Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am? I'm f***in' Buddy Holly! That's who I am!

That's my favorite quote from my favorite Kids in the hall sketch, and an appropriate opener for this blog. I promised myself I'd buy some new glasses if I did well at Wizard World Chicago. And, as you can see from my cool new retro specs, business was booming, so much so in fact...

That I was also able to get my first ever pair of prescription sunglasses! This was pretty monumental for me, as I hadn't been able to wear shades in the seventeen years I've had glasses. I could finally afford them, and these are suh-weeeeeet! Plus they make me look like John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, a comparison I giddily welcome!   

So Wizard World afforded me the gift of sight, the gift of coolness, and a slew of great experiences that surpassed my last show there back in 2009, which was a tough act to follow. But boy, did 2011 ever up its game!

Here's some shots of my table set up, which I feel is my best display since hitting the midwest con circuit in 2009...

On the second morning of Wizard World, I got to my table early and was just working on some non-con related artwork. Then this fellow stops by and quickly grabs a copy of my Dead Duck graphic novel and my sketchbook. "I've got to have these!", he says. I love that kind of enthusiasm towards my work, so my day was already made at this point. Over the din of the pre-show con floor hubbub, I asked him his name, so I could sign his books (I was also mid-way through drawing a caricature of him on the cover of the sketchbook). It sounded like "Roberto", but when he spelled it for me, it was "Humberto". So I thought to myself, "Huh. I've only ever known one guy named Humberto. Very unique name." So I keep scrawling and sketching, and something inside me says to ask this guy if he draws comics. "Yes", he says, with a sheepish grin. I pause. Then, on a moment of impulse, I quietly ask, "Are you Humberto Ramos?"

"Yes." His grin was huge at this point. But you should have seen mine.

For those who don't know, Humberto Ramos is one of the most talented artists in the comic industry. He has an illustrative/cartoon hybrid style that just blew my mind when I first saw it almost ten years ago in the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man, and it continues to influence me today.

So upon this unveiling of secret identity, I jumped up and shook his hand vigorously (as well as doing an "Ohmugawdohmuhgawdohmuhgawd" moment right out of The Simpsons). I told him how embarrassed I was that I hadn't recognized him, that I'd never seen his photo before, that I was a humongous fan of his work, and that his my favorite interpretation of the Green Goblin EVER. Humberto was very humble, and countered by saying he'd seen my Dead Duck banner on opening night at the con, and that he told himself he had to visit my booth. He complimented my art, to the degree that I thought, "Wait. That's MY line for what I'm supposed to say to YOU!" Needless to say, this was my favorite moment from the entire con, coupled with the next surprise booth visit from Humberto, where he reiterated how nice it was to meet the previous day. I ended up drawing a cartoon for him to properly show my gratitude for his work's influence and for his kind gestures towards me and my work.

My book and prints sales were brisk, but I did get a few commissions too, which you can see here...

I also got to see some good friends who I don't see often enough. On my third night, I had a great dinner with my dear friend Becky, her husband Phil and their son Cody--ironically, we ate at the restaurant where, in 2009, I heard the heartbreaking news of director John Hughes' death. The night before I saw Becky at this year's con, I sat in my hotel bar and watched former Hughes' muse Anthony Michael hall hit on the ladies.  I can't imagine the Hughes connection I'll make the next time I'm at Wizard World Chicago...

I also reunited with my pal Steve Baggio, a great guy whom I first met at C2E2 in 2010. At that con, Steve and his friend Chris were sitting in a cafeteria, discussing the book that Stephen King and Peter Straub wrote together, but they couldn't think of the title. Being the nosy nerd I am, I chimed in, "That was Talisman". Steve, Chris, and Chris' girlfriend Natalie have been my Illinois pop culture pals ever since! Here's Steve and I below...
You can see in Steve's hand a commission he'd had me do a few months back, and which he picked up from me at Wizard World. Here it is in greater detail...
Now, here's why I'm forever indebted to Steve. At the same time Wizard World was going on, there was a horror convention happening on the other side of the street. I'm a HUGE horror fan (and was lucky to have married my equal in that appreciation), and some of my favorite actors from that genre were going to be there, including actor Robert Englund, who played the king daddy of movie slashers, Freddy Krueger. 
Steve and his friends were attending both cons that weekend, and he agreed to get Robert's autograph for my wife Laura, plus he took a photo of Robert signing it...
Steve also did something else for me. I made a special print of my Necronomicomics featuring Freddy Krueger, which I autographed for the man himself. Steve delivered it to him, and reported that Robert liked it very much. Steve got a pic of that moment too, which made me geek out ALMOST  as much as when I met Humberto (it would have been equal geeking if I'd given it to Robert in person)...
So as you can see, Wizard World was balls-out awesome. I've never had a less than an incredible con experience in Chicago, and I'll always return. Plus, with my new sunglasses, I fit right in with the city's favorite sons, The Blues Brothers!

Now I know, that was a lot to take in. But bear with me, there's more to report in other news...

Over the past decade, I've been a frequent visitor to a Muppet fan site called Tough Pigs. It's always been funny and informative of the latest Muppet/Henson/Sesame Workshop happenings. And it's always been supportive of my work, both Muppet-related and otherwise. So for the site's 10th anniversary, I was asked to contribute some art to mark the occasion. I happily obliged, and was in the fine company of some of my closest pals in the industry. You can see my piece below, and you can view all the art submissions here!

