Saturday, November 24, 2007

WizardWorld Texas wrap-up!

I'm playing catch-up here,but this is my report from last weekend's WizardWorld comic convention in Texas. With the Thanksgiving holiday two days ago, and my radio show starting earlier this week, I'm kind of backtracking, but at least I'm getting it blogged!

My good friend, and fellow comic creator, Dallas-based Richard Dominguez had actually approached Wizard about hosting a group of us for a 'Latinos in Comics' panel. With the able assistance of Richard's agent/rep, Ken Levin, Wizard generously agreed to not only fly me in from Los Angeles, but also some artists from Florida and Puerto Rico! Here's a pic of me, Richard and the artist of the newspaper strip, BALDO, Carlos Castellanos.

While Richard is the reason we were all brought together, a last minute scheduling conflcit meant that he had to leave us for the weekend. His brother Robert was able to watch his table for the weekend though. Richard is the creator of EL GATO NEGRO, and in fact was a big influence on me in creating my own character. Thanks Richard, we couldn't have done this without ya!

One of the other artists in our 'Comic Book Companeros' group was David Alvarez, the creator of the YENNY comic strip that appears in Puerto Rican newspapers, as well a brief run as an Alias comic book a year or so ago. David's worked quite a bit in animation as well as the Looney Tunes comic book. He's a super talented guy and incredibly funny! Armed with a quit wit and a library of cartoon voices, this guy is riot to hang around with!

Seated next to me in our Artist Alley tables were the creators of the BALDO newspaper strip, which is syndicated in over 200 newspapers. Writer Hector Cantu and artist Carlos Castellanos. I had the pleasure of meeting these two this past March at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. They actually have a completed Baldo animated series to their credit! It's currently in the distribution deal phase. Carlos was my roommate for the weekend in the swanky Sheraton Hotel next door to the convention center. Again, these two guys and myself instantly bonded with one another and led to so many insane moments over the course of the show!

Friday was the first day of the show, and there was an EL MUERTO film screening scheduled that evening. Thanks to Ken Levin and Wizard to arranging that. Apparently, the Arlington Convention Center was scheduled to close at 6pm that evening after the end of the show. But after much behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the center agreed to let us screen the film 'after hours'. I introduced the film and stayed around for the first half hour or so of the screening. Afterwards, I snuck out for about an hour and wandered the hotel. I even went up to my room and sat around for awhile. Sometimes I get restless watching the film with an audience! Also, I had no idea how the crowd would react to the film. Maybe because I was in Texas, or screening the film at a Wizard show (which is generally aimed more at the 'maninstream' comic fan, in my opinion), I just wasn't sure what to expect.

But I came back to the screening for the last 10 minutes and was happy to find that the response was very enthusiastic. I like to think that part of the reason was the relative novelty of the cultural elements in the story, and also that our film is a smaller, character driven piece, as opposed to the huge, expensive CGI-heavy blockbusters most superhero comic book movies have to be nowadays. We had about a half hour Q&A after the film, moderated by Hector. The fans were genuinely supportive of the film. My sense was that the whole indie-comic-turned-film really responds well to people. I was really satisfied to hear one of the fans come up to me afterwards and actually tell me "I'm sorry that they changed the name of the film (to the DEAD ONE). EL MUERTO is a much better name". He even mispronounced EL MUERTO but to hear this guy in a slight Texas drawl tell me this just reinforced my position on the whole name-change incident. I'd love to keep screening the movie to audiences all over the country. And not for the obvious reason of selling more DVDs (which I did that weekend!) but just to see how different types of people react to the film.

Here's me, Ken Levin and Hector after the Q&A.

Ken Levin, I found out as I talked to him over the weekend, has a long history in comics. He was one of the co-founders of First Comics back in the 80s, which was one of the first major independents in the early days of the direct market. He reps quite a few comics creators and has been involved in lots of comic-to-film deals. Sounds to me like Ken would make a great guest on my radio show!

I had a great time meeting new fans throughout the weekend. Sales on the comics, prints and DVDs were brisk, and makes me hungry to go to more out of state shows. Here's me talking to my travel agent booking flights all over the country for next year!

