(Feb. 13, 2015) A mainstay of Salisbury’s monthly 3rd Friday arts event, PLB Comics is making its Berlin debut during February’s 2nd Friday festivities this week.
Founding members Josh and Mathew Shockley, and James Dufendach, plan on bringing their entire line of books to the Welcome Center on 14 South Main Street, along with a series of original artwork and prints for sale, and a special behind-the-scenes look into comic book production.
Although PLB produced its first official book in 2006, brothers Josh and Matthew have collaborated on graphic novels since childhood.
Shortly after the initial launch, Dufendach came on-board as editor, writer, letter and marketing arm of the collective.
“Today we have 15 books in publication with two more in process right now,” he said.
Along with “The Fall,” now in its 12th printing and “Gideon and Sebastian,” in its fourth printing, PLB annually produce a Halloween issue filled with graphic shorts.
The company connected with Berlin, in typical “coolest town” fashion, thanks to a close family tie.
“My father volunteers at the Welcome Center, and we’ve been involved with 3rd Friday [in Salisbury] and everything else for so long that we’re pretty hip to the monthly art stroll,” Dufendach said. “They needed an artist to show up and be there and be involved and we’re good at showing up and being there and being involved.
“This is my home turf,” Dufendach continued. “My parents live on Burley Street. I spent my high school career here and lived here for many years, but we just never made the connection here before.”
The suggesting reading age of most PLB material, according to Dufendach, “really depends on your parents.”
“It’s a lot like cable after 9 p.m., and there’s nothing in there that would get us fined,” he said. “A lot times we’ll get kids who will walk up and pick up a book and start to thumb through it, and of course we’re all jumping on them like it’s a live grenade. We’re like, ‘No, little Johnny – put down the book!’ and then we turn to mom or dad or whoever is standing there and say, ‘they’re a little adult.’
“They ask us how adult and we say, ‘well, violence and foul language,’” Dufendach continued. “Then they say, ‘is there any open nudity,’ and we say, ‘no.’ Nine times out of 10 they say, ‘Give it to them. They play “Call of Duty” online. Go ahead and give them the book.’”
Dufendach said the company publishes to a specific audience, and is careful not to upset the masses.
“I would much rather not make $5 and make sure that everybody is happy than make $5 and have an angry parent and little Johnny learn his first F-word from us,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a point of pride, but at the same time I don’t want to be responsible for that.”
PLB plan on bringing the full line of books, each costing $3, with the “massive” Halloween issues running $4. Original prints cost $7 each, or two for $10, and original art is priced individually.
“I think we’re up to 30 different prints right now, and we’re going to have six new prints at this show that we’ve never had out before,” Dufendach said. “We’re also going to have art and production pages and other things on display. So you can actually come out and kind of see the progression of how a comic book happens.
“It’s simple to see a finished comic book and just not realize what goes into it,” Dufendach continued. “We’re collectively a little interested in process – I’m enamored with process – so I love to see pages in increments to see where things happen. You see pencils, then you see inks, then you see finish edits, then you see toning, then you see letters. It kind of gives you a window into the process and it’s great way to see the nuts and bolts of how comic books are created.”
PLB’s new intern, Kelly Perna, will make her public debut during the event, and the group will offer “superhero” coloring sheets appropriate for small children.
While at the Welcome Center on Feb. 13, guests can also register to win the “Love Berlin” basket as part of the Valentine’s Day “Indulge in Berlin” event, which coincides with 2nd Friday Art Stroll. More than a dozen participating shops and restaurants in Berlin will collaborate during the event that evening from 5-8 p.m., offering special sales and samples throughout the downtown area, along with coupons for area restaurants. A map of participating businesses is available at the center.
“It’s really cool to participate in an event like this,” Dufendach said. “We are very happy that the town of Berlin is welcoming us and making us a part of an event that not only focuses on local business and our local culture, but also has such a focus on the arts.”
Up next, the comic creators plan on prepping for the busy convention season.
“We’ve got the Dover Comic con sponsored by the Dover Public Library,” Dufendach said. “Middleton [Delaware] Comic con next, and it’s really shaping up to look like a nice event in their first year. Obviously we’ll be doing Baltimore Comic con, and two different ‘First State’ cons up in Delaware.’”
In between events, PLB regularly hosts “creating comics” events at public libraries throughout the state.
For more information on PLB visit www.plbcomics.com or www.facebook.com/plb.comics.