It’s a recent Saturday afternoon in the gaming room at Big Adventure Comics, and members of the New Mexican independent comics organization 7000 B.C. are gathered at the tables, drawing, sharing artwork, and examining the latest edition of String, an anthology of their work that will be given away at the store during national Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 3. The collection includes meticulously drawn pages from Turner Mark-Jacobs’ new self-published book, Down by the River, based on a story by 19th-century American writer Bret Harte, and a new installment of Bram and Monica Meehan’s Raised by Squirrels, a spy-superhero thriller about a shadowy covert organization. Other anthology selections, from simplistically drawn meditations on making art to surreal sketches and detailed adventure stories, share space with a pair of 7000 B.C. “jams” — short narratives in which each panel is written and drawn by a different member. Altogether, the selections display the wide range of subject matter and drawing styles represented among 7000 B.C. members while reflecting the diverse and unpredictable realm of the illustrated sequential-narrative form of storytelling popularly known as comics.
In a world that’s seen the rise of a corporate-comics industry spurred by movies pulled from long-running superhero titles — as well as an explosion of independently produced comics published on the web, often without superheroes — Northern New Mexico is home to a particularly active independent comics scene. While many of the artists in 7000 B.C. have a presence on the internet, most look forward to publishing their material (which usually means self-publishing) on paper media of various sorts, from traditional-looking comics on slick stock to “ashcan” versions on rough-cut, folded, and stapled copy-machine paper. “I’m looking to appreciate my stuff on a real physical page,” said Mark-Jacobs, who does his original work on poster board in watercolor. “It’s not real until you see it on a printed page,” added one of the group’s most prolific — and eclectic — comic artists, Enrique Martinez. “That’s the reward for all your work: the book.”
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