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'Nuts and bolts' of publishing discussed at Dover Comic Con

By Craig Horleman
Posted 6/17/22

It all started with a couple of No. 2 pencils, some paper and an old copier and PLB Comics was eventually born.

An independent publisher of comic books on the Eastern Shore of Maryland since 2006, …

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Best Bets

'Nuts and bolts' of publishing discussed at Dover Comic Con


It all started with a couple of No. 2 pencils, some paper and an old copier and PLB Comics was eventually born.

An independent publisher of comic books on the Eastern Shore of Maryland since 2006, PLB currently produces five titles including “John the Swamp Dude,” “Jellyman and Toast” and “Gideon & Sebastian.”

In 1987, brothers Josh and Mathew Shockley were writing, drawing and producing comic books and selling them at their elementary school.

“Their mother bought them an old copier and they literally made their own comics, ran them off and sold them for a quarter to their friends in school,” said PLB editor James Dufendach, who joined the team 11 years ago.

The three will lead a panel called “Creating Comics” during Saturday’s Comic Con in Dover. Their session will be at 2 p.m. at the Old State House.

“Creating Comics” will be just one of the events at this year’s edition of Comic Con, which will take over downtown Dover from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The free pop culture festival includes more than 100 vendors, photo ops both indoors and outdoors, artists and artisans, authors, a cosplay competition, a gaming competition, fan groups, pop-culture cars, food trucks and a concert by the local band Middle 8 wrapping up things at 4 p.m. on The Green.

At the panel, Mr. Dufendach and company will describe what it takes to put out an issue of a comic book.

“Making a comic is an incredibly time-consuming thing, especially when you don’t have a team of 10 people. You will find that a lot of indie creators have not three titles, but like three books. And that’s not a slight. That is because it takes that long,” he said.

Along with being PLB’s script and copy editor, he also serves as marketing support, letterer and sometimes colorist and sometimes inker.

At the “Creating Comics” panel, attendees will learn what all of those jobs consist of and go over each step in the process.

“Our panel is a nuts and bolts panel. I think when somebody thinks comic books, the only thing that pops out of their head is drawing. And while obviously that’s the quarterback and that’s the superstar who gets the expensive football card, there’s a whole team of people to do all kinds of stuff,” he said.

Mr. Dufendach said every issue starts with a script that is discussed with an editor and gets rewritten until mutually agreed upon. It then goes to a pencil sketch, whose lines get defined by an inker and then the colorist adds the, well, colors.

“Every bit in between each and every step, it goes back to an editor to change things because it’s much easier to change things in a pencil step. Everybody’s a storyteller in this process,” said Mr. Dufendach, who also organizes the Comic Con in Ocean City, Maryland each December.

The next step is done by the letterer, who lays in the word balloons and sound effects, figuring out where they should go in every panel as to not ruin the artistic vision of the artist.

“It’s the ability to place dialogue within a panel in a way that makes sense so you’re not covering anything important. Also, sometimes you’ll get a panel and there’ll be a bunch of dialogue and there won’t be any room for you to put things in so you have to figure out creative ways to make that dialogue still be in that book somewhere and make sense. ... There’s some art to it,” Mr. Dufendach said.

“When you’re looking at Marvel or DC or any of the larger publications, they have a team of X number of people where there’s four or five people named but then you’ve also got to remember that there’s at least four or five people who are production people who aren’t named.

“We try to instill in people that comic book creation for the most part, unless you’re an individual creator, tends to be super collaborative. We stress that because that’s another thing people don’t kind of realize is when you have this team, everybody’s working together. Everybody works together to tell the story. It’s important that people are able to work together and it’s also important that people aren’t precious about their work because that’s not the way comics work.”

A self-described “huge comic book nerd,” Mr. Dufendach said his father turned him on to the publications when he was growing up in Wilmington.

“I hated reading. I hated it. And my father being a pretty smart guy, went up to our local store and bought me comic books and that got me reading,” he said.

