Tuesday, July 28, 2009

San Diego Comic Com: a bit more...

Enjoyed the 1000 pages panel, even if it didn't tell you much that you already didn't know really. Ended up with this Becky Cloonan sketch in my sketchbook that I liked. It was great to see Gene Colan there as well, up and around and holding down the fort of how to improve and be consistant.

Interesting to hear different artists takes on the work ethic. Certain people were complaining that it was drudgery to have to ink that book once its already been written and pencilled, and then Bryan Talbot leaned into the mike and talked about getting up, going downstairs to his studio on the lower level of his house with a cup of coffee and working til 9pm every day because that's what you do. I think that that comment rather shut up everyone else for a while about whining about constantly checking their email and getting distracted.

The internet was completely abuzz about the Twilight fans taking over San Diego and being out of control and ruining the show for everyone. You know what? Tempest in a teapot really. No, seriously, they didn't ruin the comic convention, it is the mainstream media, picking comics over like the rotting carcass that the industry is and nibbling out the best parts. Understand, they need us, and they get us because we're desperate for the legitimacy as well as the money that they can provide. They may need to move the damn media convention to LA and let the comic fans have San Diego again. Because its not doing that elusive thing that its supposed to be doing.

Here is an interesting question: what is the most interesting thing about walking the aisles of the convention floor (in the comics section)? Answer: seeing all the interesting books that you'll never get to see anywhere else. Yes, all these artists and writers and talented folks have come all that way with boxes and boxes of books they'd like you to buy because there is never any hope in hell that their LCS will carry them, whether by dislike of alternative work, Diamond ordering and soliciting practices or orientation of the retailer. Most ocnventions are there to introduce you new products, products that they really hope you'll continue buying... except that they never will be any follow up no matter how much you like these guys. I was stunned by how good thet product was walking the Oni, First Second, and Top Shelf tables.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thoughts of San Diego: Doctor Who, Crowds and More

Recovering from the last four days, unpacking the bags to find the new graphic novels that i'm looking forward to reading, realizing the body wash has exploded inside the bag and will be a huge mess to clean out, unpacking the art supplies. And downloading the pics from the iPhone, as there doesn't seem to be a way to upload them the same way that i'm posting remote texts to the blog.

The Doctor Who panel on Sunday was packed, and had folks queueing up overnight to get front row. I wasn't willing to go that far, but did get there around 6:50am and was about the 1000th person in line. A stellar line up, and one that got the chance to soak in all the good will of the last 4 years: Julie Gardner, Euros Lyn, Russell Davies and David Tennant. Random thoughts about the panel: Tennant is great in person, and not just a good Doctor, but a great ambassador for the series, ambassador in a way the Eccleston never would have been because its simply not in Chris' make up to be that way.

No Doctor Who movie is on the way, and while there are plenty of folks in that room who would love one, i have to say i think it would never live up the weighty baggage taht it would be saddled with. Everytime Davies tried to write the ultimate Dr. Who story, such as the Master 3 parter, it usually falls flat on its face. The final episode was like watching Horns of the Nimon: completely over the top and lacking all sorts of sense. Its usually the smaller stuff that sneaks up on you and becomes the classic. Girl in the Fireplace, School Reunion, Blink, Midnight, The Empty Child, Silence in the Library, Father's Day; these are the Davies Masterpieces that came on his watch, regardless of writers. Without Davies, this series wouldn't exist.

The Adam Hughes panel, and the Allison Sohn panel before it, were tremendously instructive. Adam is terribly funny as well as talented as an artist. The technical/shop talk in his panel was incredibly helpful to hear. Given that i've been inking Hughes pieces as part of my commissions, it was great to hear his approach to things. Why the Con put them into a room that sat about 50 people is a mystery. Bizarre situation.

I don't like Jim Lee's art. I know this is something that you're not supposed to say, but I don't. Its not bad, but it contains all those stupid little lines that pass for interesting andyet just remind me of everything that was bad about an entire decade of art. His Batman? So not my Batman.

i'm holding Detective #31, with what is, in my opinion, the most iconic cover ever. Action #1 and Detective #27 and Marvel #1 have history, yes, but this is the most interesting of them all, and immediately gives you everything you'll need to know to be totally intrigued to pick up the book. Its the only golden age book taht i've ever wanted. This CGC 7.0 copy is astonishing to look at. The corners have not even a single fold on them. i'm only holding about $120,000 worth of comics in my hands right then. Thanks Richard, from Houston's Bedrock Comics, for letting me get that close!

more tomorrow. I've got some new material to read as well, especially Grailpages, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, and some others.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Con is over, I'm looking forward to eating from my own kitchen, and walking without people bumping into every two feet. Reports begin tomorrow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The longbox platform sounds interesting as a standarized vehicle for delivering digital comics. While they are clearly working with publishers, that still locks out the little guy. When does the little guy get in on the micro-payment revolution?
Listening to the Uclik panel for comics for the iPhone and the audience is clearly not impressed. The Uclick people and Stan are having a tough time convincing people that this is worth spending any money on.
Geektastic looks like. Published by Little, brown & co, they very smartly put together a quick sample read. I'll buy a copy tomorrow.
There is every reason to believe that the vast majority of the popular entertainment the we consume is made out of deals sealed over drinks saturday nite at comic con. Doesn't matter what bar, just that you were there.

