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Pow! Bam! Comic fans meet their heroes.

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At today’s Comics Symposium at Lakeland Community College, cartoonists, writers, and other comic creators meet their fans. The daylong convention features workshops and lectures hosted by Daily Cartoonist editor Alan Gardner, Black Lightning cartoonist Tony Isabella, and Kathy Dow and John Forgetta, who created The Meaning of Lila. “There’s something in the water here, because we’ve got all these cultural treasures right in our backyard,” says organizer Patrick McLaughlin about the bevy of comic writers and illustrators -- like Isabella and Forgetta -- who were born or live in the area. “This is a wonderful opportunity for people to discover them and learn the great value of their works.”

The fourth-annual gathering begins with a keynote speech by Columbia University professor Michael Bitz. He discusses his popular Comic Book Project, in which grade-school students improve their reading skills by poring over copies of Batman and The Amazing Spider-Man.

The conference wraps up with a ceremony featuring the middle- and high-school winners of Lakeland’s comic-strip and graphic-fiction contest. There’s enough geek-style action to keep even the pastiest comic fan happy. Says McLaughlin: “This is for anyone who’s ever picked up the funny paper, read a comic book, or pondered a political cartoon.”
Sat., March 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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