Well, I survived year 15 or 16 of the show and am back to report on things artistic. You get to read about it here for free, without paying four bucks for a cold pretzel and eight bucks for a plastic salad–and no rubbing elbows with 125,000 sweaty, smelly fans either! To make things easier on Craig (and your eyes for this site), I’m doing this in two parts, sprinkled with some of the 220-plus photos I took.
To expedite things (and for readability) I’m going with a bulleted format:
–Chatted with the great ASTRO CITY artist Brent Anderson for the first time. (Why was he not swamped with more fans when I was there? I’d actually prefer to think it was my B.O.) Found out he met Charles Schulz a few times, even received a critique when Brent was trying to sell a strip idea. Showed me his technique for AC: very rough pencils around printed size, scanned into Painter where they are “inked” in b/w line. Then shipped off to the colorist. Had no idea Painter allowed such perfect-looking brush and pen strokes! (Something else I have to save up for when I get my new computer, in addition to stupid Creative Suite. Thanks a lot, Brent!) Very cool.
–Regarding above, I did ask him about the so-called “original art conundrum” regarding digital art, which he addressed thoughtfully and eloquently. Not sure I agree 100 percent but it sure makes sense. (I’ll have to devote a separate blog to that topic for sure. Someone remind me, please.)
–Met the great Tom Palmer as it was his first SD con. Very nice man, genuine and sincere. When I complimented him on his incredible work (especially inking the uninkable Gene Colan), he said he always thought of himself as part of a team, and seemed quite grateful (if not a bit surprised) by all the praise he’d been receiving. Had him sign a page from TOMB OF DRACULA #7 (the first issue I got as a kid) which had also been signed by Gene, and which I bought from another talented Tom, writer Tom Field. Unfortunately I missed Mr. Palmer’s only panel which was moderated by Mark Waid. (Tom had not been at his table for Preview Night nor Thursday so I thought he was a no-show. I ended up at the Danny Elfman panel, which was a good substitute.) BTW, Tom is one helluva painter, too!
–While waiting to chat with Tom, I witnessed a bit of history. Legendary letterer Todd Klein met Tom for the first time and asked me to snap a pic on his camera. I did the same with mine.
–Stood in line to buy one of Neal Adams’ new sketch books (and have him sign a Bill Loebs tribute book to which we both contributed) but he was busy “reviewing” someone’s portfolio. If you’ve not heard, Neal has earned a reputation for hard crits, to say it mildly. (Another pro told me it’s like asking Neal to take a dump on your work!) Actually he was giving the young gentleman some very useful advice; it was just his constant peppering of expletives that made it sound worse than it was. (The guy was smiling thru most of it.)
Neal was suggesting he find lots of good photographs–from fashion magazines, sports magazines, whatever–and do nothing but trace them for about three months. After that, he would learn “so much” about anatomy, the way clothing drapes on the body, folds, lighting, movement and so on. Apparently the guy had earlier said something along the lines of his friends thought that would be “cheating.” Neal stressed that many great illustrators and artists have used such a technique. (Actually he said “all” of them and cited a pretty huge list but I don’t think that is accurate. I’m all but positive that Hal Foster, Hogarth, Kirby, Frazetta Kane, Kubert and Wrightson did not, among others. Some used live models, some learned from books, others used both. But I now believe that Neal did because of the wonderful photo-realistic quality he gets, even when he’s drawing figures from his imagination. If that’s the look you’re seeking, it’s a great way to learn.)
Neal firmly replied (and I’m paraphrasing), “…and you don’t want to do it because of what your f**king FRIENDS say? Because they think it’s f**king “cheating? What the f**k do THEY know? F**K THEM! They don’t mean A THING. Who gives a s**t what they say? You’re placing way too much f**king importance on others’ opinions. How is that going to make you a better artist?” Great stuff.
–Another nice chat with Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, the wonderfully skilled couple behind the amazing BOILERPLATE book. If you’ve not seen it, it’s a masterpiece of digital art and retouching, as Paul took a robot toy and transformed it into an icon of alternate history. He was selling some amazing prints of the character with Teddy Roosevelt, Pancho Vila and other historical figures. Check it out!
–Attended a Web comics Q and A panel with Scott Kurtz and a few other guys. Not only informative, but Kurtz is friggin’ FUNNY. (I lucked out by grabbing the first two PVP trades at half off at the show.) When he found out that the room was at full capacity mostly due to a Lost panel afterwards, he started giving away “secrets” of the final episode to tick off the crowd. A young girl dressed as a zombie asked a query and he said, “I hope you feel better.” Too funny!
–Speaking of full panels, I was the one who was ticked when I found out people were allowed in early for later panels. I showed up fifteen minutes early for one about printing on-demand for small runs of comics and trade paperbacks, only to find a huge line snaking up the corridor! (“All these people want to print comics?” I asked one of the volunteers.) Turns out the panel afterwards was for some stupid popular online show. Great. Fifteen minutes after the start of the panel, the line still hadn’t budged. So I left grumbling like an old man with damn kids on his yard. Bad management, folks.
–Had breakfast with CBG’s Maggie Thompson and columnist/travel pal Jim Johnson (blogger from “Ramblings About Comics and Stuff” on cbgxtra.com). Maggie is a walking, talking encyclopedia and fandom directory all in one, and one smart lady to boot.
–-Said hello to the massively-skilled but surprisingly-humble Mark Schultz. I see him every WonderCon and SD show and he always remembers my face but not my name (I’ll take either). Happy to find out he has a new XENOZOIC trade coming out in November from Flesk Publications–can’t wait to see it! (Sneak peek below.) Bought the last Xenozoic print at half off due to a small corner ding and had Mark sign it for a friend who’s an even bigger fan than I. They also had a signed/numbered version on thicker stock for $100. Incredible print but of course I forgot to photograph it. Argh!
Okay, I’ll break it here for now but make sure you come back in a few days for the rest of the wrap-up! I’ll have a zombie Jesus, Darick Robertson drawing Wolverine while acting like Conan, a pair of balloon boobs, and lots more!
P.S.: If you didn’t attend the show and have money to blow on a nice commission, or did attend and have a few bucks left over for some art, just ask Craig here!