Friday, July 24, 2009

David Lloyd is bloody brilliant and a great guy to boot.
Even panels that in the past would have drawn only 15 people a few years ago have the dreaded volunteer holding a sign to limit things. Yikes!
The decision to rebrand the "scifi" channel to "Syfy" is a horrible disaster on every level.
Just held in my hands a 7.0 copy of Detective Comics #31 which, in my opinion, is the most iconic cover ever. Thanks to Richard, owner of Bedrock Comics in Houston, for letting me hold the book. Wow.
Moderately busy in san Diego, which means that I still had walking the aisles to buy the Dr Who toys for my daughters and thier cousins. Saturday will be absolute he'll. Bought the limited edition Darwyn Cooke edition today. Nice stuff.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sketching Schedule at San Diego

Quci reminder: I'll be sketching two times for The Cartoon Art Museum at their booth. They are at booth #1930, and I'll be sketching a little of everything on Thursday from 2-3pm and also Sunday from 2-3pm. If you're a reader and want to say "Hello", it would be great to hear from you! Please stop by!

Thursday's sketching session will be myself and Ted Naifeh, he of Death Jr. and Courtney Crumrin.

Sundays sketching will be just me, as far as I know.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In Review Of: Wednesday Comics and Who's Your Whiny Bitch?

Picked up the first two Wednesday comics and absolutely loved the format. The size and spectacle is just great and it makes the whole thing fun to look at. I love the experiment and while I'm not sure that each and every strip will be a gem, god bless 'em for trying something, ANYTHING new.

I've always found that people who have nothing to do with comics, no background in them at all, are much more impressed by the original art when they see it. I really believe that the size and spectacle of it make the achievement of producing a good piece of art much more noticeable to the average viewer. They "get" the amount of work that goes into it. That same reduction in size that the artist likes to have "tighten" up the final print version also makes it less... well, just less.

As for the stories, they will likely suffer from the compression and the need to really cliffhanger out of every tabloid page, but what the hell. Sook is doing his best Hal Foster, and Pope is just doing drugs and it looks great. My only quibble is that while I love Sean "Cheeks" Galloway and his art, the layout isn't doing him any favors.

Now for the whiny post of the week -
Wednesday Comics is sort of becoming a bummer though. It’s just a gloomy thing to look at. Not the art — the colors are just very dark for me. The comics, some are good, some have the Teen Titans in them (!), but it’s just — I don’t know. It’s the dark thing. I guess they had no way of doing test-prints or…? It’s such a neat project, and I do like some of the strips, Azzarello and Risso working together or Joe Kubert or whoever, but: I hope they can fix that and adjust in time to save things... I do wish more people had taken a look at the classic Sunday strips, or strips at all, but that’s a pretty nerdy and cliche complaint that I feel kind of lame for even typing. “ - Abhay Kholsa
you're kidding right? Have you not looked at some of the awful, overdone, too bright coloring that we've been subjected to over the last 20 years? Do I need to harm you with the word "flexographics"? So the reproduction isn't perfect, it doesn't need to be. I have been so bombarded with such a ridiculous amount of over done coloring, where each and every abdominal muscle is given its own reflective shine that to have a flatter and frankly less blinding coloring job is just fine with me. Read the damn thing and quit griping. Especially about the Superman/Batman stuff. yeesh.

The Martini is Kicking In...

and I'm having philosophical debates with myself over going to San Diego, none of which has anything to do with the business side of it. I've blogged many times, most recently last week, over the need for the type of material that we do to be "pop" culture, with the emphasis on "pop" as in " "popular". Iron Man, treated like a second class hero by Marvel for the majority of his existence (despite being in the Avengers) has never been as "pop" as when Morton Downey Jr. played him. Dark Phoenix? The same. Famke looks great wearing the "bad".

No, this has everything to do with the fact that like a jilted college student whose favorite band has suddenly hit it big, I'm being nostalgic for the old Comic Con, with its shitty little tables and small time entrepeneurs, and I'm remembering being a poor college student and aspiring artist and sleeping on the floor of the Westgate (thanks Ron) with my leather jacket as a great blanket, and being part of marginal part of American culture.

