Thursday, August 27, 2009

Indy Comic Book Week

The other week Diamond Comic Distributors announced to comic shops that Diamond will not be shipping comics on the last week of December. That means on Wednesday, December 30th, there will not be any new comics on the shelf of your local comic shop. There has been some talk about Diamond's firm hold on the comic distribution industry, but I want to look past that and look at the opportunity this creates for small publishers and local comic book creators. This is a perfect storm that opens up those new release shelves for the independent community. We don't have to be set aside to the small publisher shelf for once and can stand tall in the spots that the big, national publishers usually take. Not only is this an opportunity for creators, it's a great opportunity for the reader as well. Instead of picking up their usual books, they can check out something new, different, and most likely something local.

So, I'm putting forth this idea to the comic book community. Let's turn "No Comic Book Week" into "Indy Comic Book Week". Creators, let's step up and put those books together. This is our chance to show the world that our books and creations can stand strong on those shelves as well as any major publication. It doesn't have to be a 22-page full color affair; it can be a small black-and-white ashcan. But it has to be new, it has to be a product of your own creation, and it has to be awesome. Then talk to your local comic shops about putting your book on those shelves for the week of December 30th. Comic book readers, go to your local comic shops and tell them you want to see "Indy Comic Book Week" on the new release shelves. Tell them you want to see something new and different on those shelves. Comic book retailers, show some support for your local creators by filling those new release shelves with great indy books and hopefully open up your patrons to something new that they would not have read otherwise.

Let's get the news out there guys. For you twitters out there, use the hashtag #
indycomicbookweek to show your comics, your progress shots, and your support for creators and comic shops. This is a great opportunity so let's step up and get it done!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dallas Comic Con August 2009 Recap

[the Ruby enjoying her weekend working with Titan Comics;
more photos can be found on my flickr account]

Mark and Ben really knocked this one out of the freaking part. The show was craaaaazy big for what it usually is. The crowd was seriously huge, especially for such a small venue. The J. Scott line wrapped around the civic center; which unfortunately cut us off from the main vein of traffic. Nothing against DCC, it's just how the venue is built. There's no real good way to handle a line that big there. Hopefully these bigger shows will keep up and they'll be able to move up to a bigger center. With CAPE on hiatus and WWTX getting canceled, the DFW shows were pretty limited this year. Though DCC really stepped up to the plate and delivered an awesome show.

Overall the show was pretty good to the studio. I was hopped up on no sleep and Red Bull the first day so I was up and about more than I should have been. Sorry to anyone if i seemed a bit spastic; there were a few things i wanted to accomplish at the show so i was running all over the place. I really should learn to stay at my table more; i'd probably make more money and have a more productive convention. Though honestly my summer was wrecked due to trying to juggle so many things at once and scrambling for work. I'm just not use to handling so many different aspects of my life. So I did not get as much as I had wanted to for the show. I couldn't replenish my pinup books and business cards so I rolled in pretty empty handed sadly. I did get three new prints done, but they didn't really raise any eyebrows. It's great being listed as "guests" but when you're not a big enough name to draw in the crowd to you, you have to put yourself out there to meet the crowd. Though I HATE doing the hard sell to any convention goer cause I hate it when it is done to me. It's that fine balance; and honestly it's easy to promote the studio as a whole, but when it comes to promoting myself, i freaking suck at it.

DCC was in fact a good final show for the year, and it came at about the right time too. Once you start hitting the fall it's really time to wind down the traveling and wrap up the year. With that said, I am about to head out to BlizzCon in California within the hour. Thankfully it's not a working convention so hopefully i can just relax for the weekend and come back a bit refreshed. And i'm helping out Ruby with her mom's retail table at AnimeFEST. So busy. As the mantra goes, next month will be less busy. Sadly, it's always next month.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Atlanta Road Trip!

[The helpful GPS. Rest of the photos are up on my flickr account.]

This past weekend Jake, Evan, and I took a road trip to Atlanta, GA to visit Gaijin Studios and other friends in the area. It was a looong drive, about twelve hours. Good to know that i can take a trip with the guys and not kill them during the trip. Luckily I was able to sleep for most of it as with how short i am, i can lay down in the backseat somewhat comfortably. Which worked out on the way east as i was able to wake up about mid-day and do a shift in driving. We were on the road from dark skies pre-sunrise to dark skies post-sunset.

