Saturday, November 24, 2007

WizardWorld Texas wrap-up!

I'm playing catch-up here,but this is my report from last weekend's WizardWorld comic convention in Texas. With the Thanksgiving holiday two days ago, and my radio show starting earlier this week, I'm kind of backtracking, but at least I'm getting it blogged!

My good friend, and fellow comic creator, Dallas-based Richard Dominguez had actually approached Wizard about hosting a group of us for a 'Latinos in Comics' panel. With the able assistance of Richard's agent/rep, Ken Levin, Wizard generously agreed to not only fly me in from Los Angeles, but also some artists from Florida and Puerto Rico! Here's a pic of me, Richard and the artist of the newspaper strip, BALDO, Carlos Castellanos.

While Richard is the reason we were all brought together, a last minute scheduling conflcit meant that he had to leave us for the weekend. His brother Robert was able to watch his table for the weekend though. Richard is the creator of EL GATO NEGRO, and in fact was a big influence on me in creating my own character. Thanks Richard, we couldn't have done this without ya!

One of the other artists in our 'Comic Book Companeros' group was David Alvarez, the creator of the YENNY comic strip that appears in Puerto Rican newspapers, as well a brief run as an Alias comic book a year or so ago. David's worked quite a bit in animation as well as the Looney Tunes comic book. He's a super talented guy and incredibly funny! Armed with a quit wit and a library of cartoon voices, this guy is riot to hang around with!

Seated next to me in our Artist Alley tables were the creators of the BALDO newspaper strip, which is syndicated in over 200 newspapers. Writer Hector Cantu and artist Carlos Castellanos. I had the pleasure of meeting these two this past March at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. They actually have a completed Baldo animated series to their credit! It's currently in the distribution deal phase. Carlos was my roommate for the weekend in the swanky Sheraton Hotel next door to the convention center. Again, these two guys and myself instantly bonded with one another and led to so many insane moments over the course of the show!

Friday was the first day of the show, and there was an EL MUERTO film screening scheduled that evening. Thanks to Ken Levin and Wizard to arranging that. Apparently, the Arlington Convention Center was scheduled to close at 6pm that evening after the end of the show. But after much behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the center agreed to let us screen the film 'after hours'. I introduced the film and stayed around for the first half hour or so of the screening. Afterwards, I snuck out for about an hour and wandered the hotel. I even went up to my room and sat around for awhile. Sometimes I get restless watching the film with an audience! Also, I had no idea how the crowd would react to the film. Maybe because I was in Texas, or screening the film at a Wizard show (which is generally aimed more at the 'maninstream' comic fan, in my opinion), I just wasn't sure what to expect.

But I came back to the screening for the last 10 minutes and was happy to find that the response was very enthusiastic. I like to think that part of the reason was the relative novelty of the cultural elements in the story, and also that our film is a smaller, character driven piece, as opposed to the huge, expensive CGI-heavy blockbusters most superhero comic book movies have to be nowadays. We had about a half hour Q&A after the film, moderated by Hector. The fans were genuinely supportive of the film. My sense was that the whole indie-comic-turned-film really responds well to people. I was really satisfied to hear one of the fans come up to me afterwards and actually tell me "I'm sorry that they changed the name of the film (to the DEAD ONE). EL MUERTO is a much better name". He even mispronounced EL MUERTO but to hear this guy in a slight Texas drawl tell me this just reinforced my position on the whole name-change incident. I'd love to keep screening the movie to audiences all over the country. And not for the obvious reason of selling more DVDs (which I did that weekend!) but just to see how different types of people react to the film.

Here's me, Ken Levin and Hector after the Q&A.

Ken Levin, I found out as I talked to him over the weekend, has a long history in comics. He was one of the co-founders of First Comics back in the 80s, which was one of the first major independents in the early days of the direct market. He reps quite a few comics creators and has been involved in lots of comic-to-film deals. Sounds to me like Ken would make a great guest on my radio show!

I had a great time meeting new fans throughout the weekend. Sales on the comics, prints and DVDs were brisk, and makes me hungry to go to more out of state shows. Here's me talking to my travel agent booking flights all over the country for next year!

What would a comic convention be without some superheroes and monsters? Rorschach, getting ready to become next summer's Hollywood IT-boy.....

A Yuletide greeting from Alien and Predator!

And I even got a celebrity endorsement from Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Just what the doctor ordered!

Hector Cantu brought some taco shells along with him on saturday, which he used for promotion! He rolled up flyers for BALDO in the tacos, but I told him we could upgrade that idea. I said the four of us (David, Hector, Carlos and myself) show sign the tacos and give them away to fans! Here's a very limited signed and sketched Javier Hernandez EL Muerto original!

I also got to meet other artists at the show. One of them was Paul Maybury, whose new book, AQUA LEUNG, with writer Mark Smith, is due out from Image early next year. Paul's what I refer to as one of the newer, younger artists. And I don't mean that in a negative way at all. It's just that I admire how productive he's been in his early 20s. I had been visiting Paul's blog over the last year, and since he now lives in Texas, he decided to make a visit to Wizard, so he stopped by my table. He also gave me the original ink drawing to an impromtu El Muerto pinup he sent me a few weeks earlier! Check out the colored version of his sweet pinup.

'The Comic Book Companeros' had a panel on sunday, which was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Moderated by Ken Levin, we got to share our experiences in creating our individual books and how we see ourselves as artists of Latino backgrounds. All said, I had a really good time in Texas. And I have to say, that the after-show escapades I had with David, Hector and Carlos have to rank amongst my most memorable. I've been doing shows for a good decade, and these guys are among the funniest and friendly I've ever had the pleasure to know. I hope we one day get a chance to get together again!

This was taken saturday night at a Mandarin Chinese restaraunt, the site of some of the most hilarious tear-inducing shenanigans ever! And all of us sober, mind you!! All I can say about that eveing is Hector is one swell guy for being a good sport, and David rocks for having appropriate porno music as one of his ring tones!


Jason Martin said...

Great wrap up man!

gonzalexx said...

Wow... didn't know my meeting the creator of Yenny the comic (David Alvarez) would hit one of your great experiences... the screening of El Muerto! I had heard snipets from you during some of your podcasts, but here's the whole story! Excellent! It was great getting the real account as written immediately after the event. Thanks Jav! Awesome!