Lets face it, we were dying. but somehow, when i was sorting through stacks of original artwork on these crappy little card tables, I was holding the original Gil Kane artwork to Iron Man #66, with Thor about to clock Tony with his hammer, and my heart simply stopped for a moment. There wasn't me trying to game some online auction by Heritage to get a piece of vintage artwork like I did 3 years ago to get a great Kirby/Ayers FF page (thanks Alaina), it was just me wishing that i had more money in my pocket to buy the damn thing. Same thing when I held the splash page to MOKF #39 i my hands and the dealers were trying to push the thing on me so that it could remain a set with the splash to MOKF #40.

The year is 1988, and I'm falling in love with comics all over again at my first visit to San Diego.

Despite living in California a decent chunk of my life, i had never made the journey down to San Diego. My family was fairly poor, and never supported my love of comics nor my desire to be an artist. They still don't, to this day, despite making a living off of being a professional artist for almost a decade in the '90's, nor have they ever even understood that what I did mattered to anyone out there. Without being Frank Miller, I can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that there have been people out there who have read and enjoyed the work that i've done, and I take that to heart every time I sit in my studio at 1am, struggling with a panel that doesn't work. Its worth it to make it work. Someone out there will care and will notice, i tell myself. And sometimes I'm right.

I'm toning page 8 for The Human Hourglass and preparing materials to take down to my 20th San Diego. Geek Prom, as my friend Lis calls it, is about to begin. Good. Let the freak flag fly. Let those of us who championed this form of entertainment get yet another sly smile at the 8 hour lines to get in and know that we were right when everyone else thought that we were idiots. Our shit is cool. Come and get it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sketching Schedule at San Diego Comic Con

I'll be sketching two times for The Cartoon Art Museum at their booth. They are at booth #1930, and I'll be sketching a little of everything on Thursday from 2-3pm and also Sunday from 2-3pm.

Thursday's sketching session will be myself and Ted Naifeh, he of Death Jr. and Courtney Crumrin. I love Ted's work and have never met him, so it'll be a treat to do some drawing with him.

Swing on by and pick up a cheap sketch, the money goes to a good cause. i have the feeling that we'll be knocking them out during the hour. you get additional style points if you ask for a sketch from my webcomic The Carnival. Plus, if you're a fan of the blog, please stop by and say "Hullo", which would be a treat. You never know who the hell is reading this, much less enjoying it!

And here is one of my favorite panels from The Carnival: The Human Hourglass page 9. no tones yet, but this one came out just like the thumbnail, which is always cool.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Work: Black Cat by Rubi & Yoakum

An ink commission of the Black Cat, who I really liked as Spider-Man's girlfriend. Ah well.

Also, head on over the YoComics.net and a new page is up! Page 6 is now up for The Carnival: The Human Hourglass.

I have learned that writing, drawing and inking the pages is one thing, putting the tones on them to my satisfaction is far easier said than done. I'm already thinking of how to modify this for the future so that i can work quicker.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pros and Cons of the San Diego Multi-Media Con

I realize now that when i typed my last post on this that while my tongue was firmly planted in cheek as I typed that I'm not sure that this came through in the post. With the con warm-up in full swing, and already the concerns about the Twilight fans mobbing the place (taking place over in Occasional Superheroine), lets address the pros and cons of the San Diego Multi-Media Con.

While I may get annoyed at how the San Diego experience has changed (and this will be number 21 for me, so I can claim to at least have been here for a while), I think that most everyone who is whinging is forgetting the absolute ghostland that the Con was threatening to become when comics were dying and the movies hadn't yet pumped up the properties. We were, for all intents and purposes, an endangered species.

And now we have to ask ourselves: why are we pissed off about all the attention that comic characters and comic properties get in the general press? What this means, really, is that you're upset about comics as a medium not getting respect, not comics stories. What do I mean? Let me explain.

For years, for decades, we were told that comics were crap, the stories were crap, that they would rot your brain. And yet those of us who were fans of, lets say, the Claremont/Byrne X-Men knew that they were good stories. And we knew that there were good Spider-Man stories as well. And now we know that the stories are fun and do entertain people. 1 Billion dollars in receipts from those movie franchises should validate that. So if the stories were entertaining, what is it then? That comics as a vehicle can only work for superheroes? Maus, Persepolis, Blankets and a whole host of others should invalidate that arguement. So I guess that the two main reasons that you could call comics crap have been invalidated. I feel validated for all these years of loving these stupid little picture stories. You were wrong, we were right.

And now everyone is pissed that a vampire story has a huge fan base? Can we say these words again: a vampire movie is actually motivating hoardes of young people to enjoy escapiest literature and might lead them to other properties? You're upset that people actually can talk about seeing X-Men and Spider-Man and not being embarssed to admit they liked it? If I was single i'd love there are hoardes of young women who are coming to this convention and that might find other things that they didn't know existed. You're angry that these women love their property as much as you do yours.

And this is different how from all those guys who dress up as stormtroopers or Predator?

