Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DEMOTLION DOVE debuts at SuperMarket at MELTDOWN comics!!!

This Sunday, March 30, I will be debuting the DEMOLITION DOVE Preview Sketchbook! A magazine-size limited edition book featuring 10 pages of sketches and commentary, plus a 4 page Demoltion Dove tale!!! This is my brand new character and I'm very excited to be working on this.

SuperMarket will be held from 12-6pm at MELTDOWN Comics in Hollywood. Meltdown is one of the great LA stores and they've always been big supporters of independent and small press.

The DEMOLITION DOVE Preview sketchbook will contain 16 pages of Dove goodness. A 10 pg. sketchook section with character designs and notes plus a 4 pg. Demolition Dove short story, pencilled, inked and lettered by yours truly. The comic will eventually see print later this year under a brand new imprint I'm starting with my friend Ted Seko. It's called XOMIX COMIX and the books we'll publish under this banner will be mini-comics in the form of photocopied, limited run publications. Underground all the way!

EL MUERTO actually started as a b&w photocopied book, so call me superstitous or frugal, but I have a good feeling about proceeding this way with the new book.

I will of course have copies available through this blog after the SuperMarket, so don't fret, all you out-of-towners! This book will most likely be kept in print at least until the actiul comic book comes out (which is scheduled for the Fall of '08), but ya never know. I'm also going to do a limited number of 'blank' covers which will allow for unique hand-drawn covers by me. Not sure yet of how many, but they'll be signed and numbered and once they're gone, that's it!!

One of the sketches inside the book.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wizarld World LA 2008- The Wrap Up!

Got a little behind here on my blogging, but here’s my report on Wizard World Los Angeles, held the weekend of March 14-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

I’ve been doing Wizard World here in LA for several years now (it started back in Long Beach). It’s more of a ‘mainstream’ comics/pop culture show, catering to the same people who read Wizard magazine. That would be guys (and they definitely target male readers) who are into Marvel and DC comics, play a lot of video games, and gawk at the pictures in Maxim magazine. Not exactly my demographic….

But actually, WizardWorld, like any show, will always have a curious group of people with a very wide range of interests and tastes. So with that in mind, I decided to exhibit once again. Also, the fact that I live about 20-25 minutes away makes this a much more manageable show than out of town events. And the clincher this time was that my good friend, Jose Cabrera asked me to split a table with him. A better table price and partnering with such a great guy?

Yet another reason this particular show was a no-brainer for me: I had a lot to promote. Fresh from winning BEST FEATURE for EL MUERTO at the previous week’s Whittier Film Festival, I had to share the news about that! Also, I passed out flyers for my radio show as well as flyers for the San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival. I’ve helped organize that event with the folks from the Nuvein Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to introducing the community to the arts. The Nuvein Foundation actually provides support for my radio show, and in fact the head of the Foundation, Enrique Diaz, is also the Executive Producer of PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO.

And the real reason I wanted to attend Wizard was to debut, or at least unveil in public my brand-new comic book creation, DEMOLTION DOVE! I had slapped together a quick DEMO DOVE Myspace page a day or so before the convention, but this showing the character in person. I have to say, I was honestly surprised how popular the character had turned out to be that weekend. Granted, people were only reacting one promo poster, but the design of the character, the name and the juxtaposition of his traits really caught people’s fancy. I really had no idea what to have expected. For the last 10 years I’ve only really been know for creating EL MUERTO in comics, zines, mini-comics and other forms of art. I’ll definitely be using this blog, and radio show, to talk more about the DOVE, but for now you can enjoy the same preview the Wizard audiences did!

In fact, the very first day, Friday, I had a fan of mine ask for a DEMOLITION DOVE drawing! Not one to disappoint, or miss a great photo op, I had him take a photo of me drawing. I’ve known Alejandro some years now via APE and Comic Con. He’s an enthusiastic comics fan but also an extremely interesting and intelligent person to talk to. In fact, we started talking quite a bit about the politics in the DOVE storyline as well as the events going on right now.

