Sunday, November 29, 2009

Here comes 2010!

Black Friday, Cyber Monday.... And December's right around the corner. And that means Christmas and family and friends and even more food. It also means we all have to get ready for the New Year. Resolutions, endings and beginnings, promises, winding down and gearing up.

For some of us, that also means gearing up for our creative endeavors next year. One of them I can share with you is my first comic book of 2010. Still haven't nailed down the exact month, but I'd say look for a release in either February or March. I can tell you right now that it's an anthology featuring 7 stories. One of them will be an auto-bio story called "DOS MIL DIEZ: 2010". ("Dos Mil Diez" is Spanish for Two Thousand Ten...hence the '2010'!). It's not really a sequel, but back in 2000 I published a mini-comic called DOS MIL, which was an earlier autobio. I figured now would be a nice time to check back in with 'me' and see what's gone down over the last 10 years. I don't want to make this strictly a walk down memory lane though, so I hope to be pulling some interesting tricks out of my head for this one!

Here's a detail of the cover, at least the main illustration. More to comic later, of course.

Also coming up in early 2010, I'm contributing a short comic to an anthology of L.A. ghost stories, which I'll definitely share more news on as the time approaches. I also have artwork in two other comic books coming out in the next month or two. One is a pin-up for GHOSTFACE and the other is a full-color back cover piece for DEAD MAN HOLIDAY. It sounds oh-so-gothic of me, the creator of EL MUERTO, to be doing artwork for books called DEAD MAN HOLIDAY and GHOSTFACE, I know!! But what can I say folks, I'm ghosting for other publishers!

There are more comics on my agenda to schedule for next year, as well as several new events to follow up on, plan for, or inquire about. And just so many other things to address as well. The really good thing about scheduling all this stuff is the variety of skills they all involve. Projects like this keep me very stimulated, and pushes me to stay as creative and imaginative as possible in whatever I choose to do.

Photo by Ted Seko, cartoonist, podcaster and critical optimist.

Yesterday I was in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, checking out the mighty coastline. (What is it with me and coastlines lately?). Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the tides of ideas I have for new characters and comics and other projects I want to tackle. But really, how much time do you have in a week? Some folks would say to just commit to knocking these various projects out. And I suppose that could be done. But a lot of the ideas I have sometimes can't be developed to a solid presentation, at least for me. So these ideas are tossed back in the sea, where maybe they'll wash ashore after being polished by time.

There's one thing I realize about looking over the vast horizon of the Pacific Ocean though. There is so much potential in our lives, and it's amazing to me that it's all in our hands to attempt to achieve. The complete freedom to try is there. As most of us have experienced though, the waters can get really rough at times, fatal actually. But in the end, the ocean, like life, is only being itself. It really means us no harm, not personally. But it sure is offering up a heck of a lot of potential.

2010. Bring it on!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks..... for the memories!

Well, since most of us are carving up a turkey tomorrow, I think I should give some thanks. As this is my blog where I write about my artistic endeavors and such, I'd like to give a big 'Muchas Gracias' to the universe of inspiration I grew up with. I was born in the 60s, but really was a consumer of 1970s television, cartoons and comic books. In the 70s, we would have no shortage of reruns on the tube. Lots of shows from the 60s, as well as movies, would be readily available for us. Who says you need 500 channels to catch some good stuff on the telly?

The following images represent only a fraction of the things I wanted to share with you, but no need to fill up the page with hundreds of images and icons of what made my creative mind tingle in my personal Golden Age. Suffice to say that the images I've posted here represent an assortment of comics, cartoons, television shows, movies and other larger-than-life characters that in so many ways left an impression on me to later create my own stories and characters. Instead of showing all the artists, storytellers, etc who made this stuff, I think the eye candy speaks for itself!

