Despite the alligators and the toll roads, MegaCon 2014 was a huge success! (MegaCon is in Orlando hence the alligators, etc.) Emphasis on huge: the last count I heard for Saturday’s attendance was 80,000 … not too shabby. But crowd control worked pretty well I think, although my wife said the concourse looked like something out of “World War Z” at times.
The best part of attending a convention is meeting people who share a similar enthusiasm for this goofy stuff. A few shout outs, then to some new acquaintances:
Johnny Nguyen is a talented cartoonist and infinitely nice guy whose webcomic Finn Comics, ended this December. We’ll be anxious to see his next project!
Erin Humiston came by Sunday from his own booth to chat briefly. I didn’t know until I looked him up online what a talent he is. Erin has a clean confident animated style that you can see here.
Finally Rob Harrell stopped by Sunday for an all-too-brief visit. Rob created the syndicated strip Big Top and recently published Monster on the Hill through Top Shelf Productions. It was late, otherwise I’d have asked him how he got so good and what’s it like to have 365 deadlines a year? Take a look at Rob’s work at www.robharrell.com
Camden Bottoms was recently reviewed on the Webcomic Police web site. The review was written by the Webcomic Hipster, who clearly has a superior understanding of intellectual sensitivity, quality draftsmanship, and sweet melancholy. Check out the Webcomic Police review here!
The 2nd Spectrum Fantastic Art Live show in Kansas City ended this past weekend, and with it comes a lull in my convention schedule. It’s a time when I can crawl back to the drawing board and avoid sunlight, household chores, family obligations, etc., and commit myself to bringing Camden Bottoms to my adoring public. I went to 3 events this Spring starting with the first launch of Wizard World Comic Con in St. Louis, which, judging by the crowds (even during a blizzard!), won’t be the last. A couple of weeks later I attended Planet Comic Con in Kansas City for the first time and was stunned by the crowd- any more attendance like that and it’ll have to move to San Diego! It was back then to KC for Spectrum for what is arguably my favorite event, probably because it’s centered around art. A few shout outs, then to some new acquaintances:
My booth at Spectrum was directly across from Jeremy Bastian, creator of Cursed Pirate Girl, who very patiently put up with my sweating and gushing over his insanely beautiful work. It’s nice to see the return of an attention span!
Michael J. Buckley came by to offer some much appreciated encouragement and gave me a copy of his book, “60 Ways to Leave Your Mother (Alone)”. On the surface, it’s an activity book for 2 young children, but the activities usually take unpredictable and sometimes bizarre turns. The book is infinitely charming and beautifully illustrated.
Carl Anderson was at Spectrum again this year, and I was lucky enough to be interviewed by him shortly before the show. Carl is an eloquent and tireless patron of the arts- please visit his blog and read my interview (and others) at Stainless Steel Droppings.
Adam Smith writes comics and writes well! Adam and artist Matt Fox have recently joined with Archaia Publishing to release their new book: “Long Walk to Valhalla”. Adam was kind enough to buy one of my books and give me a teaser copy of “Valhalla” among other books. You can view other work by Adam and Matt at Wet Black Ghost.
I became a fan of Chris Grine when I received a copy of “Chickenhare: Fire in the Hole” (published by Dark Horse), at Planet Comic Con. It turns out that someone with this kind of twisted imagination is genuinly a nice guy!! Please check out more at Chickenhare.
Finally, a shout out to Matt Eeks, an artist and a gentleman, who showcased his art at Spectrum for the first time this year. You can see Matt’s work at his website Eeks Art.
I thought I’d post some sketches of Ridley I did while I was still getting acquainted with the cast. Since my training at the Kubert School, I’d always felt more comfortable inking with a brush. It yields a lush and juicy line (usually) and is the preferred tool for classic comic book rendering. So the early attempts at continuity with these characters were drawn with a brush, in fact the first few days of “Whither Thou Ridley” were drawn with a brush, particularly as I was mimicking the size and format of old timey syndicated comics, and I needed something that would give me a steady line while outlining Ray’s clean, oval head. I soon realized I needed to reduce the scale of the originals to increase my comfort zone while inking. I also abandoned the brush – dramatic pause.
I switched to pen and ink when I realized it provided a more textured and interesting line- at least for my silly purposes. Anyhow, the sketches above are an example of me trying to answer questions about Ridley …. “Does his glasses rest on his ears like normal folk?” and “Does he have breasts?” or for that matter “nipples?”. I just realized he looks a little naked without a pipe. I ‘m glad Ridley doesn’t have nipples.
I recently bought another IDW imprint- “Big John Buscema“(sorry, son, it looks like community college for you). While it highlights Buscema’s long and prolific career in comics, it also features examples of his partially inked “warm-up” sketches. These sketches reminded me how much I loved John Buscema’s inking. Like Gil Kane and John Romita, Buscema was the best inker of his own work.
Buscema spent most of the ’70′s and 80′s at Marvel penciling multiple titles per month. This meant that for most titles, he was essentially producing rough layouts; any detail was the responsibility of the inker and most left a strong aftertaste (Ernie Chua, I’m looking in your direction!). This is unfortunate since I think Buscema’s inking ranks with Hal Foster and Alex Raymond in its rich texture and bold thick-to-thin brushwork. Buscema’s brushwork over light, loose pencils are particularly enjoyable for me as it gives an insight into his thought process. It’s clear that Buscema was drawing during the inking stage, instead of coldly recording the decisions that tight pencils had already made.
The other night I was watching a You Tube video of John Buscema sketching and inking an image of Captain America. I was trying to show my son, who’s getting into drawing (quite well!) what I meant by loose drawing. It struck me while watching, that Buscema held his brush the way people hold a pencil. Most inkers of the current generation (that I’ve noticed) hold their brushes low on the ferrule, their hands sideways over the page, flicking backwards with the wrist as the pivot point. It makes for a clean, precise line- but not necessarily an interesting line. I think I’ll try that method the next time I’m noodling with a brush …. I’m sure it’ll look like I used a tater tot instead of a brush.
According to Florentino Florez, who provided the biographical data in Big John Buscema, Buscema was never satisfied with his work in comics. Working on so many titles simultaneously, producing rough layouts, left him wishing he could take his time on some of his projects. His favorite title was Conan and over the years, in his spare time, he plotted and drew his own Conan adventure. He took his time with this one and in the end he published it with Roy Thomas through Marvel as a graphic novel called Conan the Rogue. Naturally, it’s out of print- but I’m biding my time, haunting ebay and trade shows for a chance to enjoy Buscema at his best.