Another fan came by on Saturday and asked if he could have a sketch. I’m thinking I’ll be drawing El Muerto or the Dove…..but then he mentions ‘Daredevil’! I was really excited by the chance, to be honest. Anyone who knows me will know my love for the old-time classic superheroes (that’s pre-1985!). So I busted out this Daredevil for Edwin:

Edwin, and his girlfriend Crystal had come down from Las Vegas for the show. He had actually seen the Muerto movie on DVD and really enjoyed it. He ended up picking up some of my comics. I found out that when he bought the DVD, he didn’t get the mini-comic book that was supposed to be included. So I told him to come back to my table on Sunday and I would have a copy of that comic for him. Luckily I have a small stash of those! He really appreciated the gesture, and of course I really appreciate having such a great fan of my work.

Edwin even asked Jose for a Daredevil sketch, which really surprised me. Jose’s a great cartoonist, but his web comic is more geared to satirical/absurdist humor, not superheroes. So what a pleasure it was to all of us to see him knock out a Daredevil. I love it when artists who aren’t really doing any type of superhero/action books bust out a superhero! Most of those type of artists actually grew up on the same comics as the rest of us geeks anyway!

My friend Michael Aushenker didn’t have his own booth at this show, but he was stationed with a publisher he’s working with. Michael is going to be writing an upcoming miniseries for the publishers of the GUMBY comics.

Here’s Michael with the GUMBY crew. On the far right you see creator Art Clokey’s daughter Holly Harmon.

Michael, besides being a great friend, an ingenous writer and a whiz bang artist, is always up for some laughs. Here’s he and Jose hanging out with some friends of theirs. Seriously, they’ve seen these Mario Bros. guys at various shows and they all seem like old buddies!

Michael joining me and Jose at the Crying Macho Man/Los Comex corner:

I’m told I was totally geeking out when I approached these folks! Check them out, the cast of Spider-Man from the comics! John Romita-style Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacey…along with Aunt May, Peter Parker and the Black Cat! Man, it was like walking into the comic book. Lucky ‘Peter Parker’, walking around with all them hot Spidey-Babes. Even the cutey playing Aunt May wasn’t bad!

Our neighbors at our booth were Kelly and Nico, writer and artist of the comic book TALES OF THE OZARK HOWLER. Kelly is a writer of books and screenplays, and in fact the comic book is an adaptation of one of her novels. I thought it was pretty cool that the novelist herself was self-publishing her own adaptation. Nico is a 19 yr. old artist working on his first comic. They were very nice to have as neighbors, and I wish them luck in their joint endeavor.

I’m know for not really being into STAR WARS (blasphemy, I know…) but I had to shoot this R2-D2. Looked like a Jedi R2. with the dark paint job! Anyone out there know if this one is in the movies??

My old chum Tony came by my table and literally dropped to his knee to get a better peek at this DEMOLITION DOVE character! Always nice to surprise your old college buddies, huh?

Speaking of surprise, I was asked by someone for a cheesecake pinup! The guy bought some stuff from me, then asked for a drawing. Thing is, he asked for Betty Page! Luckily my friend Tony was still around and he was carrying his Rocketeer graphic novel with him, which I used for reference!

Dave Stevens, creator of the Rocketeer, had passed away earlier in the week. Tony was honoring his memory by wearing that 15 year old Rocketeer T-shirt to the con. So, in a way, it was a nice way for me to pay tribute to Stevens as well. Dave Stevens was a huge admirer of Betty Page and in fact based the Rocketeer’s girlfriend on Betty.

