EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 16, 2012

New Bedford man builds a career in comics

By Deborah Allard
The Herald News

---- — NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — If you read or collect comic books, chances are you’ve seen Bob Almond’s work.

The Black Panther, Warlock, Avengers, Aquaman, Supergirl, Blade, Spiderman and Vampirela are just a few of the comics that Almond has “inked” over the past two decades.

With pens, markers, brushes and pencils, the veteran comic book artist works in a spare bedroom in his New Bedford home. Always nearby are his wife and son, along with their two Chihuahuas, Maine Coon cat, and pet rabbit and rat.

“People are still under the impression that comics are for kids,” said Almond surrounded by drawings and shelves of comic books.

But, that’s far from the truth.

Almond makes a living creating commissioned work for grown-ups. Comic book fans generally want drawings of their favorite characters or events, sometimes with an interesting backdrop, or sets of characters that may or may not generally be seen on the same page.

Almond creates one-of-a-kind editions and reinterprets some work in ink.

“A lot of comic book fans grow up ... but never grow out of the love of the medium,” Almond said.

Almond has worked for Marvel and DC Comics, among many others like Dark Horse, Blue Line and Dreamsmith.

Comics are a passion for Almond that started when he was 9 years old.

Almond said he got a comic book every week and soon started drawing his own comics on white paper.

“We made homemade comics,” Almond said. “I knew right then and there.”

Born in Seoul, Korea, Almond came to the United States as a baby. He’s lived in New Bedford all his life and graduated from New Bedford High School.

He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1990 from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Breaking into the field of comics is no easy task and practically requires a set of superhero skills.

“It’s one of the hardest things to break into,” Almond said.

For several years, Almond attended a costumed Halloween party where some big names in comics were on the guest list. Each year, he brought his portfolio, but it never made it out of the car.

“They were rock stars to me,” Almond said.

Finally, he got invited to a critique party and was able to show his work. Marvel needed an artist and his work was chosen. That began a 10-year association with Marvel during the time comic books were seeing record sales in the 1990s.

“That was the best experience of my life,” Almond said.

Opportunities have diminished since those boom years, but Almond still finds lots of work in the pages of comic books.

He said inking is something he loves despite the

fact that he’ll “never get rich.”

Almond, when not working on comic books or commissions, runs the Inkwell Awards, a way to educate people about comic book art and reward artists.