Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GEEKS CON 2 coming to GEEKS Comics June 16

GEEKS Comics will be hosting their second installment of their micro-comic convention.....

Yes, GEEKS CON 2: COMIC BOOK BOOGALOO! Saturday, June 16, from 12 Noon thru 5pm. Pick up some comics for your Father's Day gift-giving! I'll be there with lots of other local independent comic book creators. I'll have all my books and Poster Comics and prints and stuff....

Check out the Facebook invite, and make plans to visit your friendly neighborhood comics show. It's FREE to attend, and it's held inside GEEKS, the fashionable comic shop located in Uptown Whittier.

6747 Greenleaf Ave. Suite A
Whittier CA 90601

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mini-comic in progress: DEAD DINOSAURIO

The above work-in-progress logo is for the project I'm currently working on, a mini-comic: DEAD DINOSAURIO & EZTLI: The First Calaca.

You may be aware of my Calacas of Justice project? Where I'm creating a team of Day of the Dead superheroes, based in part on classic superhero archetypes (or cliches). I've done two Poster Comics featuring The Spider-Calaca and the BatiCalaca. Calacas is Spanish for the skeletal figures you often see during Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday celebrating the life of deceased loved ones, friends and family members. 

Add to that growing roster of characters Dead Dinosaurio, and his young sidekick Eztli (that's 'Blood' in  Nahuatl, the native language of the Aztecs).  A boy and his dinosaur. Whether it's Moon Boy & Devil Dinosaur or that kid hanging out with the giant turtle, Gamera, there's a whole genre of a fiction teaming up a kid with a giant creature. That's something I definitely wanted to explore in a comic. 

 The boy who rode a giant, nuclear turtle!

As a way of introducing these two, I had to conceive an origin story for them. Who was the boy? And why did he have a T-Rex for a pet? Originally I thought of them as having a prehistoric origin (even though we're told that humans and dinosaurs were separated by millions of years). Then I came up with the idea of making the boy a young Aztec. But then I had to come up with a reason for him running around with a dinosaur! Well, that was easy...

During the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, I figured, young Eztli had come across a huge chunk of amber embedded into the side of a mountain. While not recognizing what was inside (perhaps it was Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent diety?) he began to slowly scrape away as much rock from the amber tomb as he could, returning every day to start anew. Once the Spaniards launched their siege of the Aztec city-state Tenochtitlan, Eztli runs back into the mountains and tries desperately to free the thing within the amber, praying that it will somehow be able to help his people....

  Thumbnails to a three page sequence.

This shouldn't be a spoiler, but, as seen in the above, it wasn't a god that was encased in the amber....

 So, before there can be a skeletal version of Eztli and the dinosaur, there has to be flesh & blood versions of them. That's what this story is about. The artwork for the book will be colored in gray tones, which still need to be added, with the final, printed book available by July. I'll keep you updated here as well as on my Twitter, DeviantArt and Facebook pages.

In researching dinosaurs, and Mexico and the Conquest, I discovered that about 15 years ago there was a movie about a Tyrannosaurus Rex running rampant during the Conquest of Mexico! Tyrannosaurus Azteca !? To say I was surprised was an understatement. A little bruised ego never stopped me, though.... You can watch the film on YouTube. It's quite....something else. So, if there was a precedent for the niche genre of dinosaurs and the Conquest, well then, I'm happy to add my own unique take on it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Memories of the Latino Comics Expo 2012

I got home this past Monday evening from the long weekend in San Francisco for the Latino Comics Expo. Tuesday morning, I was right back to work on a new comic book, back to teaching my comics workshops, and squeezing in a screening of THE AVENGERS during the week (loved it, by the way!). But I realized I had better get to blogging about the Expo...!

This year's Expo was once again held at the Cartoon Art Museum. Many thanks to the Museum for hosting us once again, with special mention to Curator Andrew Farago, Executive Director Summerlea Kashar, Board of Trustees Chair Ron Evans, and the delightful Elena Diaz for assisting us day and night.

We had an art exhibit running in conjunction with the Expo as well, LA RAZA COMICA: A CELEBRATION OF THE LATINO AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN THE COMIC ARTS (which runs until September 30). The Opening Night reception taking place on Friday, May 4. My good friend, and illustrious co-founder of the Expo, Executive Director Ricardo Padilla (in the gray sportscoat) is enjoying a cup of his home-made Sangria, alongside cartoonist Rafael Navarro:

The Museum will have several exhibits running simultaneously, and one of the other shows was the Mad Magazine retrospective. No shortage of gawking and geeking out on that show, and that was just us artists!

I was very proud that we put together an art exhibit focusing on Latino comic creators. And I have to say, as an artist myself, it's such a unique opportunity to have artwork hanging on the walls of such a museum. I've seen numerous shows there over the year, so it's a joy to have artwork displayed on the same walls that have featured such comics and artists as DICK TRACY, SPY Vs SPY, PEANUTS, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragones, Gene Colan, etc. Literally every great cartoonist over the last 100 years! And now...sniff....me, too....

 A page from my WEAPON TEX-MEX Vs EL MUERTO.

I stayed at the home of Ricardo and Rosalind Padilla for the weekend, and after the art opening we went back to their place and watched MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE! Nothing like a little kung-fu cinema when running an Expo, ya know?

Saturday we woke up to stunningly beautiful, sunny weather, but luckily the crowds showed up to our first day of the Expo. We had a rich variety of creators exhibiting there, some debuting their new books, others being long-time, well-traveled convention exhibitors. We had creators working on web comics, zines, comics and graphic novels, even animation. I was giving out copies of the new BATICALACA Poster Comic, and luckily we had lots of kids show up, as the comic was created for an all-ages audience in mind.