There's one particular person I have to thank in regards to all the creative paths I've pursued all these years. My older brother Albert, shown here with me back a couple of years ago:

Albert, in case you hadn't heard me mention this before, was a collector of comic books, and something of an artist himself, back in the early 70s. I guess he came to a point where he wanted to do other things as he became a teenager, so one day when I was about 9 yrs old or so, he gave me his small stack of comic books. These were a goldmine of treasures! Most of the books were from around 1970, when he bought comics for about a year or so. I got the creme of the crop of Marvel books: John Romita SPIDER-MAN (as well as Steve Ditko Spidey reprints in MARVEL TALES), Jack Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR and THOR, Herb Trimpe HULK, Gene Colan DAREDEVIL, IRON MAN & CAPTAIN AMERICA, and on and on. There was even some DC Comics in the mix, BATMAN, SUPERMAN and others. To my young mind, these were just the most amazing thing ever. Larger than life heroes, decked out in colorful costumes, with some of the most imaginative artists creating thrilling pages and pages of action-packed stories.

Albert was also drawing quite a bit back in those days, mainly some stylized cartoon baseball and football players. Funny thing is, I never took to sports at all, but I sure as heck wanted to draw like big brother Al. So the comics and the drawing came from him, which no doubt led to searching out for my own comics, which at that time cost 25 cents a piece. I think the leap from comic books to the Six Million Dollar Man and tons of other shows was a natural progression.

I sometimes wonder what would I have been like if my brother never collected comics himself, or never filled up a sketchbook with his own creations?

I shudder to think I would be writing a sports blog or something else today!!

Thanks Albert...couldn't have done it without you.

And thanks to all them characters and creators who filled my hours with cracking good entertainment!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Portland 09: As good as it gets! PT 2

Sunday came quickly, and that meant it was time for the Portland Comic Book Show (if you just walked in on this blog, this is Part 2 of my wrap-up of my weekend trip to Portland! Part 1 can be found here).

Breakfast consisted of a trip to the infamous, 24 hour VOODOO DOUGHNUTS on SW 3rd Avenue. VOODOO's doughnuts come in all shapes and sizes, from a doughnut encrusted with Captain Crunch cereal to doughnuts shaped like...well, doughnuts for bachelorette parties!! I mean, these folks make all kinds of exotic, erotic and eclectic types!

Me, I finally got the one I flew all the way up to Oregon for:

The bacon maple bar!! Now that's a breakfast power bar I can sink my teeth into...

We soon made our way to the Memorial Coliseum and once we entered the exhibit room and I had a look around the place, I got the sense that this was an old-school comic convention. There were tons of back issue dealers, as well as vendors selling all kinds of comic-related/superhero emblazoned products. Drinking glasses, action figures, vintage toys. Plus I saw numerous publishers and artists selling mini-comics, zines, comic books, graphic novels. No tables for out-of-work actors or retired wrestlers were to be seen. Although I would have been excited if Portland-based wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was signing!

The show was held in the basement of the center, adding to the old-school ambiance. Richard Finn, whose been running the show for 31 years, really kept on top of accommodating his guests. It's always great to have the Guest status and the perks you get with it. Makes you feel that you bring something of value to a convention. And the free box lunch wasn't too bad either!

One thing I was more than happy to do as part of my 'bringing value' to Richard's line-up was to conduct a panel. Jason Martin, my fellow cartoonist and host in Portland, had mentioned to Richard a few months previously that I could do a panel, and so I did. I was actually pleased to see a bigger turnout than I had expected, given the size of the show and subject. "D.I.Y. Comics: The Secrets of Self-Publishing", a presentation I first debuted at GEEKS Comics in my hometown of Whittier, CA, certainly kept the audience's attention. I think my approach, keeping the presentation focused on my real-life experiences, really let's people appreciate what us self-publishing cartoonists have to go through to get our work, and names, out there.

I never sugarcoat the experience of self-publishing. In fact, I find that sharing some of the more difficult times I've been through and then explaining how I worked through them actually benefits the audience in that they see how perseverance pays off. There were some insightful questions asked, and I would try to answer them with an example of something I myself had been through. I've found that over the years I try to keep my anecdotes as 'real world' as possible. Theories and step-by-step plans aren't the only way to connect to an audience, especially if you want to lead by example.

