Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wizarld World LA 2008- The Wrap Up!

Got a little behind here on my blogging, but here’s my report on Wizard World Los Angeles, held the weekend of March 14-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

I’ve been doing Wizard World here in LA for several years now (it started back in Long Beach). It’s more of a ‘mainstream’ comics/pop culture show, catering to the same people who read Wizard magazine. That would be guys (and they definitely target male readers) who are into Marvel and DC comics, play a lot of video games, and gawk at the pictures in Maxim magazine. Not exactly my demographic….

But actually, WizardWorld, like any show, will always have a curious group of people with a very wide range of interests and tastes. So with that in mind, I decided to exhibit once again. Also, the fact that I live about 20-25 minutes away makes this a much more manageable show than out of town events. And the clincher this time was that my good friend, Jose Cabrera asked me to split a table with him. A better table price and partnering with such a great guy?

Yet another reason this particular show was a no-brainer for me: I had a lot to promote. Fresh from winning BEST FEATURE for EL MUERTO at the previous week’s Whittier Film Festival, I had to share the news about that! Also, I passed out flyers for my radio show as well as flyers for the San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival. I’ve helped organize that event with the folks from the Nuvein Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to introducing the community to the arts. The Nuvein Foundation actually provides support for my radio show, and in fact the head of the Foundation, Enrique Diaz, is also the Executive Producer of PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO.

And the real reason I wanted to attend Wizard was to debut, or at least unveil in public my brand-new comic book creation, DEMOLTION DOVE! I had slapped together a quick DEMO DOVE Myspace page a day or so before the convention, but this showing the character in person. I have to say, I was honestly surprised how popular the character had turned out to be that weekend. Granted, people were only reacting one promo poster, but the design of the character, the name and the juxtaposition of his traits really caught people’s fancy. I really had no idea what to have expected. For the last 10 years I’ve only really been know for creating EL MUERTO in comics, zines, mini-comics and other forms of art. I’ll definitely be using this blog, and radio show, to talk more about the DOVE, but for now you can enjoy the same preview the Wizard audiences did!

In fact, the very first day, Friday, I had a fan of mine ask for a DEMOLITION DOVE drawing! Not one to disappoint, or miss a great photo op, I had him take a photo of me drawing. I’ve known Alejandro some years now via APE and Comic Con. He’s an enthusiastic comics fan but also an extremely interesting and intelligent person to talk to. In fact, we started talking quite a bit about the politics in the DOVE storyline as well as the events going on right now.

Another fan came by on Saturday and asked if he could have a sketch. I’m thinking I’ll be drawing El Muerto or the Dove…..but then he mentions ‘Daredevil’! I was really excited by the chance, to be honest. Anyone who knows me will know my love for the old-time classic superheroes (that’s pre-1985!). So I busted out this Daredevil for Edwin:

Edwin, and his girlfriend Crystal had come down from Las Vegas for the show. He had actually seen the Muerto movie on DVD and really enjoyed it. He ended up picking up some of my comics. I found out that when he bought the DVD, he didn’t get the mini-comic book that was supposed to be included. So I told him to come back to my table on Sunday and I would have a copy of that comic for him. Luckily I have a small stash of those! He really appreciated the gesture, and of course I really appreciate having such a great fan of my work.

Edwin even asked Jose for a Daredevil sketch, which really surprised me. Jose’s a great cartoonist, but his web comic is more geared to satirical/absurdist humor, not superheroes. So what a pleasure it was to all of us to see him knock out a Daredevil. I love it when artists who aren’t really doing any type of superhero/action books bust out a superhero! Most of those type of artists actually grew up on the same comics as the rest of us geeks anyway!

My friend Michael Aushenker didn’t have his own booth at this show, but he was stationed with a publisher he’s working with. Michael is going to be writing an upcoming miniseries for the publishers of the GUMBY comics.

Here’s Michael with the GUMBY crew. On the far right you see creator Art Clokey’s daughter Holly Harmon.

Michael, besides being a great friend, an ingenous writer and a whiz bang artist, is always up for some laughs. Here’s he and Jose hanging out with some friends of theirs. Seriously, they’ve seen these Mario Bros. guys at various shows and they all seem like old buddies!

Michael joining me and Jose at the Crying Macho Man/Los Comex corner:

I’m told I was totally geeking out when I approached these folks! Check them out, the cast of Spider-Man from the comics! John Romita-style Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacey…along with Aunt May, Peter Parker and the Black Cat! Man, it was like walking into the comic book. Lucky ‘Peter Parker’, walking around with all them hot Spidey-Babes. Even the cutey playing Aunt May wasn’t bad!

Our neighbors at our booth were Kelly and Nico, writer and artist of the comic book TALES OF THE OZARK HOWLER. Kelly is a writer of books and screenplays, and in fact the comic book is an adaptation of one of her novels. I thought it was pretty cool that the novelist herself was self-publishing her own adaptation. Nico is a 19 yr. old artist working on his first comic. They were very nice to have as neighbors, and I wish them luck in their joint endeavor.

I’m know for not really being into STAR WARS (blasphemy, I know…) but I had to shoot this R2-D2. Looked like a Jedi R2. with the dark paint job! Anyone out there know if this one is in the movies??

My old chum Tony came by my table and literally dropped to his knee to get a better peek at this DEMOLITION DOVE character! Always nice to surprise your old college buddies, huh?

Speaking of surprise, I was asked by someone for a cheesecake pinup! The guy bought some stuff from me, then asked for a drawing. Thing is, he asked for Betty Page! Luckily my friend Tony was still around and he was carrying his Rocketeer graphic novel with him, which I used for reference!

