Saturday, February 28, 2009

Late night doodles

Pages from my sketchbook from the last couple of nights. Hoping to share these more often.

These are two different characters, the gent with the tommy gun has been floating around my sketchbooks for some years. The bandaged head fella is a recent idea. I think the classic Universal monster flick, THE INVISIBLE MAN, had a big effect one me. Not the invisisble part, but the image of a fully bandaged head. Just looks cool. And you find it popping up all the time in art (DC Comics' THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER). Anyways, not too much to disclose on these characters, as they're on the perennial 'back burner' of my brain. But I did want to share them here on the blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cartoonista Corner presents KLONCO THE CLOWN!

Last fall, at our debut Cartoonista Live Art appearance, we met the publisher of a magazine called BNA Magazine (Buenas Noticicas America, which is Spanish for 'Good News America'),which focuses on local community issues such as family, education and business.

The publisher was interested in having us contribute to the magazine, so the idea for CARTOONISTA CORNER was born. We get a half page every month, in full color. Basically we decided that we would have puzzles and art projects for kids to enjoy. Our first appearance was in November of last year, and each month we've had a different Cartoonista contributing everything from coloring book projects to mazes to connect-the-dots and word searches. I'll let you know here once we get the previous entries posted to the Cartoonista webpage, but since I've just contributed my first CARTOONISTA CORNER piece, I wanted to share it here:

Klonco the Clown ™ and © Javier Hernandez 2009

I came up with Klonco the Clown a few years back. Just one of the many ideas that pops into my head on a regular basis (a chronic symptom of so many artists!). Here's my first digital art of Klonco (formely known as Clonko!):

There's a whole back story to Klonco, and I've always wanted to do it in comic book form. But my age-old nemesis, Time, has had the upper hand on me. However, these CARTOONISTA CORNER spots are great places to roll out Klonco. Maybe he'll show up in other places, but for now, look for Klonco the Clown to appear periodically in BNA Magazine.

When I was a kid, I used to really love puzzles like mazes and crosswords, especially when they were combined with comic characters. Great way to keep a young imagination active, pursuing a challenging puzzle of some type while interacting with comic book characters. Some of my favorite books as a youngster were such classics as these little gems:

Maybe one day I'll publish a whole book of "Klonco's Fun Time Games & Puzzles"!? Ya never know...

CARTOONISTA video from GEEKS Comic Live Art

Our recent Live Art event at GEEKS Comics in Whittier (Sat., Feb 7) was filmed by a crew for our local Time Warner cable station. Here's the clip:

That's me (drawing the pink octopus!) and Cartoonistas co-founder Jim Lujan drolling out the Cartoonistas Live Art PR!

Thanks to Richard McManus of So Cal News for showing up and putting together this great little spot!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

West Covina Library LIVE ART...Cartoonistas rock the house!

Boy, did we knock it out of the park today! The Cartoonistas were invited to perform a Live Art event at the West Covina Library and we had a tremendous time. Scheduled from 1-3pm, there were times when the fever pitch in the room was set on Maximum Awesomeness. Amy Crow, the librarian organizing the event, said that her expectations were beat by a mile!

Kids were here in droves, with their parents, eager to see some artwork and meet some artists. The library gigs that we do always capture their young imaginations, and I'm glad to see parents encouraging and exposing their children to art. The Nuvein Foundation presented the event, and they had 5 members in attendance promoting the organization and handing out literature. Here, Renato Aguirre, Nuvein Board Member and fellow producer on PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO, talks to the crowd about the Cartoonistas as well as promoting the comic book workshops I'm offering.

Jovial Jim Lujan, Cartoonista Co-Founder, is dazzling the crowd as usual with his dapper demeanor and dizzying drawing chops.

Jim's wrestling drawing was a pretty big piece, chock full of life and energy. I didn't notice til later that the referee in the match is layed out cold! I love the intensity that the kids seem to be eyeing the drawing with.

At these library events, since we're not there to sell artwork to little kids, we raffle off the artwork we create. I had drawn pics of the Pink Panther and a giraffe character (hopefully one of the other five people with cameras got pics of those!), but the one that several kids were really asking about was EL MUERTO. So here's the adorable little girl who held the raffle basket I drew a ticket from and the happy boy who won the drawing:

There was another kid, about 12 or so, who was watching me draw the El Muerto piece and we talked about my process with the chalk drawing art and what his art experiences were. He impressed me with his talk, and in fact had done a drawing about a grim reaper and his son who didn't want to 'take over the family business'. Funny how I attract the kids who have their own death-inspired characters! (I swear, I AM NOT GOTH!!)

Bernyce Talley had her own little fan base watching her draw. It's interesting to me how at our gigs the girls will hover around the women Cartoonistas if they're around. Makes sense though, as girls will feel more comfortable among a fellow female artist (I think). And it's very important for young girls to see female artists as equals to the male artists. Me and Jim always talk about how our diverse group of artists is such a strength.