Jason working on a commission for a fan.

I've been neighbors with Jason at a few shows in the years I've known him. We met at San Diego Comic Con back in 04 (I believe). One of the things I've always admired about him was his skills at using the internet for networking and branding himself. He's actually a lot more savvy at that than a majority of my dear friends and fellow cartoonists (sorry folks, you know who you are!). He and I will talk a lot about the industry and how we as DIY creators fit in and how do we get our brand names in front of more people. Shop talk, basically. He and I don't actually have a lot of the same reading tastes, as far as the current stuff on the market, but that doesn't prevent us from yapping away on our topics.

A friend of mine from Portland was exhibiting at this show as well, Kevin Cross!

Kevin is known to one and all as a Rad guy. He's currently getting ready to launch his web comic MONKEY MOD, and a bit of animation to go along with it. Kevin is a freelance illustrator as well as co-host of a popular podcast BIG ILLUSTRATION PARTY TIME. The show, co-hosted by Joshua Kemble, deals with the ins and outs of freelance illustration. PARTY TIME is very informative, and I have to say, it's delivered with a happy dose of good-natured fun.

One of the nice benefits of hosting that panel was that some of the audience members would come by my table afterwards to chat and pick up some of my books. It's always a good thing when you make some new fans wherever you go, and if some of them actually get inspired enough to make their own comics, that's gives me even more satisfaction.

Overall, I had a great time at the show, and really appreciated being invited as a guest. I'd certainly consider coming back next year (and this time I would like to buy some of the cool things I saw the few times I walked around the hall!).

I was really looking forward to Monday, because Jason and I made plans to drive out to the Oregon Coast, about an hour from his home. Turns out to get to the coast, we have to drive through some mountains and forests! The rain started kicking in too, so it made for quite a drive. Well, Jason's used to it, but for me it was funny that I was sightseeing in ever-increasing high winds and rain! Once we got to the Coast, all bets were off!

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach.

You can see in that photo just how active the weather could get. There was one time we stopped at viewing spot where I opened the door and it flew open. We shut the door and smoothly drove off! Actually though, there was a natural beauty seeing these displays of Mother Nature along this beautiful stretch of coast. Most of the seaside towns were drove through were free of tourists. Many of the shops and restaurants were actually closed, but at the same time there was a nice ambiance about being one of the few vehicles driving through these villages.

There was one place I wanted to make sure we stopped at. My pal Kevin had told me the day before that if we stopped in Rockaway, we could get the best dang crab cakes at the Morning Glory Cafe. Well, we stopped in town and found the restaurant and...boy oh boy! Thank you, Kevin!

These crab cakes, with the sauce they provided, were heavenly and oh-so filling! Man, I'm craving one right now. These things were served hot off the grill and made for a great meal. The gent working the place, (and thank God they were open!!) had a tanned, fishermans face, with a hospitable demeanor. He was actually from Idylwood, CA (down near Palm Springs) and about 6 years ago came to Rockaway, saw the coast, and moved up there. I told him I was thinking of doing the same!

These picturesque little seaside towns, with dense pockets of trees on one side and the rocky coast on the other, make for a very enjoyable ride. Through in some turbulent weather and you get one memorable adventure. Another place we stopped at along our drive was Tillamook, a coastal town famous for it's cheese. The place to visit is the Tillamook Cheese Visitor's Center, a unique experience where you can visit the plant where they make their cheese and diary products. They even have an ice cream shop where you can buy their freshly made products. Which we did!

From the observation window looking down at the cheese processing plant.

Besides buying some ice cream, we also were able to sample the wide variety of cheese produced at the plant. At this point, I don't need a comic book convention to get me up to the Northwest again!

