Posts Tagged ‘comic con’

Tucson ComicCon 2011

Going back to Tucson for the 4th annual ComicCon, I recalled my days of drawing comics in high school.  There were no recurring characters in my high school comic strip, just a series of kids who were constantly being put-upon by a large and unknowable public school system.  It is no surprise that Orwell’s vision of the future in 1984 resonated with me at the time.  In spite of that heavy influence, my comics were much as they are today: wry, but with heart.  I didn’t hate high school or think it was evil; I made fun of high school because I was in high school.
Tucson is a weird town.  This trip reinforced that perception.  As I was driving past the huge dry wash that is the Rillito River, I saw a man walking in it as though he was just strolling down a sidewalk.  He was clearly not exercising; he was wearing a black baseball hat and black shirt, and baggy jean shorts.  No, he was clearly going somewhere from somewhere else, but why he chose a dirt path that leads nowhere from nowhere else is a mystery.  Further adding to the intrigue is the fact that there are paved walking paths on either side of the river.  Why walk in sand when you can utilize a path made just for that purpose?

People sometimes remark on the surreal elements of my comics.  When you grow up in the desert, in a place like Tucson, the surreal is part of life.  If I drew a comic strip about the desert where nothing out of the ordinary happened, that would be the greater fiction.
The Tucson ComicCon is nearly singlehandedly run by a superhero named Mike Olivares.  Mike’s love of comics has manifested itself in this annual event that I am proud to be a part of.  This year, the Con moved to the Bookman’s Event Center, expanding its floor space and list of exhibitors.  The result was a better-attended show than last year, and one of my best shows in terms of sales.  I cannot thank Mike enough for his work; this is one of those rare cases where you can point to one person and say, Without him, this wouldn’t exist.
The trick with exhibiting is not to be a salesman.  Fortunately, I am a terrible businessman, so I don’t ever do this.  My goal for any show is to get more people to read my comics.  Conventions give me the opportunity to talk with my readers.  This is the exact opposite situation I find myself in when drawing and posting comics; I do that quite easily from the isolation of my studio (or, “drawing nook”).  Being in Tucson works in my favor, since I don’t have to explain the concept of Falling Rock (animals in a southwestern national park).  People look at the drawings and say, That is here.

Then I ask if they want to supersize that, and bingo, I’m a millionaire.
Indeed, my lack of salesmanship earned me a rare privilege.  Instead of paying me for my comics with cold hard cash, Bree and Blake, two of the nicest Tucsonans you’ll meet, offered to ply me with alcohol at the earliest convenience.  I drove to Blake’s microbrewery, Borderlands, and tried two of his concoctions.  The prickly pear wheat was a real treat, and I followed that up with the delightful vanilla porter.  Not only was the beer good, but the establishment in which the beer was served is amazing.  Borderlands is in a hundred-year-old building that used to be a saddle shop; they even left the painted sign advertising saddles and farm equipment on the brick wall.  Borderlands is not open to the public yet, but as soon as I get word I’ll let you know when you can ride on over and drink yourself silly.
Tucson is a great place in which to end my convention season.  I get to go back home, hang out with my parents, hike my favorite trail, and see the sun for the last time until April.  And now, I’d better get back to drawing before the Deadline Clown gets me.

new convention poster

Those of you who have seen me at conventions will no doubt be familiar with the Falling Rock Show Poster.  It is patterned after the brochures you get upon entering any of this country’s grand national parks or monuments.  For the very first time, I will be exhibiting at Comic-Con in San Diego (July 11-15).

My poster, while serviceable for smaller shows, was not going to cut it in the San Diego convention center.  Therefore, I have ordered a 4 foot wide banner and stand that will be as a beacon for the comic-hungry masses.  May it draw them toward me and may they be satisfied by my humble offerings.

Of course I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit the poster itself.  I redrew the pictures of Ernesto and Carver, inking them with a brush and coloring the background with watercolor.  The result, I think, is even more dynamic than the original.  Introducing the design for my new show banner:
I hope to see so many of you in San Diego! Just look for this banner and you’ll find me.

meet me in san diego

Starting Wednesday, I’ll be in San Diego at the hottest little convention around. San Diego Comic-Con is the most American convention because it is the biggest. This year marks my first as an exhibitor. Find me in the Small Press Pavilion, tantalizingly close to the concession stand and only a BAM POW away from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.

