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.
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.
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...
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
Monday, May 17, 2010
No, this isn't a "how to" tutorial. I have such a personal, wonky process that I couldn't teach it to someone if I tried (and I did try on a few occasions). The title of this blog post eludes to the old 1970's Marvel Comics instructional book "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way", written by Stan Lee and drawn by my all time favorite silver age comic book artist, John Buscema. I'm posting a bunch of my recent Marvel-themed art here for anybody to check out. It was a blast to create, and I look forward to producing more in the future...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
This is just a reminder to people that I'll have a table at The Motor City Comic Con in Novi, MI this weekend. The con runs Friday May 14th through the 16th, and I'll be there for the full run in artist alley. Among the items I'll be selling at the con will be bookmarks, prints, original sketch cards, original artwork, original comic pages, and I'll be taking commissions. But most importantly, I'll be selling copies of my Dead Duck graphic novel, which will include original sketches on the inside of each cover. These are in EXTREMELY LIMITED SUPPLY, so get 'em while I got 'em. Of course, visiting my table also provides additional perks, such as getting a firsthand view of my new tabletop Dead Duck DIE-orama. But on a more personal note, it'll give me chance to connect with friends and fans, and that has always been the biggest draw for me while attending comic cons. If you have any other questions regarding Motor City, you can view their website here. Hope you guys can make it. You'll find me beneath my big ol' Dead Duck and Zombie Chick banner!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
So despite the current publication status of Dead Duck, I'm still working on new material. At present, I have two new stories completely written and drawn, two that are in completed script form, and as of this morning, one page that is colored. I'd like to show you that page now, as a sneak preview of what's to come, and to satisfy the appetites of those who've repeatedly hounded me for a follow up book (I'm with ya, folks--I want one, too). As always, click on the image to enlarge it.
Monday, May 03, 2010
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 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!