Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EL MUERTO to appear in CRYING MACHO MAN web comic this weekend!

El Muerto will be appearing in Jose Cabrera's CRYING MACHO MAN online strip this Friday, October 30th!

Jose's been creating his CRYING MACHO MAN for 5 years now, a satirical, irreverent look at the silly, stupid, tragic things we all go through. I've seen his art evolve over the years, and as an artist I admire the growth he exhibits as his line work becomes more fluid and elastic and his inking becomes more expressive and evocative. Certainly the man's always had a wicked sense of humor, which he applies so strongly in his strips.

He's got two book collections out now, with more on the way. For the past year now, he's been in Mexico on a Fulbright Scholarship. His Mexican adventure has been wonderfully captured by he and his wife Naomi on their blog OUR YEAR IN MEXICO. By January, Jose will be back in Los Angeles, with all new kinds of cartooning adventures awaiting him!

In the meantime, let's all enjoy the upcoming El Muerto appearance this coming Friday. Jose and I talked about working together on a project, so I thought that handing him my little dead boy for a day would be fun. Basically, he came up with the gag, ran the rough draft by me, and then inked the final piece. Because this is CRYING MACHO MAN, don't expect one of my angst-filled, Mexican telenovela melodramas/haunted hero routines! No way, Jose! This is Crying Dead Man courtesy of the pulse-pounding Mr. Cabrera! I couldn't be happier with this appearance, and thanks to Jose for letting me be a part of his strip.

Last year, you may recall, El Muerto appeared for a 5-part appearance in the nationally syndicated newspaper strip, BALDO. That also ran over the Halloween/Day of the Dead weekend, and I'm glad to once again have El Muerto appear in another strip over the same weekend. Maybe I can make this a tradition. Any other web or syndicated cartoonists wanna have El Muerto guest-star in your strip next Halloween/Day of the Dead?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The 2009 APE report, Pt. 2!

Continuing my memories on this past weekend's Alternative Press Expo at the Concourse in San Francisco. Pt. 1 was posted yesterday, which you could read by scrolling down....

It wouldn't be an APE without another one of my long-time friends, Rafael Navarro. Creator of SONAMBULO, this guy is a seasoned convention veteran, traveling across the country and selling loads of his comics and unloading tons of charisma everywhere he goes. (If you look closely, you'll see him in the EL MUERTO movie!)

For the last several years, I've been listening to a great podcast called FISTFUL OF SOUNDTRACKS, hosted by Jimmy Aquino. AFOS is a show about film scores and soundtracks, with plenty of music and deft commentary by the host. There are times when Jimmy gets on an Ennio Morricone kick, or busts out some Blaxploitation funk. It's a really great show, and one I love to listen to as I draw. Jimmy stopped by my table back in '07, and I was glad to see him make another visit to APE this year. Jimmy also writes and draws an online comic THE PALACE, and was the writer on one of the short stories included in Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.

I was actually twittering with him a few days before (what, you aren't following me on Twitter?), as he was doing a live Twitter feed while podcasting his latest episode of his show. He was playing every single title song from all 22 James Bond movies, and he'd post a couple of tweets for each song, offering commentary and behind the scenes facts. I responded to several of his tweets because if you didn't know, I'm a complete James Bond fanatic! But, we'll have to leave that for maybe another blog!

Speaking of podcasting, I've been making my way into the podcast world for about 2 years now. My first show, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO, is on official haitus. But for the last year or so, I've been podcasting another show called JAVILAND, where I and a roundtable of D.I.Y. cartoonist/publishers will talk about various issues related to making comics and distributing them ourselves. Well, I've met other cartoonists who also podcast, and this year I got to meet one of them for the first time in person.

On the left are Jim Lujan and in the baseball cap, Kevin Cross. On my right is Mark Rudolph, who I met this past weekend for the first time, despite talking with him on numerous podcasts over the last year!

