Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GEEKS CON reviewed (hint: Two Thumbs Up!)

GEEKS CON came and conquered, for sure!

Held at GEEKS Comics, the first-ever GEEKS Con took place on Saturday, June 14. Among the many great things I liked about doing the show was that it was about 10 minutes away from home. That comes particularly handy when I'm driving home at about 11pm, exhausted by a full day show!

Here's me setting up. To my left is Ted Seko, cartoonist (BILLY COLE & the SUPERMONSTERS franchise) and podcaster:

EL MUERTO comics, movie and sketch dolls taking up one whole corner. It's Signature Character Korner, Kids!

Jim Lujan not only debuted his brand-spanking new GHETTOMATION GARDEN DVD at the show, but he had time to record several interviews throughout the day, alongside the ever-loving creator of CRYING MACHO MAN, Jose Cabrera (in the baseball cap):

Raul Aguirre Jr. setting another young artist on a strict path of discipline and serious Art Fu:

 (photo courtesy Hortencia Aguirre, used with permission)

Raul's an animator, cartoonist and the host of the MAN VS. ART podcast. Once you hear it, you can't unhear it!! If you've ever talked to Mr. Aguirre, you've no doubt been swept over by his gale force windstorm of artistic knowledge, passion and inspiration. The very reason I've christened him '¡El Bombastico!'

This crackerjack of a comic book artist, Rafael Navarro, has a long history with me:

Rafael is both a Xeric Award-winning comic book artist, and an Emmy Award-winning storyboard artist. But mostly he's the guy I can sit and talk with hours about such topics as Frank Robbin's INVADERS comics, Jack Kirby's CAPTAIN AMERICA and Dick Sprang's BATMAN work. When he's not working on his Sonambulo comic book or freelance gigs, he knocks out stunning pieces like this one:

Yep, this wickedly, wonderful drawing is a pin-up of my WEAPON TEX-MEX. This guy Navarro is a real keeper, believe me!

Here's a pic of (l to r)Rafael, Michael Aushenker, me and Alex Vallejo:

Michael, no stranger to readers of this blog, is, along with Rafael, one of the guys who proceeded my first self-publishing efforts back in 1998. Mikey's the creator of EL GATO, CRIME MANGLER, as well as his current series of comics, CARTOON FLOPHOUSE. He also writes regularly for BACK ISSUE Magazine, and even writes a column for the DITKOMANIA zine (which I occasionaly provide an illustration for). Me, Raf and Mikey were 2/5ths of the 'legendary' LA indie comics group, BIG UMBRELLA! One day, the book will be written on that era (probably by me!) and by Asgard, the tale will be told. Our good friend Alex drove up from San Diego to join us for this show.

Among the other cartoonists joining us at GEEKS CON was Sherm Cohen, the very talented director/storyboard artist from such shows as SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and  KICK BUTTOWSKI:

Even outside his table, Sherm gets mobbed by young fans!

Between all the hoopla of selling comics and meeting fans and drawing in sketchbooks, we even found time to inaugurate another artist into the Cartoonista fold! Co-founder Jim Lujan and I had discussed this some months ago, but we figured this was as good a time as any to spring this on the unsuspecting artist:

Arvie Villanueva of Agimat Entertainment, newly crowned Cartoonista. He and his lovely wife Adonna have had great success with the brand-new video game that Arvie created based on their webcomic, Shadow Candy: SUGAR RUSH. The game is available through iTunes, and I congratulate Agimat on their successful launch. No mean feat, considering how many applications are submitted to Apple every week!

Among the personal highlights I like to remember: Seeing one of the students from the 4th Grade class I spoke at a few weeks ago show up with his mom and use his own allowance money to buy a comic book from me, the fans who took home my Muerto Sketch Dolls, the friends who came by to say 'Hi', other artists like Will Caulfield (ADVENTURES OF BAT BAT) and Lalo Alcaraz (LA CUCARACHA) stopping by to show some support. 

Also, this young man, Andrew, asking for an El Muerto drawing with half his face peeled away! And he insisted on the eyeball dangling from it's socket!! Remember the good old days when kids would ask for a drawing of a cowboy or a dinosaur?!

 I have to thank all the artists who showed up and helped us pack the room with fans. Thanks to Jim Lujan for gettting the ball rolling on GEEKS CON, and of course to my pal Sal Felix, owner of the shop, for opening his store up to GEEKS CON and all the other shows we've had in his store over the last two years.

Making our comics and cartoons and art is our passion, and we'd do it anyways (or go plum loco). But to be able to have a time and a place to show it, share it and sell it...Well, that's what us artist types want! Thanks everyone who played a part in GEEKS CON!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

EL MUERTO Sketch Dolls coming to GEEKS CON!!

You say you never heard of 'sketch dolls'? Well, that's cause I just created them!!