The following morning, Tuesday, we were watching the news and the lead story was the thrashing the coast received from the high winds and rain. A building in one of the towns had it's roof ripped off! Tami, Jason's wife, laughed at the fact that he and I were out there sightseeing, enjoying the drive and eating ice cream! Sometimes, sometimes, you gotta enjoy life even when it's being difficult, ya know?

In the 12 years I've been making comics, I've been to many conventions in lots of cities. All of them have been memorable and enjoyable. But this trip, with the one-day show sandwiched between days of endless exploring and adventure, has to rank as one of the best. Thanks to everyone I met along the way while up North. And thanks to my hosts Tami and Jason Martin. Even their cute little chihuahua, Choco, took a liking to me. Last year Choco was a little leary around me, but this time he would sit aside me and be a chum.

Tami, a great conversationalist, and super nice person!

And a tip of the hat to Mr. Jason Martin, a real stand-up guy, dedicated comic creator, and the best tour guide I could hope for! (Let's do it again, huh??)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Portland 09: As good as it gets! PT 1

I got back home Tuesday from my trip to Portland, OR., and lemme tell you, I wish that wasn't the case!

I traveled to Oregon for the Portland Comic Book Show on Sunday, Nov. 15. I was actually a Guest of the show, with a table and plane ticket tossed into the package. My trip started Friday morning at Long Beach Airport, a rather small and quaint little airport that reminded me of something from the Rocketeer, with it's 1940s So Cal art deco look.

(This photo is from the airport's website, which is way nicer than the one I took)

Starting off with this sunny, palm tree-lined classic, pcituresque airport, my trip was only going to get better from this point onward...

Upon arriving in Portland, I asked my friend Jason Martin (and gracious host who was listed on the convention website as 'co-sponsor' of my appearance!) to take me to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK PIZZA! My good friend and LA-area cartoonist Michael Aushenker (and no slouch in the dining recommendation department!) had recently been to Portland himself and directed me to try this pizza!

I don't often come across New York style pizza in LA, but this one was excellent. That's Jason giving his approval, with my two slices in the foreground awaiting my hungry maw!

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK PIZZA is located on 23rd Street, one of the many little cool, bohemian neighborhoods making up this city. Just on this block alone were dozens upon dozens of eateries, galleries, shops and an old-school theatre showing martial art films! I knew we were off to a good start.

Traveling through the hills to get from downtown Portland to Jason's home in neighboring Beaverton, we passed through what I love to call Bigfoot Country. Dense forests of trees with pockets of homes scattered throughout. The weather was cold and between showers, but after that pizza, it wasn't anything to worry about.

Arriving at my room at Casa Martin, I was greeted by this lovely sign, courtesy of Jason's wife Tami. And I was also welcomed in by their dang cute chihuahua, Choco!

(Tami must have used a lot of chalk on that sign, cause I think there was some chalk dust in my eye.....)

Saturday morning was rung in with a homemade breakfast courtesy of Chef Martin (Thanks Jason!). Eggs, sunny side up, hash browns, maple syrup flavored sausage and toast....Mmm mmm. Believe it or not, that wouldn't be my only meal of the day whipped up by a cartoonist!!

A good part of our Saturday was taken up with a whirlwind tour of no less than 4 comic book shops, each one located in these wonderful, unique neighborhoods. Also, there are no less than 3 comic book publishers in the area. Milwaukie, OR. is the home of DARK HORSE COMICS, the other local publishers being Oni & Top Shelf.

(Gotta agree with this sentiment!)

Across the street from the Dark Horse building was the comic chain, THINGS FROM ANOTHER WORLD, and a cool antique mall that had an old-fashioned soda shop in the back. My camera batteries died out so I couldn't take anymore pictures, but what a great place. Later, we moved onto EXCALIBUR COMICS, which was located down the street from an old movie theater called The Bagdad. They were showing THE WARRIORS that evening, but we already had dinner plans. EXCALIBUR had a huge back issue selection, as well as old Treasury Edition comics and lots of b&w comic magazines from the 60s and 70s.

