Storefront Artist Project Explores Comic Book, Cartoon Art

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PITTSFIELD Mass. — Storefront Artist Project continues its Comic Book and Cartoon Art exhibition series this summer with "Comic and Cartoon Art Comes Alive: The Art of Mark Martin," on view July 31 through August 29, 2010.

The series began in 2008 with an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Joe Staton and continued with works by Scott Hanna in 2009. This year Storefront will feature Mark Martin, an artist based in Williamsburg, who has worked in and out of the comics field for 24 years, creating many worlds of his own as well as writing and drawing adventures of such well-known characters as SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The exhibition is curated by Lawrence Klein, chairman emeritus and founder of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

As a precursor to the exhibit, the Storefront Artist Project will be hosting a special United States Postal Service stamp cancellation ceremony. A series of related workshops and programs also will be offered to the community in conjunction with the exhibition. On Sunday, August 1, Martin will participate in a day of workshops at the Storefront Artist Project, 124 Fenn St. Activities include a drawing demonstration, sketch-a-thon, and discussion on art, comics and drawing. Other events will include talks about writing, art, publishing, portfolio reviews and group workshops geared towards children.

On Thursday, August 19 during the city's downtown 3rd Thursday celebration, Storefront will bring together Martin, Staton and Hanna at the Berkshire Bank tent on North Street.

All programs are free and open to the public. These kid-centric, family-friendly programs are sponsored by Canson and Fanboy™ Papers, Bags Unlimited, Sakura Color Products of America, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Endurance Brewing Company, and the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank. For more information including registration contact the Storefront Artist Project at 413-442-7201 or visit

Martin has written and illustrated comics and stories for Nickelodeon Magazine, Disney Adventures Magazine, Boys Life Magazine, and many comic book publishers including Mirage Studios’ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." He is currently compiling material for Focus-Challenged: The Art of Mark Martin, a career-spanning collection of his work.

Martin's first published comic was a 1980s cover for the fan tabloid Comics Buyers Guide, the same publication that later printed his comic "20 Nude Dancers 20," a critically acclaimed and fan favorite strip about comics that featured no nude dancers. He also wrote and drew comics for the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and contributed to other lesser-known comics anthologies. He self-published "The Lillian Spencer Drake Catalog of Values", an infamous parody of mail order catalogs featuring work by Martin and other cartoonists of the mini-comics genre, and created the cult favorite "Gnatrat", a parody of both Batman and superhero comics in general. Gnatrat survived 5 incarnations before financial and legal concerns caused Martin to kill him off, as chronicled in "The Ultimate Gnatrat", a collection of the character’s stories published by Fantagraphics circa 1987. Gnatrat rose from the dead to star in "Gnatrat: The Movie" circa 1989.

In 1990 he left his Alabama home to work for Tundra Publishing, a company founded by "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" co-creator Kevin Eastman and based in Western Massachusetts, where he helped usher many projects and co-created "Tantalizing Stories" featuring Jim Woodring's world-renowned character "Frank" and Martin's own somewhat-renowned "Montgomery Wart." He also created and edited the humor anthology "Hyena" while at Tundra.

Since 1993, Martin has created and illustrated "Joker's Wild" for Boys Life Magazine, many comics and characters for Nickelodeon Magazine, activity and puzzle pages for Disney Adventures Magazine, and one article for Cracked Magazine. He has worked on several children's books featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, and edited the humor section of Heavy Metal Magazine.  His current publications include "Teeny Weeny: The Tiniest Hot Dog in the Universe," a collection of strips that he created for Nickelodeon Magazine, and "Around the USA,"  the catalog for an online exhibition of small paintings based on the country’s 50 states. His comic strips "Marky Mark Britches" and "The Famous Mark Martin and His Incredible Car" are based on the racecar driver Mark Martin, whom he is often mistaken for.
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Dalton Voters to Decide Funding for Police Details Account

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The town will be having a special town meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. at Wahconah Regional High School to vote on adding additional funds to the police detail fund.
The controversial article has been making waves within the community government this past month. 
The police detail fund is a revolving account that is currently paid up to $25,000 but is drained when a large number of details happen. It stays drained until it is replenished by payments from the private entities that hire the details. 
When the fund is substantially drained, the payment schedule for officers who work details is unpredictable, Police Chief Deanna Strout has said in previous meetings. 
Where the issue lies is that the revolving fund is being drained faster than it can be replenished. When the administration of the fund changed to the police chief in November, Strout made it so vendors are required to pay within 15 days. 
Most contractors are able to pay within 30 to 35 days, local businesses pay even quicker, Town Tax Collector Melissa Davis said in a previous meeting. 
Even with this change, there is still a risk of going into a deficit when there is a high number of police detail work and the fund is drained. 
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