These brand-new, fresh-off-the-assembly-line dolls are made from blank fabric dolls which I literally 'sketched' a Muerto drawing onto. Instead of drawing on a sheet of paper, I drew on a blank doll, thus...a sketch doll. We have sketchbooks and sketch cards, I figure I'm  taking the next step. (If someone's done this before, or if anyone out there can send me a link or a pic to other sketch dolls, I'd like to see 'em.)

I've always wanted to produce my own EL MUERTO action figures, and in fact have had friends make me some custom figures over the years:

But when I got the idea to make these sketch dolls, I jumped right on them. They're not too time-consuming to make, and they've gotten some positive responses from some folks who've seen them. I like the fact that these dolls are literally 3D representations of my art, and I also like that each and every one is unique and one-of-a-kind.

The little one on the left is 5", and the other one is 8". I'll have only a very, very limited number of these at the upcoming GEEKS CON this weekend, but I'm definitely going to be making more, including some with color and perhaps a special two-pack version as well. I even created a new toy brand for the dolls:

In addition to more dolls, I'll also be rolling out some other products under the KLONKO label, adding them to my comics, DVD and anything else I can concoct and unleash upon fandom! If I wasn't such a fan and collector of toys, memorabilia and other tsotchkes myself, there probably wouldn't be any Muerto sketch dolls or a KLONKO toy brand. Now wouldn't that be a shame!

Be the first to get your hands on the sketch dolls this Saturday, June 19 at GEEKS CON in Whittier. Info on the show, as well as the full line-up of creators, on my previous blog entry....

Friday, June 11, 2010

GEEKS CON, June 19, in Whittier!

Saturday, June 19 will be the debut the first-ever GEEKS CON, a mini-comic book convention being held inside GEEKS Comics!

GEEKS CON is FREE to attend, and will be held inside GEEKS Comics, the friendly, neighborhood, upscale comic shop in Uptown Whittier. The show runs from 12 noon-10pm, perhaps making it one of the longest, single day comic conventions around!

Uptown Whittier has plenty of restaurants and shops, and even a movie theater just down the street from GEEKS. So come on out and build a whole day around GEEKS CON.

There will be over 20 creators exhibiting at GEEKS CON, believe it or not. Independent artists who work in various mediums, such as comic books, animation, video games, fine art, web comics and probably a few others as well! For a complete list of participating artists, check out the GEEKS CON Facebook page.

I'll be bringing, besides my usual catalog of goodness, a brand-new button featuring my comic book mascot, FLOPPY the COMIC:

Copies of my brand-new WANTED:TEX-MEX mini-comic, created for my recent trip to the Phoenix Comic Con:

My current sketchbook, featuring over 40 pages of art from my sketchbooks:

And...some new items from my newest entrepreneurial, artistic endeavor. Check back later next week on this blog for pics on these one-of-a-kind items!

Geeks Comics is located at:
6747 Greenleaf Ave, Suite A
Whittier, CA 90601
Ph.: 562.696.9393

GEEKS CON is Saturday, June 19 from 12 noon- 10 pm!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Phoenix Comic Con: Big Thumbs Up!

Last weekend's trip to the Phoenix Comic Con turned out to be a great call, as it was my first time exhibiting in Arizona and ended up being an exceptionally good show.

How do I judge the success of a convention? Sales, quality of the people I meet, the surrounding environment outside the walls of the convention hall.... All these were met with positive results.

First thing that struck me about Phoenix, as evidenced from the 6th floor window of my hotel, is that this town was empty!

Photo taken at about 8am Friday morning.

Here's a shot taken 9am Sunday morning, about 6 blocks down from the hotel, after a filling breakfast at IHOP.

Nice, huh? Seriously, I love wide, empty streets! I'm from So Cal, remember? Yes, it was Memorial Day Weekend, but from what I understand, the downtown area, as clean and modern as it is, just doesn't seem to attract people to it. Might have to get me an artist studio over here and enjoy the silence!

The Con itself, billed as the Southwest's "signature pop culture event", was filled with enthusiastic fans of comics, fans of anime and manga, fans of superheroes and dressing up and having a good time. I was amazed at the sheer amount of folks in costumes. I'd swear about 20-25% of the attendees were in costume. Something about that made me feel like I was in a place where no one is 'too cool for school', that it was perfectly fine to let your inner geek out of it's hiding place. Sure,  all comic book conventions are like this, but something about this Phoenix Con really struck me as a pure love of the comics culture. Truth is, I took more pictures of costumes than I usually do.

This gal was just the cat's meow in this costume, my favorite version of Catwoman.

I just love that this guy dressed up as the classic Penguin. He wasn't concerned about wearing something hip or current.

I have to admit that I found this well-crafted bird head somewhat unnerving. The lower beak would occasionally open, then close...

As I've written here about previous trips, it's always good knowing your work is being introduced to a whole new audience. This is only my third state outside of California that I've exhibited at, so the anticipation of the audience reaction is always a welcome experience. 