If you’re searching for me in the sea of talented Small Press exhibitors, I’ll look something like this:

I will be selling books like these:

So stop by, shout hello (it’s kind of loud in the San Diego Convention Center, what with all the studios promoting their Geek-Approved movies) and escape to everyone’s favorite fake National Park. Hope to see you there!

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friday robots

Just because I’m at San Diego ComicCon doesn’t mean you miss Friday Robots!
And hey, if you are in San Diego right now, stop by my table.  O-5 in the Small Press Pavilion.  It’s always nice to see a friendly face.

san diego comic-con in pictures

More to come in writing, but here is a visual log of my five days in San Diego. As it was my first time as exhibitor, I took some pictures of the booths without the huge crowds surrounding them. It is an unadvertised treat to be able to wander the convention hall with only my fellow exhibitors around.

For a minute-by-minute recap of Comic-Con, I highly recommend reading my Twitter feed, as well as those of my friends and neighbors Reid Psaltis, Jeff Schuetze, Victoria Ying, Mike Yamada, Tammy Stellanova, Chet Phillips, and Dave Kellett.

comic-con tweets with commentary

Everybody loves Twitter.  Having already conquered the blogosphere and the myspacesphere, I decided that Comic-Con 2012 was the perfect opportunity to make myself known in the Twittersphere.  I commenced Tweeting without reservation for five days.

Arriving Wednesday afternoon, I taxied from the airport to my hotel, washed the plane grime from my face, and strapped on my backpack, my new banner (pictured above), and wheeled three heavy boxes of books the half mile to the San Diego Convention Center.  I was sweaty when I arrived.  Sweaty, but ready for the next five days.  There was no line for my badge, one of the many perks of being an exhibitor, and I was ushered into the convention center by the smiling Comic-Con staff.

Preview Night was only three hours long but I met nearly as many people as I would in a normal day of any other convention.  It was merely a hint of the madness to come.

Eating breakfast the next morning, I was struck at how the local San Diegans attempted (with varying degrees of success) to live their daily lives in the midst of this massive event.  Some eyed us interlopers with curiosity, others attempted to ignore us entirely.  My hat is off to the waitresses of the Gaslamp Quarter, many of them dressing in old superhero t-shirts or donning fake glasses.  They earned every penny that week.

Every single morning at 9, the convention hall opened to the public.  Invariably the first people I saw running by were those intrepid souls attempting to purchase some exclusive toy that was made in limited quantities and only sold at certain booths at the convention.  The announcement not to run was played for the first half hour of the show; nobody paid it any attention.

It only took me fifteen minutes to spot my first Wookie.  The costume of the year this year seemed to be Adventure Time.  So many people dressed as those characters.

This is true.  A man approached my table and as we chatted my eyes wandered down to his badge.  Badges listed not only a person’s name but where he came from, an interesting bit of information I enjoyed learning.  This time, however, my attention was fixed on the man’s name: Charlie Brown.  He had a sketchbook; he was asking cartoonists to draw Charlie Brown in their own style.  I obliged, and here is the result:

Slave Leia, usually a Comic-Con favorite costume, was not as popular this year.  Maybe I just missed all the Slave Leias.  Maybe they all hung out by the LucasArts booth (UPDATE: they did).  I was not disappointed to miss them.  It’s awkward to see women dressed that way.  Comics aren’t about that anymore – not the good ones anyway.

One costume I highly approved of was Girl Tintin.  I saw two this year and they were both very cool.  It’s kind of a Peter Pan thing, and not demeaning.  I like to think of Tomb of the Zombies as my version of a Tintin adventure, with Kate Crane as a female Tintin.

My tablemate Reid and I saw him walk by, then turned to look at each other with the same awestruck expression.  We equivocated for a while, but in our guts we knew immediately we had seen one of the most popular guys at Comic-Con.

A very drunk Abe Lincoln gave us quite a lot of money for a bit of double-sided tape.

Reid couldn’t stop laughing at the cover to the Events Guide, which featured not only a very healthy looking Tarzan but a zebra butt (hint: center right).

I am so jealous of Katie Cook, who is not only a very talented cartoonist but apparently gets visited by Patton Oswalt.

Ruben Bolling is one of my favorite cartoonists; I cannot recommend Tom the Dancing Bug enough.  It was truly an honor to receive this book from him.