Dave Stevens, creator of the Rocketeer, had passed away earlier in the week. Tony was honoring his memory by wearing that 15 year old Rocketeer T-shirt to the con. So, in a way, it was a nice way for me to pay tribute to Stevens as well. Dave Stevens was a huge admirer of Betty Page and in fact based the Rocketeer’s girlfriend on Betty.

There was an artist sitting across from me and he had heard I was from Whittier, same as him. Of course we hit it off immediately. Ruben Martinez is his name, and he’s a toy designer at Mattel. He had previously worked with Stan Lee at Stan Lee Media and in fact had Stan write the intro for his new art book he was selling at Wizard. Stan Lee wrote the intro for his book! I bought a copy of course. It’s a stunning book, full of pencil and computer artwork, showcasing Ruben’s keen imagination and great sense of character design. Me and Ruben talked about the growing contingent of comic artists/illustrators in Whittier, with some plan to do something with all that talent! Oh, and I asked Ruben for a Muerto sketch in my signed copy of THE AFTER LIFE!

Another artist I ran into was Keith Knight, one of the great cartoonists working in the field, in my opinion. Ketih’s strip is at times autobiographic as well as political/social commentary. His craftsmanship and entrepreneurial skills are to be admired. As he was inscribing my copy of his new book “I LEFT MY ARSE IN SAN FRANCISCO” we were chatting and catching up on one another. I noticed he kept glancing off to his left as he was doodling, then realized “Oh damn, he’s drawing me an El Muerto!” Sure enough, there in my copy of his new book, I have a one-of-a-kind Keith Knight El Muerto sketch! I’ll be danged if this ain’t one of the best things about this whole self-publishing bit!

I’ll definitely be back at Wizard LA next year. Too many reasons not to. I was actually pleased to hear from several people there that they had seen the Muerto movie either as fans of the comic book or discovering it on their own. I got a chance to talk to one fan at length about the movie and the comic. He had a few things about the movie he wasn’t happy with, but he and I were able to have an honest discussion about it. Another lady came by and scooped up a couple of 11x17 prints. She was a huge fan of Dia De Los Muertos and wanted to add these pieces to her collection of fine art. I actually knew one of the pieces she already had.

This really was, for me, a special show. I met old Muerto comic fans as well as new admirers of the movie. I promoted the heck out of my new radio show and the upcoming Comic Book Festival. Sold my share of comics, zines, buttons and prints. Met some other great artists. And even received an extremely enthusiastic response to my new character.

Yeah, I’ll be back next year for sure!


Jason Martin said...

Hey, great... sounds like you had a great show! (Despite what otherwise has sounded like another disappointing production from Wizard)

And wow, Ruben Martinez is from Whittier?!? That guy's on DeviantArt and his work is AMAZING!!
And I meant to pick up his book at Wondercon (my cover artist from Gnome picked it up, and it sure is purty)

So good to hear the Dove is getting a good response... it's funny, it's actually very much in keeping with my new stuff (I guess great minds think similarly ;)

Cool for you man, hopefully we can say similar things of our upcoming Stumptown effort!

Anonymous said...


Enjoyed reading THE WRAP UP....Man, what a pithy little summation of a great weekend. The photo highlight was you and the entire Romita cast of Spider-Man, with the women of Peter Parker, from Gwen to Aunt May! What the F--- Theater!

You really captured the heart and soul of that show, minus our extra-cirricular field trip to The Original Pantry, which was epic! Can I get a whoop-whoop? Hollla!

Special surprise guest Tony "Stark" Saxon was cool - he should've been cast in that movie instead of Downey, Jr., although he would've been too busy ramblin' about Star Wars to read the freakin' lines!!!! Come on, Tony - get it together, time is money and this fiilm has a $400 million budget!!!!

Frankly, I had low expectations for this convention, as this was my first Wizard LA show and I had heard mixed reviews. But it turned out to be a fantastic weekend of rollin' with the WildCard Bunch and the Gumby comics posse, and hangin' on the corner with the Javster and the Cab-Man, two of the most talented cartoonists I know. Also met soooooo many nice folks -- and one adorable woman! -- so Wizard L.A. was crackin'!

Best of all, I walked away with a signed and doodled edition of one of the first DEMOLITION DOVE posters EH-VER!! Suh-WEET! The Dove is my new favorite character and I can't wait to read this book you've been layin' down for months now when it comes out on April 6 at the San Gabriel Valley Comics Fest. I'll be wanting to get that signing over with so I can go home and read DEMO DOVE # 1!!!!

OK, Javier, thanks for the reportage. See you guys at the Super*Market signing at Meltdown on March 30!

Michael Aushenker
Los Angeles

Bernyce said...

Oh the fun you had.

Anonymous said...

Dude, (Naked) Dave Stevens passed away? Aw Geez, I had no idea. That's terrible news man.

RUBEN MARTINEZ!!! That is easily the coolest sketch of the dead guy EVER drawn! I flipped when i picked up Martinez's book THE AFTER-LIFE, Easily the best art book published last year!

Best of luck with DEMOLITION DOVE. A wise man once said 'Step into the shoes of giants and cast longer shadows'. Whatever THAT means. Thank you, Thank you, I'll be here all week, Try the Kung Pao Triple Delight.

Flashbacks eh?

El Cucuy

Jose Cabrera said...

Homina Homina Homina!!! What fun we did have! Jav you is da best buddy a retarded boy can have (brain damage me have clock fell on head 5 years old)!
And BTW Aushenker, the show wasn't crackin' is was CRACK-A-LACKIN'!!!