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Chula Vista grad's story illustrates comics good for his career Flavia Casas | Fri, Jul 23 2010 06:29 PM

At age 36, Lee Kohse spends most of his time wrapped up in a world where a galaxy far, far away is at civil war, a man wearing a spider-themed body suit climbs walls and a kindergartner defeats her enemies with a metal purse. The reason? His job demands it.

Kohse, a graduate of Chula Vista High School, is an illustrator and comic book artist whose work will be featured at this year's 40th annual San Diego Comic-Con International. Comic-Con, a four-day comic book convention, showcases a wide array of elements from the comic book, film/television, science fiction and pop culture fields.

The highly anticipated event brings to San Diego a flourish of colorful characters and celebrity guests. Kohse's publishing company of independent comics, Bloodfire Studios, will have its own booth at the event, as it has for the past 12 years.

Kohse, who is the company's senior creative director, said Bloodfire started out as a self-publishing company formed by emerging comic book writers and artists who were looking to publish their work before getting picked up by bigger companies.

After its employees eased their way into the industry, Bloodfire evolved into a professional company, publishing independent comics and employing professionals who work with "Star Wars," "Transformers," "Alien vs. Predator" and other titles.

Among the list of independent comics Bloodfire publishes is Kohse's original work, "Kindergoth."

"Kindergoth" took root while Khose attended Chula Vista High School. His comic about Joe Freshman, a high school character who died after failing to recycle, became a hit in the Spartan's newspaper. At the time, the comic focused on high school kids, but has now shifted to kindergarteners.

"There's a lot more flexibility because I can play with the naivetŽ of kids," Khose said.

Although "Kindergoth" is available as both a web comic and a comic book, the two are managed differently. The web comic is 100 percent Kohse's work, while with the comic book he uses the help of others.

Despite Kohse's life now involving people standing in line to get his autograph and Wikipedia dedicating one of its pages to him, the comic guru was twice rejected from Chula Vista High's School for Creative and Performing Arts.

After Kohse's second rejection, his sister, in a flurry of incomprehension and frustration, stole his sketchbook and showed it to SCPA's advanced art teacher at the time, Fred James. Impressed by Kohse's artistic ability, James convinced SCPA administrators to admit Kohse into the program, a decision that proved to be right on track.

"My junior year, Mr. James locked me in the supply closet and said, 'Here are all these art supplies, do whatever you want,' and as long as I kept drawing, he was happy," Kohse said.

In the future Kohse wants to do even bigger things for himself by possibly working with Marvel or DC Comics, some of the bigger names in the comic industry.

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