Monday, May 17, 2010


Friends, I am well versed in The Motor City Comic Con. I was one of its original visitors when it first opened its doors in 1989 at a convention center in Dearborn, MI. I followed the con when it eventually moved to the Novi Convention Center, then to The Rock Financial Showplace. I've met many famous people, made many great friends and had many great experiences. But the experience I had at this year's MoCon, my first behind a table and selling my wares, was the topper to beat 'em all.

Having already broke myself in my working a table at Wizard World Chicago last August, and by walking the floor and networking at C2E2 this past April, I felt ready to man my booth at Motor City. I'm not a guy who comes ill-prepared. I knew I wanted my table to pop out from the rest, so I took measures to make sure it'd happen. And I knew there were specific people I wanted to meet, and I  made sure I was ready for that, too.

Sergio Aragones, Mad Magazine cartoonist and creator of the comic book Groo The Wanderer, was going to be in attendance at Motor City this year. I'd been a fan of his since childhood, and met him three years back when I was still creating my Dead Duck graphic novel and hadn't looked for a publisher yet. Sergio had given me such encouragement and such a warm, positive reception that when Dead Duck finally got published, I attributed it in part to his support and advice. So what you see above is an illustration I did this past week on the inside cover of one of my copies of Dead Duck. I drew this the night before Motor City opened its doors, and was very anxious to give him my book and my thanks.

Here's Sergio and myself. I made my way to his booth on the morning the con opened before the crowds came in. It was (and still is) such a thrill to see him with Dead Duck in his hand. He was very happy to get it, and told me I draw a terrific Groo (I blush just thinking about it). This was also an important moment for me because, in my excitement from meeting Sergio three years ago, I neglected to take a photo with him back then! Thank my good fortune for second chances!

Here's the first photo I took of my table set up that first morning. It's kind of dim because I got there three hours early to set up (I'm such a spaz) and they hadn't turned all the lights on yet. Funny story: I had mistakenly set up my table in its entirety in the wrong spot, and didn't find out until the actual occupant showed up. The people setting up next to me were kind enough to help me tear down and haul all my stuff clear across the con floor to the area you see above. I really had to strain to not freak out and get mad at myself. Yeesh.

 That Friday was actually a little slow for me. People came up, and a sold a few copies of Dead Duck, but I didn't get to draw as much as I would have liked. Then, this guy comes up to me with a sheet of illustration board and asks me if I'd contribute a sketch. He was having all the artist's in my row draw the Marvel Comics' character Deadpool. I was more than happy to contribute, especially in the company of other awesome artists (and friends) like Jeremy Bastian, David Petersen, Stan Sakai, Eric Lynch and Katie Cook. In case you can't tell, my drawing is in the second row on the right. I drew Deadpool shooting pool. I know, I know. My puns will be the end of me.

I was actually very fortunate to be seated with almost all my closest artist pals. At the beginning of my row was Jeremy Bastian and his fiancee Emily, then Katie Cook and her husband Ryan, myself and Laura, then Eric Lynch, and then David and Julia Petersen. In the row behind and to the right of me was my friend Chad Porter and his wife Sarah. And next to them was Andy Price and his wife Alice, who I just met at C2E2 last month. So I was in a very great community of artist friends. But like I said, I was just ALMOST seated next to all my pals...
 This is comic book artist Guy Davis and his fiancee Rosemary, who were situated on the opposite end of the con floor from me. Guy works in the Hellboy comics on the series B.P.R.D. (or Bureau of Paranormal Investigation, if you detest abbreviations). I'd first met Guy and Rosemary at a signing guy did at Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor last November. We didn't get to talk much at the time, but by the time were were seated next to each other at The MSU Comics Forum a few months ago, it felt like we were old pals! I absolutely love Guy's artwork, and he and Rosemary are two of the nicest people I've ever met, inside or outside the comics industry. At Motor City, I also noticed he had an affinity for the old Dick Tracy villains (as do I!), and a great talent for rendering them in his incredible style. Hopefully Guy and I will be trading Dick Tracy-themed sketches sometime down the road!

Another one of my professional heroes, Stan Sakai, was also in attendance. Stan is the creator of the comic book Usagi Yojimbo, a brilliant book about a samurai rabbit. I wanted to draw Stan something to show my appreciation for his work, and came up with the drawing above. The gag is based on probably the funniest Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck sketch ever. Stan really seemed to enjoy the piece, and I certainly enjoyed creating it for him!
This was a special project for me. A very nice guy came up and saw Dead Duck for the first time. Like me, he was a big proponent of cartoon ducks (mice are waaayyyy overrated), so he was excited to purchase my book. He also pulled out this awesome board filled with cartoon ducks drawn by various illustrators of cartoon ducks and asked me to contribute. Given the line up of recognizable talent that was on there (as well as the theme), there was no way I'd decline! So I drew Dead Duck next to Mark Bode drawing (Mark's dad Vaughn is one of my biggest creative influences). I'm so proud of some of the cool and unexpected places Dead Duck is turning up these days!
This was another cool opportunity I had to be part of a group drawing. The Deadpool fella came back the next day with this sheet, and a list of themes we could choose to draw from. With Muppets in the list, it was inevitable that I'd choose them as my subject. That's my Fozzie Bear above Katie Cook's bicycling Kermit!
This was yet another tribute I drew for a cartoonist I admired. Don Rosa, who's drawn the Scrooge McDuck comics for the better part of the last twenty years, had a booth at Motor City. His book, "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", while thematically far removed from Dead Duck, still served as an inspiring duck-themed read while I was working on Dead Duck back in 2007. Don also seemed to enjoy this piece, and I was thrilled to give it to him.