The other shop we went to was COSMIC MONKEY, another huge comic shop filled with isles of just about every trade paperback in print! The had an upstairs loft jam-packed with mini-comics, zines and underground comics. While we were there, local writer Brian Michael Bendis walked in with out-of-town guest David Mack.

Later that evening, Jason and I visited FLOATING WORLD COMICS, a real nice shop featuring lots of independent comics and a great collection of art books. They even have an art gallery. I actually contributed to a ROM, SPACEKNIGHT art show a couple of years ago. While we were walking to FLOATING WORLD, we came across this little gem:

This is the infamous 'Church of Elvis/24 Hour Art Gallery'! I could not believe what I was looking at. A more bizarre and ridiculous idea I could not imagine, which is why I loved it! Like an ATM, it was embedded into the wall along the street. Except instead of getting money, you give it money and see art and um, praise Elvis!!?

After the coin-operated Elvis church, we attended a dinner party hosted by comic book writer/inker Karl Kesel. Karl usually hosts a get-together for the out-of-town creators attending the Portland Comic Book Show, and he actually cooked up about 6 main dishes, everything from a shrimp lasagna to a pork dish and even a red velvet cake! What an amazing generous thing to do. Other artists who attended were Gene Ha and Steve Lieber, and some other artists from Portland's PERISCOPE STUDIOS.

Me, Jason and our affable host, Karl Kesel.

The food was amazing, the dinner conversations were engaging and Karl's collection of original art was a joy to behold (Dick Sprang BATMAN, Chester Gould DICK TRACY, Alex Toth SPACEGHOST, Milton Caniff's STEVE CANYON..etc). Thanks to Karl for hosting us, and for Richard of the Portland Comic Book Show for arranging the evening. I hadn't even been to the comic book show yet, and already I was having more fun and comic goodness round the clock! Yeah, Portland is my type of town...

I'll stop here at Pt. 1, and will dutifully post Pt 2 of my Portland trip within the next 24 hours! Come back for my DIY Comics panel at the show, a drive along the Oregon Coast, and the best dang crab cake you could ask for!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Portland Comic Book Show this Sunday, Nov 15

I'll be heading back to Portland, Oregon this weekend for the PORTLAND COMIC BOOK SHOW on Nov. 15. Last time I was in Portland was for the 2008 STUMPTOWN show, and I've been looking forward to returning to the city for awhile.

Many thanks for Richard Finn of the convention for having me as a guest, and for my good friend Jason Martin, creator/publisher of SUPER REAL, for co-sponsoring my appearance.

I'll be exhibiting at table # 166, bringing with me my two newest books, MANGA MUERTO Vol. 1 & MAN-SWAMP, along with my other Los Comex goodness. Also, I'll be conducting my "D.I.Y. Comics: The Secrets of Self-Publishing" seminar at 1:30 PM. The Portland Comic Book Show will be held at the Memorial Coliseum from 10 AM - 5 PM.

This convention is more of a 'mainstream/general audience' show (as opposed to the very alternative/indie vibe of STUMPTOWN), which I'm looking forward to as it gets me connected to another type of audience in the area. Situations like this open up possibilities for new readers, so for me that's always an exciting prospect.

Really though, it gives me a chance to get back to Portland. I enjoyed my last trip out there, and hanging out with my friend Jason for several days will allow me to explore more of the city. Since last year I've actually given some thought to the possibility of moving up there, but certain things would have to fall into place. We'll see.

At any rate, it's a new, out-of-state convention for me, so that's the main reason for going. But a little vacation time sure can't be a bad thing. And one of my many To-Do's is a visit to the VOODOO DOUGHNUT shop, where they make all kinds of unique doughnuts like this little Bacon and Maple gem!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A video interview I did for JOURNEY INTO BEING

I was recently interviewed by Anh Lottman, the founder of JOURNEY INTO BEING, a non-profit "whose goal is to support organizations and/or individuals to become empowered through self-expression". For her series of interviews with artists, she kindly asked me to one of her subjects.