There was an artist sitting across from me and he had heard I was from Whittier, same as him. Of course we hit it off immediately. Ruben Martinez is his name, and he’s a toy designer at Mattel. He had previously worked with Stan Lee at Stan Lee Media and in fact had Stan write the intro for his new art book he was selling at Wizard. Stan Lee wrote the intro for his book! I bought a copy of course. It’s a stunning book, full of pencil and computer artwork, showcasing Ruben’s keen imagination and great sense of character design. Me and Ruben talked about the growing contingent of comic artists/illustrators in Whittier, with some plan to do something with all that talent! Oh, and I asked Ruben for a Muerto sketch in my signed copy of THE AFTER LIFE!

Another artist I ran into was Keith Knight, one of the great cartoonists working in the field, in my opinion. Ketih’s strip is at times autobiographic as well as political/social commentary. His craftsmanship and entrepreneurial skills are to be admired. As he was inscribing my copy of his new book “I LEFT MY ARSE IN SAN FRANCISCO” we were chatting and catching up on one another. I noticed he kept glancing off to his left as he was doodling, then realized “Oh damn, he’s drawing me an El Muerto!” Sure enough, there in my copy of his new book, I have a one-of-a-kind Keith Knight El Muerto sketch! I’ll be danged if this ain’t one of the best things about this whole self-publishing bit!

I’ll definitely be back at Wizard LA next year. Too many reasons not to. I was actually pleased to hear from several people there that they had seen the Muerto movie either as fans of the comic book or discovering it on their own. I got a chance to talk to one fan at length about the movie and the comic. He had a few things about the movie he wasn’t happy with, but he and I were able to have an honest discussion about it. Another lady came by and scooped up a couple of 11x17 prints. She was a huge fan of Dia De Los Muertos and wanted to add these pieces to her collection of fine art. I actually knew one of the pieces she already had.

This really was, for me, a special show. I met old Muerto comic fans as well as new admirers of the movie. I promoted the heck out of my new radio show and the upcoming Comic Book Festival. Sold my share of comics, zines, buttons and prints. Met some other great artists. And even received an extremely enthusiastic response to my new character.

Yeah, I’ll be back next year for sure!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jose Cabrera and a WizardWorld LA wrap-up tonite!

My guest on my radio show tonite is Jose Cabrera, creator of the CRYING MACHO MAN online comic! Me and Jose shared a table at Wizard World LA this past weekend so we'll share our stories about that. AND: find out about my brand new comic creation, DEMOLITION DOVE!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008



I myself did not attend the Award Ceremony saturday night, but I was informed today by the Festival that our film, EL MUERTO, has won the BEAST FEATURE prize at this first ever Whittier Film Festival! Wow...Nice to be part of a historic first!

An award-winning film, based on my comic book! Like Inspector Clousseau says, "That feel's good!" Thanks to the Whittier Film Festival. And also thanks to the GEEKS comic shop in Whittier for hosting our Q&A. Thanks to my good friend Brian Cox, the screenwriter & director of the EL MUERTO film. Thanks to my producers, Larry Rattner and Susan Rodgers, and our executive producers, the Leones. Thanks to all the hard-working and passionate actors and filmmaking crew.

Thanks to my familia, without whom.... Thanks to my many friends and fellow creators for their continued inspiration. And a deep thanks to the many fans I've been fortunate to have over the last 10 years. No doubt about it, the most generous, loyal and patient fans anyone could ask for!

This is good. This is real good!!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

GEEKS Q&A: Most excellent!

A big GRACIAS to GEEKS comic shop for hosting our EL MUERTO Q&A at the Whittier Film Festival friday night!

Man, that was a fantastic evening. We had a near capacity crowd at the screening (I'd say about 85-90% full). Among the audience were some long-time friends from Whittier, one of my neighbors and some Friends from MySpace. But the overwhelming majority were people just curious to watch the film, and that's always great to see. I introduced the picture, sharing with the folks my own upbringing in Whittier and how the film actually came about. The screening was held in the upstairs ballroom of MEMORIES (my history with that particular building was previously posted about here), and I stayed to watch the first hour or so of the film with the audience. I never tire of experiencing the audience reaction to the movie.

