Zack Kruse is certainly not faster than a speeding bullet, and he won’t try to stop a locomotive or leap a tall building in a single bound.
However, this man is super for other reasons, including being a husband, father, writer and IPFW literature graduate student, who has been able to coordinate comic conventions that have drawn in thousands of comic book fans and hundreds of artists in three years.
My mutant superpower is organization, Kruse says. I have a really rigid schedule because every thing is organized. It’s not easy, but it’s manageable.
The Appleseed Comics and Art Convention on Saturday will be Kruse’s fourth consecutive comic book convention at Grand Wayne Center.
Kruse, founder of the Summit City Comic Con, wanted to bring an entire new entity this year that would be accessible to those outside of the city limits.
If you live in northeast Indiana, you know the Summit City, Kruse says. For people outside of the state, it doesn’t resonate. Since Johnny Appleseed is something that resonates with everyone, it starts a conversation.
Even with his hands full, Kruse says that every year he tries to set micro-goals for the convention. This year, he has included more events that promote an appreciation for all arts. The convention will include the Downtown Improvement District’s Living Statue workshop by performance artist Mark Abbati and a writing workshop with comic creator and author Dirk Manning.
There’s a lot of overlap there. Comics are simultaneously literature and art, Kruse says. The two are forever tangled together. We want to reach out and work together to promote the arts.
Kruse says he expects 2,000 people to attend the convention this year, a slight bump from the 1,800 who attended last year’s convention. He says people would be surprised to find the breadth of comic genres that includes classic superheroes and food recipes.
Comics are just not superheroes. They’re literally everything. There’s romance, horror, historical fiction – everything can and has been turned into comic, he says. It’s important to have a cross-section of artists because it’s a diverse medium.
He says that each year the positive response from the community and the caliber of the artists continue to grow.
I think what keeps getting better about the show is that the level of talent is constantly getting better, Kruse says. It’s cool to see these brilliant artists in Fort Wayne.
This year’s guest artists include Mike Norton and Tom Scioli, who are both critically acclaimed freelance artists who have worked on comics for DC and Marvel. Dave Wachter, guest artist for Godzilla and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and self-published creator, is also included in the roster of 108 guest artists. Wachter also created the convention’s promotional poster for this year.
They’re all just brilliant and great people, Kruse says. They’re just not talented artists. They’re incredibly kind and magnanimous.
Kruse says he prefers that the amount of guest artists to stay around 100 to maintain the quality of the show and make it easier for those at the convention to interact with most of the tables during the day. As a comic creator himself, Kruse says it’s important to keep the focus on the creators and artists.
We have to remember that those books that we buy or download every week – someone is making those books and working really hard to make them, Kruse says. It’s so important to recognize that because what they do is give us something that in some cases is an escape or therapy or entertainment. It’s important to reach out and say thank you.