By Sean Barron
While most area front yards are filled with the usual trees, shrubs and a smattering of fallen leaves, Chris Yambar’s has a few extras – comic books, digital paintings and a 6-foot replica of Bart Simpson, to name a few.
“To get paid to do what you want to do when you get out of bed in the morning, that’s the dream,” Yambar said, referring to several of his ambitions, which included Saturday’s fourth annual Lawn-Con gathering on and next to his front lawn, 23 S. Hartford Ave. on the West Side.
Yambar, a cartoonist, motivational speaker and internationally recognized pop artist, hosted the five-hour gathering that featured a variety of local and regional painters, illustrators and other artists. Yambar, who studied commercial art and marketing, also has written for famous characters such as The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants and Popeye.
People of all ages were drawn to several tents in Yambar’s yard and driveway that had items such as superhero prints and collages, illustrations, coloring books, graphic novels, calendars, T-shirts and coffee mugs. Of course, the usual Marvel and DC comic books, along with GI Joe and other action figures, also were on hand.
A bit of satire and parody coursed through the works of Heather V. Kreiter of Hermitage, Pa., who’s a longtime professional illustrator.
“I’m an old-school pony collector,” she explained, referring to the My Little Pony line of toys and games that were popular especially in the 1980s. “I’ve worked in the science-fiction and gaming industry for 13 years and wanted to do a dark twist on something I love.”
To that end, Kreiter, who runs Shaman Souls Studios in Hermitage, had for sale a host of dog-tag necklaces, stickers, tattoos, prints and even an assortment of Valentine’s Day cards — most with a macabre play on the Little Pony theme.
Since 2007, Kreiter has created close to 50 books and related materials, she said, adding that she takes part in 10 to 15 local, regional and national comic-book shows yearly.
Also at Saturday’s event was Joe Pangrazio of Rochester, N.Y., who created a character named Cthulu Holmes, which he described as “the universe’s greatest detective possessed by the universe’s greatest monster.”
The character’s exploits include trying to “stop the end of the world and everyday madness,” while emphasizing the value of friendship and a sense of brotherly love, explained Pangrazio, who began developing the character about 1 Ω years ago.
Also at the show was his partner, Jimmy Proctor of Springboro, Pa., who has lent his drawing skills to the effort for the past six months.
Iron Man, the Joker, Star Wars protagonists, Superman and other famous characters were on colorful, detailed display, thanks to John P. Martin of Greensburg, Pa.
Martin, a digital painter and graphic designer, begins his craft with intricate pencil sketches that he scans on a computer, he noted. Then he uses photography technology to create the works that also include Christian-themed art, Martin said, adding that the process typically takes 40 to 50 hours for each painting.
One such piece shows Superman using heat vision to stop Metallo, a super villain and cyborg known for using kryptonite against Superman, his nemesis.
Accompanying Martin were his wife, Heather Martin, and 2-year-old daughter, Ilea.
“Chris [Yambar] is treating us like gold. It’s great,” Heather said about her first time at a Lawn-Con gathering.
Additionally, a raffle, along with mystery comic books that were selling for $5 apiece, brought in proceeds for First Book Mahoning Valley, an organization started in 2006 that provides new books to children in need in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
For more information about Yambar, visit his website, www.yambar.com.