Monday, May 03, 2010

CON VISIT AND COMIC SHOP APPEARANCE

Here's an overdue update on how my trip to the C2E2 Con in Chicago went down a couple weeks ago. It was a very cool time, and hey, I've brought pictures!

I traveled and bunked with Katie Cook and her husband Ryan. This was taken outside our hotel, The Blackstone, as we arrived late Thursday afternoon…
This is the dimly lit yet swanky inner sanctum of the hotel…

This was the view outside our hotel room. It was a big airshaft, with an art school on the other side of us. Very cool. A nice change of pace from the typical highway/parking lot view most hotels provide…

The first night in Chicago, Katie Cook, Ryan and me walked down Michigan Avenue in search for pizza. Here's part of the Chicago skyline, with Katie's head forming her own skyline…

We soon found a pizza place on a side street and ate at a table on the sidewalk. Here's me, taking the obligatory self portrait…

And here are Katie and Ryan, posing as only friends of mine would be expected to…

The con opened up the next morning. Katie and Ryan had to enter early to set up Katie's booth, while I held back until I could enter an hour later. I had a "Professional Creator" badge, which allowed me free access to the con for the whole weekend. A real coup, for sure. I spent that first day scouting every publisher and professional that topped my list of con priorities. Here were the highlights:

1. Went to Mike Mignola's booth. As the creator of Hellboy, Mike's work has been a HUGE influence on Dead Duck, and he's been one of my idols since I was a teen. I drew a cartoon of Hellboy meeting Dead Duck on the inside of one of my copies of Dead Duck and gave it to Mike. He remembered seeing my work online, and he said he really liked my book. He told me to hit him up for a pin-up sometime, which I assured him I would. Having Mike Mignola draw his rendition of my characters would be as big a thrill as when Chris Sanders drew his pin up for me. Just meeting with another of my idols and having him compliment my work made me feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

2. I spoke with several publishers regarding Dead Duck, and had some very positive responses. Without naming companies, I will say that I spoke with an editor at my number one dream company, and he asked me to mail him a copy of Dead Duck. I've been told that was a very good sign, and I'm currently waiting to see what his response will be.

3. I also spoke with CB Cebulski, the talent recruitment rep of Marvel Comics. I had created some comics and pin-ups of Spider-Ham, a funny animal version of Marvel's Spider-Man. CB was enthusiastic about the samples and had me e-mail him everything I had. I'm waiting to hear back from him as well. I've also been in talks with two companies that are considering me to work on their comics. I don't want to get into it until it's a surer thing than it is now, but I'm very excited at the possibilities.

Back to some pics, here's a shot of one of the cooler costumes I saw on the con floor. This is Mojo, a villain from the X-Men comics of the 80's…

Here are my pals Jeremy Bastian and his fiancée Emily working their booth. Jeremy draws the comic Cursed Pirate Girl and has some of the most creative fans ever. One guy made him a cool sword out of driftwood, and another gave him a pound of uncut bacon. To a meat lover like Jeremy (and myself), that's comparable to a brick of heroin…

And here is a costumed character from Jeremy's book playing with kids who should be waaaayyyy more afraid of him than they are…

One of my coolest experiences at the con was sitting in on a panel discussion with Jeff Smith (right, creator of the comic Bone), and moderated by comic scribe and editor in chief of Boom comics, Mark Waid. I had a front row seat and got to ask Jeff if he experienced the stigma that "cartoony" comic creators endure in a predominantly illustrative field. It was comforting to discover he felt my pain, and even more so that he defied the trends to become a smash success.

Here is a pic of some cool Super Girl and Spider-Woman costumes…

And here is a pic of a cool Scarlet Witch costume…

Not long after Jeff Smith's panel discussion, I stood in line to present him with a copy of Dead Duck (similarly autographed and illustrated like Mike Mignola's copy). Jeff was a very cool guy, and I sympathized with the tsunami wave of merch that he had to sign for people in line after me.

Here's Superman and Batman enjoying a break in the con café…

Here's a pic of some very cool Evil Lyn and Skeletor costumes (Skeletor even wore black contacts to hide his eyes--very creepy)…

And another of my coolest experiences at the con was reconnecting with Minnesota prop builder and online adult puppet show creator Gordon Smuder. Gordon produces an online show called Transylvania Television, and builds all the awesome puppets himself. I first met Gordon at Wizard World last summer, but we really got to talk this time around. I gave him a cartoon I drew of his character, the Vampire LeShoc (who is actually performed by the brilliant Charles Hubbell). He really liked it, and bought a copy of Dead Duck from me (his show and my comic are very akin to each other, thematically and humor-wise). He was also cool enough to pose (with LeShoc) and a pic with me:

And here's a great pic of his beautiful puppets. Seriously, these are Henson-level quality.

And lastly, here's a pic of Lake Michigan, which was right behind the con. I was so weird, walking into the con café to relieve my tried feet and my strained back (I carried a backpack that was half my body weight for the better part of three days), then to see this beautiful view out beyond the patio. I'm so uninformed that I didn't know we were even on the lake until this moment!

So it was a positive experience, and I owe a lot to Ryan and Katie for allowing me to ride along and share a hotel room with them. I'm also indebted to David Petersen for introducing me to CB Cebulski. Now my fingers are just crossed that something comes of my many connections from the con weekend.

This past Saturday, May 1st, I participated in my first Free Comic Book Day. It's an annual event where comic shops nationwide give out free comics from participating publishers, and many comic professionals show up, sell merch and give out some freebies. Jeremy Bastian was cool enough to set me up with him at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI. I sold some print and drew free quick sketches of superheroes and cartoon characters for the patrons. One group of kids came up and asked me to draw caricatures of them, and I had a lot of fun doing that. My favorite was a little girl who was just so cute that she seemed born to be a cartoon character. I asked Jeremy to take a pic of her and her caricature, which you can see below. She also seemed very interested in my Dead Duck banner. I know Dead Duck is essentially an adult comic, but there's an ingrained innocence in the characters, coupled with a fun cuteness that kids can sense, so I felt no guilt in giving her a bookmark with the characters on it.

So that's pretty much everything I've been up to in the past few weeks. In the meanwhile, I've been creating new Dead Duck material, working on pages for "Little Green Men" for Ape Entertainment, and taking on commissions and caricaturing gigs. So I'm doing fine for now, hope to maintain a steady, continual level of fine, but am more than happy to accept any unexpected deliveries of "great". Once I start hearing back from some of these contacts, we'll see if great is in the cards. Talk to you later!

--Jay

7 comments:

Lee! said...

Jay, that sounds like a great time! thanks for all the pix and updates on what's been going on with you. What a thrill to meet some of your heroes!

Thanks for sharing! :)

Dennis said...

Glad to see your enjoying your self good sir I have yet to do the convention scene but I may hit up Orlando next time it rolls around

Tom Krohne said...

I'm gonna hold my breath till Marvel gives you the Spider Ham book, the sample story you have on dA is funnier then all the old issues of Peter Poker combined

Tung said...

Glad to see your enjoying your self good sir I have yet to do the convention scene but I may hit up Orlando next time it rolls around
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qwadro_Binh said...

Jay, that sounds like a great time! thanks for all the pix and updates on what's been going on with you. What a thrill to meet some of your heroes!

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