I shared a table all weekend with Jose Cabrera, always a blast hanging out with the fun-loving creator of CRYING MACHO MAN (seen below with cartoonist Isis Rodriguez, who flew in from Mexico to debut her comic book NIÑAJI):

We had a full day of panels on Saturday, including one on Self-publishing (featuring, L to R, Crystal Gonzalez, the team of Mario Lanao and Cristian Garcia, Rafael Navarro & Michael Aushenker ):

I hosted a panel called 'Mythology in Comics'. It was fascinating to hear the panelists discuss their approaches to incorporating Mexican myths and folklore into their stories, as well all varied in our methods and reasons. One of our panelists, Rodolfo Mendoza, is from Mexico (currently living in Utah), so we assisted him with translating his responses to English (thanks to Isis and Ricardo for pitching in!). L to R are Isis Rodriguez, Adriana Garcia Cabrera, Daniel Parada & Rodolfo Mendoza).

I know that Ricardo and I were very grateful to have had so many great creators attend our Expo and appear on our panel. And we were especially proud to have also had a special panel featuring Spain Rodriguez, the legendary cartoonist from the original underground comix movement of the late 60s/early 70s, and cartoonist and friend of the Expo, Mario Hernandez. Ricardo reached out to Spain in the Bay Area and invited him to the Expo. Spain was more than happy to appear with his old friend, Mario. Here's Ricardo moderating the conversation with Spain (L) and Mario (in the middle):

Another memorable event that occurred at the Expo was that the curator of the Latin American, Mexican American & Iberian Collections at the University of Stanford came to the Expo. He and another representative walked through and purchased from the artists 3 copies of every work they had. They actually bought my entire inventory of EL MUERTO COLLECTOR BOXES I had brought with me! While it's always great to have such a great sale, what really is special is having your work included in such a collection, particularly from such an institution as Stanford. When someone wants to study the history of Latino comics and creators, my work will be available for research, alongside many other works by other artists. Yes, yes, I know we have Google, but good old-fashioned physical research can't be beat!

Saturday evening was time for another get-together, this time hosted by our friends at MISSION: COMICS & ART. Get a bunch of cartoonists together at a comic shop, add Sangria and some other 'drinks', and well, you got yourself a party!

Las Cartoonistas! L to R, Isis, Crystal Gonzalez, Gabrielle Gamboa, Grasiela Rodriguez and Liz Mayorga.

Me and the charming Crystal. And yeah, I'm sporting my stylish Ed Wood 'Bride of the Atom' t-shirt and vintage 1976 Howard the Duck presidential campaign button!

Sunday was another day of beautiful weather, and more Expo excitement!  

I really enjoyed hearing from the folks who visited the Expo. One elderly gentleman, I believe his name was Bob, was telling me about the first Latino in professional baseball (Luis Castro, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902). Bob was telling me how Luis died poor and in obscurity, with no tribute or tombstone to mark his passing. He told me he had no idea there were 'Latino comics' and he hoped that we would all leave a mark and not end up in obscurity, like Mr. Castro. There was sincerity and true emotion in Ben's voice, and it was really touching to hear him express his concerns. I told him that was the reason that we created a Latino Comics Expo, so that creators of Latino descent could gather together and share their work with readers. I also assured Ben that I make as much noise as I can about my own work, whether people want to hear about me or not! 

We also had an animation panel, organized by cartoonist and animation-dabbler Jose Cabrera. Here's Grasiela Rodriguez discussing her techniques, and a shot of the audience enjoying the various animated shorts:

On Sunday, we had another panel with Mario Hernandez, this time he did a reading from one of his comics and had a Q&A with the audience. Mario was a guest last year as well, and he's a complete pleasure to talk with. The first thing he said to me when I saw him Friday evening at the art opening was "I just saw THE AVENGERS and I loved it!". Now that's the way to start a conversation in a comics museum!

Being a co-founder of this particular event fills me with a huge amount of accomplishment. The reaction from the artists and the community of fans convinces me that this is a very important thing that we do, this love of comics as our storytelling device. And the reasons we do it, the influence we each get from our individual experiences, and the impact it has on the people, both within and outside the Latino community, well, the rewards speak for themselves.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

LATINO COMICS EXPO this weekend at the Cartoon Art Museum!

This weekend in San Francisco, at the world famous CARTOON ART MUSEUM, the LATINO COMICS EXPO will be in full effect on May 5 & 6!

I'll be exhibiting there all weekend (I'm actually one of the co-founders of the event!), as well as hosting a panel (Saturday from 2:00pm-2:45pm). I also have artwork on display in the exhibit, LA RAZA COMICA: A CELEBRATION OF THE LATINO AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN THE COMIC ARTS.

I'll have a full line of my stuff....comics, DVD, prints, buttons. I'll even be doing sketchcards, right in front of your very eyes!

A new product I'll have at the Expo will be the EL MUERTO COLLECTOR BOX. Packed with the first issue of EL MUERTO, the DVD of the live-action film and a hand-drawn & colored EL MUERTO mini sketch doll!

 Also, I'll have my current stock of Poster Comics, including the new one for May, THE BATICALACA! 

As a way to participate in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (May 5), I'll be giving away FREE copies of the Baticalaca Poster Comic while supplies last!

Hope to see some of you at the EXPO!