At about the 17 minute mark (click HERE) there's a very informative segment where I provide some commentary on my, at the time, in-progress comic book story, MANGA MUERTO. I hadn't done something like this before on camera, so I think it provides an interesting walk-through on my creative process for creating a story.

Thanks to Anh for the interview, and cameraman Dustin Nguyen!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Saturday night's Cartoonistas meeting (actually, party!) was just what the doctor ordered after a rather sobering post I made earlier that day.

This momentous event was hosted by Cartoonista RAUL AGUIRRE JR. Yep kids, that's right, the host of the very lively MAN VS. ART podcast!

That's Señor Aguirre, in the red shoes, sitting comfortably under one of his lovely paintings. Raul is in fact such a whirlwind of artistic energy that my camera can only capture him as a blur even as he's sitting still!!

Raul and his lovely wife Hortencia were more than generous to host us at their wonderful home, which seems more like an art gallery and working studio space. Surrounded by all kinds of artwork, you really get a feeling for the love this couple has for art.

And another thing you get at Casa Aguirre is food. Lots of great tasting food!

Hortencia told us she was up til 2:00 AM earlier that day prepping all the food! Her homemade chicken parmesan pasta was especially exquisite, as was the one with ground beef. Cartoonista Grasiela Rodriguez, who by the way is one of the super troopers of the group, enjoyed one of Hortencias homemade brownies.

(You can see a bit of the dispenser in the foreground that was filled with several gallons of Hortencia's homemade horchata!! Man was that delicious!!)

It's a Cartoonista tradition to eat and eat along with all the art that gets created. Although that evening, even though we brought our sketchbooks, some of us didn't crack them open (I'm one of the guilty ones). What we did do was talk about comic artist's Neal Adams 'Expanding Earth Theory', Frank Miller's fall from grace (although some of us are hoping he actually starts making great comics again!!) and why the Godfather films are so &*^%$* great! I also shared with the folks why I first saw the EXORCIST on a sunny Saturday afternoon with all the living rooms curtains open (and yeah, I was in my 20s!!).

Some important business was conducted. We crowned two new artists into the Cartoonista fold.

. The man in the middle is Geo Brawn IV, comic book creator and artist, and to his left is an animator and cartoonist who came to us very highly recommended by Raul Agurrie, Mr. Luis Escobar.

I had actually met Geo on a few previous occasions, and took a liking to his get-up-and-go attitude. Luis I had never met, but found him to be very approachable and I think he'll be a great addition for us. Glad to have you two gents aboard.

Here's Co-Founder Jim Lujan looking satisfied with the festivities.

When Jimmy approached me about the idea of Co-founding the Cartoonistas with him, I'm not sure either of us truly expected how enriching this would be for us. Certainly I've made some new friends and associates in the group. And all the artists over the last two years have shared great experiences with one another. The live art shows we perform, many for young audiences, have been the things we're most proud of, and pretty much all the Cartoonistas feel the same way. Jim and I have talked about continuing to make the Cartoonista brand even better, and working alongside all our talented members, I think we're heading that way.

Another highlight for me last night was receiving a very special gift from Hortencia:

She made me a trio of sugar skulls, customized for El Muerto! I was floored by this wonderful surprise. Her creative talents, and generosity, are not to be overlooked. Not only are these sugar skulls labor and time intensive (made from scratch, naturally) but what a great idea! She truly earned my deepest gratitude, and I was flattered to have received these.

It's gonna be hard to top this Cartoonista get-together, but we like a good challenge!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Kirby was right. 'MADBOMB' can destroy the world...

Wrestling legend Freddie Blassie was right when he asked,"What the hell ever happened to the human race?!"

Two shooting sprees back to back, unemployment rising higher and higher, Congress gridlocked over healthcare reform....And two wars continuing with no goal, or end, in sight.

Hate to end off the week with such an angry look at things. Especially after the positive posts I've made here the last several days. Tonight I'm getting together with a bunch of cartoonist friends, so after some food and art talk, I'll be back to my old self again.

