Graphic novelist returns to childhood home for first Lake Tahoe Comic Con
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Comic book creator/writer/artist Chris Wisnia grew up in South Lake Tahoe in the 1980’s, so it’s apt that he’s coming home to celebrate his new graphic novel, Doris Danger: GIANT MONSTERS Amok, as a special guest, at the first ever Lake Tahoe Comic Con, held at the Tahoe Blue Event Center, on September 23rd and 24th.
Wisnia has been writing and drawing comics professionally since 2004, and his new graphic novel is published by the award-winning alternative comics company, Fantagraphics, whose website boasts, “Publisher of the World’s Greatest Cartoonists.” It’s no exaggeration; Love and Rockets (which they have published since its inception) was voted Rolling Stone’s “greatest American Comic Book Series of All Time,” and next year sees the release of Fantagraphics’ Complete Peanuts by Charles Schultz, volume 22.
To celebrate the release of Doris Danger: GIANT MONSTERS Amok, Wisnia has set up signing dates around California and even at the Small Press Expo in Washington, DC, and will be traveling more, nationally, next year. This summer, down at San Diego Comic Con (the Mecca of comic book conventions), Fantagraphics sold out of all the Doris Danger copies they’d brought to the show.
“I still know a lot faces in Tahoe, because I still see them up there, on all my social media,” Wisnia said. “But all our high school reunions have been thwarted, first by the pandemic, and then by the fires. I’m overdue to come out and see everybody; old friends, community members, and I’m excited to catch up with everybody, and be able to do it in a way I can share what I’ve been up to.”
Wisnia’s grandparents bought a home in South Lake Tahoe in the 1970’s, and Chris’s parents began regularly bringing the family up from the Bay Area to visit. They loved it there so much, they swapped homes with the grandparents and spent whole vacation weeks off from school and even whole summers there.
Still living in the Bay, they bought a Tahoe vacation house in 1979, right at the top of a sledding hill, and then, they made a whacky decision to transfer the kids into the Tahoe school district for four weeks of the winter quarter, so that they could enjoy a locals’ Tahoe winter. The following year, they did it again for seven weeks. By 1981, they wondered why they kept going back to the Bay, and finally decided to move the family permanently up to South Lake Tahoe.
This was before comics shops had appeared in Tahoe, so Wisnia spent years of his formative life begging his parents to take him to the local grocery stores, pharmacies, and five-and-dime shops (that are now all long gone), going through spinner racks (that are also a thing of the past), picking out the magical comic he wanted to take home with him, week to week. He recalls that this was back when comics cost 60 cents an issue. At home, he pored over them and copied his favorite images, or made up his own characters and stories. The years passed, and Wisnia graduated from South Tahoe High School, voted “class clown,” class of 1990.
He trickled down the hill to UC Davis to get a degree in studio art, where the academic atmosphere didn’t yet socially accept or appreciate comics. But upon graduating, he found himself working next door to a comics shop that enticed his interests back through those doors.
His first published comic book was Tabloia Weekly Magazine, which he self-published for five issues, and which featured his plucky photo-journalist, Doris Danger, who explores the exotic globe, hoping to prove the existence of wonky-looking, retro GIANT MONSTERS wearing underpants, as inspired by (and as a parody of) the pre-super hero comics of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee (the creative team who shortly after created practically the entire Marvel Universe!).
That led to Wisnia’s publishing three Doris Danger graphic novels for SLG Publishing, and then further up the industry ladder to this all-new book with Fantagraphics (see the publisher’s book description at https://www.fantagraphics.com/products/doris-danger-giant-monsters-amok). If you’re a fan of giant monsters, you may have also noticed Chris’s artwork in the Criterion eight disc blu ray box set of Godzilla: https://www.criterion.com/films/29345-terror-of-mechagodzilla.
At the Lake Tahoe Comic Con, Wisnia looks forward to hanging out at his booth all weekend long, selling and signing his books, seeing familiar and new faces, or just talking about comics. The con features costumes, vendors, other comics creators and Hollywood guests, and an amateur cosplay contest with cash prizes.
The official website is http://www.laketahoecon.com, and tickets are available at http://www.ticketmaster.com, or you can buy them at the door. All Wisnia’s social media, including his website and YouTube channel, are @ChrisWisniaArts.
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