Comic-Con Art and Artists Report – Part 2 of 2 August 6, 2010 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to the second of two wrap-ups for art and artists encountered at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. (To find the first, click on the “Blogs” link and scroll down.) More photos this time around. Let’s go!

–Chatted with William Stout regarding his hilariously blasphemous piece “Happy Easter” (with Jesus as a zombie) that appeared in one of the SPECTRUM annuals. A good friend of mine is a big fan and a devout Christian so he wanted to know basically, “What were you thinking?” Bill explained he was doing a gallery show and the owner wanted new paintings with a theme. Bill suggested dinosaurs (of course) but the owner passed. He then showed one of his zombie works and the guy exclaimed, “Zombies! I can sell zombies! Let’s do it!” So Stout painted some new ones to go along with other favorites like the (in)famous Flagg-inspired Uncle Sam “I Want You” zombie and the “Undead Mona Lisa” works. After painting “Happy Easter”, he said his Christian friends told him he was going straight to hell. Ouch! Like me, though, he just thought it was a funny piece. (“Jesus has a sense of humor, too” he told me in his soft but slightly mischievous voice).

–Met the talented Benton Jew (yes, that’s his name) whose moniker I caught on the “illustrator” credits for the new Nic Cage SORCERER’S APPRENTICE flick. Asked him how that differs from a storyboardist and he explained it involves more conceptual, single piece artwork (Unfortunately, his contribution, a huge demon inspired by the one from FANTASIA, was cut from the film.) As a storyboardist myself I’m always interested in how these guys get their gigs. I congratulated Benton on landing his and then found out after I bought his sketchbook that the guy’s been in the movie business for over twenty years! He’s drawn boards and/or art for GHOSTBUSTERS 2, THE MASK, PHANTOM MENACE, MEN IN BLACK, T2, THE HULK, G.I. JOE and even THOR. And here I am congratulating him like it’s his first big project. (Nice one, Mike!) I would have put my foot in my mouth but I needed it to walk away red-faced. *sigh.*

–Met Jim and Ruth Keegan and had my first exposure to their wonderful work. They met in art school, draw in similar styles, and collaborate on illustrations and paintings for many books and other publications. They were set up with Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about their techniques and accomplishments. Sorry I didn’t photograph them but glad I bought a sketchbook.

–Shot the breeze with our very own Joe Rubenstein! Only met him once before when we both had pieces in a MOCA show in NYC for a Dave Cockrum benefit five years ago. I found out several things:

1. Joe has met just about everybody and has acquired some amazing, shocking and entertaining stories over a multi-decade career.

2. Joe is built “like a fireplug” (his words) and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

3. Joe has incredible artwork for sale–gorgeous inks over some amazing pencillers like Gray Morrow, Sal Veluto, Tony DeZuniga and Ernie Colon among newer stuff like his recent Green Arrow mini-series.

4. Joe attended figure drawing classes at the highly-acclaimed Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Arts, taught by the highly-respected Nathan Fowkes (whose worked on Shrek and a ton of other films). Joe literally pulled me over to watch a live demonstration of Mr. Fowkes’ doing a charcoal drawing from a live model. Couldn’t stay for all of it but you can see the results here: (Prepared to be blown away…)

5. Joe is one helluva painter as well! In person the oils and portrait drawings are stunning. 

–Said hi to the almighty Buzz, who actually remembered me from nearly two years ago. (Must’ve been my India Ink body spray.) Told me he’s been doing mostly advertising to boost his income, due to the low pay in comics and family bills. Good for him and his family, bad for fans like us. I helped a bit by buying a sketchbook from him and he was kind enough to do a quick ink sketch of Vampirella’s face. (How can someone “sketch” with a brush and ink? Only guys as skilled as Buzz can.)

–Attended a demo panel by Darick Robertson on “expressive figure poses.” He drew a pencil of Wolverine while he talked to the crowd, with the art to be sold off later at the CBLDF auction. His comments about the character and how he should stand were quite insightful. He also showed us a recent CONAN cover with a rare quiet moment as the hero wipes off his sword after battle. I was surprised how young a guy Darick is, and how laid back he is. Unfamiliar with his work, I was pleased to find out two of his biggest influences were John Buscema and Frank Frazetta. I like the guy already!

–As usual, I attended IP attorney (and big original art collector) Michael Lovitz’s “Comic Book Law School”® about copyrights and trademarks. He now gives three 90-minute seminars, and I’ve attended at least one almost every year he’s done them. This trip I was able to attend the second and two-thirds of the third, along with a separate panel devoted to “hot topics” like the ongoing Siegel Superman lawsuit. I also attended my first Comic Arts Conference (CAF) panel which featured a full background and update on both that case and the new Kirby estate vs. Marvel/Disney suit. All were fascinating, insightful, and incredibly informative. The amount of knowledge and education Michael and others offer in these panels are well worth the price of the show. Even if I didn’t get in free as a pro, I’d pay just to attend these. (I’ll do another blog about the lawsuits later, as it’s riveting stuff.)

–Saw some incredible art, even though I never had time to visit the usual (excellent) dealers’ tables. This bountiful booth displayed original Kirbys and Frazettas side-by-side…and I almost messed my shorts! Not shown were one of the signed and remarqued (with ink sketch) limited prints from the first Frazetta museum, sold in the ’80s for $600–now retailing for about $3500. (Not a bad return, assuming one would have the heart to sell it.)

Okay, that about does it for this year. Any questions or comments are ALWAYS welcome. Tell me who you saw, what you heard and what you picked up–I’d love to hear about it…Even if it sends me into a fit of envy as I’m sure it will. (I am no longer amazed at who and what I miss due to the show’s unwieldy size.)

Thanks for stopping by!



P.S.: I’m still not organized from the trip but ready to resume commissions. Just ask Craig for one here!

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