Kevin I met at APE several years ago, when he was working on a comic book called ZOMBIES AND BROKEN HEARTS. Kevin's latest comic project is a really cool looking book called MONKEY MOD, which he's developing as a web comic. Kevin hosts a podcast called BIG ILLUSTRATION PARTY TIME with Joshua Kemble, which deals with the ins and outs of freelance illustration. Kevin also co-hosts the GHETTOMATION podcast with Ghettomation King Jim Lujan! Ghettomation is Jim's term for very low-maintenance animation, which he manages to produce while still creating really imaginative, and funny, movies.

This Mark Rudolph guy...Well, he's quite the talent himself. A prolific podcaster, Mark is the co-host, with Jerzy Drozd, of the ART & STORY line of podcasts. ART & STORY is a weekly show where the two creators discuss the numerous aspects of creating comics. From choosing the best fonts for a particular story, to breaking down their pencil layouts to tell the clearest story possible, these guys really get into the nitty gritty of creating comics. Mark also hosts a podcast on Heavy Metal called REQUIEM! But when he's not on the mic, he's working on freelance illustration projects as well as his own comics. He's a really strong inker, and his attention to improving his skill has shown tremendously in the work I've seen from him over the last year.

Sunday was definitely my day for visiting and taking pics. This lovely couple is Melissa and John Narcomey, of High Tower Comics.

I met John some years ago at APE, as we were table neighbors. Lately, I've seen lots more of him recently, and in fact I'm currently working on a pin-up for his GHOSTFACE comic!

Met lots more people, both fans and fellow creators, but it's impossible to photograph every moment. Here's a shot of my table, with my MAN-SWAMP comic book (part of the Xomix Comix line I created with my friend Ted Seko) and MANGA MUERTO VOL. 1. I also increased my line of buttons, including the new, popular glow-in-the-dark EL MUERTO skull button!

I felt a real sense of accomplishment in having two new books to debut at APE. I've never been able to release two books within a few months of each other, and in fact I'll be releasing another book in the beginning of 2010!

On the Monday after the convention, I called into the ART & STORY ALIVE podcast and shared with host Jerzy Drozd my impressions of not just doing the APE, but what it takes for us self-published cartoonists to make our convention appearances positive and productive. I chime in on the fist half of the show if you want to give it a listen.

I haven't been to WONDERCON but for a few shows years ago. And I haven't exhibited at San Diego since 2005. But there is something about the APE that I just love. The staff, starting with Director of Operations Justin Dutta , has always been exemplary. It could be the symbolic nature of the fact that I launched my D.I.Y comic book EL MUERTO there years ago in 1998. Probably the fact that alternative comics creators and fans congregate there every year is a plus. I always love the 6 hour drive up Interstate 5 as it allows for either some great quite time with only the sounds of my favorite music keeping me company or the non-stop chatter and banter with my fellow comic book friends. All I know is that, God willing, I'll continue to exhibit every year at APE with new books to sell, new fans to make, new friends to meet.

Thanks to Jim Lujan for this pic, and for drawing up the logo and skull face on my candy dish!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 2009 APE report, Pt. 1!

After 11 consecutive appearances, I can honestly say this APE was one of my all-time favorites! Debuting two brand new comics, meeting long-time fans and making first-time readers, traveling with old friends and meeting new ones, and talking with my fellow creators just adds up to such an invigorating experience. Here's Part 1 of my memories.

Creating my comics, coming up with stories and drawing the pages, that's the beginning. But taking the books to a show, and exhibiting for a day or two, and interacting with fans and friends, that's such a rewarding experience. It's not as simple as making a product and trying to sell to as many people as possible. No, for me it's creating my art and sharing it with people. Whether it's in an exhibit of some sort, or a place to sell at, it's my art to share and benefit from.

On an episode of my podcast JAVILAND, we once talked about True Fans. Well, here are two of mine:

Jeff, in the glasses, and Vince. Over the last several years I've had the pleasure of seeing these gentlemen at various shows, and they're always looking for my newest stuff. Vince told me he's been listening to my JAVILAND podcast, which reminded me that doing a regular podcast is a great way to keep yourself on your fan's radar, and make new fans as well. I had a few people come up to me and tell me they listen to the show as well. It's a great feeling knowing other things I do, in addition to comics, can provide some value to people.