The audience awaiting the film at MEMORIES

Some happy fans at the event.

I left the screening before it ended and caught up at dinner with Brian Cox, our screenwriter/director. Brian made a point of coming out from a busy schedule in Hollywood to attend the Q&A, knowing how special this night was for me. From Day One he's been a stand-up guy, and a real professional. I met him over 6 years ago, initially because of his interest in EL MUERTO as a property. In the ensuing years we made the film and formed a friendship. We were joined at the restaurant by Susan Rodgers, the film's Co-producer. Susan, who I've referred to as my 'big sister' on the film, hadn't had an opportunity to attend a festival with us, so I'm glad she made this one. She actually lived in Whittier for a year back in the 80s, so for her this was a little bit of a homecoming.

We made our way to GEEKS comic shop at about 9:15 and entered a room full of fans! Martin Espino, a musician who worked on the film, was providing some musical entertainment, playing the music he specializes in: pre-Columbian Mexican. GEEKS is a beautiful store, and for a comic book shop it's exceptionally classy, not one of the men's-club-house atmosphere comic stores used to be known for! I had lots of EL MUERTO artwork on display throughout the store, making the evening particularly memorable.

GEEKS before the Q&A.

Included among the exhibition was the costume I wore for my cameo in the movie. Hanging on the right is a great EL MUERTO painting by my friend Michael Aushenker (his artwork is included in the GALERIA DEL MUERTO Special Feature in the EL MUERTO DVD).

I also brought this collection of custom action figures made by other artists. The two 12" action figures in the back were made by a super EL MUERTO fan and good friend Jose Iturriaga. The the three figures in the front, from left to right, were customized by Melissa Daniels, Alex Montijo and Manny Elias. It's such a kick to recieve these from artists, and I'm honored that people would spend their time in creating these figures.

I customized one of the Whittier Film Festival posters with some El Muerto doodles...

The actual Q&A was wonderful. Brian, Susan, Martin and myself fielded questions for about an hour. I was of course asked about the inspiration for El Muerto, but also questions about my initial feelings about handing over my creation to a group of filmmakers (the answer, of course, was that the whole experience in working on the film was educational, involving and ultimately satisfying). But there were plenty of questions that were addressed by Brian and the others as well. One of the reasons I love seeing my fellow filmmakers attending these events is that they can see the impact that the film has on people. I hear it all the time, because I'm always in contact with fans. But for Susan and Brian, as they move onto their next film projects, they don't often get a chance to hear all the great comments from people who actually enjoyed the picture. There were plenty of autograph and photograph requests for all of us filmmakers, which was also great to see everyone participate in.

(l-r Martin Espino, me, Brian Cox and Susan Rodgers)

A surprise visitor to the event was a close friend of mine, Rhode Montijo. Rhode lives in Oakland, but was down in Bakersfield to speak to an elementary school. Even though Bakersfield was still 2 hours away from Whittier, he had told me he was going to try to attend. Well, when I walked into GEEKS, there he was! Rhode's been a great friend and we're each tremendous supporters of one another's work for the last 10 years. We used to exchange comments on each other's debut issues (he created a comic called PALBO'S INFERNO) and have been able to exhibit together at various shows over the years. Rhode actually painted an EL MUERTO portrait that I printed as the back cover to the KING SIZE EL MUERTO #1 (I told the audience that and sure enough, the guy had numerous requests for autographs that evening!). A good sport, a great artist, and a true friend.

How could the night have been better? Screening the movie in my own hometown. A Q&A inside a great comic book store? It was really cool when introducing the filmmakers to the audience at the shop. My own introduction was the long-winded "and I'm the creator of EL MUERTO, the Associate Producer of the film and the host of PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO!". (Never pass up a chance at self-promotion!). I don't know if it's good or bad, but I'm getting a lot more comfortable talking with a mike in my hands! Nothing like a captive audience.....

