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April 21. 2013 11:35PM

New Hampshire artist finds success in world of comic books


Portsmouth artist Sara Richard poses with some of her work, including her first children's book, "Kitty & Dino," which was recently nominated for a 2013 Eisner Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the comic industry. (GRETYL MACALASTER)


Portsmouth artist Sara Richard has been nominated for a 2013 Eisner Award for her first children's book, "Kitty & Dino." GRETYL MACALASTER 

PORTSMOUTH - Sara Richard, 27, has been dreaming of drawing comic books for a long time, but said, it is not something one just "gets to do."

After five years of dedication and hard work, she is living her dream.

Right now, she is working on a run of retail exclusive "My Little Pony" micro-series covers for Double Midnight Comics in Manchester.

Comic book stores can ask for custom covers for certain runs, and ask for certain artists. The covers are not nationally distributed, but because of Richard's previous work and her current experience, "My Little Pony's" publisher, IDW Comics, is also asking her to do incentive covers, which are nationally distributed as special editions if a certain number of the comics are sold.

She was also just nominated for a 2013 William Eisner Comic Industry Award for her first fully-illustrated children's book "Kitty & Dino."

The awards are considered the most prestigious in the comic industry, and Richard said she thought a friend texting her the news last week had reached the wrong person. Nominees are chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, and reflect the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today.

Tickets to the San Diego Comic Con, the nation's largest comic convention, sell out within hours, Richard said, but she is hoping to be there in person on July 19 for the Eisner Awards gala.

"It's like the Grammys and the Tonys and the Oscars - but for comics," Richard said. "This will hopefully kind of open some doors to bigger projects. It helps with credentials for people to take a chance on me as an artist."

Richard worked for national brands, including Hasbro, as a sculptor after graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design, but preferred the freedom and flexibility of freelance work.

About five years ago, the New Boston native moved back to New Hampshire and began traveling the comic book convention circuit to get her work, and her name, in front of the right people.

Two years ago, an editor with Yen Press noticed Richard had many drawings of cats and dinosaurs and hired her almost immediately to illustrate "Kitty & Dino."

The book is now up for an Eisner Award for "Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)."

It tells the adorable story of a baby dinosaur who disrupts the quiet life of a household cat, and how the two become friends

Richard portrays the two personalities in articulate hand-painted expressions of color and character that are fun, innovative and hard to describe.

Her unique style is inspired by Japanese Ink art, art nouveau and art deco.

She said her unique style has not always appealed to more traditional comic book companies.

"They'd say 'your style is so different, we don't know how we're going to market you'," Richard said. "But I think some of the best covers are the ones that are more experimental."

She hand paints all of her work in a field that has moved largely to digital and has a style that she describes as more "loose" than traditional covers.

Each day that style is gaining more and more attention. She is currently working on a board game project, in addition to the comic book covers, traveling to conventions and working towards making a name for herself in the industry.

When not working, she can often be found hang gliding in western New Hampshire. Some of her work was featured on the cover of a national hang gliding magazine in recent months, bridging her two loves.

She already has ideas for more children's books, and as a lover of ghost stories, hopes to create one of her own.

To see more of her work, visit www.sararichard.com.

gmacalaster@newstote.com


Portsmouth artist Sara Richard's first children's book, "Kitty & Dino," was recently nominated for a 2013 Eisner Award. GRETYL MACALASTER 


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