comic convention

I got chased by an AT-ST

Hey-Low everyone!  Well I've just recently returned from what is probably my last con for the year at the Toronto Fan Expo (or Fan Expo Canada).  What an amazing event!  The Fan Expo team really knocked it out of the park, in fact 99% of the people I talked to said it was way better from the year before, and it really was.  I sold all the Gophers in Farmer Burrows' Field Books that I brought, and sold OUT of my new sketchbook, The Good, the Bad and the Sketchbook Vol.2 as well as a number of my prints! This year I split an end table with my super talented friend Keith Grachow!  Keith was selling his classic monster poster prints like hotcakes all weekend long.  I was even fortunate enough to snag a Creature from the Black Lagoon print!  Go check his stuff out!

I will probably do a follow up post showing all the super awesome swag I picked up from awesomely talented artists, but here's the quick shout out to my pals Darren Rawlings, Marc Wolfe, Braden Poirier, Chris and Marv, Graham Moogk-Soulis, Caanan Grall, Justin Currie, Karly Macdonald and Meghan, and the S'up Cuz T-shirt fellas.  Was awesome.  Darren Rawlings "the Little Ninja Fact Book" has not left my side either...

I had such a great time and not only did I meet a pile of new amazing artists and fans, but I was blown away by how many people from last years con came and sought me out.  My fan's are truly incredible.  Thank you to everyone who made it such a great weekend.  Here is a brief summery in photo form:

1.  In this giant's shadow is where I spent most of my days while at the con.  Next year I'll get the dinner at the top methinks!

2.  My pal Keith running from what I can only guess is Vader about to bust through the door.

3.  AT-ST chasing me!

4.  Working on my sales pitch.  I need more grease for my hair, and some chest hair...

5.  Some of the commission sketches I did over the weekend - did my first Totoro, Final Fintasy character, Cloak and Dagger, boy as a samurai and...well pretty much the only one I've ever done before was Spidey.

6.  And of course, the amazing costumes were everywhere.  DJ Trooper, Steam Punk Buzz (with pop-out wings action!!!), and my favorite, Mario riding Yoshi.

 

Take care everyone.

-Mike

The Way Back

I'm back after what feels like a very long time that has passed all too quickly (and it has!). Where has the summer gone? Well, my summer has gone in this order. Deadlines. Convention. Deadlines. Convention. To little time to finish any project. Conference. And as I just finished a deadline for a project, of course a new Convention approaches....so anyways here is a brief summary:

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San Diego Comic Con took place in July and for the 3rd year in a row, I went. It was of course, a visual onslaught of the entertainment monster, and a lot of fun. It may be my last year attending unless I can get a booth though. Hanging out with great friends was actually my highlight. I picked up a number of really great books too. Cory Godbey has become a really great friend and he set me up with his "Hidden People" book. A MUST, if you like to enjoy what your eyes see.  Go buy it NOW.

I was also able to briefly hang out with the my pal, Jake Parker, who gave me an advanced "viewing" of his new picture book that he illustrated AWESOME MAN!  It was awesome.  My picture book pals James Burks, Kyle Neswald and Dan Santat were also there in fine form as well as the Houghton Bros Shane and Chris of REED GUNTHER fame.  Also was able to hang out with DJ Welch, Mike Henry and his wife Laura (and a number other friends and groupies of Zatransis).

The next thing on my visit list was the SCBWI LA conference.  In case you don't know, SCBWI stands for The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  It was the the 40th anniversary and my first time!  It was spectacular.  The keynotes were amazing and I learned so much from the sessions.  More than all of that I came to truly appreciate the opportunities that have been placed before me.  I really love what I do.  One of the real bonus's was meeting all the other great people in the children's lit world.  Dan Santat and James Burks were there again, as was Bob Boyle, another member of what I am calling the LA Picture Book Brotherhood AKA the LAPBB.  I also made some really great new friends, like Barry Wolverton, Lauren Strasnick, Shannon Messenger, Kelly Sonnack, Mary Peterson, Catherine Meyer, Jen and Ryan Bosworth, Richard Watson, Jonathan Schkade, Martha Rago, Angela and Caz of Australia, and so many others.  Also what was really great was that I finally got to meet my amazing agent Jen Rofé in person for the first time!  The final night was a highlight and perfect ending as Jen set up a small BBQ with a number of her agency's clients overlooking the Topanga Canyon.  Eric Elfman and his wife Jan were spectacular hosts (and chefs!).  I cannot wait for the next SCBWI convention!

