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Meet the man behind downtown's Comic Book alley mural

(Cheyenne, Wyo.) - Meet Chad Blakely. He's the man behind the new comic book mural found in the alley behind Sanford's restaurant in downtown. Blakely, a Rock Springs native, has been the art teacher at Carey Jr. High since moving to Cheyenne in 1999. He also continually works on his semi-professional comic book artist/inker career. "I am an art teacher by day, and a comic book artist by night," Blakely joked. "I have been doing art forever." Blakely says he remembers filling in the 'When I Grow Up, I Want To Be...' blank in the back of his sixth-grade yearbook as: 'An artist for Marvel Comics.' "I always wanted to do it, but I also wanted to get a job that I knew was a little more steady," he said. "I had an art teacher in high school who was really cool, and I thought, 'if the comic book thing doesn't work out, I wouldn't mind being a teacher and teaching art'." "I tried breaking into comics, and tried to get my foot in the door, had small business success, but nothing huge. And then a couple years ago, my wife encouraged me to go through with this idea I had for a comic book. I did a 56-page graphic novel called *Kidnapping Kevin Smith.* I contacted Kevin Smith about my idea of this comic book about him and he gave me the green light to use his likeness." (For those of you who aren't privy to Kevin Smith like we weren't, he's a filmmaker who did notable films like *Clerks*, and* Mall Rats*, along with his show on AMC called *Comic Book Men*). Blakely self-published the Indie Comic in 2011, and says he's had success with it since. He says he's working on a new book right now, which he was slightly reluctant to share, but we got it out of him... It takes place in a fictitious Western oil boom town in the 1970's, and has to do with crooked police, organized crime, and an undercover cop. He smirked and said, "it's not based on anything real...it happened in the 70's in Rock Springs." Blakely said it was brought to his attention that there was a 'Call for Artists' for this downtown mural project. "I thought, 'wow I have never done a mural before,' I painted a picture on my kid's wall when they were a baby but that was it," he said. "But I went ahead and applied for it. They were looking for a comic book theme, which is right in my wheelhouse, so I came up with the design to represent Cheyenne and Wyoming. I had these different characters to represent parts of Wyoming history. There's a woman, she's a Women's Suffrage character, which they have this purple and yellow flag with a star on it, so I made that kind of her costume. And then I did a guy called the 'Spirit of the West,' he's a cowboy ghost, and another guy is just brown and gold with a 'W' on him, he's your traditional superhero guy. I designed the mural around that, I submitted the design, and it got selected! I came down to Sanford's one day to look at the space and was shocked by its size...I'm scared of heights. But thankfully Desiree [Brothe with the Downtown Development Authority] lined up volunteers to help paint the high stuff for me." Blakely said he was out on Monday for a couple hours with his kids to finish adding the Train Depot design to the bottom of the design. However, this isn't the first project Blakely has worked on in downtown. He also has artwork painted on the traffic box at 19th St. and Capitol Ave, as well as has his own artwork on display at Gryphon Comics and at Cheyenne Creative . Blakely says he plans to teach a one-week SEEK (Summer Educational Experience for Kids) class this summer at LCCC on comic books. He says the class normally has about 10 kids per class with one age group from 10-12 years-old, and another age group with 7-9 years-old. "I get to teach them about comic book history, they get to make up their own characters and ideas to make up their own mini comic book to take home with them, it's cool." You may also recognize Mr. Blakely if you visited the Cheyenne Comic Con this past month. He had a booth set up there where he got to meet one of his idols, Flash Gordon (Sam Jones ). "I had this Italian Flash Gordon poster he had never even seen before, and I ended up trading him a piece of my art for him to sign that poster," he said. "I got to see a lot of my old art students, it was definitely great to see those kids again." Follow Blakely on his blog website here or on his Facebook . ​#shortgo #news #whatshappening