“I was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
My mama used to dance for the money they’d throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good”.
Now that that is out of the way let us proceed.
I have collected comics my whole life and I am passionate about them, to
a fault. But I have never been to a comic book convention let alone
had a table at one to appear as an artist. That seems odd to some I know,
but the places I have lived have never been big convention towns. Heck,
I live in Colorado now and you’d think Denver would have one or two, but
I had been thinking about attending the Tulsa convention with my friend
Matt West. I was also considering seasons six through nine of Matlock
on Blu Ray. (Andy Griffith’s pores never looked so good). I was
vacillating between the expense of the trip, or the blu-ray discs when
Matt let me know he had contacted the convention and shown them some of
my work. They had extended an invitation for me to appear at a table in
the artist section. (Thanks Luke!) Decision made! Sorry Andy.
I took a small poll of friends and family to see which pieces I should
put in a portfolio. The thinking was to show potential clients what
they could expect from different levels of commissions. However, I
wasn’t thinking of the possibility of showing my portfolio to artists in
the business. A miscalculation for which I would pay dearly…alright,
that is needless sensationalism. It actually wasn’t that big a deal.
Just trying to jazz this story up a bit.
I left Colorado the Monday before the convention and stopped in Oklahoma
City to meet Matt and his family. I met his wonderful wife and child,
his sisters, mother and step-father. Matt and I hit some fantastic
comic shops, grabbed some grub and then headed back to his place.
Before I left I got several members of his family to pose for reference
material for some upcoming projects. It was a lot of fun. Matt’s
step-father, Wes, posed for a part in an upcoming Conan piece. He and I
are both huge Conan fans and I hated the idea of not having him in the
piece. Allison, Matt’s sister, was nice enough to be my Catwoman!
From there I continued on to Arkansas to visit my parents. Short four
hour trip, right? Not. I will state this: Map Quest is insane! I am
sure there is a way to use it that could have prevented my taking roads
that went through Travis Bickle’s apartment but WOW was it annoying.
“Drive 3.2 feet, then left through the drive thru at Arby’s.
Take your next left, drive 9 cubits to the McHanssen’s circular drive
way. Get Mrs. McHanssen’s recipe for sorghum snap candies.
Drive until the faces of those you have wronged float about you.
Next, turn right down the alley that looks like the best spot to cap
someone where no one will find the body.
Would you like to print this map?”
The car I took out there was my wife’s Prius. It is a phenomenal car!
It was one of the best driving experiences ever, but it does have an
idiosyncrasy. Worse, it has one that I did not know about.
If you put the gas nozzle all the way into the tank when you fill, it
reads it as the tank being full. You need to leave just a little space
for it to work properly. I was almost empty, when I stopped to tank up.
It fills for $.39. Well, that can’t be possible, so I reentered my card and
filled it again, $.82. Must be the pump. On to another pump, $.28. Must
be this station. Down the road, $1.03. Further down the road, I
pre-pay and it only takes in $.28 worth of gas. I go in to get my card
back to discover that my card has been declined. I dig through the car
and find 28 cents and pay in cash. (I make a point to have the cashier
see my Casio watch/calculator. I don’t want her thinking I’m some
ragamuffin that can’t roll with the gas crowd!)
I call my wife to see what is up with the car and what the “H” is up
with the card. She explains the Prius’ little quirk, and also tells me
that the bank flagged my account due to all the tiny odd purchases.
Bless their hearts. Any hoo, I make it home and had a good times with
Friday I met up with Matt and Wes again at a place named “POPS” on Rt.
66. It is a great place. Hundreds of sodas to chose from. I loaded up
on sarsaparilla and cream soda. Why am I telling you this? I just want
you to know I can party with the best of them.
We went back to Matt’s and watched “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. I can
see how a lot of people wouldn’t like it. I did enjoy it though. I am
a sucker for most superhero movies. When I was a child I would thrill
to the adventures Spider-man on “Electric Company”. A View Master was a
wonderland of SUPERHEROES – and it was in 3-D dammit! So, when I see
a movie about a superhero/comic character I am still pretty excited.
Hell, I even liked the Man-Thing movie. Yes, there was a Man-Thing
The next day we are off to Tulsa for the convention. The first big
artist I got to talk to was Brian Denham, artist of “Iron Man:
Hypervelocity”. A real favorite of mine. He and his wife were both
wonderful to talk with. I was on a limited budget but I couldn’t pass
up a commission of his Iron Man. It turned out great! He was even nice
enough to look at my portfolio and gave me some great feedback.
The next artist I met was Joltin’ John Lucas. He is a hoot. I had a
great time listening to him and his wife Mindy. I know I was there to
ask art questions but most of the time I just like talking to people
about what naturally comes up, so John and I mostly talked about what odd
TV shows we watch.
At this point I need to point out that this only how I remember things.
When I write things like “We talked” and “wonderful to talk to”, I mean
I was there. I did have a good time listening to them talk, but in all
honesty, Matt was doing most of the talking. I am quite certain I came
across as a dolt. Regardless, John too, looked through my portfolio and
helped me with some questions.
At the end of day one I was trying to get to see Whilce Portacio. He
was in demand pretty much non stop all day long. His wife Joann is
tremendous. She took care of her husband and treated all of us fans
very well. She told us that Whilce was not going to have time that day
to look at my portfolio but would do so first thing the next day.
I did a number of sketches for people, met some great people, including
my online friend, John Schweiker aka Dr. Fantastic in person. What a
I even had time to check out the show myself a bit. Travis
from Speeding Bullet Comics had me do a Captain America drawing on a
Dark Avengers #1 (blank cover edition).
I started it on Saturday but could not finish it. Being my first show, I wasn’t used to trying to draw with so many distractions! In addition, I’m not the best traveler
in the world, and rarely sleep well while on the road, so by this point in the week, I was pretty tired.
Saturday night, Matt and I headed back to OK City to get some shut eye.
Unfortunately we missed a chance to hang out with John and Mindy that
night, as they called us after we’d already driven home! Bummer! It
may have been for the best though, as I couldn’t sleep that night
thinking about the day and the fact that I didn’t get that Captain
America sketch finished. I ended up getting up at 4am to finish the Cap
Sunday morning Matt and I arrive at the show a bit late. Whilce was
already knee deep in fans. So I missed my meeting with him. His wife
Joann was great though, trying all day to orchestrate a meeting for us.
At the end of the day I finally got my chance to sit down with him.
What a great guy. When he took the time to look through my portfolio he
didn’t get side tracked by anything else. He devoted all his attention
to the matter at hand. I was honored. He gave me some wonderful
feedback and things I can use in the future.
All in all I was very thankful for Brian, John and Whilce’s attention and help. I was honored
to talk to them all. Thank you.
I left the next day to drive back to Colorado. I was so excited to see
my wife, dog and two cats, I could hardly wait! About 40 miles outside
Denver I heard what I thought was a helicopter roaring over head. I
looked up, over and around, but could not figure out what was making
that noise! Then I realized…I had a tire go out. Not flat. A
shredder! I pulled over but I was in a section of traffic where they
had placed those huge concrete buttresses. I was getting set to change
the tire, trying to steel myself for the fact that I would be inches
away from semis racing at eighty miles per hour. I kept thinking this
is how movies begin. Just my luck.
Not much more to write. We started with Cher and now I leave you with
these wise words from Steve Martin’s “The Man With Two Brains”.
“Oh pointy birds, oh pointy, pointy, anoint my head anointy, nointy”