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CHAMBERSBURG >> Bad weather on Friday may have kept many people from turning out for a First Friday event that, for the first time in the event's history, featured local authors and their works.

Graphic novelist Michael Gavazzi said that although the event didn't draw a huge crowd to Lotus Moon, the art gallery and yoga studio where he was set up to show off his art and the graphic novel, "Opaque," he considered it a success in that it introduced those who did attend to both the novel and his art work.

"The weather definitely affected it," he said, "but I still enjoyed it and the people who did stop by were interesting and they seemed to find my projects interesting too."

Some of those were people looking for clues in a scavenger hunt, but stopped long enough to talk to the local author-artist.

So, he said, he got exposure among a group that might have never seen his work otherwise.

Gavazzi was one of a number of local authors that were featured in the downtown First Friday event this month.

He doesn't hesitate to share how he taught himself art and then added storytelling to his list of talents when his two children were growing up.

"I've always liked to draw, even as a child, but even though I had a high school art teacher who encouraged me to look into pursuing it as a career, I had a concept of 'starving artists' so when I went to college I decided I needed a more traditional career," he said.

He became a teacher and has taught American history to high school students for 19 years.

As his children grew up, he would draw, mostly in pencil, charcoal and ink, and eventually they began to question him about getting serious about his art.

With the encouragement of his children, Anthony and Cecilia, and support of his wife, Michele, Gavazzi began to think about the story he had pushed to the back of his mind for years. In 2002 he began putting it together and drawing the initial frames for what would eventually become a graphic novel.

Last year he had the work printed at Printaway in Chambersburg.

He describes "Opaque" as a "kind of old-world type of comic book based on one soul's spiritual quest for purpose when dealing with the physical constraints of Planet Earth."

He characterizes both the novel and his art as spiritual, mystical and essential in nature.

"It questions the flawed human path away from its spiritual essence and persuades us back to the true source for answers: the inherent and divine wisdom buried within us all," he said.

The novel's success has surprised Gavazzi, who has marketed it not only locally at various shows and open house events, but also on his website, www.michaelgavazzi.com, Amazon.com and Etsy.

When he realized people were interested in the novel enough to pay for a copy, he began to think about marketing the art associated with it also.

The results of both ventures have seen so successful that Gavazzi, a Guilford Hills resident, is now working on a follow-up novel, "Translucent," which will come out next year.

Vicky Taylor can be reached at 717-262-4754.

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