Thursday, April 29, 2010

See me twice on Super Saturday: FCBD & GEEKS 'Covered' art show!

This Saturday, I'll be putting in two appearances locally.

On Saturday, from 11am-4pm, I'll be at 4 COLOR FANTASIES in Rancho Cucamonga for their FREE COMIC BOOK DAY event! I'm told this is a huge, parking lot festival of comics and food and artists galore. I'll be sitting at John Narcomey's table, selling my comics and DVDs and sketching for folks! 

I got on board a little too late to make it to the flier, but I'll be there! As will, apparently, half the comic creators on the West Coast!!

And, later that evening, I'll be at GEEKS in Whittier for the opening reception of their group show, 'Covered'! That's from 7pm - close. 

I'd call this a full day of comics and art, for sure! Hope to see some of you at one of the events!

Calling in tonight on BALDO 10th Anniversay Call

My good friends, Carlos Castellanos and Hector Cantu will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their newspaper strip, BALDO, tonight with a special Call-In show for fans and friends.

10 years of a nationally syndicated newspaper strip is indeed a reason for celebration, and it's great that they're doing this for their fans. I'm not only a fan of the strip, but also a one-time collaborator with them. Back in October 2008, Hector (writer) and Carlos (illustrator) actually invited me to bring El Muerto into a Baldo storyline! I pitched them a plot, and after talking it over, we agreed that Carlos would draw the strips as normal, but I actually contributed all the drawing of El Muerto when he appeared in the strip. I not only thought this was a great idea, but I was genuinely impressed that they even approached the project this way. 

The El Muerto illustrations I emailed to Carlos so he could insert into the strip. He would send me the rough pencils of what he drew, and from there I knew what size and pose to draw El Muerto in.

It was an exciting learning experience to plan out a story within the parameters of a daily newspaper strip. I'm used to telling my stories over multiple pages, with the panels often changing shapes and sizes, but keeping to the structure and pacing of a strip format was a great challenge. And of course now I can say that El Muerto made it into a newspaper strip, if only for that 5 day storyline. I even was able to write the Sunday color section! Talk about a dream gig.

The color Sunday entry of the BALDO strip. This was the culmination of the 5-pt story. They let me write the actual script for this entry. And it's right next to the GARFIELD strip! Surreal..

I actually first met Hector and Carlos for the first time back in March 2007. We were invited to attend some special events during the week for the San Diego Latino Film Festival, such as a gallery show and a joint screening of the El Muerto trailer (I returned that weekend to debut the film on Saturday evening) and an episode of the BALDO animated series. We took the train to neighboring Old Town San Diego and were a little late to our screenings! (Um, the waitress was very slow serving us our margaritas!)

Hector (L), me and Carlos at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

I also got to see them again in November of 2007. Our mutual friend, cartoonist Richard Dominguez (EL GATO NEGRO), arranged a special 'Latinos in Comics' panel through Wizard World Texas. I, as well as Carlos and David Alvarez (YENNY) were flown in from LA, Florida and Puerto Rico for the event. Richard and Hector were local Texans, but us out-of-towners were given hotel rooms as well. That was a tremendously fun weekend.

David Alvarez (L), me, Carlos and Hector (far right) at a Mandarin Chinese restaurant. Boy, were we loud and obnoxious during dinner!

Tonight we'll be able to relive some of those moments, and share in the BALDO celebrations. Congrats to Carlos and Hector for 10 years of great work! Check out Carlos' video announcing the event:

Monday, April 26, 2010

How I spent my birthday weekend.

Photo courtesy Jim Lujan Photographic Services, Ltd.

Over this past weekend, starting Friday April 23, I celebrated my birthday with a zest and vigor reserved for kid's birthday parties!


WHY NOT!? What's not to appreciate about life, and ourselves, as we get older? Some people don't try to acknowledge their own birthdays. I'm not saying you have to run around the neighborhood screaming "It's my birthday!" at the top of your lungs, but don't bury it in a fatalistic fit of denial. Getting older is just a natural step.

I'm glad, considering what can happen to any of us at any moment of our lives, to have been able to mark another year on this big, blue marble. As you can read from my blog, I have had a tremendous amount of fun and fulfillment in the past year, much of it stemming from being an artist. And like everyone else, I have to face the same things common to us all. Living issues, health concerns, family dynamics, relationships, struggles, setbacks, dreams and accomplishments. But unless you really learn to deal with it all, and learn from them all, how can you appreciate the great things you experience?

On Friday, I went with some friends to the Getty Villa, located on the coast in Malibu. They had an exhibit called 'AZTEC PANTHEON', featuring art from pre-Colombian Mexico. As my comic book EL MUERTO deals with Aztec mythology, I had read many books on the subject, but to see some truly amazing examples in person was quite an inspiring event. The exhibit runs till July 5, and I wholeheartedly recommend a visit. The Getty Villa is itself a beautiful treasure to behold, and if you go during perfect weather like I did, you'll double the enjoyment.

