Jul 082015

It’s been a while since I’ve exhibited at COMIC-CON (in fact, my seller’s permit was recently cancelled from lack of use) so I thought I might hold JAMIE-CON instead; an online convention for anyone unable to attend the San Diego convention in person, and I finally added all my comic books and just some of my prints to my Nerve Bomb Comics web store.



I should have had all this stuff available online years ago, and to celebrate my recent day of HTML coding, for a limited time each and every order will get a free 5×7 print and there are a few extra specials, including discounted bulk-packs of books and prints, and I’m waiving US postage till next week. Unfortunately, shipping rates are such that I can only ship in the USA and Canada; one of my 11 x 14 $15 prints costs $18 to ship overseas, not including a $4 padded envelope! The only way it would make sense is to order in bulk (e.g.: more than 6 prints) so if any foreign residents are interested in bulk orders that would offset the shipping costs, please comment here on the blog. I’ll offer these discounts just this week and next, till July 18.

Don’t be bummed out if you missed out on Comic-Con tickets, just come on over to JAMIE-CON!

Feb 272011

For the EMERALD CITY convention in Seattle this week, I have a “new” book to sell; a 56 page collection of all the Rocket Rabbit stories that I’ve published so far.

Rocket Rabbit

KENESS has really come through with yet another fantastic print job. At 8.25×10.5 inches, this format is much bigger than any of the earlier Rocket Rabbit books and the print quality is much better too. Some of the earliest stories were out of print so this was a way of bringing them back to light and they have never looked better.

Rocket Rabbit

I still plan on getting NEW Rocket Rabbit stories done by the end of 2011 but frankly it has been hard to find the time in what has been a busy work year so far, so this collection is a good place-holder till I generate some new pages.

Rocket Rabbit

Starting this Friday 4th of March and through Sunday the 6th, I will be sharing booth Space #606 with the same two gentlemen who gave me a spot last time around; DEREK THOMPSON & TED MATHOT. Emerald City is a wonderful show and I hope to see some of you there!

Aug 022010

COMIC CON, 2010:

This year, Rhode & I had thought we wouldn’t be able to follow-through with our recent tradition of a COMIC CON BOOTH THEME; whereby we decorate our booth to look like… well, something other than a boring old Comic Con booth. A bit of silliness that we have been indulging ourselves in for the past 4 years or so. Such things, even as cheesy as they are, take TIME to prepare and the fact that we now live on separate coasts made it unlikely this time around. Although we drove to Comic Con on Tuesday morning we had only met each-other (for the first time in months) at dinnertime the evening beforehand. Yet somehow, via communication by phone, text and e-mail, we pulled it off; THE YARD SALE theme. Last minute though it was, this booth display got perhaps our best response ever.

The only drawback of this particular theme was that, hilariously, people actually wanted to buy the JUNK that we had distributed throughout the display, as “props”. “How much for the George Foreman Grill?” “Give you $2 for the Rubik’s Cube…” “Ooh, a Smurf Mug!!”

These booth-theme ideas grew out of a conversation on the drive home from Comic Con 2006 (the first time we ever dressed up; in cheesy BLUE jump-suits, to promote CLOUD BOY) and that conversation continues to this day. I cannot now remember who came up with each idea because, in each case, they grew from one silly suggestion to the next. I do remember that each year, one of us begins to doubt if the idea will work (the line between cheesy/funny and outright stupid/lame is a razor’s edge, my friends) and the other guy becomes the torch-bearer for the idea. The Used Car Salesman theme excited me more than Rhode and he went along with it initially with some reservations (though he said at the end of that show that it was his fun-est ever, till that time). This year, I was the doubter; not that the idea itself was funny but that our execution might not work. But at a certain point, I decided to trust Rhode’s instincts rather than my own, and it worked out just grand.

Comic Con 2010 was our best ever, financially speaking. The runaway success of Rhode’s new children’s book, THE HALLOWEEN KID, made books Rhode’s biggest sellers this year. It was the prints that made up for the continuing downward curve in book sales for me (sadly, even the NEW one). Though this trend is a disappointment, I don’t take it personally, as Comic Con itself has been moving further and further away from its roots as a show about Comics. No need to dwell on that issue any further here (enough has been said about it already). My goal is to continue doing books come-what-may, as that is what drew me to these shows in the first place. A few years ago, I drifted away from doing comics, as I followed market forces towards the sales that would pay for the considerable costs of exhibiting. The new strategy is to firstly do a book each year and then use that book as a source for images that can become prints AS WELL. That way, the sales of prints should aid in sales of the books (“like that print? This is the book that it came from!”) or, at the very least, justify their existence as a mine from which to dig up images.

Socialising is always my favourite thing about Comic Con and, as always, I could not spend time with everyone that I wanted to. Wednesday’s PREVIEW NIGHT ended so late that Julia and I ate a tired but happy dinner back at our hotel. Thursday, meeting a crew of old cronies compensated for the slowest service of all time at an Indian place called MASALA. Everything clicked for Friday evening’s dinner at LOU & MICKEY’s. Hilarious conversation and good food culminated in a game where filthy phrases became the basis for creating new cocktails. We even had the Barman mix one to our specifications. The true name of this drink (pictured below) is too filthy to mention in this here G-rated blog but, in honour of its creator, Mr Kirk Thatcher, we gave it the optional name of THATCHER’s DELIGHT for use in polite company.

