Phil Hester

Comics artist and writer Phil Hester signs a comic book for Steve Sidebottom during Saturday’s collector’s fair at Penn Central Mall.

OSKALOOSA — Comic book artist and writer Phil Hester was on familiar ground at Penn Central Mall on Saturday, at the collector’s fair.

Hester, who has worked on titles including Green Arrow, Swamp Thing, Nightwing and Wonder Woman, is originally from New English.

After graduating from the University of Iowa, Hester and his wife moved to Knoxville. It’s neat, he said, to come full circle and have a small signing where he first started out.

“So I started getting my first comics works there and Stacy, the guy that put this thing on, he was having these little comic card shows in malls and he invited me to come to this one,” he said. “So I had my very first published book and I came. It was probably about 30 years ago here.”

Hester said he still recognized some of the people on his side of the table during the collector’s fair.

“And sometimes, I’ll meet people that will come up to me that saw me when they were like 10 or 12 and they’re fully grown, so it’s impossible to recognize them,” he said, “but it’s pretty neat.”

Hester said he has enjoyed the resurgence of superhero comics.

“It’s really cool because even at the beginning of my career, it was sort of like still on the fringe and still something that got ridiculed a lot,” he said, “and it’s almost like it’s been a complete 180, like they’re totally mainstream now.”

People have adopted the name ‘nerd,’ Hester said.

“It’s been a total reversal and it’s really cool. In some ways, I feel like ‘oh well I liked that band before they blew up,’ like I was into that before it was cool,” he said. “But it’s also cool to just see so many people enjoying it. It’s kind of fun that I kind of live in that world. We kind of won; the geek culture has ascended.”

Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.

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