Sunday, February 08, 2009

CARTOONISTAS back at GEEKS:The Report!

Last night's CARTOONISTAS Live Art event at GEEKS was a true celebration of art and liveliness! This is the second time we've performed there and we were glad to have GEEKS ask us back. I was the first Cartoonista to arrive, and there were already folks waiting for the show!

We had arranged to have some press there for the evening. A photographer from a local paper came to get some pix for an interview we did the previous week at our Cartoonistas meeting. And we also had a crew from the local Time Warner cable network come down for a story. I had met the producer when he interviewed me last year at my radio show, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO, and kept in touch with him to promote the Cartoonistas.

The photographer from the paper was pressed for time, so he asked some of us to start drawing before we finished setting up! For some reason, I kind of locked-up..I literally could not think of what to draw. Strangely, having to draw 'on t he spot' froze me up for a second. But, I dived into my own stable of characters and drew a quick sketch of Demolition Dove. Afterwards, I was adequately warmed up (I guess!).

Co-founder Jim Lujan and Grasiela Rodriguez quickly moved into Cartoonista mode. Jim took the coveted place in the front window display (which always draws a crowd of curious pedestrians).

Jim even busted out some acrylics later and between his witty banter and dazzling display of art, he packs in a full house!

Ms. Bernyce Talley made it all the way from across town to set up an easel and work her magic:

Ted Seko and Will Caulfield set up at a table and created their works:

I'm glad we had some good traffic throughout the night, despite some periodic deluges of rain that evening. I was also very happy with the media coverage we got, because that always guarantees we at least get our name and brand out there. For me, personally, I had a great time. I mean, how can you not like meeting complete strangers for the first time and just connect?

An artist attending the Live Art show read the latest El Muerto comic while in the shop and ended up drawing me a pin-up in the store! Thanks to the very talented Joe Torres for the speedy art:

I actually sold some pieces to kids that evening. I hope a photo turns up, but I drew an octopus character of mine (fancy that!) on a bright pink posterboard, and a little girl had her parents buy it! And her brother commissioned me to draw Blade (from the Wesley Snipes films). BLADE!

That evening must have been Kid's Night for me. Another boy, probably around 9 or 10, came up to me and remembered me from the last time we were at GEEKS in November. He had previously bought my Muerto comics, and this time he picked up the Muerto DVD. I was really happy to see a young El Muerto fan. Not just for the obvious reason of having a 'True Fan', but it told me a couple of important things.

One: I've created some comics that, while I would never label them 'Kid's Comics', appeal to a wide range of ages. I've always thought my comics would appeal to High School and up. Maybe not filled to wall-to-wall action, but a compelling enough hero and story to keep people's interest. And while I don't necessarily pepper the El Muerto stories with profanity, sex and violence, I feel comfortable with PG-13-style visuals. I mean, the main character had his heart ripped out of his chest in the origin story! But the content is what you would find in, say, and Indiana Jones flick.
So it's really fullfilling to see a 10 year old read the comics and go along for the ride. The fact that I know he will be able to watch the film, as a fan of the comic, just makes me feel everything I've done has been once again validated.

The other thing I learned, or at least had re-affirmed, is that El Muerto has broad appeal. Not just between men and women, or Latino readers and non-Latino readers, but also young and old. A real connection as a character that people can care about, or at least feel a strong compulsion to follow. The visual elements I've always known have been a strong suit. I unashamedly say that: I know it's an extremely well designed visual, simple in it's execution, heavily based on looks that people adopt for Day of the Dead festivals. But I'm glad I'm the one who took that look and made a comic book character out of it. It helps promote the Day of the Dead culture, and helps me build a character.

I'll expand on this subject of 'Signature Characters' in an upcoming post, but thanks to Aleksi for being such a great El Muerto fan! I even gave him an El Muerto button I was wearing (which he pinned on his jacket later in the evening!). I guess kids ARE reading comics....!

Let me leave off with one last piece I did that night: Rom, SpaceKnight! Yep, that beloved comic book from Marvel Comics back in the early 1980s.

Thanks to everyone who came out and checked out the show. The next Cartoonistas Live Art show is this Valentine's Day at the West Covina Library!

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