When Andrew Sztehlo first walked into a Bedford comic book shop as a nine-year-old boy he was just a wide-eyed youngster who was overwhelmed by the racks of Spider Man and Batman books on the shelves.
But 14 years later he will be making a triumphant return for his first-ever signing event as a published artist.
And Bub Chahal, managing director of the Close Encounters store in Allhallows, said the return visit was the result of a long-standing friendship that began 14 years ago.
He said: “Andrew was here in Bedford for the summer, and he came into Close Encounters virtually every day. On the last day he was talking to us about how he wouldn’t be able to go comic shopping when he went home – so we gave him a bundle of about 400 comics as a gift.
“Andrew’s dad came in later on, and said the gesture just blew them both away.”
Over the following years Andrew’s interest in comics developed from that of a fan to a creator and even a student as he is now studying a Masters of Design in Comics And Graphic Novels in Dundee.
But fellow comic lovers may be most familiar with him for his web comic Tales From The Border.
And his latest creation is the graphic novel The Stations Of The Cross, which follows a knight shortly after the Crusades.
After seeing the horrors of war, and committing many atrocities, this knight roams Medieval Europe, running from his trauma and from himself.
Bub said: “It’s a fairly dark book, with some brilliant influences. Andrew loves his Marvel and his DC comics, but there’s also things from great classic cinema like Nosferatu.”
Andrew will be at Close Encounters on Saturday as part of its Hellboy Day celebrations.
There will also be signings, sketches and giveaways throughout the event, which runs from 10am-4pm.