Comic books inspire artists

Geographically, Trumbull Art Gallery and All-American Cards and Comics only are a block apart.

Demographically, the gap is much wider.

Greg Bartholomew, who owns All-American and serves on the board at TAG, is trying to bridge that gap with an exhibition opening Saturday.

In the vein of other TAG shows focusing on the collections of local art enthusiasts, the gallery will display “Greg Bartholomew’s Comic Book Art Collection,” and the opening of the exhibition will coincide with Worldwide Free Comic Book Day, one of the busiest days of the year for comics retailers.

“I want to draw more people down to TAG,” Bartholomew said. “That’s the whole premise to do it, to get a younger audience back there.”

When Bartholomew joined the TAG board at the beginning of the year, the other members mentioned there were some openings for shows in TAG’s West Gallery. Bartholomew offered to show the comic art he’s collected over the years, and when he saw that the month of May was one of the openings, pairing the show with Comic Book Day made perfect sense.

Comic Book Day, now in its 12th year, was started to lure new fans to the hobby, and many publishers put out special editions of their most popular titles for the promotion. The event usually coincides with the release of a big-budget comics-inspired movie (this year’s release is “Iron-Man 3”), and the art form continue to influence popular culture.

Most of Bartholomew’s collection focuses on pieces by comic book artist Alex Ross, who first attracted attention for his work on the “Marvels” series in the mid-’90s.

“His work was different because it was painted, it wasn’t pencil and ink,” he said. “These were hand-painted pieces, truly works of art, at least to me.”

Bartholomew began collecting the limited edition prints and giclee prints in 2000. Many are displayed at All-American, but others pieces in his collection haven’t been displayed publicly before.

Comic Book Day will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at All-American, 161 W. Market St., Warren, and the opening reception for “Greg Bartholomew’s Comic Book Art Collection” will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at TAG, 198 E. Market St. The exhibition runs through June 8.

To encourage his customers to visit TAG, All-American is planning a giveaway of merchandise from “The Walking Dead,” including “The Walking Dead: Compendium One,” which collects the first 48 issues of the comic in book form. Visitors will pick up the entry ticket at All-American, but they have to deposit the entry at TAG.

A winner will be chosen during the opening reception.