I was trying to think of some type of 'End of 2009 post'. Like a 'year in review', or 'best of'. Then I realized that's it's also the end of the first decade of the Millennium, which according to my rudimentary math skills only comes about every 1000 years. And even if I started eating super healthy and became the most exercise-conscience person on the planet, chances are still 50/50 that I'd make it to 3000!
So it occurred to me to write some type of overview about my last 10 years in regards to my life as an artist, specifically an independent comic book creator....
I had my first published comic book story appear in 1997's HOT MEXICAN LOVE COMICS, and my first self-published work was EL MUERTO, back in 1998. It's really with the publication of my own comic book work that I've experienced some phenomenal times as an artist, which significantly reflects on my life as an individual. Not that everything up to the year 2000 was drab and dreary. But read on and check out what I'm going to share.
By the way, I didn't own a digital camera until 2005, so all the following pics are digital photographs. One day I will have to scan 100s of photographs I took with an actual film camera. But for purposes of this blog post, we're only going to use digital pics, folks!
Looking over my collection of photos, one of the highlights that stands out to me has been getting my self-published comic book, EL MUERTO, turned into a live-action film. I created my own comic book because I wanted to create my own comic book, plain and simple. That I ended up getting the opportunity to have a film based on EL MUERTO, well, that's the type of serendipity you only read about in fairy tales! I won't go into all the details now (as I've written and spoken about it many times before), but here are some wonderful images I'm glad were captured:
We filmed EL MUERTO in Feb of 2005, and at the San Diego Comic Con that summer, we had a panel when we showed the trailer. To be on my own panel at Comic Con showing the trailer to my own movie, after having seen my fair share of preview panels at the Con, was quite extraordinary. Here's me, star Wilmer Valderrama and Joel David Moore (AVATAR) after the panel. I love the smell of papparazi in the afternoon!
Luckily, I was able to attend several of the film festival screenings once the film was finished.
Musician Martin Espino, me and actor Tony Plana at the official premiere for the film at the SAN DIEGO LATINO FILM FESTIVAL:
It gets better though! Me and some lovely film fans at a screening for Cal State Los Angeles:
Signing a badge for an enthusiastic fan at the Oxnard Latino Film Festival:
My brother Albert, his wife Letty, my sister Imelda and me at the American Film Market screening. (I purposely posed us in front of the James Bond movie poster!):
One of the great things about creating your own comics is that you're entering the field populated by so many other people whose work you've read and admired. Here's one of those times. It's me on a panel with cartoonist Jaime Hernandez (LOVE AND ROCKETS). We were sharing a panel along with comic book writers Len Wein (SWAMP THING, THE X-MEN) and Marv Wolfman (TOMB OF DRACULA, TEEN TITANS) at the 2006 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival, "Minorities in film"(I believe that was the name):
Since 1998 I've been asked if I'm one of the Hernandez Brothers. (Jaime and his brother Gilbert created the comic series LOVE AND ROCKETS, and it's among the most critically acclaimed comics ever). After the panel, I asked Jaime to sign a L&R book for me, and he wrote "Just one question: Where's your father from?"!
We had an 'Exclusive Engagement' screening at a Laemmle Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, and was really happy to see EL MUERTO up on the marquee:
In 2008, my hometown of Whittier, CA held it's first ever Film Festival, and we screened EL MUERTO and were actually fortunate enough to win Best Feature! After the film screening (which ironically was held in a building where I used to work at part-time during high school) we held a Q&A around the corner at GEEKS comic shop:
Musician Martin Espino, me, writer/director Brian Cox and co-producer Susan Rodgers.
Bringing the film to Whittier, where the story from the comic book is actually based in, was a dream come true that I had always hoped to accomplish.
Of course, everything that I've experienced, in regards to art, the film, podcasting, meeting fellow creators, making new fans, has all come from the initial creation of the comic book. Making art has been a part of me forever, and so many of the good things I've experienced in life has come from my artistic impulses.
It's all about creating my own comics, my own characters. Taking an idea from an abstract, to a visual narrative. Self expression. Storytelling first on the page, then, actually, personally, becoming part of a bigger story later!
Sharing my work with others these past 10 years has always been a rewarding experience for me. In a way, that's even more so when it's given away for free. Especially to kids. (Told you I'm a terrible businessman!!)
Creating something that people respond to makes what I do very full-filling, for me. I often talk about creating a signature character, and El Muerto is mine. For the people who count themselves fans of my work and the character, you've granted me a great pleasure, and a great honor.
To my family and friends and fellow artists, I have to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude for the love, support and inspiration. I never tire of doing what I do, creating new artwork, new comics. I only hope that the next 10 years, God willing, bring as many unexpected surprises and memorable experiences as the previous 10. I'll be doing my part to make that true, everyone else please feel free to join along, I'd love to have you.
Hope you all have yourselves a productive, positive 2010.