Neighborhood Comics, downtown Savannah’s comic book specialty store, has launched a Comic Artist-in-Residence Program. Designed to demystify the process of making comics, Lee Heidel, owner of Neighborhood Comics thought this would be the perfect opportunity to connect Savannah-area comic book artists with the public.
The residency will support one local artist per month by providing a dedicated workspace inside the store so that customers can see firsthand how artists create their work. From storyboards to layouts, customers will have the chance to ask the artist questions and even purchase some of their work.
The idea for a residency program came from Savannah’s arts community, Heidel explained.
“Savannah has an amazing community of sequential artists,” he said. “A large part of that is due to Savannah College of Art and Design with professors that work in the industry and of course, students just getting started. But, Savannah’s quality of life and cost of living also attract artists of all stripes. We consider our store to be a creator store, in that we celebrate the writers and artists that contribute to the comics, not just the fictional characters on the covers. Having signings and meet-and-greets has always been a part of our DNA. Because we get so many tourists, I’m regularly fielding questions about how comics are made. Having an artist on-site seemed like a no-brainer.”
Victor Alpi has been selected as the first artist-in-residence and will be on-site working in the store through the end of this month. The Savannah-based, Miami-born, artist is a SCAD alum where he studied Sequential Art and Painting.
Heidel is excited for people to connect with Alpi and his work.
“He has a great attitude and is working on some amazing creator-owned projects,” Heidel said. “As I was workshopping the idea with different artists, [Victor] immediately saw the potential and was on board. I can’t wait for Savannah to fall in love with Victor’s art.”
The residency comes at a perfect moment in Alpi’s career. In December, he decided to step back from his service industry job so that he could dedicate 100% of his time to his artistic practice. And now his work is gaining momentum. Recently, Alpi released “Introduction to The Humarks,” a collection of sketchbook drawings about Jack Dempsey and Jon Dory, two shark-human characters Alpi has developed over the past decade. While in the shop, Alpi will be working on illustrations for a mystical western script written by the up-and-coming comic writer Julio Fernández titled “Magic Revolver.”
“I’m using this time to get into the industry more seriously.” Alpi continued, “I’m doing whatever I can to get my work out there. I’m shy but I want to publish my work.”
This is a really exciting and unique opportunity for Alpi. It is a reason for him to get out of the house a little bit and, for him, it feels like he is going to an office.
“When I heard Lee talking about the program, I jumped right on it,” Alpi said. “It’s the best comic book shop in town. I’ve never heard of a residency program like this. They really have their ear to the ground supporting local stuff. Plus, if I need to take a break, I can grab something off of the wall. They have a whole western section I can look at.”
Heidel intends for the program to have a big impact on the local comic scene.
“I hope the program raises the profile of our local comic book creator community,” he said. “Not many places have a ‘scene’ like Savannah. The plan is for the artists to make connections with locals and tourists alike to spread the joy of comics.”
Stop by to visit with Alpi and see how his mystical western illustrations are shaping up. While you’re there, take the opportunity to explore the full extent of what this “real-life mom-and-pop comic shop” has to offer.
Alpi plans to be at Neighborhood Comics during business hours Wednesday through Friday and at least one weekend day. Call ahead to be sure he’s there.
For information and to apply for the residency, visit, neighborhoodcomics.com/sequential-artist-in-residence. For information on Victor Alpi’s work and his IG Live videos, check out: @alpivictoralpi.