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...

MUPPET ART
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!


CUL DE SAC
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!


--Jay

6 comments:

Bruce said...

Damn, this was one of the better blog posts that I've read in some time! Glad to hear it was a good con for ya.

I see that Gapo character creepin' in on you, though! ;p

Kinsfire said...

I am SO jealous - MEETING Humberto Ramos, and getting Englund enjoying your work? I don't usually use the word, but I think it fits here - EPIC!

Jeff said...

Great news, Jay! Sounds like a fantastic event. When idols become fans...well, that's sayin' something.

And...you are f***in' Buddy Holly.

Dennis said...

I truly wish I traveled more I really need to do more conventions the only ones i've done are the Orlando ones, and even then I have not gone to those in the past 2 years, I'd die to meet Robert Englund, and the only convention art i've ever bought is from Amanda Conner excellent Wondergirl piece but I really need to travel more my art collection could really grow

ebd said...

Jay, what a great con for you!!

Lee V Call said...

wow, looks like you had an amazing time! i'm so thrilled you got to meet your idol. you are pretty much a big deal! ;)

~Elorad