One of the greatest newspaper comics to come out of the past decade has been Cul De Sac by Richard Thompson. It's filled with incredible characters, hilarious situations, and beautiful cartoon art. For his efforts, Richard was recently awarded the Reuben, the top honor a member of The National Cartoonists Society can receive. In 2009, Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This hasn't decreased his amazing creative output one bit. Instead, it launched Team Cul De Sac, a drive that brought professional cartoonists together to contribute Cul De Sac-themed art, which would be compiled into a book that would be sold, with proceeds going towards Parkinson's research. The original art would also be auctioned off, with those proceeds furthering the cause. I was lucky to be a part of the contributors, and submitted this piece:
I encourage everyone to check out Team Cul De Sac's page, and contribute if you can. It's a cause that I seriously believe in, and any donation will go a long way towards a cure.

WHEW! That was a whole lotta somethin', wasn't it folks?! Hope you enjoyed it! No Live Sketch Show this week, but I'll make an announcement later about how next week's episode is shaping up. In the meantime, take care, people! Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

One more little post before leaving for Chi town...

Two things:

1. After lots of work and lots of waiting for my web host to fix the problem, my brand new website is officially up and running! It's still WWW.JAYFOSGITT.COM, but everything within it is new! Click on the link and be sure to bookmark it!

2. I just found out I was nominated in two categories for THE SHEL DORF AWARDS! This is an awards ceremony for comic professionals, and it will be held during the Detroit Fanfare comic con on Sept. 24th. I've been nominated for best letterer and best kids comic for my work on Ape Entertainment's "Little Green Men". If you'd like to vote, click on the Shel Dorf Awards link above!

So that's about it. Still packing for Wizard World and trying to stay on top of commissions and various assignments. Craziness, it's all craziness---but GOOD craziness! Hope to see you in Chicago, and if not, I look forward to talking with you again when I'm back!


Friday, August 05, 2011

"Take me back to Chicago...Lay my soul to rest..."

This is a very appropriate blog title on so many levels...
1. I'm returning to Chicago (specifically Rosemont, Il.) to attend Wizard World Chicago on Aug. 11th-14th
2. They're the opening lyrics to one of my favorite songs from the group "Chicago" (as if I had a not-favorite song of theirs)
3. Perhaps you noticed the adorable zombie above. Lay my soul to rest...he's dead, y' there's the connection...ahem...
4. I LOVE Chicago, my third favorite city after my number 2 (Ann Arbor) and my number 1 (I'm looking at YOU, Toronto).

So if the intricacy of the photo seen here isn't evidence enough, I'm very excited to attend Wizard World--the very first con I set up at back in '09--and I'm pulling out all the stops to make a great showing! I've spent the past week making props to adorn Abner Cadaver with to better promote "Necronomicomics". I'm particularly proud of the mini-Rue Morgue magazine I've put together. The severed hand was a last minute choice and a terrific find at a local dollar store. But that word balloon was the real accomplishment: foam board, a coat hanger and a lot of packing tape. I feel like the original crew at ILM who cobbled together the earliest Star Wars props with chewing gum and chicken wire...

I also built some colorful new table signs that will hopefully up the gravitational pull of my table. And on the merch front, I've made FOUR NEW PRINTS to be sell at this show (check 'em out below)...
This was originally a print I made last year. At that time I printed it on plain ol' copy paper, but it was still proving popular with fans of the TV show Firefly. This time I polished up the design a bit and printed it on a nice glossy card stock. Coupled with actress Morena Baccarin's appearance at Wizard World (that's her in the middle row on the far left), I predict these will go over big.

This is a mash-up I created of the comic book Watchmen with the classic cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. For the past few years, I'd been selling a smaller print on flimsier paper based on this idea. But I felt I could do so much more with it, and a far better job. This is the result of that push, and I think it's going to be popular. I particularly want to make a blood-dripped "Wossamotta U" pin, if only for myself.

These two prints are components of my overall Necronomicomics promotional campaign. For now, I only plan on releasing these two cartoons. Hopefully in a year or two, I'll be able to print a collection of the cartoons, so fans can get their fill in a complete collection. I hope these will satisfy folks' cartoon blood lust in the meantime!

If these prints all sell well, count on seeing them for sale at my next appearance: Detroit Fanfare on Sept. 24th and 25th! I'll also be unveiling THREE NEW PRINTS at that show, two comic-themed, and one to coincide with the appearance of actor and Michigan native Bruce Campbell at the con!
So if you're planning on attending Wizard World or are just in the area, pop on over to the Donald E. Stephens Center and look for table #3106. I'll be the cute guy with glasses and a goatee drawing dead ducks and voluptuous chickens, and with a zombie puppet riding shotgun at my table! Hope to see you there!

Lastly, I'll be doing a new Live Sketch Show this Monday, August 8th, at 8 pm eastern time. It will be short, but it's going to be a special pre-Wizard World send off. Click on the link to check it out when the date and time hit. And as always, you're welcome to talk with me online via Ustream's chat window. You need to log in to Ustream to use the window, but registering is easy. It only takes a username and an email address. Once you've entered that info, you can chat with me, simple as that!

Thanks for your viewership, readership and friendship, folks! Hope to be in touch with you all soon!