Submitted photos/ Sequim natives Jenny Blenk, an associate editor for Dark Horse Comics, and Jon Schlaffman, specialty sales coordinator for Image Comics, are set to appear during a portion of Squatchcon, a comics and arts convention, on March 30-April 2, in Port Angeles.

Submitted photos/ Sequim natives Jenny Blenk, an associate editor for Dark Horse Comics, and Jon Schlaffman, specialty sales coordinator for Image Comics, are set to appear during a portion of Squatchcon, a comics and arts convention, on March 30-April 2, in Port Angeles.

Squatchcon offers comics, cosplay

Homegrown comic professionals to speak, offer student mentorship

PORT ANGELES — The new comics and arts convention Squatchcon returns for a second year to Port Angeles, with some homegrown professional and aspiring talent.

Slated for this coming Thursday through Sunday at Port Angeles venues, Squatchcon focuses on an array of interests from comics to cosplay to gaming, and staying true to its namesake, Sasquatch.

“Squatchcon is part comic convention, part Sasquatch festival, and part arts market,” said Jess Grello, convention organizer.

Squatchcon, Port Angeles Comic & Arts Convention, includes an all-ages cosplay contest, panels and workshops, a mini-arcade and a market with 60-plus artists, split between the Vern Burton Community Center at 308 E. Fourth St., Red Lion Hotel at 221 N. Lincoln St., and Studio Bob at 118½ E. Front St.

Squatchcon’s four-day passes for adults 18 and up cost $25; $15 for ages 13-17, and free for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Day passes are not available. Will-call tickets are available to purchase online at squatchconpa.com or at the door of the Vern Burton Community Center.

This year, Sequim natives Jenny Blenk, an associate editor for Dark Horse Comics, and Jon Schlaffman, specialty sales coordinator for Image Comics, are scheduled to attend and provide mentorship for student artists.

Blenk, born and raised in Sequim, went on to earn her Master of Arts and certificate in Comics Studies from Portland State University, and work as a freelance editor before being hired at Dark Horse Comics. She serves as internship coordinator, and works on titles such as “Critical Role,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and with creators like Mike Mignola (“Hellboy”).

Schlaffman also grew up in Sequim, and lived in Port Angeles while attending Peninsula College. After moving to Portland, Ore., in 2008, he eventually landed at Image Comics (“Invincible,” “Spawn,” “The Walking Dead”) in 2018. He and his coworkers founded Comic Book Workers United, the world’s first union for people working in the comics industry.

Blenk and Schlaffman will appear at the “Working in Comics” panel from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at the Red Lion Port Angeles Harbor. They and other industry professionals will discuss every stage of comics’ development from the artists, editors and sales persons’ perspectives.

Additional guests include Cammry Lapka, comic book artist; Gareth Gaudin, comic book artist and shop owner Legends Comics and Books (Victoria, B.C.), and Drew Schwab, shop owner of Anime Kat.

Aspiring artists

This year, six students from Port Angeles and Sequim high schools were selected to participate in Squatchcon’s Artist Alley and Vendor Market, running all four days in Vern Burton Community Center, with sponsorship by McPhee’s Grocery, Geek Girl Con, and Corey Labrie and Jeff Ohren.

Student artists include Anne Marie Barni, a Sequim High School junior; and Emily Boling, a Port Angeles High School freshman; Scarlett Fulton, PAHS junior; Abigail Jones, PAHS sophomore; Razelle Marshall, PAHS freshman, and Hayden Webber, PAHS junior.

“Our plan is to continue to open sponsored table space to students each year, and this year is essentially the pilot program,” Grello said.

Barni, recently crowned a Sequim Irrigation Festival princess, was a vendor at Squatchcon’s first year and helped inspire the student program, Grello said.

Students also have been offered a personalized pitch review with Blenk as an exercise to follow a publisher’s guidelines and receive feedback. They’ll have six months to prepare materials to submit for a review as professional development, not as an offer of publication, organizers said.

Squatchcon also will sponsor two tables for Peninsula College welding club students on Friday.

Those with Squatch passes will find perks and discounts all weekend at participating businesses. They include Cedar Greens, Kindred Collective, Northwest Fudge & Confections, Olympic Stationers, Pacific Rim Hobby, Port Book and News, Rebel Heart Coffee, Smuggler’s Bar & Grill, Thrift Star and Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream.

Squatchcon 2023 is presented by Anime Kat with additional sponsorship from Cammry Lapka, Port Angeles Wharf, Arcade at Port Angeles Wharf, Fat Yeti Froyo Maitland Manor, Red Lion Hotel, Corey Labrie, Geek Girl Con and McPhee’s Grocery.

For more event information, see squatchconpa.com.

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