Everyone at Gaijin gave us a warm welcome and let us putter around the studio for a few days. I hope we didn't get in the way too much as they all had a lot of work to be done. Just being around them was a good vibe though and it helped bring up my spirits a bit. It's been a rough few months and being around that sort of environment really gives me a good outlook on things. We also visited Sam at Radical Axis, where they do Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies. Getting to meet Sam in person is really awesome. I wish we had more time to hang out with him but his weekend was pretty booked. Tom and Casey gave us a quick look at Studio Revolver which is a pretty wicked work space. They're great guys, it was nice to finally meet them in person. Being able to put a face to a screen name really helps my later years memory. Tony and Sarena hosted an afternoon lunch at their place out in the sticks. It wasn't too far, but for me that 's a lot of hills and trees. Seeing Tony's home work space was great; he has an awesome yet simple setup. It was a great afternoon of food and friends. Getting to know Karl a bit more was hilarious; though his description of Fallout 3 and its expansions will lead me into finally getting the game. Which will also lead me to doing NO work. Anyways, we also got to see Little 5 Points with Dwight from the podcast Sidebar. We met up with Swain briefly but something came up last minute. They're great guys with a wonderfully insightful podcast. We ate at The Vortex which offers absolute monsters of a burger. I think I'm still digesting it.

We did the figure drawing session that Gaijin hosts at their studio. It's a great thing to have done, especially with the guys there to give crits and input. For one the 20min poses, i didn't even bother drawing and watched Brian work. Just watching him work was educational, i just wish i was across the room to see Tony work too. If any of you are in the Atlanta area, you should be hitting this up every week. I am jealous that we don't have something like this in Dallas.

All in all, the trip was great. Seeing everyone's work space was awesome; but honestly what I found interesting was seeing a glimpse of their home life. All people talk about in this industry is the heavy work grind, deadlines, and editors. But what about the family, the kids, and the friends? Everyone i met this weekend i had already looked up to as a friend and professional, but now i have a newly gained respect for them for also being such wonderful and dedicated people. Having to work 14 hour days is grueling enough, but having to also be a husband and a father on top on this is an amazing feat. It's something that we rarely hear about and should really be aware of, especially for those of us trying to make it in this crazy industry.

Thanks to everyone I met on this trip, you made it freaking awesome!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Joker: Golden

Something i worked on during some slow times during the recent Dallas Sci-Fi Expo. I haven't unpacked my convention bag in a while so i have all my paints in it still from the last Heroes4Heroes live art show. Just mucking around, most of the paints were applied with my fingers as i really didn't have my proper brushes or water. Sadly the gold doesn't show up very well in the scan.

Acrylic paint, ink, prisma markers on bristol.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

FCBD 2009: Recap

[image: the Kru at More Fun Comics in Denton; photo by Ruby Boiko Caston]

The Space-Gun Kru spent most of the day at More Fun Comics in Denton. It's an satellite store of Keith's comics; and use to be called Treasure Isle. I don't understand why they changed the name or didn't just call it Keith's Comics Denton, but whatevers. The shop is really cool though a bit small right now. They took over the spot on the square pretty fast so they only have the front half of the shop fully running. Which means we were pretty cramped in the back of the store. It's a good place for one or two people, but having the four of us was pushing it. Ah well, live and let learn i guess. It was a fun day; we spent it drawing up free head sketches for people and stayed dried as the skies opened up and freaking POURED down rain. We made some scrillah but not much. I didn't expect to anyways with the event being what it is. It was just a good excuse to get out of the house to do the comic thing that I love so much. Thanks to the guys at More Fun Comics for having us in store and thanks to everyone who dropped by.