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This final image is almost necessary as I DO do art for a living - most days.  Actually, it's a sneak peek from a story I wrote and illustrated for Chirp Magazine coming out this November.  Was a lot of fun and I'll share the rest with you in a few months.

I at this point I feel I must throw out how incredible my wife is.  While I've been all over and working like crazy this summer, she's held down the fort with all three children (including a 6 month old!!!).  She is my inspiration.  Love you babe!

Well, that's all the time I can afford now as I have to prepare for the Toronto Fan Expo where I will be spending much of next week with my friend Keith Grachow!  If you're in the area come seek us out!

Oh, and I do TWITTER now.

 

Take care!

-Mike

Chicago Comic Con and Toronto Fan Expo

Hello Hello!  Blog's been neglected a bit the last couple weeks as I've been preparing for/ and then attending Chicago Comic Con and the Toronto Fan Expo on back to back weeks.  I have to say that I had a blast at both of these conventions.  They were my second and third times ever having a table at one of these conventions and it was well worth it.  I met so many great people at both of these as well I believe I did around 30 commissions in Chicago alone and about half that in Toronto.  Some very busy weekends to say the least. Chicago happened first so I'll give the report on that event.  Now I forgot a camera that weekend regrettably, but I can still relay most of the highlights.  Firstly I was set up in Artist's Alley and right beside me was the extremely talented DJ Welch.  One night a "true" Chicago Deep Dish pizza killed us for acting overly ambitious.  It was worth it though and I will be craving that pizza until my next visit.  Next to D.J. was the incredibly gifted Mike Henry, whose work I have been a fan of for a little over a year now.  Mike and DJ both knew each other and were nice enough to let this Canuck tag along with and even invited me out to their "SketchBomb" club one night.  It was awesome!  Mike was also kind enough to trade his sketchbook for my Farmer Burrows book (yes I definitely owe him much more still).  His new sketchbook is crazy amazing and engrossed me for the entire flight home after the con.

I am still rather new to the convention scene and doing commissions for people, but Chicago turned out to be a fantastic time to practice.  I've always seen and envied artists who just pound out amazing works seemingly effortlessly just based off memory.  I was really quite nervous to take on drawing any commissions because although I'm a huge comic fan, I barely know the basic details of the most common heroes and villains.  Thankfully there was a poster "shop" just on that was a basically across the isle and had almost any hero I ended up needing, and those I didn't either had reference brought by the commission-ee or Mike provided ref for me on his phone.   Also seeing as I forgot my camera, Mike took pics of many of the commissions that I did, and here is that:

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The Pirate and "the Penguin" were actually done at the Sketchbomb evening where a whole pile of us went out and drew together one evening.  A really cool time.  Oh and to show how little I know about comics, at the Sketchbomb event we were all supposed to draw anything to do with Batman.  As stated, I drew "the Penguin".  As I was completing him someone came over and said "oh, nice Oswald Cobblepot." I was like, "ummm, well it's supposed to be the Penguin".  Mike then kindly informed me that Oswald Cobblepot was The Penguin's real name.

I was also able to meet up again with the Berona's War fellas who I first met in San Diego a few weeks earlier.  Jesse Labbe and Anthony Coffee are two fantastic artists and creators of the Berona's War book - and two of the nicest guys to boot.  They have done what I dreamed of doing with many of my friends growing up - drawing creatures from one side of a war who are fighting the creatures created by a friend.  It's so well executed by these guys it's amazing.  Check out their stuff if you ever doodled anything with a spear or sword or even liked spears, swords and shields even ONCE in your life.  They exchanged sketches with me (and I feel I came out way ahead) and here's why:

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Super cool right?!!  Yes it is (I know you're speachless).