One young girl I heard was very saddened that she didn't win one of the raffles (sniff), so dear Bernyce actually made a special drawing for her! Who says the Cartoonistas ain't a bunch of softies?!

Two of our Cartoonistas, Grasiela Rodriguez (l) and Bernyce:

At one point Renato decided it would be a good idea for me to hold an impromptu 'comic book mini workshop' for the kids! So, after regaining my composure, I decided that I would do the ol' one-page-three-panel-story-bit! Kids flocked to the table in the back and most of them got busy coloring a Cartoonista coloring handout we give out. Some actually participated in the story lesson, while others just jumped right into doing their own stories. But it did give me the chance to interact with some of the kids in at least poking around in a very basic storytelling exercise. One of the kids later asked me if I was going to raffle off the sample sheet I drew, so I just gave it to him! One of the kids who helped develop the story I drew was this very young girl who ended up drawing her own cover for the kid-pirate-finds-treasure comic we created:

Now that I think about it, there may have been a slightly higher percentage of girls in attendance than boys. C'mon boys, put down them dang video games and baseball bats and get to these Cartoonistas events! Just imagine that, first a black American president, then a cartooning industry populated by a majority of females!

Below is a pic of Jim raffling off his wrestling piece. In truth, everyone was a winner today. The Cartoonistas had a capacity crowd to interact with, the Nuvein Foundation was able to sponsor a very successful community event, and the West Covina Library was able to provide a free, interactive event to their patrons.

I was also able to talk to a mother and her 16 yr. old son about one of my workshops. They just happen to be in the library today, and came to the event. The son likes to make comics, but has no place in his area to learn more about comics creation. It was nice being able to share some knowledge about self-publishing and independent press to a kid who has done some research himself, but wants to learn more. And it was really satisfying to see how much his mother is supporting him in his efforts. Hopefully I see him in one of the workshops. I also really enjoy talking to some of the kids who are more seriously into their art. I can tell they really like being able to talk to an artist about techniques and their own ideas about art. As a kid I didn't really have any exposure to 'comic book artists', at least face to face. So I do appreciate the opportunity to interact with these younger artists and help in useful ways.

I have to say, with all humility, it's a gosh-dang good feeling being a Cartoonista! Thanks to everyone who made this a success!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A new sketch of an old idea

Here's a new sketch (today in fact!) of an old character I designed about 8 or 9 years ago!

I don't even know if I have any sketches of this character in my sketchbooks. At the time I was the Art Director at a screenprinting firm, and I used to do sketches all the time on scraps sheets of paper. So I don't know if I kept any of those sketches. But the design was simple enough to stick in my head. He, or it, was basically created as a variation of CASPER, THE FRIENDLY GHOST. Everyone is scared of him but he's equally afraid of them! Some folks have told me the character reminds them of ORKO from He-Man. I can certainly see where the comparison comes from, but I can't say I was a big fan of the cartoon back in the 80's. Some of the action figures were pretty cool though....

Anyways, I don't know what, or even if, I'll do with this character, but he sure is fun to draw. Perhaps a painting, or some Live Art pieces, are in order. Well, at any rate, it's neat to revisit these 'long lost' ideas.

"True Fans" DO exist!

On Saturday evening, February 7, we had a CARTOONISTAS Live Art event at GEEKS Comics.

Monday afternoon I went to GEEKS to talk to Sal, the owner, to find out how the event went overall. Well, to my extreme delight, he told me that on Sunday a guy came into the shop looking for stuff 'from Javier Hernandez' (that's me!) and was directed to the El Muerto comics. He already had them but ended up buying the EL MUERTO DVD, and he also bought my ROM, SpaceKnight and Demolition Dove artwork! (You can see pics of them in the Live Art post below). He bought everything of mine in the store that he didn't already have!

A few weeks ago, I had a discussion on JAVILAND (my roundtable podcast) about 'True Fans'. True Fans are fans that will buy everything you make. The theory being that if you can have at least 1,000 fans, and each spends about $100 on your products, then you can make $100,000 a year! Now believe me, I take that theory with a grain of salt, because there are no guarantees of anything, and there are innumerable variables in every situation. But just having fans that enjoy your work enough to support it with actual purchases, well then, that is something to nurture. As the artist, I have the responsibility to create things from a sincere and honest starting point (in other words, try to avoid a completely, artless, crass attempt at shaking down fans for money), but also I believe, strongly, that I have a responsibility
to myself to use all my gifts to make myself a living. That includes a genuine sense of artistic creativity and professionalism, as well as a business ethic and marketing savy.

In my previous post about the Live Art event, I also talked about the young boy who bought my El Muerto comics several months ago, and this last time bought the movie as well. These two situations reinforce for me the theory of the True Fans. Heaven help me, it may just very well be true!

Boy, it's times like these that makes me glad I stick to my
stubborn way of thinking! Like I said, this True Fans paradigm only works if I bust my butt and do my part to create, and to create with quality and imaginatively. I can't take anything, or anyone, for granted. Including myself.