I bought only a few books this year.  Baby’s in Black (by Arne Bellstorf) is a true tragic love story about Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe.  Stuart was in The Beatles before they hit the big time; he was a friend of John’s from art school.  Sadly, he died from a brain aneurism in 1962.  This book is one of the very best comics I have ever read.  Beautiful black & white illustrations, understated and melancholy tone, Baby’s in Black is a rare and precious achievement.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Reid is a huge fan of dinosaur artist William Stout, with good reason.  The man’s a genius.  He’s also been at every Comic-Con since year one.  Reid showed William his drawing of Bigfoot, at which William said, “I know the guy who made that suit.”

My neighbor Jeff Shuetze draws “a geeky comic about a nerd in Hollywood.”  He did killer t-shirt and print business; I’m looking forward to diving into his online comic.

My second celebrity sighting.  Staying in the convention hall all day long was inconceivable, so I’d take a lunch break to enjoy some of San Diego’s beautiful weather.  On my way out I saw a crowd of hundreds of people, all of whom had their cameras raised high above their heads.  When I turned to see what all the hulabaloo was about, I saw Robert Downey Jr. standing on the Marvel stage with a bunch of little kids all dressed as Iron Man.

Jeff took an unhealthy liking to my table mascot, Smokey Bear.  At one point I looked down at my table to find Smokey conspicuously missing.  Determined questioning of my neighbor revealed him to be the culprit.  Jeff is a great guy, but he has a terrible poker face.

One of my proudest additions to the table was this custom-made cash box by Cody Acevedo.  He took the old cigar box I was using and transformed it into this work of art.  Not only does it look great, but it holds money.  Maybe not Rmoney, but mini-comics money for sure.

Was this the funniest exchange of the convention?  It was certainly close.

Comic-Con has always been an exciting adventure for me.  This year, my first as an exhibitor, was a high-water mark for me as a cartoonist.  Thanks to my friends and neighbors, both old and new, for making Comic-Con such an essential event for all cartoonists.

welcome to comic-con, sincerely your hotel

Some of the most entertaining reading of Comic-Con was this one page welcome letter from my hotel.  The third paragraph outlines what to do when removing your costume make-up.  The entire letter is riddled with hyperbole, making it seem entirely insincere.  I love it.


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meet me in tucson

This weekend I’ll be at my very last show of the year. If that alone wasn’t enough reason to come see me, I’ll have you know that this show is in my hometown: Tucson, Arizona. Come to the Tucson ComicCon and lay your eyes upon dozens of amazing Arizona artists this weekend!

After this I’m going into hibernation until next March, when I’ll head up to Seattle for Emerald City.

Hope to see you in Tucson this weekend!

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Tucson ComicCon 2012

This year marked a milestone for the Tucson ComicCon. It was the fifth year of this Con’s existence and its first in the Tucson Convention Center. The combination of an already loyal following along with the Wood/Silverware anniversary made for Tucson ComicCon’s best yet showing.
Next to me was the newly emerging Tucson powerhouse Henry Barajas. He is a writer, a fosterer of visions, a marketing wizard. We had met at previous conventions but hadn’t had the chance to really talk before. It was a genuine pleasure to stand next to him for two days.

This show would not exist without the truly superhuman efforts of Mike Olivares. He, along with his wife and extended family, make this show happen. Seriously, I know there’s a lot of talk about people who are real-life superheroes and blah blah blah, but this guy is the real deal.

Making their debut in Tucson were my two recent releases, Tomb of the Zombies and Falling Rock National Park 2012. They were welcomed with open arms by Tucsonans. I have to say, my table looks better and better with each passing year. It’s a good-lookin’ table. A mighty fine table, yessir.

Self-satisfied cartoonist or just tired?

Beyond the Con, I traveled not too far to Tohono Chul Park for a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday Tucson life. My mom and I set out to admire the local flora and fauna. Mission: accomplished. We also got to see some cool animal sculptures.
As usual, my last Con of the year made me glad I do what I do. I hope to see all of you, dear readers, next year. At Emerald City you’ll be able to see both me AND Captain Picard.

screen prints

Screen prints

Next time you see me at a convention, you can walk away with one (or both) of these beautiful screen prints. Three color prints on chipboard. Suitable for the yurt or geodesic dome; whatever you call home.

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