A sketch I drew while standing before this statue of the goddess 'Cihuacoatl'

Later that evening, I went with my friend Irma to see THE LOSERS. The film was extremely fun, not too heavy on taking itself serious, for sure! Two of it's charismatic actors, Chris Evans (The Human Torch & now Captain America) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian from THE WATCHMEN), really made the film that much more enjoyable.

Saturday evening my good friend Jim Lujan (Ghettomation filmmaker) took me out for some classic burgers at Bob's Big Boy and some comic shop hopping! Our bar hopping days are way behind us now (if we even ever had them!), but we managed to make it to HOUSE OF SECRETS in Burbank, MELTDOWN COMICS in Los Angeles and GEEKS in Whittier. Picked up an eclectic stack of books myself, including Gilbert Hernandez's new THE TROUBLEMAKERS, Dave Sim's JUDENHASS and Bosch Fawstin's TABLE FOR ONE.

But the big catch for that day was this fabulous piece of art made for me by Jim:

He included a bunch of my characters from my current sketchbook, THE COMIC POP SKETCHBOOK. I was completely flabbergasted by this gift. Jim's often given me some really nice drawings, and this one has to top them all! It's always a great feeling as a cartoonist when someone draws one of your characters, but to see this whole family of Hernandez cartoon offspring was mind-boggling! A truly priceless gift, for sure. Thanks again, Jim. You're a true keeper!

Sunday found me at Trump National Golf Club in Palos Verde. Nope, I wasn't there to golf, but me and my friend Ted Seko (cartoonist extraoridnaire) went for a hike along the rocky coast at Trump National. The view of the Pacific Ocean is always stunning, and the talks Ted and I had about life and art were as monumental as the majestic cliffs we were walking across. Nothing like surveying your life right there where the mighty, expansive ocean is gently crashing into the rocky coastline. A dinner afterwards at an Asian seafood buffet led to talk about new artistic opportunities, and some geek speak on favorite comics and manga.

A pretty solid weekend, for sure. In between had some lunch with my parents and older sister, and a visit by my older brother. Family and friend, Life and Art, food and comics. A great birthday weekend, for sure. And I made sure to make it so. It makes getting older a real pleasure.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Audio recap of COMIC POP and EVERYDAY PEOPLE art shows!

Well, you've most likely read my two blog posts about the Opening Reception to my art show, COMIC POP. If not, PT 1 is here, and PT 2 is here.

My show opened April 3, and one week later in Whittier, CA, my good friend, JIM LUJAN, had the opening for his art show, EVERYDAY PEOPLE, at GEEKS Comics. I was glad to attend, and it was quite the event. Tons of everyday people showed up to see, and buy, Jim's great paintings of real-life sport stars as well as characters from his awesome animated films.

Besides meeting some of Jim's family and friends, there were several of the Cartoonistas in attendance, showing support and having a great time. Jim and I co-founded the Cartoonistas a few years back, and it's been great to see the group grow with a rich diversity of artists enhancing the whole group.

But I'm actually more pleased when I see the individual artists grow, because in reality that's what makes an artist better. And of course, as each artist evolves and expands their talents, it only makes the Cartoonistas as a whole an even stronger group.

Congrats to Jimmy on his first solo art show, and I expect to see a whole new career for this amazingly talented and unique artist. As long as he remains one of my best friends, I don't care how rich and famous he gets!

Here's the most recent episode of CARTOONISTA RADIO, where Jim and I interview one another about each other's art shows!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Memories of COMIC POP art show opening: Part #2

For PT 1, click here

"COMIC POP: Art by Javier Hernandez" opened on Saturday, April 3. After a whirlwind couple of days in San Francisco, touring comic shops, enjoying the great food in the company of my host/curator Ricardo Padilla, and a return to Wondercon, it was time to get ready for the art show.

After a great breakfast of chorizo and rice and beans at a great little 'hole in the wall' Mexican restaurant in the Mission District (courtesy of the Padilla Family), I took this photo by the giant map that was painted on the wall.

Planning out my tour/invasion of Mexico. With comics, not Conquistadores!! 

Later in the afternoon, we arrived at the Gallery, ready for showtime. Here's the front window display:

On the left of the table are 3 tiny paintings, complete with easels. On the right is the famous painting of Choco.

Hanging on the left side of the window is my EL MUERTO screenprint I made while an artist-in-residence of Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles.

Mia Gonzalez, the owner of the Encantada Gallery of Fine Arts. Mia's store/gallery is filled with great art, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to exhibit there.