Thank you, True Fans!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Fanboy Radio interview is now available

I was a guest on FANBOY RADIO yesterday, and the interview is now available for downloading. FANBOY RADIO is the premiere comic book podcast show, so I was really excited to make my first appearance on the show. It's the big time for comics interviews, that's for sure! Hosted by Scott Hinze and Oliver Tull, the show is a lively hour of interview and comic news and fun hijinx. These guys are real professionals, and even more important, true enthusiasts of comics.

Big thanks go to my good friend Jim Lujan (himself a very good friend of FbR and host Scott Hinze) for setting up the interview. Jim also called in on the show and brought his trademark sharp wit along for the ride. We talked about my work, but I was also billed as a 'Bronze Age Guru', so we had some good discussion on the great comics of the 1970s and what made them great.

Here's the link to the FbR site. As of this moment I'm writing this, the interview isn't posted on the site yet, but just subscribe to the show via iTunes (with the panel on the left) and listen to the interview or download via iTunes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

CARTOONISTAS back at GEEKS:The Report!

Last night's CARTOONISTAS Live Art event at GEEKS was a true celebration of art and liveliness! This is the second time we've performed there and we were glad to have GEEKS ask us back. I was the first Cartoonista to arrive, and there were already folks waiting for the show!

We had arranged to have some press there for the evening. A photographer from a local paper came to get some pix for an interview we did the previous week at our Cartoonistas meeting. And we also had a crew from the local Time Warner cable network come down for a story. I had met the producer when he interviewed me last year at my radio show, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO, and kept in touch with him to promote the Cartoonistas.

The photographer from the paper was pressed for time, so he asked some of us to start drawing before we finished setting up! For some reason, I kind of locked-up..I literally could not think of what to draw. Strangely, having to draw 'on t he spot' froze me up for a second. But, I dived into my own stable of characters and drew a quick sketch of Demolition Dove. Afterwards, I was adequately warmed up (I guess!).

Co-founder Jim Lujan and Grasiela Rodriguez quickly moved into Cartoonista mode. Jim took the coveted place in the front window display (which always draws a crowd of curious pedestrians).

Jim even busted out some acrylics later and between his witty banter and dazzling display of art, he packs in a full house!

Ms. Bernyce Talley made it all the way from across town to set up an easel and work her magic:

Ted Seko and Will Caulfield set up at a table and created their works:

I'm glad we had some good traffic throughout the night, despite some periodic deluges of rain that evening. I was also very happy with the media coverage we got, because that always guarantees we at least get our name and brand out there. For me, personally, I had a great time. I mean, how can you not like meeting complete strangers for the first time and just connect?

An artist attending the Live Art show read the latest El Muerto comic while in the shop and ended up drawing me a pin-up in the store! Thanks to the very talented Joe Torres for the speedy art:

I actually sold some pieces to kids that evening. I hope a photo turns up, but I drew an octopus character of mine (fancy that!) on a bright pink posterboard, and a little girl had her parents buy it! And her brother commissioned me to draw Blade (from the Wesley Snipes films). BLADE!

That evening must have been Kid's Night for me. Another boy, probably around 9 or 10, came up to me and remembered me from the last time we were at GEEKS in November. He had previously bought my Muerto comics, and this time he picked up the Muerto DVD. I was really happy to see a young El Muerto fan. Not just for the obvious reason of having a 'True Fan', but it told me a couple of important things.

One: I've created some comics that, while I would never label them 'Kid's Comics', appeal to a wide range of ages. I've always thought my comics would appeal to High School and up. Maybe not filled to wall-to-wall action, but a compelling enough hero and story to keep people's interest. And while I don't necessarily pepper the El Muerto stories with profanity, sex and violence, I feel comfortable with PG-13-style visuals. I mean, the main character had his heart ripped out of his chest in the origin story! But the content is what you would find in, say, and Indiana Jones flick.
So it's really fullfilling to see a 10 year old read the comics and go along for the ride. The fact that I know he will be able to watch the film, as a fan of the comic, just makes me feel everything I've done has been once again validated.

The other thing I learned, or at least had re-affirmed, is that El Muerto has broad appeal. Not just between men and women, or Latino readers and non-Latino readers, but also young and old. A real connection as a character that people can care about, or at least feel a strong compulsion to follow. The visual elements I've always known have been a strong suit. I unashamedly say that: I know it's an extremely well designed visual, simple in it's execution, heavily based on looks that people adopt for Day of the Dead festivals. But I'm glad I'm the one who took that look and made a comic book character out of it. It helps promote the Day of the Dead culture, and helps me build a character.

I'll expand on this subject of 'Signature Characters' in an upcoming post, but thanks to Aleksi for being such a great El Muerto fan! I even gave him an El Muerto button I was wearing (which he pinned on his jacket later in the evening!). I guess kids ARE reading comics....!

Let me leave off with one last piece I did that night: Rom, SpaceKnight! Yep, that beloved comic book from Marvel Comics back in the early 1980s.

Thanks to everyone who came out and checked out the show. The next Cartoonistas Live Art show is this Valentine's Day at the West Covina Library!