Anyways, photos are up on my Flickr account; most of them taken by the lovely Ruby who was hanging out with us that day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Art Byte and H4H/ALM Recap

Well, the Art Bytes forum at the DMA was an interesting evening. It was essentially a convention panel format with people chatting about our craft and whatnot. I really like what they're trying to accomplish and really do like how they branch out from the traditional mediums of art. Sadly there is a huge deficiency of time for the evening, especially when there are more than two creators on the panel. By the time it was my turn on the slides, we were already about an hour over the allotted time. That unto itself isn't a big issue as the room schedule was free until closing (midnight). But because the forum started fairly late (9:30), at about 10:30 people are leaving for the evening. Luckily most of my presentation was about technique and form so i was able to rush through it real quick; sadly it was presented to just a small handful of people, most of whom were still there because they help run the event. The event itself is pretty cool though; Hopkins is a great presenter and Kristian showed some neat benefits to Manga Studio. It's a great way to spend an evening; they just have a few things to iron out before it run smoothly each and every time. Though I was introduced to a great bar/grill called Snookies; good place to grab a drink and it has really good bar food.

[image: my painting from the Heroes4Heroes\ArtLoveMagic event; more pictures on my flickr account]

The Heroes4Heroes\ArtLoveMagic show was a good turnout for what it was; I honestly don't think it advertised as much as it could have been. I didn't see much outside of a few websites and the usual Space-Gun blasts; granted, I'm not on the Twitter so maybe that's how people did it. I was going into the show in a funny head-space due to a jacked up sleep schedule and other personal issues. I essentially woke up in the afternoon and had just enough time to do a quick posture layout on a board and pack art supplies before heading out the door. Things like that is really off putting and messes with the mojo. It's difficult to rev yourself up for these events sometimes. Yes, they're fun and it's about having a good time, but you don't want to completely phone them in. I want to bring my A-Game as much as I can as to represent myself as an artist and as a member of Space-Gun Studios. Typically I try to roll into these things with a very Jeff Bebe swagger and kick as much ass as I can. You can sometimes spot me before the event bouncing around trying to hype myself up for these things; as a natural introvert, i have to fight the urge to say "Fuck it" and go home. This is especially true for the more comic book related shows as the people there are more of my peer group; which makes it doubly more intimidating. However, once the show started up, I was able to rock on through the evening and produced a piece that I could actually be okay with. I'm hoping to do a second pass at my painting as I had forgotten my reference material at home and could not remember the 'pacifics of the costume. Highlight of the evening was getting nearly all the artists to jam out on a huge board that David from ALM brought. It was a blast; we even got Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist for Skaar: Son of Hulk, Fallen Son: what if, and Captain America: Zero Point) to jump in on the board as well.

[image: the night's jam piece]

Overall, it was a good evening. Things started out slow for me, but I was able to ease into it eventually and was rocking by the end of the evening. I think this will be the last of the live art events that I'll be doing for a while. 2009 is looking to be an interesting year and honestly, i need to shift my focus on myself and my own work. I've been meaning to write something up about that; maybe next time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dallas Museum of Art and Heroes4Heroes

Well, it never ends, folks. Another busy weekend. On Friday, I'll be rolling down to the DMA to take part in an panel/forum about comics and technology. Then Saturday is the Heroes4Heroes show; and for once, it's going to be a live art event where the artists can make some scrillah. We'll be selling prints and original art as well as live arting thing. It's looking to be a good time all weekend, so come out if you're in the area. Check out the (more or less) official Space-Gun press release:

Late Night Art Bytes
March 20, 2009
Dallas Museum of Art (Tech Lab, Center for Creative Connections )
1717 N. Harwood St. Dallas, TX 75201
9:30–10:30 p.m
$10 General Admission (parking not included)
On Friday, Match 20th Jake, Matthew, and Luan will be at the Dallas Musueam of Art for Late Night Art Bytes!. Art Bytes is a forum for tech savvy creators to share their work with peers and the community. Each presenter receives 8 min. to show their work and engage in a short question-and-answer session. This month's session will be a focus on comic books and technology.

March 21, 2009
Poor David's Pub
1313 South Lamar St., Dallas, Texas 75215
7:00pm - 11:00pm
$5 at the door (parking not included)
Saturday, March 21st at Poor David's Pub will be a Heroes4Heroes live art|music show. H4H and ArtLoveMagic will be hosting a great night of live art and music. Artists will have original art and prints for sale at the show. Featured artists will be Mitch Breitweiser (Captain America, Hulk, Fantastic Four) and Eric ‘Ebas’ Basaldua (Witchblade/Devi, Darkness, Tomb Raider). Space-Gun Studios will be there kicking it live as usual and we'll have prints and original art for sale as well. Come check out the show and give support to our troops overseas.

