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Profile: Comic artist Gavin Smith

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Human City by Gavin Smith
  • Human City by Gavin Smith

Comic artists tend not to be a part of Indy's gallery scene. But there are exceptions, notably Gavin Smith, a freelance illustrator and comic artist originally from Peru, Ind. Smith, who moved to Indianapolis after his 2011 graduation from Dover, N.J.'s Kubert School for Cartoon and Graphic Art, presented framed panels from the first issue of his comic Human City at the Murphy Art Center's AKA Room during May's First Friday.

Smith jumped into the Fountain Square scene upon his arrival, providing artwork and designs for the recently opened Fountain Square Brewing Co., His other work has included a poster for the independent super-hero movie VS, artwork for The Kemps latest 7-inch on Glory Hole Records, a cover for The Sound magazine in NYC and a cover for the webcomic Gutters.

NUVO: How did you come up with Human City?

Gavin Smith: While I was still in school, we had an assignment in Joe Kubert's class to come up with our own characters for a five-page story. I came up with the first part really quickly, and I wrote and drew the cover and the first part of Human City. After moving back to Indianapolis, I began working on it in between my paying projects.

The premise for the story is that in a world populated with mutants the last remaining superhero has to get a baby who may or may not be mankind's last hope for survival across the country. I wanted to remove myself from stories with similar themes, where there's no real ending or goal to the story. I wanted there to be a clear objective, and with the first issue leave enough of a mystery to keep my audience coming back for future issues.

Gavin Smith
  • Gavin Smith

NUVO: When is the story set? In many ways, it appears to be set in current times, but I notice they are able to use teleportation to send blood samples.

Smith: It's definitely set in current times. I wanted to play with the superhero archetypes in current comics, and create all this unrealistic futuristic technology that happens to exist within modern culture, like teleportation or a superhero headquarters that floats above New York City.

NUVO: First Friday attendees last month were treated to something they do not usually see on the local art circuit when you presented an exhibition of framed original art from Human City.

Smith: Usually at a convention I have my own table and am surrounded by other great artists, and fans will come up at their leisure and check out my work. This time it was kind of a trip to have so many people in a small room and know they were all exclusively checking out my work. After the show I stopped by the Brass Ring and still heard people that I didn't know that were talking about it. It was great to know that there was still a positive buzz going on after the show.

NUVO: Do you feel like Indianapolis provides a climate that is hospitable to a young working artist and, more specifically, someone who does your type of work?

Smith: Initially that was why I was skeptical of moving to Indy, because I was leaving the East Coast where a lot of work for my type of art exists. I feel like I was lucky knowing the people that I know moving here, and being integrated into the Fountain Square music and art scene. The support for my work and book have all been positive, so all of that proved my initial instincts wrong.

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