Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comic Con 40

After I moved to San Diego in 1995, I began attending Comic Con. I’d drive my orange Jeep downtown and park just east of the Gaslamp and walk into the con on free passes handed to me by a friend of a friend who worked at the convention center. At that time, I was used to shows about as big from Boston and New York—about 40,000 attendees. I remember looking at the displays, looking at the indie comics, attending a panel or two. But mostly I was buying old back issues. It was definitely the place to complete my 60s/70s Legion and Teen Titans collection.

Over the years, I started getting into the portfolio review lines, trying to meet “famous” creators and publishers, to a frustrating end. Frustrating, but led to good things: turning Arche-Lady into portfolio-level work, and ultimately embarking on a serious self-publishing career. Once I began publishing, Comic Con became “serious business” for me to recup exhibiting fees and networking for new deals.

Years later, the publishing seems to take care of itself, and I seem to get more attention by simply doing my thing rather than active networking. So this time around, I went to Comic Con to see old friends and have fun. And it was indeed very fun! These days Comic Con pulls in 125,000+ attendees—it's crazy!

Thursday, I flew in from Boston. En route, I met an Image artist Christian Ward coming in from London and killed time chatting in Logan airport. When I arrived in San Diego that night, I met up with my hotel-mates at the Gaslamp Westin. After a shower (solo), we went to the infamous Hyatt for industry chit-chat and a few drinks. Friday morning, Aman and I hit the hotel gym and made our way to the convention. After registering, we walked around a bit and went to the DC green room. Spent time in the big exhibits of DC, Marvel, Image, etc, and then through artist alley. Met Seth Estrada, who is making a documentary about his dad Ric (who I knew best for drawing war comics). I then had a signing @ the Prism Comics booth (where my books were on sale) with a steady stream of guests. After a little relaxing, we grabbed some food and then back to the Hyatt for more industry chit-chat.

Saturday, once again, Aman and I hit the hotel gym, though I had to hot-foot it to the con to be on time for my Saturday signing. This one wasn’t advertised, so it wasn’t nearly as busy. Chatted with Andy Suriano a bit and bought his book. Walked through the smaller publishers and gushed over Chynna Clugston a little. We left the con for a drink and then I went back to appear on a panel about romance comics. The panel turned out to be really good. The moderator tailored questions for the panelists, who in turn gave some quality answers. No one dominated the panel either. I think it turned out to be the best panel I’ve ever been on! That night was the BGD gathering and ultimately was back at the Hyatt again.

Sunday morning, friends held a spot in line for me to get into the Doctor Who panel. David Tennant (who looked like he sexily just rolled out of bed) graciously gave us an extended look at his happy trail. That was one weird panel. While I like Doctor Who, and David Tennant is definitely hot, I was surprised by all the girl-squealing going on. I mean, the crowd was crazy-silly. I started watching the show because I am a fan of Catherine Tate (see my post “Doctor, Donna, and kitty”); I was tempted to get in line to ask if David would deliver my drawing of them to her. :P I bolted back to the hotel to check out and headed out of town.

A bit of a whirlwind, and I spent a bit too much money between comics, t-shirts, food, and many drinks…but a very fun time!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Comic Con International

Yay, Comic Con! I haven't been since 2007, so I am eager to go and see many old friends. Comic Con is the largest comic con in the US... 100,000 + attendees. I have been going most years since I lived in San Diego more than a decade ago. When I began self-publishing seriously, I started exhibiting. This year, I will not be exhibiting, only attending as a "professional" and will do a few booth signings and also will be on a romance comics panel. Exhibitng is fun, but exhausting for a large 5 day show. It can be sensory overload. So, very excited to just go for mostly fun.

I drew this little Superman on some scrap Bristol board during TCAF in May. I love goofy monsters and aliens, and here Supes is getting blasted by this one's fire breath. I quickly colored it in Painter to use as a homepage update-y thing for my Comic Con schedule for my site. I purposefully colored Supes in a short sleeved uniform, but I'm not sure if I like that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

France et Serge

Final entry for France Gall week!

I made this for the "Draw Serge" blog which I enjoy. It's a tribute to one of the most influencial song writers ever, Serge Gainsbourg. I like a lot of the art featured there.

Considering his collaborations with wife Jane Birkin and sexpot Brigit Bardot, I'm not wholly surprised there weren't any drawings featuring France Gall, though the two were linked together by a number of pop hits and the "Les Succettes" scandal.

Here I draw them circa 1965, a la their Eurovision Songcontest win. You can see 16 year old France's awful Eurovision perfomance at Youtube. But the song was still good enough to win—the first time a pop song won the contest.