Women have always been in short supply at these conventions, and while it did give a segment of people who were beat up for being "different" in high school a place to be themselves, sadly that segment of society was usually "male", and females were part of the other group. All which made it difficult for those women who loved comics, loved the characters. I feel for them coming into the locker room. No matter that the locker room is filled with Green Lantern spandex.

I don't want to marginalized again. If we want to survive, we need to be a popular press and that includes doing things to make ourselves popular again. The mercenary businessman in says, "Their money spends the same as a true fan's money." You may not be impressed with who you sell it to, but its money. And you may just have a few more converts along the way.

New Work: Rogue by Yoakum

A new ink commission of Rogue! Loved doing the graphic on the hair.

The honest truth is, after spending time pencilling, which I'm admittedly much rustier at than inking, stressing about all the structure and negative/positive and figures etc, picking up a brush to make a pretty version when someone else has done some of the back end work is damn fun.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Random Thoughts: The San Diego Multi-Media Con

A quick Dalek sketch, as drawn by my 5 year old daughter this morning.

As july continues, I find myself wondering the same thing that I thought last year: when is some enterprising young person going to run a comic book convention in San Diego at the same time as the San Diego Comic Con? They'd have everyone already in town. they just need to rent a small hall and get flyers out.

Now, I know that it sounds like a radical idea, but really it isn't. It would help put our marginal little community back where it belongs: in the basement of some church that doesn't have air conditioning, or the back part of the convention hall that hasn't been updated since 1976. We can get our smelly little brethren all into one place and finally have those talks about girls that we've been wanting to have since there will be no girls there. You wear your old "flash gordon" T-shirt and I'll wear my "FOOM" shirt in solidarity.

We can't put the genie back in the bottle. Mainstream culture is on to us now: girls read comics, girls draw comics, and they even write them and they're not going away. There are too many copies of "Watchmen" DVDs for us to take out back and burn. They've figured out that we do escapist entertainment reasonably well and they're ready to pillage and plunder without mercy.

It makes me feel old. I've been going to these damn things since I was, as near as I can figure, 8 or 9 years old and now i'm 43 and I'm probably still seeing the same copies of Detective and All Star for same at prices that would have bought a house back in 1975. And I still like the inventiveness and the storytelling and getting transported by a good story into somewhere "else" and I realize that that is what i'm most on about these days. Getting transported.

It happens in all sorts of different places. i was about the give up on "Nana" vol 2, which just wasn't getting there for me and the very end of the book got to me. and then i put it down and read the newest TPB of Thor and really enjoyed Straczynski's story and was transported back in the Marvel Universe yet again. I get transported when I click over to the great webcomic Sin Tutulo. Its just cool. Going to San Diego both pisses me off and makes me happy. Harried as well.

Pissed off since I'm sure that very few people are transported by my work, which is what i really want to be doing: trying to give some readers the same thrill ride that i get from other's work. But i'm getting there, little bit by little bit I suppose. After struggling with my own artistic impulse for well over a decade, i suppose it will take time now to grow. Happy because I love seeing all the different and great work thats out there to experience and its pretty much all there in one spot.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Work: Red Sonja by Batista & Yoakum

Why yes, I have been working, thanks for asking. Processing my thoughts of getting ready for the San Diego Media Con, as well as finishing the pencils for page 9 of The Carnival: The Human Hourglass and knocking out a couple of comissions. Here is a second Red Sonja piece, my favorite of the two. Pencils by Adriano Batista, inks by Yoakum.

As they say, we'll talk soon. My people will call your people and they'll do lunch.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

In Review of: Let The Right One In

While I've normally kept this blog to comics only, and believe me, its been hard to do when Doctor Who or Torchwood kick out an especially good episode, but until now i've stuck to my guns. Well, I will break my promise today after watching Let The Right One In, a swedish vampire story that is so well done and on so many levels that i know I'll be thinking about it for days, if not weeks.

It is, I hate to say it, the epitome of Non-American Filmmaking (NAF): it respects your intelligence by not handing you everything on a silver platter, letting the relationships grow between the characters, and even ending in a way the could be taken in multiple directions, depending upon how you wish to read the film. It deals with all sorts of things that Hollywood would never touch: kid on kid violence, and pre-teen sexuality to name just two.

And it doesn't try to subvert the genre in a "Scream" way either. It uses vampire lore to tell a story, not to tell a vampire story. In this film, the vampire isn't the monster. Instead, it is the adults and they way they ignore the protagonist Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) that make them the biggest monsters of all. Oskar's new neighbor, Eli (Lina Leandersson), just happens to live off of blood, but she is neither the monster nor the innocent. She just is who she is. And things go from there.

I found myself incredibly impressed with the economy of storytelling in the shots on the movie, and the creative and effective way that they delivered the details of the story. While not a master class in directing, this may be my favorite vampire movie of all time. Go rent it. Now.