After Chicago I basically came home, unpacked and then started packing and preparing for Toronto's Fan Expo.  I was blown away by how nice the venue was for this expo.  Just outstanding.  People were lined up for hours and hours with the line surrounding the entire convention center.  The show was even extended Saturday evening because people had gotten in so late.  I didn't really know anyone attending this one and was really sorry to have missed Darren Rawlings, whose creation Agent Orange I adore, but there will be a next time for sure.

As it for this trip I did bring a camera and so here are some of the pics from the show:

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Before this convention I had quickly gone out and picked up some prismacolor markers I saw a couple people using in Chicago which looked very fun.  Turns out they were fun though I took a bit longer on each commission haha.  So some highlights in those photos are: Upper left is my brother and myself on the way to the airport at around 4am.  I have the best brother in the world, though he may look scary in the photo, he drove me to the airport for each of these conventions at a very inconvenient time and I am indebted.  Thanks Darryl (oh and he's an awesome artist to boot)!!  Also my brother-inlaw and his daughters showed up the last day of the show and as you can see, on the left side, his daughter AKA Super Girl, was targeted for many photos!  I also met some really cool people in Toronto.  Bottom right is Graham the creator of the webcomic Postscript and his wife Michelle, as well as Keith Grachow were my isle mates and just really great guys.  The Flash Gorden sketch I did was actually inspired by an amazing piece that Keith gave to me of the same Golden Age science fiction hero!

Though I had a great time I am very tired of traveling and looking forward to getting back on some book projects now that I am back home - though I am already planning for the convention circuit for next year ;)

Take care everyone!

-Mike

My pilgrimage to Geekland

So I have returned safe, sound, and inspired from the San Diego Comic Con 2010!  What a blast!  Once again I saw more people than I've ever seen ....errr, more of my (geeky) people than I've seen in one place for the same awesome reasons:  Comics, Movies, TV, Toys, and Video games.  Giants from each of these industries were all present (as usual).  It is quite a sight to behold to see people of every type old and young descending on this convention.  My main goal (as I couldn't get my own table) was to meet up with some people and gain some more knowledge from the experts. Here is a brief breakdown of my trip: (match numbers to pictures)

sdcc2010

1.  The crowds were crazy again both inside and out.  You have never seen so many people so desperate to get in and also people desperate to give you free fliers and junk.  I was happy just to get in!  The banners covered the buildings all around the downtown "gaslamp" district.  Truly a sight to behold.

2. I am sure San Diego itself felt like this diorama with all 120000 of us geeks descending on their beautiful city.

3. The inside of the convention seems endless, as does the torture of trying to navigate from one end to the other.

4. The costumes are always as crazy as the convention itself.  I think most of the people who dress up don't get to enjoy any of the convention because if you have a good costume you will be asked to pose for a picture about every .4 seconds.  Stormtroopers are always a staple photo op for me - though they were "a bit short" to be stormtroopers...

5. Many movie companies were there and I just had to take a picture of some of the District 9 stuff.  They had a life size statue of the little "prawn" from the show too.  D9 has to be one of my favorite all time Sci-Fi movies.  It's just amazing.

6. I happened to run into these comic-con'ers every single day on the trolley.  It didn't matter what time I happened to be leaving or arriving, the odds we estimated were about 1 in 115000.

7. The Hoff.  There were oodles of celebrities all over the place.  I don't know were exactly the Hoff fits into with this all, but he was there, on his bus, singing his songs...

8. My good friend "Spidey" posing for a picture with me.  He was shorter than I last remembered him.

9.  Marvel had one of the largest displays at the convention.  I found out later that this was "Thor's" chair or something from the upcoming "THOR" movie.  Count me as a bit skeptical for this one.

10.  I had a great time, wish I had a bit more money as I would have loved to buy these two lego sets for my son and I to build.