The advantage about driving to a show is that I can bring my full storefront, such as my banner and acrylic stands, and as much merchandise as fits in my car. With ever-rising airplane ticket prices and mounting cargo fees, picking shows I can drive to becomes more and more likely.

One of the benefits of attending shows is getting to meet some new fellow creators. In the photo above, on the far right side, you can see one of my neighbors for the weekend, Ralph Miley of the Christian Comics Arts Society. Turns out Ralph lives in the neighboring city to mine! Small world, no? Ralph and I had plenty of good laughs over the weekend, his infectious laughter making for some great moments.

My neighbor on my left was also my carpool co-pilot and roommate for the weekend, Jason Martin of SUPER REAL fame:

Jason of course is my good friend from Portland, whose hosted me several times when I've exhibited in Oregon. Jason actually flew in from Portland to LAX, landed at 5:30 pm on Thursday night, from which we drove straight through rush hour traffic across Los Angeles and all the way to Phoenix! We arrived at our hotel at about 3 am Friday morning. And believe it or not, I was hit with a serious case of insomnia, meaning I slept about an hour total. But, like troopers, we got up and set up Friday morning and had a great time together. Amazing how much comics/publishing talk you get done stuck in a car together for all those hours. Jason's a great friend, and I always enjoy traveling with him and doing a convention together.

Here's a pair of suave creative types I finally got to meet in person, Mssrs. Dave Baker and Eric M. Esquivel of Modern Mythology Press:

These guys are an artist (Dave) and writer (Eric) duo that I've known for about 2 years now via podcast interviews we've done with one another. Just a few years out of their teens, they've self-published comics, run a podcast, and in general have put themselves on the radar of everyone from comic book writers Matt Fraction and Tony Isabella to Word Ballon podcast host John Siuntres. They have a real, genuine love for the comics medium and their nerd factor includes them walking around with Superman backpacks and lunch boxes! Dave's art has been evolving at an amazing rate, as his long hours of drawing are really paying off. And I once received a proposal from Eric for an El Muerto story that really impressed me with his keen perceptions of the characters. I hope they get as far in comics as they want to with their hard work and moxie.

My good friend John Narcomey of Draw Hard Studios and Hightower Comics made the trek from Los Angeles as well:

I had the opportunity to meet several other creators, including Paul Ziomek and his brother Peter from the New Mexico comics collective, 7000 B.C. Paul had heard of me through my podcast, JAVILAND. He and I really hit it off, and one day I hope to make it out to a con in New Mexico. It sounds like they have a pretty vibrant comics and art community in their area.

 Outside the convention center, making dinner plans....

The night life in downtown Phoenix is pretty sparse, far as I could gauge that weekend. Seems like a lot of the restaurants closed before the evening really got started. One night we had the misfortune of hitting a grill that took over an hour to get us our food after we ordered it. Wish I remembered it's name so I could badmouth it over at Yelp.... 

Couldn't resist asking this lady to give me a celebrity endorsement:

One b&w clad, white-faced zombie character promotes another...

Far as the show itself from my perspective, I didn't do too bad at all. It was interesting to me how many folks told me they had seen the EL MUERTO movie, mostly via cable. That was really cool. That's one thing about movies, they're so pervasive in our culture, and with the advent of non-stop, continuous content streaming day and night, even a small film like EL MUERTO gets heavy rotation.

One of my favorite encounters was with this patron:

Yep, a fan in Crow make-up stopped by the table. First day he walked by and slowly looked at image of El Muerto on my banner. He stopped and flipped through the comics, and didn't mind when I asked if I could take his picture. I talked to him briefly about the various Crow movies and sequels. The next day he came back in make-up and bought MANGA MUERTO, then briskly walked off. The third day he came back without the face make-up (apparently the black was burning his eyes!) and finally bought the first issue. My friend Jason turned to me and said in an announcer voice, "Crow fans have an application for El Muerto comics".  I'm a fan of the original Crow graphic novel and the first movie, so it's cool to have a Crow fan also be a fan of El Muerto.

I also had lots of sales for my new WEAPON TEX-MEX mini comic, as well as the occasional fan of swamp monsters reaching for MAN-SWAMP. But I would say that overall the three days in Phoenix allowed me to introduce new readers to El Muerto, which always makes me happy. While I'm continuing to create new titles with new characters, I really get a lot of personal satisfaction of being the creator of El Muerto.

I decided by the end of the third and last day that I would definitely be putting the Phoenix Comic Con on my must-do list for next year. Hotel and travel costs (especially if I split them again) are doable, and I have way better idea of what merchandise to bring (buttons seem to do good here), and the fans were just really responsive. 

Having been up in San Francisco in early April for the Wonder-Con and my solo art show, I think circulating the West Coast/Southwest for more shows is something I want to focus on even more. There are obvious benefits to the internet, no doubt about it. But doing these in-person events are so rewarding in numerous ways.

See you next year, Phoenix!