The HeldenFiles: KSU to hold graphic storytelling festival

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(Illustration by P. Craig Russell)

A festival devoted to comic strips, comic books and other forms of “graphic storytelling” will be on Oct. 19 in the Kent State University Student Center.

The first Kent Comic Arts Festival will include celebrity guests like local lights Tom Batiuk and Derf Backderf, special presentations and a limited number of vendors. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Among the presentations, in the center’s Kiva auditorium, are Batiuk discussing 40 Years of Funky Winkerbean at 11 a.m.; Backderf talking about My Friend Dahmer at noon; Jill Thompson (Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing) and her Halloween Spooktacular, 1 p.m.; a Guide to Graphic Storytelling Master Class with P. Craig Russell (Dr. Strange, The Sandman), 2 p.m.; a panel on The Artists of the Graveyard Book with Thompson, Russell, Scott Hampton (Batman, Vampirella) and Galen Showman (Hellboy, Star Wars: Episode One), at 3 p.m., and a P. Craig Russell Piano Musicale to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at 4:15 p.m.

There will also be a VIP party from 7 to 10 p.m. that evening in Kent’s Zephyr Pub for mingling with the festival’s celebrity guests. You must be 21 or older to attend the party.

A standard ticket is $15, or $10 for Kent State students with valid ID. A ticket including the VIP party is $75 and must be purchased in advance. You can find out more about the festival and tickets at

NOW and IX. The Akron Area unit of the National Organization for Women will have a film festival and fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Canton Women’s Club.

Two short films will be shown: Bernice R. Sandler: Godmother of Title IX and Landmark Title IX Supreme Court Cases. Title IX prohibited sex discrimination in education, and is especially known for improving the opportunities for women in athletics.

There will also be remarks by Akron NOW President Jennifer L. Martin; attorney and educator Patricia Millhoff and Michelle Gaffney, associate dean of students at the University of Mount Union.

Tickets are $25. You can buy them and get more information at or by calling Martin at 313-779-7138.

Ali’s Adventures. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s eventful life is the focus of a couple of upcoming projects. At 8 tonight, HBO presents Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, dramatizing the Supreme Court’s 1971 deliberations over Ali’s refusal to be drafted. The cast includes Frank Langella and Christopher Plummer.

Then, on Oct. 18 and 20, the Cleveland Museum of Art will host showings of the documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali, which covers the major changes in young Ali’s life such as his conversion to Islam and his resisting the draft.

While Ali has been the subject of many books and movies, Trials director Bill Siegel said in a statement that “no Ali film has deeply explored his exile years, his spiritual transformation and his impact on the world beyond the ring. This is an intimate film weaving artful and unseen archival footage, with contemporary interviews from firsthand sources, resulting in an intense, focused narrative with hard-hitting relevance.”

You can find out more about the Cleveland showings at

A Big Bang for Nye. Fans of the Science Guy, Bill Nye, recently lamented his injury and ouster on Dancing With the Stars (although, to be fair, he was far from a good dancer). But he will be back on your TV screen in a Nov. 7 episode of The Big Bang Theory — as himself.

Not only that, but the episode also marks the Big Bang return of Bob Newhart, who won his first Emmy for a guest-starring role on the comedy. Yes, his first. Yes, after more than 50 years in television.

You may recall that Newhart played Professor Proton, a TV personality beloved by Sheldon (Jim Parsons). In the November episode, says CBS, Proton asks Leonard (Johnny Galecki) for help with an experiment and a scorned Sheldon “seeks revenge by befriending a rival science TV host, Bill Nye.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or

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