So I met a lot of really cool people too.  Here are just a couple more of my highlights:

Cory Godbey and Justin Gerard of Portland Studios were first on my list.  Two amazing artists and super nice guys to boot.  I must have stopped by and said "hi" in one form or another every day I was there.  Cory even had an iPad with some amazing top secret stuff that he showed me.  I met them last year and I look forward to hanging out with them again about a year from now.  Two gentlemen scholars and awesomely talented guys.

Jake Parker and I cruised the con for a while one day too.  I've been a fan of Jake's work since before blogs existed and I was just starting out.  He signed my Missile Mouse book too.  He is another one of those "coolest nice guy" types with buckets of talent.  Looking forward to MM2 Jake!

Dan Santat is more of a new acquaintance that I made a few months back when I helped color his graphic novel.  Dan and I made plans to hang out one day.  He might be the busiest guy I've ever met, and we talked for quite a while about all things geeky and even talked some Hockey! (Dan used to play Goalie!).  I saw a sneak peak version of his finished graphic novel as well as his newest picture book "Oh No".  Dan also falls in that "most talented guy ever" category with the above people mentioned.  Dan also introduced me to a number of other great guys, James Burks, Kyle Neswald, and Bob Boyle and we hung out one evening.  All really nice guys, definitely check out their work!

One morning as I was waiting for a the trolley to take me to the madness I happened to be standing by a really nice family.  The kids were playing about and I just felt I had to give them a copy of my Farmer Burrows Book, a sketchbook and a couple Chuck Chance posters.  We talked a bit on the trolley and it turned out they were there because the "dad" happened to be Gene Luen Yang who had once again been nominated for an Eisner!  He was a super nice guy who just came across as humble and genuine.  He also gave me a copy of his first Eisner winner "American Born Chinese", which is fantastic and hilarious.  ***Update*** Gene won again for "Urgent Request," the last story in The Eternal Smile, was named Best Short Story.  Huge congrats Gene!

John Nevarez is a hero to me.  He surprisingly remembered me from last year too.  The animation guys are so down to earth and real it's amazing.  John happened to give me a free sketch just for my son of one of his favorite characters.  Just the coolest guy.

Sean "Cheeks" Galloway and I exchanged a few prints and sketches too.  I am in love with his Bastion's 7 property and it was cool to see how it's progressed from last year.  We have talked in the past as we both are seeking to get our properties made into toy versions and have used the same sculptor to help us out.

Reed Gunther is now my new favorite comic.  Created by brothers Chris and Shane Houghton, it is just fantastic.  A cowboy who rides a bear, I mean seriously, how cooooool is that.  Not only is Shane's writing great, but Chris's artwork is out of this world.  Mark my words, these guys are going places.  Oh, and chalk up two more for the super great guys chart.

There are many many more fine people who I met and hung out with, but for now I must get back to work.  I have much to prepare for, as in August I have a table at two other comic conventions: Chicago Comic Con and Toronto's Fan Expo!  If you are going to be attending either of these definitely let me know!

Take care,

-Mike

San Diego Comic Con!!!

It's that time again!  San Diego Comic Con is only days...errr, I'm already counting down in hours, and I'm headed down for my second visit on Wednesday!  I wasn't able to get a table (as it's nearly a 4 year wait they say!!!) but I'm going none the less and it's going to be awesome!  I'm mostly looking forward to meeting up with some friends and amazing talents who I've mostly connected with over the net.  Jake Parker, Dan Santat, Cory Godbey, John Nevarez, Justin Gerard, Bobby Chiu to name a few, and manymanymanymany others too!!! I am also once again bringing some goodies to hand out to folks.  Last year Chuck Chance T-shirts and other stickers and such.  This year I'm bringing Chuck Chance again, this time in the form of some posters.  So if you see me around, ask and you'll get one of these goodies I did up the last couple days:

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In case you were wondering "Trip for Biscuits" is the name of the first story I'm doing for Chuck Chance!  I should also have a couple copies of my sketchbook for those who want!  Stay tuned and I'll hope to be updating some photos of the con as I have time!

Take care!

-Mike