One of the highlights of my recent trip to Tucson was the discovery of this discarded couch:
What it may be lacking in cushions, it more than makes up for in character. Pick it up quick, before some pack rat makes it its home.
This weekend I will be at the 8th Annual Tucson ComicCon! I’ve exhibited at this convention more years than any other.
It makes me especially happy that my hometown has such a great show. You can find me stationed at:
I took photos at the Tucson Comic-Con, but they look pretty much like every other set of photos I take at conventions. Here, instead, is a cool rock I saw in the front yard of my parents’ house:
This year the Tucson Con was twice as big. I was standing right where the wall was last year. Is that significant? It might have posed a problem if I was a time-traveling husband who cannot control at what point in the timeline he pops out. As it is, though, I remain fixed in the now and so I was not caught in the middle of a wall.
Tucson remains a great place to finish my festival season. Because Falling Rock is unofficially set there, people get the strip right off. And there were lots of people who I had met at the convention in years past. I believe that is what they call an “audience” in the business. I am grateful for my audience.
I was tabling between three stand-up comedians. During the course of the weekend I watched them very closely in an attempt to pick up some of their tricks. They’re all naturals at talking to people, at engaging strangers, and generally being likable. Henry Barajas, on my right, will someday rule the comics industry with an iron fist. Jacob Breckenridge and Mike Esham, on my left, always seemed to have a crowd at their table. Being between them was like getting a master class in mojo.
Now I am back home in good ol’ 1955 – I mean, Portland. This marks the real start of working on Falling Rock #5 without any conventions to slow me down. I hope to have it done by January. If you’d like to have a copy delivered to you through the magic of the US Postal Service, subscribe now!
This was a great convention season. Let’s do it again next year, shall we?
Since today is Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d throwback a little art from my high school art class. The first colored pencil drawing represents the first of many explorations of those mysterious Easter Island heads. The second is a portion of a final exam. Our teacher had us draw one picture for the final – whatever we could do in an hour. I went with comics. This is packed with in-jokes that I don’t remember and features all the people who sat with me for the year. We were a good group.
Tucson Comic-Con was a great way to end this year’s convention circuit. Tucson is such a welcoming town; I always love going back.
This year I noticed two big changes to the place I call my hometown. One was that Tucson now has a real downtown. Shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants fill the once-desolate streets. Streetcar tracks wind their way through a vibrant city’s beating heart. I am so glad Tucson has finally become the cool city it always aspired to be. The other change, unfortunately, was the traffic. Along with more to do in the city, there are more people out. With no real highway system to speak of, the city government has chosen to go the way of Denver: make the roads bigger. This does not solve the problem, of course. It only exacerbates. If I had free reign to redesign any city, I would pick Tucson.
The convention itself was a magnificent success. Thanks to Mike and Teresita Oliveras, the show was bigger than ever. I had the great fortune to be seated next to this handsome guy.
Henry Barajas has become ubiquitus in Tucson. He works for two newspapers, does stand-up, blogs, makes comics, and somehow has time to ride his bike all over town. It was an honor to have him beside me for two days as we greeted nearly every comic fan in the Old Pueblo.
Not only was Tucson a fun con, but I did better sales than Seattle, a much bigger show. I attribute that mainly to location and content. I was stationed very near the entrance in Tucson, so I got to see the crowds before they thinned and became weary. And my comics are set in the southwest, so there is a recognition in Tucson that I just don’t get elsewhere.
It is that, and the great Mexican food, that keeps me returning to my homeland. For the next four months I will retire to the Batcave to work on new comics. I want to have plenty to show for next year’s convention circuit. Stay tuned for new announcements, including the forthcoming publication of Falling Rock National Park issue 3!
This is another one of those cases where I kept messing with the elements and couldn’t quite decide which design I liked best. Since this is a blog and not a professional publication with editors and the like, I’ll show you all three of my ideas. You can pick your favorite.
If you happen to live in Southern Arizona and want something fun to do this weekend, stop by the Tucson ComicCon! I’ll be there with Falling Rock comic strip collections, Falling Rock comic books, Tomb of the Zombies and Jack Ketch and foldy comics and screenprints and all sorts of good cheer.
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.
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.
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!
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.