In the meantime though, without all the partisan sycophants chiming in, I'd like to know when we're going to get this country back on track.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Message in a Bottle (or the ' EL MUERTO movie boomerang effect!')

Four years ago, after filming had ended on the EL MUERTO movie, I knew it would be some time before the film would be ready to be seen. What with all the post-production involved, and lining up a distributor, etc.

Besides anxiously awaiting the completion of the film, I had a thought in my mind that I felt would come true. We would either get a national release of some sort, or at least hit the film festival circuit and then get a DVD release. We ended with latter, the film having been available on DVD since 07. But my thought was this: Once the film was made and then released to screens or DVD and/or cable, it would have made the same cycle every film makes. It gets made, it gets released, and then it is permanently 'out there'. Just look at YouTube for pretty much anything that's ever been recorded, whether it's a movie, cartoon, commercial or some type of filmed footage. Everything is out there in one way or another.

It's like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into the ocean. Eventually down the line somebody finds it and opens the bottle and reads the message. They'll have some sort of response to whatever was written.

My thought regarding the movie was that once it's done and had it's run, we'll all move on to our next project. The cast and crew of EL MUERTO moved on to their next movie projects, I jumped back on the drawing board.

Well, some two years later, after the film's release on DVD, people are still finding that bottle, and luckily, through the internet, I can hear about it.

A week ago I came across a review for EL MUERTO on a blog called ROSCOE'S DREAMS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS. Roscoe just happened to catch it one night on TV and had a strong, favorable reaction to it. I really admire the passion that he had for the film. Thank you, Roscoe!

A few days ago I received an email from a High School student in Colorado. For his Spanish class, he was assigned a project where he has to choose a Mexican-American artist to profile. Turns out this student had seen my comic book work before ('fascinated by your drawings' he wrote) and wanted to do his report on me. I was more than happy to assist him, and flattered of course. Yesterday they actually watched EL MUERTO in his Spanish class, reporting that "We just finished watching the live action film today. I must say I was very entertained by it. Had a very dark side to it which kept the whole class engaged". Man, that's great to hear. I love how this happened in a Spanish class, too. I wrote him a couple of thoughts on some questions he sent me. Hopefully I'll find out how his report was received.

I bring these two instances up because they just occurred, and within days of each other. But they really demonstrate the 'message in a bottle' scenario I mentioned earlier. Mind you, I have read my share of opinions of people who weren't too happy with their experience watching the film!(Or judging it based only on seeing the trailer, or even just an image!). But a long time ago I finally trained myself to not let those negative comments affect me. Of course, it's my prerogative to let the positive opinions and experiences have an encouraging effect on me!

I'll look forward to the next time someone gets the Movie Muerto Message in the Bottle...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

EL MUERTO costume parade through the years!

Earlie today I received an email from a Joe Rodriguez in Waco, TX. Turns out Mr. Rodriguez recently caught EL MUERTO on cable and was inspired to dress up as the Aztec Zombie for Halloween!

Joe credits his wife Nicole for all the hard work making the suit. The bones and skull logo were cut out of felt material. A very nice version of the movie Muerto costume! These are yet another one of those unexpected moments I relish as a the creator of the character. It's totally a 'Wow!' moment for me.

As you can see, the whole family, including their daughter Luna Azul (Blue Moon), got into the 'spirit' of los Muertos. They even won a Halloween costume contest as a family! A double Thumbs-Up to Joe, Nicole and little Luna Azul.

Speaking of costumes, here's one from last year. My El Muerto.Com webmaster, Rick Rodriguez, sent me this pick after he dressed up as Muerto for Halloween 08.

Gotta love it when your webdesigner/host gets in the mood and makes his own El Muerto costume. Right On, Rick!