What would a comic convention be without some superheroes and monsters? Rorschach, getting ready to become next summer's Hollywood IT-boy.....

A Yuletide greeting from Alien and Predator!

And I even got a celebrity endorsement from Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Just what the doctor ordered!

Hector Cantu brought some taco shells along with him on saturday, which he used for promotion! He rolled up flyers for BALDO in the tacos, but I told him we could upgrade that idea. I said the four of us (David, Hector, Carlos and myself) show sign the tacos and give them away to fans! Here's a very limited signed and sketched Javier Hernandez EL Muerto original!

I also got to meet other artists at the show. One of them was Paul Maybury, whose new book, AQUA LEUNG, with writer Mark Smith, is due out from Image early next year. Paul's what I refer to as one of the newer, younger artists. And I don't mean that in a negative way at all. It's just that I admire how productive he's been in his early 20s. I had been visiting Paul's blog over the last year, and since he now lives in Texas, he decided to make a visit to Wizard, so he stopped by my table. He also gave me the original ink drawing to an impromtu El Muerto pinup he sent me a few weeks earlier! Check out the colored version of his sweet pinup.

'The Comic Book Companeros' had a panel on sunday, which was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Moderated by Ken Levin, we got to share our experiences in creating our individual books and how we see ourselves as artists of Latino backgrounds. All said, I had a really good time in Texas. And I have to say, that the after-show escapades I had with David, Hector and Carlos have to rank amongst my most memorable. I've been doing shows for a good decade, and these guys are among the funniest and friendly I've ever had the pleasure to know. I hope we one day get a chance to get together again!

This was taken saturday night at a Mandarin Chinese restaraunt, the site of some of the most hilarious tear-inducing shenanigans ever! And all of us sober, mind you!! All I can say about that eveing is Hector is one swell guy for being a good sport, and David rocks for having appropriate porno music as one of his ring tones!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I give thanks that PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO launched!

My premiere podcast for PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO went off with flying colors! The show went live this past tuesday, Nov. 20 at 5 pm Pacific Time and is now available at PerspectiveRadio.Com Just click the link with the PCBR logo and you can listen to my inaugural interview with Jason Martin, a Portland, Oregon area artist whose self-published book, SUPER REAL, is a fun romp through the world of reality TV via a superhero group book.

Jason and I have been good friends since we met a few years ago at Comic Con San Diego, and he's a very savy individual who's worked hard on his comic book, so I thought he would be a great guest to debut the show with. And judging by how fast our 45 minutes whizzed by, I'd say he was a great choice! Thanks Jason!

Jason also contributed a very stylish pin-up to the Galeria Del Muerto gallery on the EL MUERTO/THE DEAD ONE DVD! Here it is:

The show runs an hour, so for the first 15 minutes I pretty much just introduced myself to my audience. Comic creator, filmmaker, and now radio host! To think all this happened because I got off my butt and created my own comic years ago. Is a radio show a natural progression from making comics? Maybe not. But radio, like comics, and film, is an outlet for expression. The EL MUERTO film came about because of a one-in-a-million shot (or series of shots). But I was ready to move on it. Same with this radio show. Check my previous post here to see how this radio show came about

So before the show, Renato Aguirre, one of the show's producers (me being the other!) and I were running a quick tutorial on running the board. This is a small, independent, DYI outfit, so you, as the host, pretty much have the controls to everything. Pressing the all-mighty BROADCAST button and controlling the songs and station I.D. tags! Everthing. Renato had given me a rundown last week, but it never hurts to 'make sure'! So the next thing I know it's 3 minutes to 5 pm! We pop on a song to lead into the show, then I have to hit the station I.D. blurb, followed by what I hope becomes my theme song, DAZE OF THE DEAD by Richard Odie and Johhny Franco.

FYI: Franco is an old friend of mine from way back. In fact, in 1983/84, while I was in High School, he opened up the first comic book shop in Whittier. Years later when I published my first EL MUERTO comic in zine form, he wrote a song inspired by the title of the origin story, DAZE OF THE DEAD! We ended up releasing it as a CD single limited to 102 signed and numbered copies. Playing it as the opening theme for my new radio show just seemed like a great place to reintroduce it to the public.

