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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014 4 years ago

Sarasota comic writer hopes to draw support at Comic Con

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Far from Earth, forgotten by the rest of humanity, two factions of people live divided in the dystopian colony of Atrius.

One faction, a totalitarian police state, exists at odds with the other, a large, albeit disorganized, group of anarchist revolutionaries. Fronted by an unlikely leader, this crew of rebels has united to do battle with an army of genetically modified soldiers in an attempt to bridge the two worlds.

This futuristic, dystopian universe, complete with its own unique language, fashion, architecture and weaponry, is the brainchild of local comic creator, Travis Vengroff, who is gearing up for Tampa Bay Comic Con this weekend, where he'll give away 3,000 copies of his prototype comic, "Liberty."

Despite his passion for and devotion to comics, Vengroff says it wasn't until a few years ago that he first became interested in them.

"When I first developed the idea, I hoped to make it into a movie," says Vengroff, a graduate of the New York Film Academy and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. "But obviously, the budget for a movie like that would be huge. I realized that with comics, you don't need to pay for a helicopter or an explosion or CGI — you can illustrate whatever you want. That's what first got me interested in comics, and I really fell in love with them after that."


An employee of his family business, Vengroff Williams and Associates, Vengroff penned the series during his lunch breaks over the course of seven years at his favorite writing spot, Bob's Train. Now, with the help of a team of illustrators, artists and Ringling students, Vengroff has developed the series, which is still in its storyboard phase. Eventually, it's set to include 17 issues, which will span the entire story arc of Atrius and its inhabitants, as well as a 50-page history book.

His plan is to use comic events, both local and regional, like Tampa Bay Comic Con, to build a following before he pitches the series to major comic companies. If picked up, the storyboards would be sketched, inked and colored for distribution.

As he prepares for Comic Con, Vengroff says he's excited to introduce people to his work, and he hopes the snapshot intro to the series will be attention-grabbing and get people hooked.

"It's really cool to be at this point," he says. "It has been a lot of work, and I hope people get excited about it and choose to support the series."

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