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  • Pasadena illustrator Howie Noel is the writer and illustrator of “Tara Normal,” a graphic novel soon to be available in print thanks to a successful online campaign and the overwhelming support of readers. At a recent launch party at Collector’s Corner in Parkville, Noel shared with visitors about his ghost-fighting protagonist and her adventures.
    Photos courtesy of Shelley Noeldechen
    Pasadena illustrator Howie Noel is the writer and illustrator of “Tara Normal,” a graphic novel soon to be available in print thanks to a successful online campaign and the overwhelming support of readers. At a recent launch party at Collector’s Corner in Parkville, Noel shared with visitors about his ghost-fighting protagonist and her adventures.

Howie Noel Launches Campaign To Publish Graphic Novel “Tara Normal”

Dylan Roche
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October 16, 2013

Tara is hardly a typical young woman. The Maryland girl wants to help those in need, but paranormal investigation can get dangerous – and she often finds herself facing demons, ghouls, werewolves, aliens and rogue government agents.

All the outlandish creativity awaits readers in “Tara Normal,” the 120-page brainchild of Pasadena illustrator Howie Noel. Recently, the local artist launched a campaign to make the passion project a reality – and the response has been invigorating.

“People really latched onto it,” Noel explained, citing the cult following that took interest in the character and comic as what really kept him going throughout the process.

It began in 2008, when Noel launched the story as a weekly web comic; however, the creative mind behind “Tara Normal” wanted the chance to tell a longer story and delve deeper into his characters and world-building, so he sought sponsorship and backing to publish a print edition of his graphic novel. Thanks to the website Kickstarter, which helps independent artists raise money to complete their dream projects, he found the support he needed – in three days, no less.

“It’s exciting to think the book will happen now,” shared Noel, who is about halfway finished illustrating the five-issue novel. With the script complete for the entire narrative, he has been creating all the artwork himself, keenly bringing visual realization to his headstrong heroine and her world populated with all kinds of outlandish creatures.

Noel’s distinct drawing style complements his creative plotting and characterization as he balances horror and humor in both design and concept. Readers follow Tara as she solves the mysterious death of her famous novelist mother, although Tara never knows that an unknown somebody might be exploiting her ghost-fighting strengths and her desire to help others.

Noel, who said he is continuously developing stories in his mind, draws inspiration from many sources. The lifelong artist and Pratt Institute illustration graduate moved in 2005 to Pasadena, where he came to love the local culture, from the town’s restaurant and bar scene to the waterway access nearby. He even used many Maryland places as settings in “Tara Normal.”

“You write what you know,” shared Noel, who, like his protagonist, has ghost-hunting experience. He used the Maryland locations as a backdrop for the paranormal situations inspired by his lifelong interest in horror, science fiction and comics, which he developed to create Tara Normal’s exploits. He noted that he wanted to write a strong female character as his lead, which would give an interesting twist to the genre.

When he isn’t working on his comics, the award-winning talent keeps busy with a freelance career in which he designs posters, logos, DVD covers, T-shirts and other products for local and nationwide clients. Always eager to develop his craft and share his gifts with others, he takes gigs as a caricature artist at parties, where he creates stylish portraits of the guests.

After the campaign fundraiser’s recent launch at Collector’s Corner in Parkville, Noel has plans to continue engaging with readers and fans throughout the area with regular events. To learn more about Noel’s work and “Tara Normal,” visit www.hcnoel.com. Curious readers can also find Noel on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


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