But really, I continue to be extremely grateful for all that's happened to me as a result of starting the first Muerto comic back 10 years ago. At the same time, I feel there will be other things to both come from what I've created (or collaborated on) and new creations. In some ways, finally screening the film in my hometown is a completion of a huge circle begun back in the late 70s when I used to buy my early comics at BOOKLAND on Greenleaf. Back then, there were several used bookshops I would frequent on the weekend, looking through the piles of back issue comic books that they usually had a box or shelf reserved for. Just filling my collection with more books, and my head with dreams.

My friend Bert, who got posters and comics signed for her son. And me....dreaming...

Saturday, March 01, 2008


In what has to be one of the great serendipitous moments in the last 10 years since creating my own comic, my own hometown of Whittier is holding it's first ever film festival, with EL MUERTO screening on Opening Night!

On Friday, March 7 at 7:10 pm, EL MUERTO will be screening at one of three venues assigned for the festival, MEMORIES. A large two-story building originally built in 1902, MEMORIES is a full function dance hall, bar, eatery. They host many swing dance events as well as live bands and weddings. But it occurred to me one day recently that I have a personal history with the building. Back in 1983, while in High School, I used to work in that very building when it was a Jerry's Big & Tall Men's Clothing Store! Unbelievable! My friend at the time, Adrian, had a brother who owned the store, Jimmy. Well, one day I asked Jimmy if I could work for him part-time and so I think I worked there for about a year or two. Sometimes, near the last several months or so, times got slow at the shop and I would actually be working there myself, opening up and/or closing the shop myself. It was a fairly large, single room store, and there would be hours when no one would show up. Just me, sitting in that old green leather and steel chair, probably reading some comic books or alternating between James Bond and 'Mack Bolan,the Executioner' novels! The idea that 25 years later, I would be screening the movie based on my own comic book in that very location would have seemed like the most outlandish premise! Back in 1983/84, I certainly had not even thought up the idea of EL MUERTO to be honest.

Maybe you can't go home again, but you can go back to work!

And in another case of full circle.... There will be a Q&A following the film in another venue. At 9pm, GEEKS comic shop on Greenleaf will be hosting a Q&A with my EL MUERTO writer/director Brian Cox, So-producer Susan Rodgers, musician Martin Espino and myself. Sal, from GEEKS, and myself have been working out a nice program. In addition to the Q&A, I will have lots of EL MUERTO artwork on display. Not just my original comic book pages, but lots of memorabilia from the last 10 years of EL MUERTO : out of print mini-comics and zines, the various custom statues and action figures I've been fortunate enough to receive from friends and fans, my costume from my cameo in the movie and a few other things from the Muerto archives!

(Click image to enlarge)

What's cool about the fact that GEEKS is on Greenleaf (the main street in the historic Uptown Whittier section of the city) is my long history there as well. It was on Greenleaf where the old venerable book store BOOKLAND was located (now closed for about 10 years or so). BOOKLAND, in the late 70s and 80s, was where I used to by a lot of my comics, including some of those beloved Marvel trade-paperback books like ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS and HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY, two books whose influence on me is immeasurable. Also, back in 1998, before I took that trip up North to the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose, CA to debut my first EL MUERTO comic book, I stopped by the then-current comic shop Pegasus Hobbies to leave the first copies of the comic.

Greenleaf, and Whittier in general, have had a life-spanning influence on my life. It's going to be real nice to to make some new memories. Maybe some person in the audience that night will be inspired to pursue their own creative impulses one day.
I like to tell people that Whittier is the early home town, and High School, for both Richard Nixon and John Lassiter (Pixar founder), and that one day I'll be known as the third famous person from Whittier. But really, the fact that we're screening the film in Whittier is so satisfying, especially during this 10th year anniversay of my having created the character.

Famous or not (and who really needs the headache of being famous), I like to consider myself one extremely lucky and grateful person!