One of the great joys of exhibiting at shows is the dinner after wards! This year, as in the last couple of years, a group of us gathered together for a meal at a great Chinese restaurant a few miles from the exhibit center. It's funny, but this year there seemed to be no one in the place except for three large groups of cartoonists! The table next to us had a roundtable of Keith Knight, Shannon Wheeler, Bob the Angry Flower and Larry Marder. Another table was hosted by my friend James Baker and his group.

My dinner pals included two of my cousins from San Francisco joining me and my friends. Starting from the left, here's Michael Aushenker, cousins Monica and Jose Manuel, and the always-enchanting Bernyce Talley after a 20 course meal of Chinese cuisine!

As if dinner wasn't enough entertainment for the evening, afterwards we took a very brief stroll to the Cartoon Art Museum. Even though there were about three current exhibits going on, in addition to the regular collection consisting of E.C. Segar, Milton Caniff, Roy Crane and other masters of comic art, I only was able to catch a few pieces here and there. Most of the time was chatting it up with my friends and others I met at the museum! And really, with things like this going on, who has time for classic artwork?! Check this out:

Yep folks, that's good friend and cartoon movie maker Jim Lujan lacing up the back of a gorilla suit, while my cousin Monica has the Ape by the, um..nipple...!!!

Anyways, Sunday at APE (the show, not the goofball roaming the museum!) was another day of selling and socializing. One of the highlights of the whole weekend was taking Jim Lujan on his first APE excursion. Jim, along with Michael Aushenker, were my carpool buddies for the whole trip. Jimmy and I co-founded the Cartoonistas, a group of artists in our local area back in LA. We've also been great friends pretty much from the first time we met, which I think is only about a year and a half ago! Jim's movies, animated in what he calls 'ghettomation' (check out his podcast!) are pure art. He's an incredibly talented and versatile creator, and his latest flick, JOHN HENRY UNICORN, is one of my favorites.

Jim wasn't exhibiting at this show, but was scouting it out. Well, he was convinced that APE is the place to exhibit at, and next year he promises to have his own booth selling DVDs of his movies! I can't wait to see him there. (Hope I get the 'friend discount'!).

My other carpool passenger was Michael Aushenker, cartoonist as well as writer for both BACK ISSUE magazine and his 'Ditkotomy' column in DITKOMANIA, a fanzine about comic book iconoclast Steve Ditko. Mikey and I have been either splitting a booth or as neighbors in numerous conventions and shows for the past 11 years. Michael's latest comic, CARTOON FLOPHOUSE #2 features his entry into the highly competitive world of 'auto-bio fictional' comics!! In 'The Secret Double Life of Michael Aushenker' we learn that Mikey is in fact a top agent for a secret spy agency!! Man, you think you know a person after a decade and then this! Mike has made every single show we've exhibited at one full of laughter and mutual madness inducing mischief. (Mike's own write-up on APE is worth reading!)

Mike was splitting a table with a friend of his, Seth Weber, of Alarming Press. I actually met Mr. Weber last year in Portland at the STUMPTOWN comic book festival. Seth was running Richard Nixon's 2008 campaign, believe it or not! Seth has a bit of a fixation on Nixon, which dovetails with my own Nixation. Seth's a very amicable person, and I was glad to buy one of his Nixon prints. Here's our pose for a memorial victory photo, dedicated to Tricky Dick (and my fellow Whittier High School graduate!).

The artwork, by Seth, features a quote from Mr. Nixon: "God, I hate talking to intellectuals. There's something feminine about them. I'd rather talk to an athlete."

It's too hard to try to top the immortal wisdom of Nixon, so I'll take a break hear and finish off my report tomorrow. More tales from the Concourse, more APE memories!