Monday, July 24, 2006

San Diego Comic Con 2006

I didn't exhibit this year at Comic Con, but I did attend the show on Saturday and Sunday as a 'civilian'. Too be honest, I had a really good time. Mostly I spent the days hanging out at the tables of several friends. I just sat back while they would sell their wares, occasionally covering for them as they took a break. This year I was able to experience the show in the way I did back before 1998, in my pre-publishing days.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usKicking it with Michael Aushenker!

Of course, I would be asked by many people on why I wasn't exhibiting, or what new comic I was working on, or the most popular question, when was the movie coming out! Well, as my producer told me before I left: "If anybody asks, tell them the film will be done in August". So there you have it!

The common topic about San Diego recently is the size of the show and how it's grown monstrously in size. I remember a few years ago when the movie studios started getting in on the act, promoting their films and bringing in the talent for panels and signings. We all feared that comics would be squeezed out. Or at least the self-published variety. From what I hear from many of my associates who couldn't secure tables in the Small Press area, that may be true. But I also have to say that with the recent phenomenon of the New York publishing houses launching graphic novel imprints, and establishing a presence at Con, comics are more in demand than ever. As someone who has benifitted from a film deal himself, I can't argue the influx of the film industry into the Con. And video game manufacturers also use comics as content for their systems. And I think the amount of fans who come for all these things certainly helps the Con, but maybe, just maybe, they might get exposed to a self-published comic or two.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHanging with Galactus!

What's I really love about the Con is the sheer variety of things you see and experience there. Panels on Golden Age artists, copyrighting your own creations, Christian comics, and the digital application of comics. You see people dressed as Mexican wrestlers, Galactus, TV characters, and the endless variations of Star Wars personalities. Vendors selling out-of-print art books, home made zines, 1970s Marvel Super-Hero Slurpee cups, and T-shirts featuring just about any character that has ever been draw, animated or appeared in a movie! There are now oppurtunites to make a pitch to a publisher for a graphic novel, submit your portfolio for consideration on a monthy title, showing your work to a video-game company or animation studio, or meeting an actor from a favorite childhood TV show. You can network, sell, buy, collect, play, masquerade, listen, participate or just plain enjoy any umpteen number of presentations, celebrities, booths, vendors, events, screenings, readings, contests, demonstrations, etc.

It really has become the nexus of all things cool! If it's comic related, nostalgic, hip and cutting edge, printed, manufactured, animated, painted, sculpted, filmed, digital, audio or whatever, there's a good chance that it came from a comic book or strip. It certainly came from someone's imagination. Created for fun, personal vision or for profit. It's all there for the right price, or just make the time to catch it.

And next year, I'll be back, behind the booth. With new Muerto comics. Another new property or two. Various bits of merchandise. And one way or another, that Muerto movie!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAt attention with Rhode Montijo!

For more photos, follow this link to my Message Board

Monday, July 10, 2006

Double-Scoop-Of-Art Day

I'd like to share two pieces of artwork with you. The first one is an illustration I created last night to accompany an interview I did for an upcoming book about Latino comic book creators. Written by Professor Frederick Aldama, the book features interviews with my friends and fellow cartoonistas Carlos Saldana, Rhode Montijo, Rafael Navarro, among others. (And yes, these fellas are linked off to the right!). Slated to be published next year by the University of Texas Press, this book will, as far as I know, be the first major volume to cover the work of independent comic creators of various Latino backgrounds. I was copy-editing the interview over the weekend, and had to send off the illustration along with the edits.

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I have to say it was great to be able to have a chance to look over what I said in the phone interview. I've done some interviews where I've read it after publication and thought, "OMG! Did I say that?!" Frederick was a very well informed interviewer, as his questions delved into the individual artist's cultural upbringing and influences, as well as such topics as the 'unique' distribution we have in this country regarding our comics. And yes, I looked over what I wrote about that topic and STILL sent if off!! A great feeling though to be able to actually be a visible part of that particular group within the overall comics industry.

The second artwork I want to share is this painting I'm working on.

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This measures 16" x 20" and is acrylic on canvas board. I got into the habit of painting on canvas boards about 2 years ago. For quick, more simplified paintings, I like using this material. To show you a little bit of my process in creating, I took these pics. First pic is, of course, the drawing! I first designed this in my sketchbook, but it didn't take too many sketches to get the compostion. It funny, but I used blue pencil to lay it out on the canvas, then went over it with pencil! (I guess this way if I ever photocopy the painting, the blue underdrawing doesn't show up!)
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Here's the first pass of paint. Sometimes I start with the figure, but this time the background just called out to be painted first. I don't why I started with the background though. Maybe it was just to see the defining shape, or maybe it was just to see what all that yellow would look like! The reason I picked the color yellow was A) I usually pick a red background when doing a color piece for El Muerto and B) since I was thinking in terms of a resurrection, Easter came into my mind and yellow just seemed appropriate!
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Here's the next pass of colors. The black suit, hair, neck and white t-shirt and logo. It's always interesting to paint the mariachi suit because it's black, so I always have to decide if I want it flat black and dark gray with black shadows. The hair is usually more densely black, with some blue highlights (yes, that comes from Superman's blue-highlighted hair I dug as a kid!). What I like about the design of El Muerto is that from the back, you actually see his logo reversed out nicely against the black jacket. And the white patch of t-shirt you see below the short jacket is a nice design element, I think. I always liked that Superman had an S-symbol on the back of his cape and Spider-Man had that cool spider/ladybug design on his back.....
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More blending of colors and indications for wrinkles and shadows. Adding more texture and density to create more weight and really build the figure. I don't claim to have the skill to produce photorealistic paintings, but my personal taste lies more in an expressive creation. In college, lo those many, many moons ago, my first life drawing instructor walked by my charcoal studies and told me "You've got a great expressive style, don't ever let anyone change that." I think I've pretty much let that be my mantra for the last 20 years... As an artist and a person!
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I'll come back to the painting and tighten up some details, but I like creating these spontaneously to capture that particualr mood in a quick session or two. Plus, I've already started 2 more paintings in the same size and medium. We'll see those later!