PLB does a larger program for schools to get young people interested in comic books.

“I think how we digest media has changed generationally, obviously. If I had the video games that I have now when I was young, it’s very unlikely that I would have been collecting comic books. If I had beyond the seven channels I had as a child, if I could watch anything at any time, it might be unlikely that I would have started with comic books. But comic books are important. I think they’re important in a lot of ways. They are a uniquely American art style,” Mr. Dufendach said.

“This is something we should be proud of. And they are a wonderful gateway drug to reading.”

Saturday’s event is presented by the Delaware State News with the support of many local businesses, the Dover Public Library, the city of Dover, Biggs Museum of American Art, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, First State Heritage Park, Dover Federal Credit Union, Delaware Division of Public Health, Dover Electric and P&G Dover Wipes Plant.

Vendors will be selling original art, comic books, T-shirts, cosplay and steampunk accessories, action figures, miniatures, event merchandise from Silver City Mugs and more. Special character guests include medieval role playing by Society for Creative Anachronism and even pro wrestlers from TKO Productions/DCW.

Delaware Anime Society is taking over the library’s teen loft, with a TV marathon, scavenger hunt and board games galore with other activities going on in the library.

The Biggs Museum will have children’s activities, Delaware by Hand artists, and free admission to the gallery (including a pop art exhibition with big names like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein). In addition, video game fans will enjoy the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Competition, hosted by Small Town Gaming (and livestreamed on Twitch) on the main floor.

At the historic John Bell House, there will be comic book illustration activities, silhouette portraits, true crime Dover walking tours and a 2 p.m. walking tour with the Caped Crusader (meet at Rose Cottage, 102 S. State St.)

Also on The Green, the Old State House will host other lectures on improv, manga and the history of American comics.

Free costume contests are open to all ages on The Green at State Street, starting at noon.

For more information, see the event program.

Lewes Garden Tour

The Lewes Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau sponsors its 31st annual Lewes Garden Tour on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are nine private gardens on the tour this year. Tickets include a description of each garden. The gardens are selected by the event committee’s co-chairs with assistance from other members of the committee.

In addition to touring the gardens, the event includes a Garden Market in Zwaanendael Park with vendors selling garden-related items during the hours of the tour (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and a food tent in Zwaanendael Park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. selling lunch and cold beverages by Full Belly Bistro.

Tickets for the tour of gardens are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting the chamber’s website  and the tickets can be picked up at the chamber’s visitor center.

Concert for the Kids

On Sunday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Paul Kares will present a Concert for the Kids at the Milton Theatre, an evening of tunes and cuisine to benefit young musicians and culinary art students.

The musical lineup will include Paul Cullen, the former bass player for the rock group Bad Company, and guitarists Jamie McLean and Robbie LaBlanc. Also on the bill are the Fitzkee Brothers and 5th Avenue Jazz.

The evening will include heavy appetizers, craft beer and fine wines. The featured chefs will be James Beard semifinalist Hari Cameron, Brian Goldfarb, Brian Gussert and Mr. Cullen, a chef, sommelier and owner of Paul’s Kitchen, an Italian specialty store and brunch spot in Lewes.

Live auction items will include a trip to London, a tall sailing ship cruise for two, a trip on a pilot boat and a four-hour pontoon boat ride for 12.

Tickets are $95 each. To purchase, visit here.


“12 Incompetent Men (and Women),” written by Ian McWethy, opens tonight at the Patchwork Playhouse in Dover, home of the Kent County Theatre Guild.

The show is the second production of KCTG’s new TAP (Teen Apprenticeship Program).

The shows are today and Saturday at 7 p.m. and a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and may be purchased at the door or here.

The Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 Roosevelt Ave.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is Pixar’s “Lightyear.”

To share news on your entertainment event, group or venue, contact Craig Horleman at 302-741-8224 or

Follow @CHorlemanDSN on Twitter.

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