I took the opportunity to draw them for the blog and practice using Painter as well. Aside from the suit stripes, I am pretty happy with my progress using the "chalk" feature in Painter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

France in America(n Apparel)

Taking inspriation from France Gall songs from the '60s comes my "line" of t-shirts: Love, L'amour und Liebe (top); Computer Nr. 3 (middle); and Haifischbaby (bottom). "Computer Nr. 3" was recorded in 1968 and is a song about computer dating!—"love is guaranteed with the computer." The gist of "Haifischbaby" is "I love you so much I could eat you." These designs are printed on high quality soft American Apparell t-shirts and are available for sale at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

France en Allemande

France Gall's career was waning ahome when she signed with Decca and scored some hits abroad in Germany. Some of the songs are laughably stereotypical you can imagine people bobbing along in lederhosen. But then other tracks are among my most favorite of all her work. Some of the songs are covers of foreign hits, but lucky France got to record lots of original music, unlike many of her Euro-contemporaries, and I like most of those too.

Recently someone likened her to a late 60s Britney Spears. To that I say "no!" Sure, her career was made possible by a pushy parent (songwriter father) and built on her looks, but as a singer has much more talent and skill than Brit. First, she could sing flawlessly in French, Italian and German (I'm not sure how flawless her Spanish singing was). Second, she could and did perform live—and in at least 3 of those languages. Thirdly, into her adult years, France dealt with much adversity admirably (ie, she wasn't Fd up).

The hair and dress in the drawing here is inspired by her German career. Also, she's singing "Haifischbaby" ("Baby Shark"). This panel appeared in my OGN "Love is the Reason" despite the fact that France circa 1968 appears in a modern-day story. Sure, doesn't make sense, but it's the only time I've ever featured an actual person in any of my comics.

Monday, July 13, 2009

France Gall week

In conjunction to my submission to the "Draw Serge!" blog, I am posting entries of his frequent song doll, France Gall. In the early '60s, France Gall was considered something like the Leslie Gore of France. Though her repertoire ranged from jazz to pop to children's songs. Here are a few pencil sketches I did a few years back, with her various hairdo's. Her later recordings with husband Michael Berger are considered better, but I confess I like a lot of the early work, particularly the jazz-y/lounge-y stuff.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Il ragazzo della via Gluck

I grew up in a small town, maybe 5,000 people, and in a small neighborhood, maybe 10 houses. Across the street from our house was a huge field; buried within the field were maybe 3 apple trees and a huge rock with raspberry bushes around it. In summertime, we'd sleep in the field overnight and watch the shoting stars. Beyond the field was a small pond which I learned to skate on in the winter.

A few weeks ago, I visited the neighborhood where I lived as a little boy. I was in the mood to see the field and surrounds which I hadn't seen in maybe 20 years or more. I was really shocked when I went there. Of course, the scale of the houses and yards felt very different, since my memories are from me as a very small child. But the trees, which were only less than 10 years old when I left that neighborhood were now immense and overshadowed the tiny houses as the encroached from the edges of the woods.

There were only a few additional houses, and the road work had not been extended much. However, someone apparently stopped haying the field many years ago, because the field was completely gone...completely overtaken by the forest. I doubt I could have found the pond, and certainly the rock would no longer be sourrounded by raspberries. Immediately jumping to mind was the song "Tar and Cement." Even though it wasn't construction taking over my childhood memories, the excursion was a sharp notification that nothing is as it was.

Back to the song, digging around a bit, I learned it was a folk-y pop hit in Italian first "Il ragazzo della via Gluck" before Françoise Hardy made a hit of it in French "La Maison Ou J'ai Grandi" and then Verdelle Smith in English. All versions hit on the same thing... where did it all go?

Anyway, this sketch is 5 year old me with present day me in the field circa 1975.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chocolate and peanut butter

I've been playing around with Painter! Since using my Wacom tablet, brush strokes, and coloring in general are not my strong suits, I figure better to start practicing on bold, simple drawings. Here, I've used the "chalk" tool for a very grainy effect, and layering colors from the bottom up. Definitely getting easier the more I use it, and looking a bit better too (see entry "Gym class fairy").

I drew this after Adam and I got together for one of our Sunday evening "cartoon night" events. I had a little leftover frosting from making cupcakes, so we were adding it to our animal crackers with peanut butter treat. It was REALLY yummy, but also felt really trashy. I couldn't stop laughing sheepishly.

I don't laugh extendedly often, but whenever I am stuck on something like this, or the clown tatoo comic from the Sunday paper, Adam will also laugh extendedly, more at me than what I am laughing at.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oh, Jürgen

My latest "thing" is men in their mid-30s circa 1977. Think Gary Sandy on WKRP in Cincinnati with tight jeans, and tight western shirt open nearly halfway down to his navel and nice hair. Or, if you prefer your Euro-men, Jürgen Drews from the horrific German pop group the Les Humphries Singers. Jürgen botched his solo during the 1976 Eurovison Song Contest during the silly song "Sing Sang Song" but nails it time and again for "Ein Bett im Kornfeld," his big solo hit. For a brief moment, I was involved in a drawing collective; there would be a new assignment every 2 weeks. For the assignment "something about music" I started this illustration of the Les Humphries Singers from their Eurosvision appearance. Love Jürgen in his tight bells, jacket, vest-with-no-shirt underneath, medallion, and silk scarf. If I had been a young man in the 70s, this is definitely how I'd dress.