Among the friends who showed up that evening were Dale Berry and Miguel Delgadillo. Dale is a cartoonist who I met years ago while doing conventions in the Bay Area. His graphic novel series, TALES OF THE MOONLIGHT CUTTER, is now up to 4 volumes. He's always been an extremely amicable person, and I really enjoy catching up with him in the Bay Area. Dale did an EL MUERTO pin-up for me, which was published in EL MUERTO:MISH MASH. Miguel I've also known for some years. He actually worked with me on a project I came up with back in 2005, MEXICAN INDEPENDENT COMIC BOOK DAY. A tour I conceived to coincide with Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), featuring myself, Rafael Navarro (SONAMBULO) and Rhode Montijo (PABLO'S INFERNO). As Miguel lived in San Jose, he was able to approach a couple of bookstores in the Bay Area to host us for the two-day tour. I suggested to him that we should perhaps try another one, 5 years after the first one.

 Dale (L), myself (in a beatified moment of artistic bliss) and Miguel.

 Michael Aushenker was actually celebrating his birthday, right in the middle of my art show! And on my right: curator, patron of the arts and good friend, Ricardo Padilla.

Ricardo's wonderful daughter (and Executive Assistant Curator!), Sophia. Sophia was exceptionally helpful in promoting the show, and she's a great El Muerto fangirl!

 Sophia's brother Andy even performed during the show, playing guitar and singing Beatles and Los Lobos songs (what a great mix!). If we ever make EL MUERTO 2, perhaps we should have Andy take the lead role??

 Me and a sea of ladies! To my immediate right (in the glasses) is Rosalinda, the lovely wife of Ricardo. A true benevolent spirit, that woman.

I have to note that the lettering was personally hand-cut by Ms. Sophia Padilla. A real nice touch, very DIY. 

To cap off the evening, Miguel joined me and the Padillas for a cross town drive to Toto's Pizzaria, what Rosalinda calls 'the best pizza in San Francisco'. Who am I to argue with a gracious host? And actually, that pizza was damn delicious!!  I'm going to ask, insist, that the next time I'm in San Francisco, we partake of that pizza again...!

The next morning was Easter. Kinda weird not spending it with family, but then again, the Padilla's couldn't be nicer people to spend time with.  Early morning, I went for a walk in the nearby Golden Gate Park with Rosalinda. The park, smack dab in the middle of the city, was such a relaxing breather from all the comics and art and frenetic city escapades. It felt good walking some of that pizza off. Course, later, for breakfast, we all went to Chinatown where I was introduced to a mouth-watering breakfast of Dim Sum! Geez were those beef/shrimp filled dumplings heavenly!

Later that afternoon, as the rains came, we returned to the Gallery, as I was scheduled to conduct a cartooning workshop. With the heavy rains, and the fact that it was Easter, we had way less people than we hoped for. But then again, what can you expect on Easter? 

My cousin Monica came out to visit that Sunday, and she helped us finish off the sangria from the night before!

After closing up the gallery that afternoon, we once again met up with Michael Aushenker. He was at Wondercon, appearing on a 'Jews in Comics' panel that day. Mikey joined me, my cousin and the Padillas for dinner at a great hamburger joint called Nations. After that, we topped off the day, the weekend really, with a San Francisco tradition, Mitchells' ice cream. Mike and I try to go to Mitchell's every year when we go to APE (Alternative Press Expo). We've been there late nights, in the rain, and there will be tons of people in line! The homemade ice cream is just that exquisite!

Monday morning was time for me and Michael to head back to Los Angeles. To say the weekend was a great time would be an understatement. Before we left that morning, Ricardo joined me and Mike for one last meal, this time in Oakland, at a favorite breakfast haunt of mine and Mike's: Ahn's.

What better way to start a road trip home than with a classic American breakfast?

I certainly could never thank Ricardo enough for putting together my solo art show. And as for the hospitality he and his family had shown me all week...Well, let's say I am forever in their debt. Knowing them though, friendship is more than enough to pay that bill!

Interstate 5, about an hour or so North of San Francisco, heading home.

I've been driving up and down the 5 Freeway since 1998, when I packed up my car and drove up to San Jose to sell my first black & white, photocopied copies of my first EL MUERTO comic book.  Since then, every year I've been going back and forth between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Mostly for comic conventions, but once to attend a film festival where my movie played, a couple of art shows and signings. Once or twice just to visit  friends and vacation. But mostly 'work'.

It's hard to think of these trips as work though. Sure, I'm selling my art, promoting my brand, networking with others. But really, all this has, for me, been a real privilege. To be doing what I love, making my comics and art, sharing it, selling it, has been wonderful.  And at the same time to have been so fortunate to have done so alongside some of the best friends I've ever had, and met so many great fans and made so many new friends, well, I have to thank God for the honor.

The hard work, the hang-ups, the pain in the neck moments. They've been such a meager price to pay for the full package. 