Laura came later to the con on Saturday afternoon so she could join me and my pals at our monthly Ink and Stein gathering. It's a meeting place for Michigan cartoonists where we typically gather in Ypsilanti for some drawing and socializing. This month we held it at the Doubletree Hotel in Novi, since it was the official con hotel. Surprisingly, half our normal attendees didn't make it--either due to other obligations or because we weren't able to nail down a location in the hotel until it was too late to give specific directions to anyone. However, those who did make it had a great time, and that certainly counts for me by half!
This pic was taken the morning after Ink and Stein. To my left is Gappo the Clown creator (and Ink and Stein regular) Tony Miello. To my right is Jay Jacot, publisher and ed-in-chief of Comics Obscura, and the man who put together the MSU Comics Forum I participated in a few months back. Jay also joined us for Ink and Stein, and participated in all the bawdy and naughty cartoon shenanigans we threw together that evening. Amongst the weirdest: I came up with the idea of us drawing zombies pooping (no, Zombie Chick did not figure into this). I had the idea of a zombie pooping out his brain, with the brain stem still trailing up his bum. Disgusting, I know. But inspired! The guys really ran with the theme and did some brilliantly stomach-churning pieces!
These three awesome costumes caught Laura's attention, so she snapped a pic of them. From left to right, Watchmen's Rorschach, Deadpool (with a paper mustache that someone was passing out to folks that weekend) and Watchmen's Silk Spectre.
This fine fellow is Adam Talley, an old pal of mine from college, as well as the creator of the comics Pleasant Life (formerly Pleasant Hymns) and the recent Anna Pocolypse. Adam helped publish my first comics work in the comic anthology Spasm, which was funded and released through Central Michigan University back in 2003. Adam also joined us at Ink and Stein, and was a demented and doodling as the best of us!
  Here's a pic of me at my table. Behind me you can see the seemingly creepy yet actually friendly-as-all-get out Ryan Wilcox. We actually took a second pic without Ryan in the pic, but I felt this piece looked far cooler with him in it!
Amongst the various comics and drawings I offered at my table, I also drew sketch cards. Because Sunday, May 16th marked the 20th anniversary of Jim Henson's passing, all the cards I drew were Muppet-themed. As I drew Jim's personal character, the Swedish Chef, I came to realize how much chef resembled Jeremy Bastian. A photo was required to commemorate the eerie similarity, which I took care of without delay!
Here's a cool pic of a Star Wars procession that marched past our row of tables.
This was a very cool commission I drew for a fan named Dave. Dave has commissioned me a lot in the past few years, and was the guy who hired me to draw my Zombie Chick hula dancer that I've featured recently. This represents Zombie Chick in a devil girl outfit. Zombie Chick is typically scatterbrained about whatever she's involved with, so she'd probably thinking here, "I must be the greek sea god Triton because I have a trident. But I also have horns. Maybe King Triton is horny for trident. I like gum. Gum doesn't make me horny. But I think Willy Wonka uses it for birth control. Oompa loompa doopity damn."

I had Laura take this last pic of me, hunkered down behind my Dead Duck DIE-orama and my stash of books. I dig this pic muchly, and will probably use it for my Facebook icon.

So as you can see, Motor City was a blast, and we ended it with a very nice dinner with a great bunch of friends and fellow artists. I've never had a con experience like this, and it would be a tough act to follow. I had at least one experience with a fan and his family that was so touching that it made me teary eyed (I get misty just thinking of it now). I just want to thank everyone associated with Motor City, Laura, the fans, and all my fellow comic artists who helped me make this such an incredible experience.

So much love, people.



Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

Glad to see you enjoyed your self Mr. Fosgitt. I like your rendition of Fozzy Bear no one does muppets anymore which is a shame. Deadpool shooting pool what will that crazy merc do next probably ride a bear a bear with chain saw hands thats what i think.

Anonymous said...

Jay-- you are some awesome! I am so happy for all your successes! Keep up the great work!


Rosemary Van Deuren said...

Glad the show went well for you, Jay! We hope to see you at many more!! :)

JLeonid said...

One of these years I'm going to budget the time and money to get out to a Comic Con. They look like a great time. Enjoyed the post!

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