Monday, March 9, 2009

STAPLE! 2009: Aftermath

[image: my point-of-view for the convention. More photos can be found on my flickr account and on Evan's account]

An interesting part of being in comics is the convention circuit, especially for those of us who are not established names. We run into a lot of issues that the pros haven't had to deal with in a long time. It's something you really don't read a lot about in those "How to Do Comics" books. Some shows are great from the drive to the convention center to the face plant on the bed at the end of the long weekend. Others are three days of constant, wretched abuse that lingers on for weeks afterward, making you ask why you even bother trying. On average, conventions are a mix of both sides of that equation. Like most things, there is a bit of good mixed in with the bad.

STAPLE! is great show for its size; and its size is part of why it's a great show. The show is big enough to bring in some really cool and creative people; but it is also small enough that you can actually get some time to talk to people. This is a great show for both fans and creators. Small-time guys can mix it up with the bigger names. STAPLE! especially does this well with its pre- and after- parties. The pre-party was a really relaxed and casual atmosphere. As an artist at a con, this is great because there is no way to talk to people at the actual convention. A comic convention is work, especially for those of us who pay to be there. With travel, table, and product costs, we can't afford to just stand around all day and talk to friends. And when i do talk to other creators, i try not to them too long because i know they're trying to do business as well. But the events before and after are really good at giving us a really relaxed atmosphere to just chat.

Though a great chance to talk to people, these events can really put things into a unique perspective. STAPLE! was not a Total Perspective Vortox, but it did give me a decent view of things. What i saw was a real clear indication of where I stand in the grand scheme of this industry. Though i was able to make some money at this show and had a good time with people, i could not shake this feeling of being out of place. It was as if i was a high school freshman who somehow got mixed in with the career professionals. This was especially poignant during dinner. Granted, these guys probably felt as awkward towards me as i do towards them. However, that really doesn't negate the fact that i recognize who they are and have seen their work on a national level; whereas a lot of times i feel like a glorified tracer. It's a real disheartening and crushing feeling; one that really followed me throughout the night. Combine that with getting lost going to the venue, the music being just a bit too loud, and the heat, i just wasn't in the right mindset to hang out at the after party. So i would like to apologize to everyone at the live art show for my distracted attitude towards you. I was the the point where i just wanted to go home and talk to a friend. I was able to alleviate some of that by hanging out with my sister (it was her birthday as well). Sadly the bar didn't carry any Irish cream so we couldn't do car bombs, but i think the shots of tequila were a good substitute. And finally getting on an art board helped for some reason. I didn't bring my A or B game and i was really struggling with it, but it was an odd cleansing process anyways.

For me, i feel that STAPLE! was a bit of a Pyrrhic victory. I had a good time with friends, i was able actually make some money, and i got to hang out with my sister for a bit. But what lingers around longer are the negatives. That sucks, but it's just how things roll in this industry. Conventions are weird beasts to handle. Sometimes they're great and do what you want them to do; sometimes they smell the fear on you and will go for the throat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

STAPLE! 2009 (March 7)

[image: table map for STAPLE! 2009]

The band is hitting the road this weekend (March 7) for our first out of city convention of the year in Austin, TX. STAPLE! the Independent Media Expo has been running strong for a few years now. Their main focus is the indy scene; so there will be a bunch of new and cool books you won't be able to find otherwise. I personally love this show because of the environment that it has going for it. It's a small show about the books and the creators. It's not about finding limited collectibles, seeing Hollywood stars, or standing in line for an hour for a Jim Lee autograph; STAPLE! is about the love of comics.

Again this year they're hosting a live art auction at Red7 after the con featuring DJs and a performance by nerdcore hip-hop artist Terp2it; the show will be benefitting a local community radio station called KOOP!. The show last year was freaking awesome; the music was great and the vibe was totally laid back and hip. So if you're in the area, come on out; plus it's my sister's birthday and apparently she's never had an Irish Car Bomb. I plan to fix that as soon as I can.

Check out Space-Gun Studio in our first interview on Fanboy Video! This video is from last year's STAPLE! event as we were putting ourselves through the paces. Thanks to Scott and Luke for giving us the time to be pro on film. Don't mind the hat, i thought it looked cool.