Friday evening's ART NIGHT at the PASADENA CENTRAL LIBRARY was so much fun, I could have easily gone another couple of hours!
These truly are the opportunities an artist hopes for, if one is interested in these types of events! Enthusiastic crowds, a venue to showcase your work and promote various things you're associated with, meeting some very supportive and interesting people, etc. The Library had numerous exhibitions and events that evening, as part of their participation in the city-wide ART NIGHT, many of them with a Latino theme (music, folkloric dancers, etc). For their spotlight on Latino Cartoonists, I was invited to attend along with Jim Lujan and Grasiela Rodriguez (both fellow Cartoonistas), and animator/cartoonist Raul Aguirre, Jr. (who started out the evening NOT a Cartoonista!).
Like other library events I've done, I always look forward to meeting the young and old and everyone in between. There was a young girl who, after I talked to her about what I do, asked me if she could sit down and draw as well. I was talking to her mother about how it's great seeing kids draw and even more important that their parents support them. The little girl took her time drawing a face, really working at sketching out the details and making it 'just right'. I like how she was attracting her own crowd.
At times, I would end up drawing for about 5 or 6 kids in a row. Most were happy to receive an EL MUERTO drawing, although some opted for a WOLVERINE or something else. At one point a mother came up to me and thought I had said I was tired of drawing and so told her son he couldn't get a drawing! Well, the little boy was very upset and so his mother wondered if I could possibly draw him something. I felt terrible that they had left in the first place, as I didn't intend to turn anyone away! I asked the young man he could have any drawing he wanted: Spider-Man, Batman, even El Muerto if he wanted. Well, to my complete and welcome surprise, he wanted, a DEMOLITION DOVE drawing! He had seen one of the color prints I had of that character (who has only appeared in one preview book I've done so far!) and really dug the cyborg Dove-turned-commando! Well, as happy as I was that he picked that, as I was drawing the picture I would look up at him and see he had the most enthusiastic smile lighting up his face! That's priceless, I tell you. To say the least, he was very happy with the drawing!
(By the way, notice how I draw on pre-printed sheets of cardstock emblazoned with some character images, my name and websites? I stole that great idea from Canadian D.I.Y. comic creator, Blair Kitchen!)
Among the folks I had the chance to meet was an older gentleman by the name of Ray. He specifically wanted to check out the Latino Cartoonist exhibit and was an interesting person to get to know. Ray's been and actor, filmmaker and musician in his life, and told me that his daughter was also an artist. He was interested in how I created my comics and we also talked about THE SHADOW radio drama! I ended up doing an EL MUERTO
drawing for his daughter, and he promised to send me a CD of a musical piece he had created. He introduced me to his wife, Adelita, and we all happily posed for this photo, with me telling everyone "Hey, Ray just adopted me!". These are the type of interactions with people you don't usually expect, but that's what makes these events more than the standard 'show and sell'. Which I don't mind doing at all, but some rich human interactions are pretty priceless.
Raul Aguirre had several of his newest paintings on display and spent lots of time drawing for everyone. This guy's a real people person.
Jim Lujan was well represented by a slew of new paintings he created just for this event. I love the old school superheroes, and I love Jim's art style. Combine the two and you get some real great looking pieces. C'mon, check out that IRON FIST!!
Amidst all this hoopla, I asked Jim to pencil one of his characters for me to ink later. He inked one of my sketches a short while ago, so now I'll be returning the favor. I'll post the inked piece here later this week!
Grasiela also had several new paintings debut here (although none of us seemed to have taken any pics!!). Here's Gras sitting by a collection of some of our work. Amidst all the Jim Lujan luxury items are her Spider-Woman painting and my EL MUERTO DVD (she placed that in there!).
I actually sold a lot more comics than I anticipated. What really struck me was that most of the sales were to kids, about 8-10 yrs old, boys and girls. Previous experience has told me that while my books aren't specifically created 'For Kids', the appeal of the character, at least visually, has pretty strong appeal. In an age where NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and X-MEN movies seem to be in many kid's homes, perhaps kid's can be exposed to a little more than Sesame Street level content? Of course, I can already see a couple instances in my next book, EL MUERTO:DEAD & CONFUSED PT. 2, that will probably test that theory!
Well, besides me analyzing my own market appeal, the other significant event of that wonderful evening was near the end of the exhibit, Jim Lujan formerly invited Raul to join the Cartoonistas. Raul was more than happy to join, and I declared to the remaining patrons there that they had just witnessed a secret initiation ceremony that most humans will never see!
Who makes a good CARTOONISTA? Well, Jim and I, as Co-Founders, have some pretty particular criteria. Moreso now, having built this organization from scratch over the last 12 months. Now that we have an exact idea of the crowds we attract and venues we display at, we are committed to keeping this a tight group of like-minded individuals with what we think is a perfectly suited art style and aesthetic for the group. Building this Cartoonista group with Jim and Grasiela and others has been one of the most rewarding things I've done as an artist, and the response we've received from the communities and organizations has proven our dream. And we're not done dreaming, either. This is an ambitious group!
Thanks to all who came out to see us,thanks to Nick Smith and the wonderful staff at the Pasadena Central Library, thanks to my fellow Cartoonistas and thanks to Enrique Diaz and the Nuvein Foundation for all the support they've given us!
Jim Lujan has more pics (and a video!) at his blog and on the site.