AUGUSTA — Jay Piscopo, a Portland native and comic book writer and artist, always had a thing for red costumes. Growing up, he was especially drawn to The Flash and Daredevil, two of the most well-known comic book characters in history and both known for striking red suits.

“They were bright red, and they looked cool,” Piscopo said.

Upon graduating from high school, Piscopo, 51, thought comic books would be his career, but he initially worked in advertising, though “comic books, science fiction and fantasy writing were always in the background.”

Piscopo shared stories of his career as a comic book writer and artist during a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Augusta Sunday afternoon.

He signed copies of his three-part graphic novel series, “The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli,” about a 10-year-old boy from another world who lands on a beach in Maine. The books are meant to be read not just by children, but by people of any age.

“We are doing something that’s really against the grain,” Piscopo said. “We are trying to make comic books that kids, parents and grandparents can read together and still get something out of it, regardless of whether or not they are into comic books.”

One grandparent, Pam Coutts, of Randolph, picked up the series for her 21-year-old grandson Cooper, a college student in Tennessee. She checked other parts of the bookstore before locating Piscopo in the children’s area.

The series is a graphic novel, but because it isn’t the typical graphic novel, like Frank Miller’s popular “Sin City,” Piscopo and his partners have to help retailers with marketing the books.

“You can’t just put it on the shelf,” he said. “If we can show retailers how to sell it, (the books) move because nobody’s out there doing this.”

When he wasn’t signing books or talking with customers, Piscopo was sketching superheroes or sketching children as superheroes.

Fairfield’s Steve and Tammy Diaz’ daughter Chloe, 5, got a sketch of herself flying over a skyscraper, a cape around her neck and a big ‘C’ on her chest. The parents bought the Capt’n Eli books for two of their sons.

Piscopo said he has some things in the works for his characters, including something in television and a possible stage production he wasn’t interested in talking too much about for fear of jinxing the concept. There are no plans for Volume 4 of the Capt’n Eli series in 2016, but Piscopo said the content is being licensed by other publishers around the country.

The Capt’n Eli character came about in partnership with the Maine-based soda brand of the same name. One of the founders of Portland’s Shipyard Brewing Company, Fred Forsley, contacted Piscopo about creating a character to be included on new bottles of the soda, which had previously only been offered at pubs and restaurants.

Though he enjoyed reading classics like Spiderman, Batman and Wonder Woman as a kid, Piscopo also liked the obscure characters from lesser companies like Charlton Comics.

“I liked Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, who later were purchased by DC Comics,” he said. “But when I liked them, they were nowhere, and that was fun.

“We were always excited when something new came out.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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