A Colorful Cyber Community

A Colorful Cyber Community

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Alex Heberling’s journal bursts with color, storyboarded scenes across the page. And it’s not private – far from it. Alex’s Guide to a Life Well-Lived, one of Heberling’s ongoing online comics, is 95 percent autobiographical, she says. The comic details her interactions with her boyfriend, friends and coworkers in Columbus.


This is just one of many pieces of work that Heberling will bring to the Cincinnati Comic Expo on September 17. Heberling hasn’t been to too many comics-only conventions, although she has been to some science fiction and anime expositions around the U.S. This is her first year going to Cincinnati’s convention. Because her work has been online since 2005, Heberling says these events give her an opportunity to interact with readers of her comics.


"I really like meeting readers of my work," Heberling says. "Now that I’ve been doing this for a little while, I’m starting to get lots of regular people that come and say hi at the local events."


Another important aspect of comic conventions lies in getting to meet others in the community, because drawing for an online platform can get a little lonely, Heberling says. "It’s nice to also meet other people who are doing what you’re doing," she says. "You don’t feel so alone. It’s nice to get involved physically with the comic community."


In this community, Heberling is somewhat of a rarity in that she’s a woman in a typically male-dominated field. But this has allowed her to distinguish herself from other artists on the web, she says. "I’ve found that online especially, it’s very easy as a woman to stand out more, I think. And you know, you’ve got lots of woman-only projects that get started," Heberling says.


Her style of drawing is her own, and Heberling is a self-taught comic artist. "I kind of improvise it a lot of the time," she says. "I have a cinematic approach as opposed to a comic book storytelling approach because I’m self-taught. I go with whatever my gut is telling me at the moment."


Although she doesn’t know where her imagination will take her in the future, Heberling says her long-term goal is to take her artistry full-time. She has a full-time job in retail now, but she hopes to be able to put her comics first as soon as possible. "I’m hoping to go full-time with my artwork some time in the next five years," she says. "I don’t know if that means I’ll be doing freelance work or I’ll have enough of a following to just create books."