As DAZE OF THE DEAD is playing, we place the call to Jason and SHAZAM, we have Jason on the air soon as the song ends. Smooth.... Well, okay, I think in my opening, I may have stumbled over a word or two, but considering this is podcast live, I think I did okay. Once I got into the interview with Jason, I felt completely at ease. Granted, he's a friend of mine, but talking to another person about comics is not something that I have to force myself to do! Next thing I know, I'm getting the signal from Renato that we have only 8 minutes left. I was genuinely surprised that the time went so quick. I found a good spot to wrap up the interview then signed off by playing another song, "SENOR HERNANDEZ: WAY OF THE COMICS LONER" by Dr. T and The Sea Lions with Rabies! That piece was recently written by a friend of mine who's been a member of my El Muerto Message Board for a couple of years. I think it's a great little song and if you listen to the lyrics, a little too close to the mark!

All in all, a very successful launch. The folks at PerspectiveRadio.Com were very happy with it, Jason was a great guest, and I really had a great time. Very much looking forward to continuing with more guests and more shows.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wizard World Texas: Come see me this weekend!

On Friday night at 6pm, we'll be screening EL MUERTO, followed by a Q&A with me. On Sunday I'll be on a panel 'Latinos in Comics' with comic strip creators David Alvarez YENNY and Hector Cantu & Carlos Castellanos BALDO, and comic book creator Richard Dominguez EL GATO NEGRO
This is actually my first out-of-state show so it will be real exciting to get out there and see all the Tejano comic book fans! Stop by my Artist Alley table #2320 ( I should be there when I'm not on the exhibit floor looking for cool comics or hitting up artists to be guest on my new radio show!)

Here's a link to Wizard's website with downloadble PDF's of event schedules and such.

If you attend, please stop by and say hello. I'll have copies of the DVD for sale!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Listen to my interview from CinNews

The interview I did last week on CinNews is now archived and available for listening here. The show's host, Scott Essman, is a filmmaker himself. And like myself, a fan of comic book movies. We spent most of the show talking about our favorite, or least favorite, superhero movies! And we both agreed that Rocketeer is a way better film that it's given credit for!

We did of course talk about my own comic book film, EL MUERTO. And I took advantage of the time to announce my own radio show on Perspective Radio.Com, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO! It was cool being in studio with Scott for that interview, because in a few more weeks (Tuesday, November 20, 5pm), I'll be sitting in the host's chair talking to my own guest. I'll announce the name of my guest later this week.....

In the meantime, if you want to hear some geek filled talk about comic book movies, tune in to my interview.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Happy Day of the Dead to the living and the dead!

Me and Wilmer Valderrama after filming my cameo in EL MUERTO. In the heart of East Los Angeles at Evergreen Memorial Park.

Steve Ditko turns 80 today!

Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man and artist of true visionary status, turned 80 today. A very Happy Birthday wish to Mr. Ditko.

To celebrate his birthday, I watched my SPIDER-MAN 3 DVD I picked up this past tuesday. When Stan Lee and Ditko created Spidey back in '62, no one was even remotely thinking that one day they would have laid down the foundation for a billion dollar film franchise decades later!

This has been a big year for the Ditko fans. Marvel has released several hardcover collections including the 1000+ page SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS and the AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS that reprints tons of Ditko pre-Spider-Man sci-fi/monster stories he did with Stan Lee. And of course, the BBC IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO was all the rage when it hit the internet a few months ago (it's been put up and taken down numerous times on YouTube....and it's currently down again!).

The big new today is that Fantagraphics officially announced it will be publishing Blake Bell's long-awaited Ditko retrospective next June. This is the book that many of us are looking forward to. A career spanning, critical survey of one of the industry's premiere creators.

As an 8 year old discovering the love of comics, I was always intrigued by the uniqueness of Ditko art. And even now, decades later, I admire the man as much as an artist and as a person who stands his own ground and follows his own instincts. Here's a blog entry I wrote last year about a letter I once received from Ditko.

Again, a very Happy 80th Birthday wish to Mr. Ditko.