Normally at this time of year, leading up to Comic Con, I would be powering up my personal Hype Machine and trying to whet your appetites for one of my own books. This time however I haven't cooked anything new (or rather, it is still baking) but you don't need to go hungry as I have some recommendations of other tasty treats that will be on sale this year…
MELVIN BEEDERMAN books 1 & 2, Illustrated by my booth-buddy mr Rhode Montijo. These are the first in a series (lots more on the way!) of chapter books, which are lavishly illustrated novels designed for young readers not yet ready for "Harry Potter" but already growing self-conscious about reading "picture books". The MELVIN books are full of Rhode's charming black and white illustrations for the stories (written by Greg Trine) about a boy who is trying to be a Super Hero in Los Angeles (because LA hasn't had a hero since Kareem retired).
These books are SUPER appropriate subject-matter for Comic Con, and perfect for any young kids (I plan to get some for my nephews). For your even younger readers, Rhode will also be selling his colour picture book Cloud Boy which he both wrote and illustrated himself. I already have my copy, (which I have raved about before), but if you don't have one yet, then I suggest that you come by our booth and pick one up. (Plus, we both have left over comics and sketchbooks from years gone by… or you could just come by to say "hi").
ROSE AND ISABEL Book 2, by Ted Mathot. The conclusion to an epic story of two sisters who join the American civil war to find their brothers who are missing in action. Ted is a master storyteller, who normally uses his considerable skills in the service of animated feature films (I bet he has even storyboarded some of your favourite sequences). It is a real joy now to see him do his own thing. There is a lesson for me in every drawing I've ever seen of Ted's and this book is like college; it has 160 pages of them.
DEREKMONSTER ANNUAL 2oo6 by veritable art-monster Derek Thompson. Derek is yet another friend who constantly inspires me with his upbeat energy, productivity and his always amazing artwork. He has a broad range of things that he can do artistically, but his passion has always been for designing monsters and I don't think anyone draws them better. This book, like the first, contains 365 monsters, so you could snack on one for each day of the year, but my bet is that you'll want to gobble them all down the minute you turn the first page.
MASSIVE SWERVE by Robert Valley. If you enjoy seeing the human form drawn with both an eye for figure drawing and a flair for stylization (which don't always go together, let alone so well) and aren't squeamish about unbridled sexual fantasy, then you should get this book, just don't show it to your kids, your grandma or anyone with Victorian sensibilities. The stories can be raunchy, but are truly hilarious, drawing upon Robert's real-life booze-addled adventures in club-land, but placed in a more extreme, fun cartoon-fantasy world.
GHOULASH by Sam Hiti. Instead of an epic graphic novel or a charming mini comic, Sam now serves up an art book; a stew of monsters, deities, cowboys (and Rambo!) all rendered in Sam's fearless brushmanship. An aside; Have you noticed how many sketchbooks have a food-themed title? "Scribbles and Bits", "Ice Cream", "Candy", "Croquettes", "Gourmet Gruel" and now "Ghoulash"… Surely this proves that art satisfies some kind of hunger? I find artbooks pretty tasty myself, and I can't wait for a hearty plate-full of Sam's cooking.
SKETCHCRAWLINGS vol. 2 By Enrico Casarosa. The creator of the worldwide art craze that is SKETCHCRAWL has another of his charming Sketchcrawl books in the pipeline, due to pop out in time for the comic-con feeding frenzy. These books feature a 50/50 blend of Enrico's superb, "on the spot" pencil and watercolour sketches, and hilarious autobiographical comics co-starring his two tiny alter egos, Nude Angel Enrico, and Nude Enrico Devil and starring full-sized Enrico himself, fully clothed (sorry, ladies) though emotionally naked.
AFTERWORKS 2, by a collection of artists from Pixar Animation studios. I have seen the galleys for this beautifully produced book. there are 360 full colour pages just chock filled with gorgeous artwork by artists whose names you may not have heard of before but whose work you have been seeing for years in all of Pixar's films. The book has stories by artists from the story, art, and animation departments so it represents a broad cross section of the creative community of that powerhouse studio. And for only $25.00 how can you NOT pick this up?
OUT OF PICTURE by artists from Blue Sky studios, including my buddy David Gordon. I have seen (thanks to super-talented contributor Daniel Lopez Munoz) this beautifully packaged (big format, hard cover) and reasonably priced ($25) book and it is a "must have". Is this a new trend of anthologies of personal work by animation artists? (How 'bout it Dreamworks artists? Disney artists? Sony? ILM?). It's a sign of a healthy studio when the artists have surplus creative energy to spare for their personal projects.
And of course, I want a copy of FLIGHT 3 (to keep the first two company on my bookshelf). The Flight collections have probably inspired this recent spate of beautifully produced, bargain priced, colour comics anthologies; a trend I hope will continue for some time. It could be the beginings of a new way to distribute comics and get them to a wider audience… Comics can be cool! Plus, apart from this list, there is bound to be stuff that I don't know about YET but will crave when I see it…
Anyway, I look forward to seeing all of that and all of you (plus pudgy people in purple spandex) next week at the NERD PROM: Comic-Con!