Thursday, September 13, 2007

What?! A new post from Jay? I don't believe it...

What do you guys think of my new header? My cartoonist pal from another gal Evan T. Shaner taught me the way to do it, and after a good month of being too stupid to understand his directions, I figured it out anyway. Evan smart + Jay dumb = a new blog header that shoulda been done a month ago.

It's been longer than I'd wanted it to be, kids. I've been so disheartened with the lack of actual, tangible, reportable news on my end that I swore not to post until there was some real news in my life. So I sit here now, typing these words, and ask myself, "Do you really have anything worth sharing?" My answer is: Sure. How 'bout this?

I dig Lord of The Rings, and I dig the McDonaldland characters (ever thought I've been off hamburgers and pop for going on two months now). This is what I do best, drawing simply to entertain myself. Does that pay the bills? Not so much. But it does make for a good sample in my portfolio to show people who might actually wanna pay me to draw. So in that respect, it's potentially profitable.

I've also been trying to keep my hand in caricaturing, even though my art gig docket has been noticably dry for the past two months (maybe it has something to do with my lack of pop and burgers?). Anyway, when I sit down and commit to drawing a celebrity caricature for myself, the results are always far better than if I were plunked down on a folding chair in a gym drawing energy drink-addled teens at their post graduation party at three in the morning. In this case, I wanted to see if I could draw Jessica Biel. The girl is hot. Hot girls don't always equal easy to draw girls. The challenge presented itself. I answered.

I drew the left one first, right outta my head, and was very happy with it. But suggestions to the contrary from my #1 counsel on such matters (love ya, Laura!) compelled me to try again. The version on the right was my do over. I loved this one, too. Hell, I loved 'em both. Why try to pick? So I didn't. Both versions are here for my benefit, for yours, and for the benefit of my ever-growing caricature portfolio.

Having been with Thomas Township Parks and Rec for so long that I still recall when Jesus applied to be our head lifeguard (the guy was good with water, y'see), I've drawn my share of, for lack of a better term, crap over the years. This is no one else's fault but my own. I'm limited in my ability to come up with clever ways of drawing people playing softball, volleyball, floor hockey, soccer and various other activities for thirteen years solid. However, when our annual Haunted Train Ride happens every October, inspiration pours out like so much urine from a beer-engorged bladder. In a good way. I dig Halloween, and the drawings come easy. This year, being our 25th anniversary of said train ride, I decided to go for broke and come up with the mother of all illustrations to emblazen upon our fliers and promotional material. This is the bastard baby I gave birth to.

Don't know if any of you guys will get the reference, but in the 60's there was a cartoonist called Big Daddy Roth who drew these far out looking mutant characters driving souped up hot rods. He made quite a career out of it, and even after death is still being plagerized by no shortage of gear head cartoonists, taggers and tatters today. So I thought it'd be cool to have my Haunted Train Ride logo be an homage to the master. Hence the tattoo on my beast's bicep.

Just the other day, after having sent out a pleading e-mail to Interlude begging for an assignment after they lost their editor and my biggest supporter on staff and subsequently quit calling me with assignments, I got a message from their art director, an old Delta friend who's been my second biggest supporter at Interlude. She gave me an illustration assignment for a story about sick relatives visiting at Christmas (Look, I don't question 'em. I just draws 'em). Not wanting to waste a moment, I hammered out this, my first paid work for them since last April.

So by now you're probably saying, "Okay, this is all well and good, but where's the real NEWS?" Well, the pickin's are slim, but here's what I got...

Back in mid August, Laura and I threw together a last minute trip to Chicago, home of the 2nd biggest comic con in the nation, Wizard World. This was meant to be exclusively a business trip with the hopes of my finding some cartooning work via networking with industry pros.

Here we are in the train station in Kalamazoo (Much cheaper and only a little shorter trip than from Flint)...

Here we are in our train car (Despite our posed smiles, we were in a bit of agony, since our car was the only one on the whole train where the air conditioning was on the fritz...

What followed next was a flurry of taxi rides and a brief yet positive pilgrimage to the actual con. However, because all the attendants of the con were asses to elbows packed in and because I was so busy visiting any booth I could find who'd look at my Dead Duck comic book concept, I didn't get to take any pictures. No great loss, though. The Motor City Comic Con looked just as good, and I have plenty pics from that con from over the years.

After a cab ride back to the train station we walked a couple blocks to bar and grill where we had a really nice dinner. It was the best part of the trip, in my opinion...

Then it was back on the train, where we enjoyed the spoils of our journey in the form of graphic novels that Laura found for us while I peddled my artistic wares...

And then immediately after, we were dead to the world until our train pulled into Kalamazoo.

Though the bulk of the trip was spent looking out of train and cab windows, I did make at least one solid contact at the con, which is what we were there for and what made the whole trip worth while.

An independent comic publisher called Ape Comics had a neat looking display, mostly focusing on their latest publication, "Teddy Scares", an anthology comic based on a line of creepy toys sold in Hot Topic and other such venues. I showed their co-publisher Dead Duck, and he seemed very interested. He liked the three stories I had written and drawn with the characters, even suggesting how cool they'd look in full color, and gave me the private e-mail address of his co-publisher, encouraging me to send everything in my Dead Duck portfolio to the man and see what he says. I shook the guys hand and left very, very hopeful.

So when I got back home to Midland, I immediately e-mailed my entire stock of Dead Duck work to the man himself, and within a day I got a short but encouraging e-mail. "We're interested in Dead Duck and will be discussing the possibilities. Thanks for your patience and we'll be talking to you soon."

I was pretty stoked from this small but very telling bit of correspondence. And I patiently waited for just shy of a month to hear back from them. By that time, however, my enthusiasm started losing steam, and I began to think this would end up like the failed opportunity to illustrate the card game I'd mentioned in previous posts (if I hadn't already mentioned it, it didn't pan out and now ain't gonna happen).

Then, after a much needed pep talk form Laura about being more aggressive, I sent Ape Comics a follow up e-mail, asking them if they'd had a chance to review my work yet.

I got a reply within hours.

"Hey Jay! We've scheduled a conference call for this afternoon, and we'll be discussing Dead Duck. Talk to you soon!"

Good gravy. A conference call was held this afternoon regarding my creation! What does that mean??? No clue. However, my hope is back up to the highwater mark, and potentially, this may be the first real news I've had to share with you guys in forever, not counting the odd art gig and something I'll be sharing with you at a later time. So fingers crossed for me all around, okay? I need a little spark of luck in my life right now. Real, real bad. So go roll around in the grass and wish on a buttload of stars, chant from the rooftops that you do believe in fairies, and go cash in that favor Don Corleone owes you. This could be the big one. After twenty odd years of hoping and trying, Dead Duck may fly at last. Be here when it happens, kids!