I'm ready to jump back on the freeway and drive off into more opportunities. Even at $3-$4 a gallon!


Memories of COMIC POP art show opening: PT 1 Redux

Folks, in what is the stupidest mistake I've ever made on this blog, I deleted my Pt. 1 report of my trip to San Francisco for the opening of my art show. Yes, I'm exceedingly pissed off about it. But, here's my attempt to recreate the post. So very sorry about that.... PT. 2 continues afterwards.

The opening for my solo art show, "COMIC POP: Art by Javier Hernandez" was on Saturday, April 3. Of course, as luck would have it, there was plenty happening that weekend that turned this not only in a cross-platform promotional event, but an amazingly exciting vacation as well.

Not only was my art show opening that weekend, but Wondercon was also happening at the same time. Plus the fact that it was Easter only added to all the hoopla.

This show came about rather fortuitously. My friend Ricardo Padilla, who I first met when I was exhibiting at APE (Alternative Press Expo) about 6 years ago, came to my table at APE back in the Fall of '09. He told he needed to curate a show as part of his final for his Master's degree, so I boldly told him to pick me as his subject! He was going to ask me anyway, but this should demonstrate to all artists that one should never hesitate to nudge fate whenever needed.

Ricardo picked the location, the Encantada Gallery of Fine Arts, and thus started the months of prep for the show. By a great coincidence, my friend and fellow cartoonist Michael Aushenker was also planning to visit San Francisco that same weekend, so we decided to carpool and save on gas and double up on the fun factor. Michael and I have been traveling together to conventions for about 10 years, and each time has been a memorable experience. You can read about Mikey's work, and his blog post about this trip, over at his blog, CARTOON FLOPHOUSE.

Michael Aushenker, me and a load of bull about an hour outside of San Francisco.

Upon arriving in San Francisco, I checked into my hotel, while Michael went across the Golden Gate Bridge to stay at his friend's home for the duration. The hotel, provided courtesy of my wonderful curator Ricardo Padilla, was a quaint little place, complete with a shared kitchen serving continental breakfast. 

My cozy little room...

The following day, Thursday, brought a full day of work. Ricardo picked me up that morning and drove me over to the Encantada Gallery to meet the owner, Mia Gonzalez, and drop off all my artwork. While Mia hung the show, Ricardo took me for some sightseeing and artist/curator talk. He also took me to several of the comic shops, bookstores and cafes where he had left our show postcards. One of the place that he talked to about promoting our show was the Cartoon Art Museum, the West Coast's premiere institution for the preservation and exhibitions of the comic and cartoon arts.

 Me, proud as a poppa, with my COMIC POP artwork hanging in the lobby of the Cartoon Art Museum.

One of the great things about Ricardo networking with the CAM was bringing my work to their attention. They liked what they saw and invited me to join them at their booth at Wondercon on Friday if I was available. I hadn't actually been to Wondercon in about 10 years, so I was more than happy to return, and especially at the beckoning of the Museum!

Friday came quickly, and after being dropped off at the Moscone Center, I made my way to the Cartoon Art Museum booth. For a two hour period, I drew sketches on behalf of the Museum for people who donated money, and also sold my comics, including my brand new sketchbook, THE COMIC POP SKETCHBOOK.

A long-time fan of mine, Alejandro, posing with a drawing I made of Rom, SpaceKnight! 

Me, in my natural state, selling comics! (And, I might add, DVDs and sketchbooks!)

While at the booth, I got to meet the acting director of the Cartoon Art Museum, Summerlea Kashar, a most gracious host.

Among the people I ran into at the Con was Jason Martin, my great friend from Portland.

Jason is the creator and publisher of SUPER REAL and PULP GIRLS, and he's a pretty well-traveled conventioneer. We met years ago while we were both exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con and he and his wife are kind enough to host me when I travel up to the lovely town of Portland. As a way of showing thanks, I sent them a painting last Christmas I made of their cute little chihuahua Choco. Jason actually suggested I put the painting in my art show so he brought it down with him and gave it to me at the show.

Now ain't that Choco a cute little pup? The painting ain't too shabby either!

Another highlight for me was meeting Blair Kitchen of THE POSSUM. Blair's the writer and artist of the book, and we have known each other for a few years now. I even interviewed once on a podcast I used to host, but this was the first time we met. Blair's brother Mike also makes his own comics, SPY GUY.  After the show, I had dinner with the Bros. Kitchen at a nearby Whole Foods. I didn't know they had a deli in there, and boy, they make some great sandwiches there!

 Blair (L), me and Mike. FYI: The Kitchen Bros. have a teeny, tiny cameo in the spoof SUPERHERO MOVIE

As much fun as I had at Wondercon, the real dance was yet to come on Saturday! Showtime at the Encantada Gallery. All the details in PT. 2!