Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weapon Tex-Mex vs El Muerto: The Inspiration

So the other day my mind was struck with a stimulating bolt of creative lightning. Once it hit, my brain was sizzling from the primal energy of the idea. So I made an executive decision and immediately put my current comic book project on 'Stand By' status, as I want to get this new book produced and sent to the printer by the end of March.
There's a couple of reasons I'm doing this. One is that I have a couple of upcoming conventions in a few months, and I want to release a new book at these specific shows. But what really gave me the actual idea for the story was the influence of some old favorites of mine growing up.
 As a kid, watching this on TV, I thought it was the coolest idea ever. Having watched the original KING KONG numerous times, and my fair share of GODZILLA flicks, it as a real kick to see the two of them going at it. I'm not going to say I was real media savy, but I knew it was a rare treat to be able to see the two of them in the same movie, as Godzilla was a Japanese property and King Kong was a homegrown movie monster.
Even the superheroes got into the act:

I actually had this comic in a collection my older brother had given me in the early 70s. Not only was the Jack Kirby cover just screaming to me to read it, but the whole idea of Captain America fighting with Daredevil was a thrill. (Spoiler alert: Daredevil had a fever, causing him to recklessly attack Cap who was performing some exhibition fighting matches for charity!).

By the mid-70s, when I was buying my own comics, the greatest cataclysmic event in my young comics-reading career happened, right before my very eyes!

SUPERMAN VS SPIDER-MAN (1976), the first-ever superhero crossover comic between DC Comics and Marvel. And the really sweet thing about this was that it was printed up in the giant-size Treasury Edition format both companies were using at the time for special projects. This is truly one of my favorite comics of all time. The Treasuries measure about 10" x 13", and the size of the book really added to the impact of the historical nature of the story. In 1981 they followed up with this whopper:

As a comic fan, there is such a special excitement about seeing superhero characters from rival companies battle it out. It's not something that's going to be done frequently (if ever again), and they each bring their own extensive histories to the battleground. (If you want to read more about these books and Treasury Comics in general, check out my friend Rob Kelly's entertaining and informative site, TREASURY COMICS.COM)

In the mid 90's I became a fan of Go Nagai, the Japanese cartoonist who created both MAZINGER Z and DEVILMAN, two very famous properties of his that debuted in their own mangas (Japanese comics) in the early 70s. Amazingly, within a few months of launching each title, there were animated series for both characters. And within a year of that, there was the MAZINGER Z Versus DEVILMAN animated movie!

Here we actually have a crossover between one creator's characters. Such a smart move, because this way any profits (outside of whatever arrangement he made with the animation studio) go into Go Nagai's production company, Dynamic Productions. Plus he's getting two of his fan bases to watch one of his productions. And don't discount the merchandising possibilities, either...!

Just a few short weeks ago I learned that Go Nagai had published a brand-new team-up in manga called DEVILMAN Versus GETTER ROBO (another of his creations). I actually ordered it from a Japanese bookstore in Little Tokyo, and while I can't read Japanese, I was able to follow along somewhat with the story.

I really think this book is what really got me thinking about matching up two of my characters in one story. El Muerto and Weapon Tex-Mex seemed like an interesting fit. While the Tex-Mex stories (two short stories to date) are done much more in a humorous light, the El Muerto comics are created with a more melodramatic tone, with the gothic elements and human interest aspects blended in with the supernatural/superhero tropes.  

They're actually the first two comic characters I created that saw print (Tex-Mex in 1997, Muerto in 1998). So it's been a battle 14 years in the making! (Hey, gotta use that in the PR!)

I've already finished drawing the rough draft of the comic (the thumbnails, as we sometimes call them) and you can see the cover at the top of this post. (By the way, this is slightly revised from my first attempt at the cover. If you want to compare, check it out at my DeviantArt page).  

I'll be sharing some behind-the-scenes progress reports here for the next several weeks. Next post in this series will be how I came up with the actual story and the struggle I had in creating the rough draft. Taking two different types of characters, and putting them in a brand new story was an interesting exercise in creativity. Plus more insight into why these two characters actually work very well for what I have in mind.

And if you haven't seen it yet, my first ever WEAPON TEX-MEX comic is available to read, for free, right here on this very site, just click here, or scroll up to the top green tabs.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upcoming shows: Latino Comics Expo and San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival

Two upcoming shows I'll be participating at include the first-ever LATINO COMICS EXPO being held on May 7 & 8 at the CARTOON ART MUSEUM  in San Francisco.

(Logo and illustration by Jose Cabrera)

The LATINO COMICS EXPO was an idea between myself and Ricardo Padilla (he curated my COMIC POP solo art show last year in San Francisco). We envisioned an event that would encompass a wide range of voices from Latino-themed comics from a variety of artists of Latino background. We approached the Cartoon Art Museum and they were very supportive of our proposal. I'll be posting up the names of confirmed artists next week, so please check back and make plans to attend!

(Robot monster painting by Ted Seko)

This is our 4th year in a row presenting our San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival. When I approached my fellow Nuvein Foundation Board Members with the idea of hosting our own local comic book show, they wholeheartedly agreed and now we have what promises to be our biggest show yet. Again, details on this will be forthcoming, but we're eyeing a June event this year.

When I started self-publishing my own comics years ago, it never occurred to be to one day become an organizer of shows. But sometimes you have to just take a step forward and make things happen that you believe should happen. Of course, nothing like this gets done on it's own, so thanks go to the many people involved in helping put these events together.