Some Sherlock Holmes here, a bit of Dracula there and a small dash of Captain America for good measure and you'd have something pretty close to Inspector Von Ghoul, a locally created comic book superhero.
Inspired by many of artist Nicholas Malara's favorite fictional characters, the story of a paranormal investigator is just one of the comics featured in one of the early issues of the area's newest publication, Spokane Sequential.
The free magazine is packed full of various shorts and stories from local comic artists. From superheroes to nonfiction personal narratives, the publication allows people to submit their work and end up in print. Malara's work appeared in the spring issue, while the summer edition is hitting the streets this month.
"It's fun to have your work next to others who you admire in the community," Malara says. "It's really great to work with artists who are both younger and older than yourself so you can learn something from them."
Spokane Sequential is published by the Inland Northwest Association of Sequential Art (INWASA). The community group serves as a hub for local comic artists to socialize and collaborate on projects. Derrick Freeland founded the group back in 2016 with the goal of creating a network of local comic artists. Freeland invited all of the comic artists he knew to the group, who in turn did the same.
"I liked working in groups, and I liked community," Freeland says. "So I wanted something that was centered on comics here in Spokane [to] share resources, support each other, and work together."
INWASA meets once a month for a work session. Artists can delve into projects in the company of others and give and receive feedback. The group has grown to around 30 members.
Malara and many others appreciate the support network the group provides. Making comics can be quite a time-consuming task, Malara says, with many artists throwing in the towel before ever getting their projects off the ground.
"It's so daunting of a task that it can get so difficult to get to the end of your story," Malara says. "That's why it's so good to have a community that's so supportive. If you're working on a project they kind of spot you and check in with you and help to motivate you."
INWASA published its first issue of Spokane Sequential last fall, stocking them at local coffee shops and bookstores all over Spokane, Pullman and Moscow. Its second issue arrived in March with the hope of being published quarterly.
Freeland says his goal for Spokane Sequential and comics in general is to "legitimize the medium and show that you don't have to be a kid to like comics."
He says he wants to expand the reach of the publication to more and more areas. The first issue had 200 printed copies. The second more than doubled that. Freeland also says he wants to find a way to pay contributors for their work in the future.
"I'd like it to be a gig you can get and a chance to be published," Freeland says. "But also a chance to be compensated for your work."
Aside from the the magazine, INWASA also promotes local artists through their bookshelf project. The group seeks out retailers to designate shelf space for locally created graphic novels. Their first success was at Booktraders in the Garland District and features the works of Freeland, Malara and other group members like Manny Trembley. ♦
Visit the Spokane Sequential's Facebook page to learn
more and find out where you can pick up a free copy.