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Omaha Magazine

Art Therapy

Mar 26, 2018 05:12PM ● By Kyle Eustice

Growing up in Omaha, 33-year-old Nick Rivers didn’t have many friends. His introverted personality made it nearly impossible to branch out into the social circles that surrounded him in school.

Instead, the Northwest High graduate immersed himself in art and would spend countless hours with a pen to paper. But unlike many of his peers, he was drawing ornate comic book characters, something he picked up from his father. Every Wednesday they would go to Dragon’s Lair on 91st and Blondo streets to pick up the newest comics. His passion for comic books eventually led him to his current endeavor—Omniclipse Comics.

“I got into comic books at a very young age, way before it became acceptable or popular,” Rivers explains. “My dad is a very avid comic book collector. He’s been collecting comics since the ’60s, and has always had them laying around the house [when] my older brothers and I were coming up.”

“I remember being the only kid in preschool who not only knew all the members of the Justice League, but also the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and so on,” he continues. “At this time, these characters weren’t featured in a lot of movies or TV shows.”

One of his older brothers—who Rivers calls a “perfectionist”—also drew and inspired Rivers to hone his craft. Once he felt comfortable with his progress, the blossoming artist was able to connect with his classmates through his work.

“I have always—and still have—difficulty making friends,” he admits. “Only recently have I been successfully able to ‘fake’ being an extrovert. So, while I didn’t have many friends, I dove into my imagination. I first started drawing very crude, ugly symbols that really only I understood on piles and piles of notebook paper. Then I started tracing and copying some of my favorite images from comics I owned. Once I felt like I could start taking a little pride in my work I started to share it with some of the other kids in school.”

His dedication to art over the years is staggering. With the goal of producing his own professional comic book at the forefront of his mind, he inched closer to that dream becoming a reality every year—starting in middle school.

“I would draw these really horrible comics back then and go to Kinko’s or OfficeMax to print out as many copies as I could,” he says. “I’d share them with my family and friends.”

Armed with a degree from Omaha’s Creative Center, around 2012 he started to take the steps necessary to create his first professional comic book. At the time, he was living in Florida and in between jobs. He had been working as a graphic designer, but was tired of the uninspiring work.

“I was burnt out on sitting in front of a computer creating things I didn’t feel like made use of the full extent of my abilities,” he says. “My old Creative Center buddy Brett Strong needed help on a project he was hired for. He was penciling a comic called Cursed Mountain for a small indie publisher, Dark Ink Pictures. He needed an inker, so he called me up. I turned in my inks and the creator of the project came to be with another project he wanted me to work on called Coven. It was a very difficult project since it was the first time I had that many pages to turn in and I was penciling, inking, and coloring on a tight deadline while also working two day jobs.”

That experience with Strong was the genesis of Omniclipse Comics, and in 2014 they put out their first comic book, The New Breed. Rivers felt like he’d found his counterpart.

“I personally look for someone who wants to create comics first,” he explains. “I feel like a lot of creators go into a project with built-in ulterior motives. The thing that made a lot of the early Marvel comics so great is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were only trying to tell the next great story—not the next great movie, cartoon, or toy. Those things came later. You have to be passionate about your vision above all. What can you create or show me that I can’t create myself? Also I look for a good, proactive work ethic. So many people think that good art is something that just happens overnight and overlook the many hours of patience, practice, and failure it takes to get there.”

Although Omniclipse Comics is on hiatus, Rivers is still heavily  involved in art. During his free time, he runs a YouTube show called Rivers Art Colors, where he showcases his digital drawing and coloring processes while ruminating on pop culture and comics.

“The last book I put out was Tyrannosaurus Hex No. 3,” he says. “I planned it to be a six-part mini-series, and I intend to finish the last three books once I get back to Omniclipse. Beyond that, I have a lot of stories that I hope to tell.”

This article appears in the March/April 2018 edition of Encounter

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