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Greg LaRocque brings worlds of fantasy to...


Greg LaRocque brings worlds of fantasy to life

It's just another Wednesday afternoon in the life of Greg LaRocque. He leans over an artist's table, drawing a giant-headed genius locked in combat with an ape.

Who will win? Only Mr. LaRocque knows for sure.

And how exactly it will look in the end remains a mystery even to the 38-year-old comic book artist.

But this much is certain: For a dozen years, he has helped bring assorted super heroes (including Spiderman) to life -- and loved doing it.

"It's not just the idea of drawing these figures running across the page," he says. "The artist has to create a world where these characters exist."

A comic book fan since childhood, he sees more than mindless entertainment in the 22 pages he produces each month.

"There's a good-vs.-evil element, super-heroic people who band together to save the earth. That's kind of neat stuff," the Medfield father of two says.

Those who haven't read a comic in years can see his work Thursday, when a comic book exhibit featuring his drawings opens at Maryland Art Place (through July 18).

Now if only Mr. LaRocque could get others to respect him.

"Most people, when they think of comic books, think of Archie and Batman," he says. "A lot of times they will make cracks and say, 'Those little cartoons you draw.' They don't see the vast work and imagination that goes into it." What do Spike Lee, Sinbad and Charles Dutton have in common?

They've all been "bustertizin'."

At least that's how West Baltimore designer Karen Buster describes what happens when someone wears one of her stylish T-shirts.

During the last four years, she has produced 83 different designs -- all of which deliver a message of black pride.

"My people have attitude," says Ms. Buster, 33, of the characters that dance, skateboard and run across her shirts.

So does their creator. As a child, she showed so much talent for art that her mother allowed her to draw on her bedroom walls. But it wasn't until she attended Dillard University in New Orleans and began making T-shirts for her sorority sisters that she realized how to use her talents.

Her designs are currently sold from a cart at Security Square Mall, but she hopes to branch out into Mondawmin Mall soon. She recently expanded her line -- adding sweat shirts, prints and wall hangings -- and is now represented by distributors in California, New York and Dallas.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm a success now," she says. "As long as I keep seeing growth, I'm doing OK."

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