Keeping the costume theme going, about 8 years ago I had my own El Muerto costume made. No, not for me! I had it made so I could have a 'spokesMuerto' appear with me at conventions and other appearances. I had a total of 4 different guys wear the suit over the years. Since most of them appeared before I had a digital camera, I have to dedicate the time to scanning the photos. But here's one from 2006 San Diego Comic Con. The gent in the suit is Jon Alonso, a Portland, Oregon- based musician who emailed me some years before to approach me for a project. Well, turns out he was going to be in San Diego during the show and I asked him if he would do me a favor...

Jon's a singer in a band, so this Muerto naturally gave off more of a rocker vibe.

And rounding off the world of Muerto costume culture, I have to say with a huge amount of bias, that this is one of my favorites!

Yep. Me and Wilmer Valderrama, standing in the middle of a graveyard in East LA, a few moments after we filmed our scene together for EL MUERTO.(If I had to compile 20 photographs to highlight the favorite moments of my life to this point, that would definitely be one of them!). El Muerto's costume for the film was designed by Alexa Stone, who really added a great touch with the little bones lining the costume. My pancho was donated to me after filming by the producers, and the paper-mâché mask was made by me and my friend Steve Guerra.

Thanks to everyone whose ever donned an El Muerto costume, whether I knew about it or not! And thanks to Joe Rodriguez for getting the ball rolling, in regards to me blogging about all this, by sending me his pics.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Noche de El Muerto....

Okay, another post about Dia de Los Muertos. My second post about it today, and my third post for the day!?

I have a very passionate fan of my comic El Muerto, and I'm glad to say he's a very good friend as well. His name is Jose Iturriaga. Back when I had a Message Board on EL MUERTO.COM, he was one of the early, and frequent members.

Well, about an hour or so ago, Jose sent me some pics of the little Dia de Los Muertos display he and his wife made in their home. A very personal, elegant little scene, with some artwork they bought recently. But check out what, or who, is also in the pictures!

Yep, that little figure in there is El Muerto! That figure was actually made by Jose, a completely customized 12" action figure of El Muerto. Jose actually made two: one for him and one for little ol' me! He based his figures on the film version of El Muerto, as played by Wilmer Valderrama.

Check out how lifelike the figure looks, sitting amongst the other mementos, looking at the sugar skull in his hand. Wow.

When I first saw these photos, I was just enjoying the nice setup Jose had built. Of course I was also happy to see his El Muerto figure in the display, too. But I started to think about how years ago I used to joke how I wanted El Muerto to become as identified with Dia de Los Muertos the way people automatically think of Santa Claus as inseparable form Christmas. I mean, let's be realistic and think of the, um, commercial results that could benefit the creator!

But seriously, when I saw Jose's display, and think about how much he both celebrates so much of his Mexican culture, and totally became a fan of both the El Muerto comics and the movie, well, I can honestly say that I'm truly humbled by the fact that my character can become a little special thing to people in that way. Honestly, companies invest millions into trying to tie their product into people's consciousness, and their commerce. I can't speak for those companies, but the feeling I get from this type of result from fans of my comic work...Well, it's worth to me a lot more than a large check I could deposit in the ATM.

Don't get me wrong for a minute: I am open and eager, and anxious to receive money for my work, lots and lots of it. But this....Well, this is really, really great. I am thankful that there is a Dia de Los Muertos, which took many people many years to bring to the level of celebration it enjoys in many parts of Mexico and here in the U.S. And I'm thankful for everyone who's path I crossed over the last 11 years of creating El Muerto. For fans, and friends, like Jose.

When I emailed him a while ago for permission to use his photographs, he was totally cool with it. He mentioned that he was actually watching the EL MUERTO movie! There are tons of Christmas movies, and everyone likes to watch their favorite Halloween movies on October 31. But how cool that I can say we now have a film available to watch on Nov. 2, the Day of the Dead. (And it actually portrays the sentiments found in the holiday, it's not some bloody, gory zombie horror fest). I still have about an hour before Dia de Los Muertos gives way to November 3, so I think I'll watch EL MUERTO too!