Tag Archives: comics

Chloe Kehm

October 11, 2018 by
Photography by Keith Binder

With her bobbed blond hair, flowered orange dress, and a jean jacket covered in pins (mostly cats in some form or another), artist Chloe Kehm looks like she could have stepped out of one of her favorite anime shows. But while her art may often depict that culture, her interests and influences are far more diverse.

“I listen to podcasts a lot,” Kehm says. “I’ve just been listening to this one podcast and hammering out stuff.” 

Kehm is describing a part of her creative process. One of her favorite podcasts is Saw Bones, a medical history program. “It’s about all the stupid things we’ve done medically in the past…they talk about the Victorians a lot. They did a lot of weird things,” she says with a laugh.

Also, she adds, “If my room’s a mess, I can’t do anything. Which is unfortunate, because I’m not the cleanest person.” Regardless, she manages to get a substantial amount of creating done, including an entire comic book for her BFA program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. It’s something she’d been putting off because she says she wasn’t confident in her skills. But after many life-drawing classes, she finally thought, “Let’s just do it now.” 

Having grown up watching animated shows such as Powerpuff Girls and Sailor Moon, it’s not surprising she became interested in drawing what she calls “fandom things,” such as characters from video games, comics, and television series. But what she really enjoys is making her own, original work, and a big part of that is telling a story. Besides working with digital mediums, watercolor, oil and acrylic paints, and experimenting with ink and marker drawings, she also creates short, four-panel comic strips. “I love writing,” she says. “I took a couple of creative writing classes before and I’m always writing comic strips.”

While pop culture clearly influences a lot of her current work, she does have an appreciation for the classics, such as Van Gogh. Her favorite work of his is “Almond Blossoms.” “His colors are gorgeous and I like to think I could pull some of those into my own work.”

Her pieces are definitely more contemporary, though. “A lot of the artists I really love right now are currently living,” she says with a smile, “and they are young female artists in the comic book industry.” She lists Babs Tarr, Fiona Staples, and Leslie Hung as her top three, but adds that there are countless others. “It’s just really inspiring.”

It’s unsurprising that Kehm admires these artists. She says that, while she didn’t really start considering herself a feminist until college, she has always believed equality is important, “across the board.” She credits those animated shows she grew up on with helping her develop that ideal. “A lot of animated shows directed at young girls [are] showing them in positions of power and being strong and independent. I think that just kind of sat in there…and it inspires a lot of what I want to do with my storytelling and my animation,” she says, before wryly adding, “And I’m a woman. I should care about that stuff, right?”

Kehm says she likes her creations to be fun, but also to have a message. “I like depicting different people in different ways. I like to show the vastness of the human race.” She pauses, then breaks into laughter. “Which sounds…a little lofty.”

She says she believes art in general has a hand in almost everything we do as a society. “You don’t realize how much art plays into everything you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Like your shoes. Someone designed that, someone drew that.” She gestures around the coffee shop as she speaks. “The layout of the building you’re in, the house you live in—an architect did that. They have artistry skills, and I think it gets overlooked a lot. But I think art is pretty integral to everything that we do. Be it political or day-to-day life.” 

While she hopes her message of equality comes through in her work, Kehm says she’ll be happy if it just makes people smile. “That’s ultimately what I want to come out of it.”

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This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter. 

Legends Comics and Coffee

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Coffee is one of those things…” David DeMarco, part-owner of Legend Comics and Coffee, pauses as he tries to explain the welcoming qualities of the beverage. “You want to sit and read something? What better thing than to read a comic book with a cup of coffee?”

DeMarco joined forces in 2011 with Jason Dasenbrock and Wendy Pivonka to move Legend Comics into a larger space on 52nd and Leavenworth. A space fit for a new kind of comic book store.

Dasenbrock and Pivonka had been tossing around the thought of combining a coffee shop with their extant comics store. They put the idea to current landlord, Tom Simmons. “Tom wanted to do something that would bring in traffic to the location, and a coffee shop fit the bill,” Dasenbrock says.

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DeMarco hazards a guess that there may be fewer than 10 comic book/coffee shops in the nation. DeMarco, Pivonka, and Dasenbrock took their inspiration from Des Moines store Cup o’ Kryptonite, but by the time Legend reopened with its new vision in 2011, that retailer no longer ran a full coffee shop. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants,” DeMarco says.

Comic book stores can be intimidating for lots of people (the uneducated newbie or the wary female, for example), and coffee seems to be a natural way to bring in new fans. “This is not the boys’ club,” Dasenbrock says. “Everyone is welcome here, whether you’ve never read a comic or if you’ve read all of them.”

“You want to sit and read something? What better thing than to read a comic book with a cup of coffee?” – David DeMarco, co-owner

“We are not intimidating,” DeMarco adds, “and I will tell you why. I…think we are very nice.” Definitely a modest way of expressing his pride in a retail space that was created specifically for comic books. “I wanted to design a comic store,” he says. Thanks to local firm Architectural Offices, the shop’s custom shelves, lighting, and chairs say Industrial Art Gallery rather than Some Dude’s Basement.

In the same vein of making comics accessible to everyone, Legend hosts events like trivia nights every other Monday, raffles, and dunk tanks on Free Comic Book Day (May 4, mark your calendar). “We’re trying to be an advocate for the community,” DeMarco says. “Why wouldn’t we do fun stuff? And we have a room downstairs for games and for people to use.” It’s free for anything, from Magic tournaments to poetry workshops.

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DeMarco believes that some of the best reading material these days is in comic books. “It’s an untapped reservoir, and we will walk you through it.” One of his favorite ways of suggesting comics to the uninitiated is by quizzing them about their favorite TV shows. “If you like West Wing, try Ex Machina. It’s political intrigue with a splash of superhero-dom.” For LOST lovers, DeMarco recommends Morning Glories, a comic centered around kids isolated in a mysterious prep school. “Is it a government experiment? Are they dead? You don’t know!”

Legend runs a subscription service for those who want to have their favorite comics reserved and ready for them to pick up whenever they walk in. Then, maybe, they’ll order the Legend custom blend (or perhaps a Green River phosphate) from the coffee bar and settle in to lose themselves with Spiderman.

Legends Comics & Coffee
5207 Leavenworth St.