Photo by Justin Criado

Central Northside comic book artists Dan McCloskey and Nils Balls shared sketches and art supplies Feb. 11 during a meet-and-greet event at Troy Hill’s Penn Brewery.

By Neil Strebig

Comics, laughs and brews were shared in abundance Feb. 11 as local comic book artists Dan McCloskey and Nils Balls featured their collection of artwork with fans and supporters at Troy Hill’s Penn Brewery.

“It has been fantastic,” McCloskey said. “With the positive feedback from everyone, once (Free Money) got going it really picked up.”

Both Central Northside artists shared their recent works, including McCloskey’s local favorite, Free Money, which debut the third issue later this month, while the fourth and final issue scheduled already “in the works.”

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Photo by Justin Criado: Central Northside comic book artists Nils Balls (left) and Dan McCloskey during a meet-and-greet event Feb. 11 at Troy Hill’s Penn Brewery.

Balls was also there enjoying the “great support” as he shared his Yinzer-centric comic, You Can Did It, along with his dark-comedy, Ship of Soiled Doves, a collaboration with fellow artist Erin Colby Griffin, highlighting the Idaho Gals and the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I’m a history buff,” Balls said on his historical satire.

The book gained footing after Balls took a trip to the South and kept in contact with Griffin. The two eventually got together to put their creative minds to work after Balls moved back to Pittsburgh in 2009.
Both artists presented fans with smiles, open arms, and even offered a small coloring and drawing table for attendees to illustrate their own comic strips.

“My old roommate use to show me issues of ‘Skeleton Balls,’ some of Nils’ older work,” said Paulette Poullet, who has also worked in the local comic scene for the literary website New Yinzer. “He’s been holding it down for a while.”

While Balls didn’t have any of his older Skeleton Balls collection on hand he did have a few illustrations from his “work in progress,” The Illustrated Breweries of Pennsylvania. McCloskey shared his older works like Top of the Line and A Film About Billy.

“Whenever I go to El Burro, I get the Northside Chronicle so I can see Nils and Dan’s work,” New Yinzer creator Scott Silsbe said.

The two also host events at the Federal Street branch of the Carnegie Library.

Both artists’ work can be viewed online at their personal websites. Free Money is distributed throughout the whole city, including several stops in Northside like the Andy Warhol Museum and Mattress Factory.