Friday, September 19, 2014

Superman fan touts plan to rename Kansas town 'Smallville' [With Video]

By KRISTEN RODERICK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 9/20/2012

HUTCHINSON — Liberal and Wamego both claim Oz.

Riverside, Iowa, says it’s the future birthplace of Star Trek’s Capt. James T. Kirk.

So why shouldn’t Hutchinson claim the fictional town “Smallville” — the place where Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent grew up?

A group of comic-book fanatics want Hutchinson to say it is the fictional Smallville. A comic designed by Christopher Wietrick and dedicated to the effort made its debut at Hutchinson’s Third Thursday.

“Myself and two friends (Ben Eisiminger and Casey McNeely) in Lawrence were sitting around one night and we started talking about superheroes,” Wietrick said. “We were like Smallville is Hutch — let’s start a page.”

Since it was created in July, the Facebook page “Hutchinson, KS should be named ‘Smallville’” has started to go viral. People have posted on the page from as far away as the United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada.

The page has gained media attention with organizations like IGN, CNET, Supermanhomepage.com and more. It now has nearly 2,100 fans.

Wietrick can’t think of any other Kansas town that has tried to say it is Smallville. Then again, the facts seem to point at Hutchinson. Others have jumped in on the effort, hoping Hutchinson will at least dedicate a day to the “Man of Steel.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Bob Colladay, one of the page’s early fans, said. “I like anything that would make us more of a tourist attraction. … The whole comic book generation would want to get their picture taken in Smallville.”

Hutchinson already has several tourist attractions — like the Kansas Underground Salt Museum and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. If Hutchinson claims it is Smallville, people on Facebook have already said they would visit.

“We’ve been told that many, many, many times,” McNeely said. “People have even told us that they’d move here.”

Becoming a piece of art

Wietrick learned to draw by placing a sheet of paper over comic strips and tracing the line.

His art grew from there. He is now the founder of Kreations by Kryss, where he does paintings, murals, tattoo drawings, photo recreations and more.

Yet he hadn’t gone back to what he started drawing.

“Being an artist, I’ve never done a comic strip,” Wietrick said. “I figure this is the perfect one to start with.”

The comic is named “The Hutchinson Torch,” which is similar to the Smallville newspaper. It has drawings of comparisons between Smallville and Hutchinson.

Lacey Schechter was excited Wietrick chose to unveil the comic during Third Thursday.

“I think it’s going to be a really great event for Third Thursday,” she said. “Doing the comic with it and having it benefit charity is really nice. It will benefit Hutchinson in the long run.”

McNeely has seen pieces of the strip, and considers it more of an art piece than a comic. The group plans to donate proceeds from the comic to the Boys and Girls Club.

“I think it’s great,” McNeely said. “This has broken Chris out of his shell. His art is fantastic and he’s become a machine lately. I’m excited to see it in person.”

Bringing Superman to Hutchinson

Wietrick is the ultimate fan. He his initials CAW in krypton – Superman’s language – tattooed onto his arm. He has another of the Superman “S” logo.

Nearly every room in his house has superman memorabilia, from a Superman Snuggie to Clark Kent glasses to comic books. Yet Wietrick said he is not a comic book collector.

“I’m a Superman fanatic, but I don’t really collect comics,” he said. “I guess I just don’t want to pay for them. I can get them online now.”

When Wietrick and McNeely met in Lawrence, they realized they are both comic book fans. Wietrick grew up on DC, while McNeely was raised on Marvel.

The Hutchinson natives realized all of the similarities between Smallville and their hometown, which they both admire.

“I love that place,” McNeely said. “It has rich history and breeds very interesting people. It’s really nice that we can do something to help stimulate the town.”

The location of Smallville has never officially been identified, though comic strips and the television show give clues.

With continued efforts to get Hutchinson to claim Smallville, Wietrick hopes to attract Warner Bros’ attention. He wants the company to premiere next year’s “Man of Steel” in Hutchinson. The movie — based on Clark Kent’s early years — stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne.

“We have the perfect theater,” Wietrick said. “The Fox is just like Smallville’s Talon. Our downtown is very comparable to Smallville. I don’t see any reason why we can’t get it done.”

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