2 quick days at Comic Con, that's all I did. Got there Thursday morning, left by Friday afternoon. But what a packed 2 days it was!
I wasn't exhibiting this year, but I wanted to check out the show. Well, actually, I just wanted to visit some friends I don't see very often. The first time I attended Comic Con was back in 1992! And the first time I exhibited at Comic Con was in 1998, the first year I started publishing my comic book, EL MUERTO. Since then, I've probably attended the Con about 6 or 7 times as an exhibitor, and the other years as an attendee, if even for just a few days. There's something about that place that draws me there. Could be the chance of finding some good books, either old comics or new ones I haven't discovered yet. This year was for meeting up with friends though....
My good friend Michael Aushenker!
I've shared plenty of tables with him at past conventions, and it's always a riot hanging out with Mikey. We met about 12 years ago, and it's been great to see both of us grow old together as cartoonists. Michael demanded me to get back into the 'game' next year and return to San Diego as an exhibitor. That's my plan, for sure! Michael's latest books are his new CARTOON FLOPHOUSE featuring GREENBLATT THE GREAT, and his except-for-the-last-10-pages kid's comic, SILLY GOOSE!
Another pair of friends who've been sharing a booth at Comic Con for some years now are James Baker and Rhode Montijo. James is a cartoonist who works primarily in animation, with Pixar's UP being his latest film. I usually also see Jamie every year at APE in San Francisco. He and Rhode for the last couple of years have been dressing up their booths, and themselves, with a theme. This year's was the most ambitious one of all!
Comic Bot! Robot from the future!
Apparently, in the future, robots will make the comics, all one has to do is type in the kind of comics you like and viola...There you go!
I could not believe this enormous robot-thing they built! It's so beautifully chintzy! People were really digging it. Man, these two artistes really raise the bar as far as dressing up their booths...without a major publisher or big-wig movie studio bankrolling em.
Rhode of course is an equally prolific artist. His Xeric Award-winning comic PABLO'S INFERNO was his first entry into DIY comics. Afterwards, he would co-create the wildly successful HAPPY TREE FRIENDS cartoon. Following his dreams, he would eventually work in children's book industry, illustrating the popular MELVIN BEEDERMAN chapter books as well as getting his own illustrated picture book, CLOUD BOY, published by Simon & Shuster!
I not only get inspired by this man's creativity, but he's been so supportive and encouraging of everything I've done as an artist since we first met back in 1997. And even if neither of us were artists, he'd still be one of my closest friends on account of his extremely good nature and positive spirit.
Met up with several other friends and creators, but I didn't take the time to shoot any pics. Sometimes, sometimes I try not to turn every instance into a blog-worthy moment, believe it or not! I did run into this gentleman:
I was never into Transformers myself, but I liked this costume. It wasn't so perfect that it looked like it was bought by a licensed manufacturer, but it also took some effort to create. I can appreciate that type of creativity and fan enthusiasm. So many times you read about people making fun of folks in costumes (and yeah, sometimes they look terrible!) but I think this type of fandom is an important part of this whole wide comics biz. I'll tell you for a fact that when I once saw someone dressed up like my character EL MUERTO for Halloween I was jazzed.
There was of course the requisite dinner in Old Town San Diego on Thursday night at a secret Mexican restaurant I go to at least once every year for Con. The strawberry margaritas are part of the ritual, as is the filling up of the outdoor patio with all sorts of great cartoonists. This year, and I'm sorry I didn't take any photos, the list included Hector Cantu, the co-creator/writer of the BALDO newspaper strip, Richard Dominguez, the creator of the comic book EL GATO NEGRO (and one of my early influences to publish my own comic book), Jason Martin, creator of SUPER REAL whose turned out to be a real good friend since we sat exhibited next door to each other at Con 4 years ago, Rhode Montijo, James Baker, Sam Hiti of the Xeric Award winning TIEMPOS FINALES (which is currently under development as a film), and several other artist I met for the first time during dinner. Quite the talented bunch of creators!
Here's a pic of Jason Martin, one the very far left in the black t-shirt, with me and Mort Todd in the foreground:
I hung out with Mort for most of the two days I was there. In fact, I picked him up from the airport Thursday morning as I got into town. I met Mort a few years ago and we've worked together on several projects. He actually hosted the first EL MUERTO film panel we had, back during Comic Con 2005. Mort moderated the panel with me, producer Larry Rattner, stars Tony Plana, Joel David Moore and Wilmer Valderrama. Mort also worked with me on the mini-comic that was included with the DVD release of EL MUERTO, me handling the script and layouts, and Mort providing the finished art, inking and grey tones. He's also contributed a spectacular pin-up to my upcoming MANGA MUERTO comic book.
Mort came to the Con to screen a documentary on SADISTIK, a 1960s European photo novel/film property that he's acquired the rights to. Unfortunately, I missed the screening as I was gone before Saturday's showing, but it was great to catch up with this amazingly prolific and talented artist. Mort, in his early 20s, was the Editor-in-Chief of CRACKED Magazine, then in the 90s he worked for Marvel and launched several reprint comics using Marvel's vast library of 1950s/60s monster/horror comics. He's worked with Dan Clowes, Steve Ditko, John Severin, Gene Colan, John K, and many other legendary artists. He's published his own monster magazines, numerous books and comics, and is currently working on animation for PLAYBOY and other projects. He's always been a real stand-up type of guy and a total professional. In this biz you meet so many people who 'befriend' you then flake out in a spectacular fashion, but Mort has always been the Real Deal.
With all this excitement at Con this year, it's no wonder I didn't miss exhibiting! But, like I told Michael Aushenker, I do indeed wanna get back 'in the game' next year.
For a brief audio report, check out this episode of the ART & STORY EXTREME podcast, hosted by some friends of mine, cartoonists Jerzy Drozd and Mark Rudolph. They interviewed me Saturday and I was glad to share some Con stories with them, including the Golden Age panel I was lucky enough to attend.