The Columbus comics scene has never lacked heroes. The talent pool, historically speaking, is impressive - James Thurber, Milton Caniff, Jeff Smith. The Columbus Indie Comix Fair this weekend, though, hopes to prove that there's a lot more to talk about than those famous artists.

The Columbus comics scene has never lacked heroes. The talent pool, historically speaking, is impressive - James Thurber, Milton Caniff, Jeff Smith. The Columbus Indie Comix Fair this weekend, though, hopes to prove that there's a lot more to talk about than those famous artists.

"The Columbus independent comics scene is coming into its own as a thing after years of being on the cusp," said Nix Comics Quarterly creator Ken Eppstein. "There's always been quality local talent … but individual artists and small collaborative groups mostly operated as if on their own little islands. I think that the digital age is finally having a liberating effect on people who have been trapped on those islands."

Hand-picked local comic creators are joining forces for the inaugural CICF, during which they'll sell, show and talk about their work at Ace of Cups. Admission is free.

"It's basically a chance for us to get together and crony around, and for us to show Columbus a small slice of what this town has to offer," said Eppstein, the show's founder.

What this town has to offer is the key to CICF. The city has a long history of events that bring in out-of-town comic book artists. Eppstein's show co-sponsor Bob Corby, creator of Back Porch Comics, is the guy behind the SPACE convention, an annual gathering of independent comic publishers from around the world that has been held in Columbus for 13 years.

The internet, Corby said, has had a substantial impact on the general public's relationship with comics.

"In the '80s, I started putting mini-comics through the mail. It was the only way to get around. I went through a lot of postage," he said. "There were a couple comics shops. But now everyone's got something in stores, and I've got comics online."

Area retailers' desire to sell local art has helped the scene come out from behind the drawing board, too.

"It's hard to imagine having an indie comic book sold anywhere in Columbus outside of a place like Laughing Ogre, say, 10 years ago," Eppstein said.

Places like What the Rock?!, Kafe Kerouac and Mug & Brush Barbershop now sell local comics, giving readers the opportunity to taste the local talent (which, Corby and Eppstein said, many might be surprised to find isn't much like the young-adult flavor of legends DC or Marvel).

"Indie comic books are the average Joe and Jane's easiest, cheapest and most accessible entry into the world of indie art," Eppstein said, "and Columbus has as much or more talent as any other burg in the country. It's something we should be hanging our hat on."