to Eppstein’s website, there was an intentional rock music subtext in the comics.

“I’ve always wanted to start my own comic book. Going all the way back to when I saw my first Marvel Try-Out Book in the early ‘80s,” Eppstein said. “It’s what I hoped to do all through school and then life got in the way. Recently though, I’ve come to realize that life in quotes is no substitute for really living, so it became time to chase down and tame this old dream.”

With the release party, Eppstein hoped to get some exposure for the book.

“Putting together a comic book from soup to nuts … That’s fun and comes naturally to me. Marketing and publicity? Not so much,” he said.

On the walls of the cafe were the works of the artists that helped Eppstein with the book. Patrons could view the artwork, and some of the items were also for sale.

Eppstein said he hopes to create a second issue in time to make the “quarterly” part of the title legitimate. He also said that all of his contributors have expressed interest to come back for the next issue. He said many new artists have contacted him recently about the project.

“There’s a lot of talent out there. I’m scared that I have some hard cuts to make in my near future,” he said.

The stories in the first issue include titles like “The Devil and Ellis Church,” “Man Loves, God Kills?” and “The Continuing Adventures of Bus Stop Ned.”

The magazine is for sale at several local businesses located on High Street, including Kafe Kerouac and Used Kids Records.

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