The hilarity and exhaustion (not to mention the effects of drinking the aforementioned saucy beverage) meant that I was too tired to move from my chair and thus unable to attend the party at the MAVERIX STUDIOS condo; an event that I seem to miss each year. Which was too bad this time around as I had recommended it to OTHER friends who showed up in my absence… But the main thing is everyone had fun. I will definitely be there NEXT time!

Saturday was exhausting. Even knowing ahead of time that it will be busy, it is hard to prepare for the sensory overload that is a Saturday at Comic Con. The combination of crowds and constant traffic at our booth, combined with frequent visits from many friends, meant that my mind was deep-fried by the end of the day. Walking wearily back to my hotel, I was not strong enough to resist the already-formed plan of dinner at OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE; that fake-Aussie eatery. I lodged a few half-hearted complaints but nevertheless climbed into the car that would drive me to the humiliation of Koala Fries, Platypus Burgers Kangaroo Shakes and other such nonsense…. to my surprise, the food was actually tasty (don’t tell any real Australians that I said so or FAIR DINKUM my citizenship will be revoked) and of course the company and conversation was entertaining. Just what I needed.

Sunday, sales at the booth were very good compared to previous years and though this had us in high spirits, we were both very weary, right from the beginning of the day. Lately, Comic Con starts EVERY day at 9AM (whereas the weekdays used to start from 11AM in the old days) meaning now there’s no chance to catch-up on sleep after the long drive down from San Francisco, and the subsequent evenings of fun and revelry. This schedule is cumulatively tiring, even on a healthy body, but especially on poor old Rhode, who had picked up a come-and-go infection that left him looking green by Sunday afternoon.

So we took our time in packing, after the show was over. Many of our friends just roll up a banner and simply walk out the door at the end of a show but the downside of our silly Booth Shenanigans is that it not only takes a while to prepare but ALSO to break down and getting all the stuff into the car (both at the start and the finish) is 3-dimensional TETRIS. Unfortunately, we couldn’t toss the YARD SALE fence-posts because they were needed back in Stockton (that wasn’t merely a prop; it was a genuine NORCAL fence, my friends!) though we did abandon the Astro-turf. The break-down of the booth this time around was the longest ever but we weren’t in any hurry. It was actually our first chance to relax since the show began! Coming back to my hotel to find a desk clerk rocking the good time COMIC CON party attitude in Clark Kent attire (see above) was an amusing end to a good show.

After freshening-up, I hooked-up with the Maverix crew at YAKITORI/YAKYUDORI for a post-con chow-fest; ending this year’s show at the same restaurant where the eating BEGAN the year prior. A huge mob of us invaded the place, and the waiter looked like he’d have an aneurysm when we ordered 4 of everything on 3 separate menus. The best part of Sunday though, was the chance to sleep-in before the long, and eventful drive back to the Bay Area (doing that story justice would take up an entire blog post on its own!)

…ah, SLEEP…. Actually, that still sounds pretty good to me! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Mar 242008

Here are some exploratory sketches I did for my short story in the Babes In Space anthology a few years back. These space-faring giantesses were adversaries for Sephilina the Nauti-Girl (AKA: Squid Girl). As I mentioned earlier, I usually spend too much time doing sketches thumbnails, and not enough time actually making finished product and this situation was certainly typical. I have pages and pages of sketches of these gals. I will post the rest later.

Aug 132007

NO Credit? NO Problem!
Here, at last, is the Abismo/Nerve Bomb San Diego Comic-Con report for 2007.

JIMMY “Easy Terms” BAKERSFIELD and RODDY “Deep Discount” MONTECARLO working the CON.

A COMIC CON trend that some small-press and indie exhibitors complain about is the growing presence of huge media companies using Comic Con as a place to pimp their wares and offer previews of up-coming games, toys, films and books. Their enormous displays with all the bells and whistles, and appearances by Hollywood movie stars are crowd pleasers for sure (judging from the spike in attendance since this trend began) but it makes it hard for the little guy selling home-made books to get any attention.

With these deals, we must be CRAZY!!

trust Jimmy; he’s a professional.

In the spirit of “if you can’t beat em, join ‘em”, Rhode and I resolved to go CORPORATE. Salesmanship itself was going to be our marketing “angle” this year. But what do a pair of self-publisher fly-by-night cartoonists know about MARKETING? Plus, after paying for the Abismo/Nerve Bomb booth space, we didn’t have much money left over in the budget for booth decoration, which makes it hard to compete with all the full-scale Pirate Ships, Giant Robots and sexy Booth-models of other displays. What’s a down at heel indie self-publishing duo to do?…

Ladies, Roddy is here for YOU!

Thankfully, two expert salesmen came to our rescue and offered to help out in exchange for taking a controlling stake in the burgeoning Abismo/Nerve Bomb business empire. Our new C.F.O. RODDY MONTECARLO and and C.E.O. JIMMY BAKERSFIELD took over the booth display this year, and really came through for us. Who better to work the CON than two bona fide CON-MEN? Thanks to their oversight, the Abismo/Nerve Bomb booth was transformed into RODDY and JIMMY’s Discount Emporium which was, without a doubt, one of the classiest on the showroom floor this year. To match their natty jackets, pumped up sense of style and full-bore salesmanship, Roddy and Jimmy tricked out the booth in snazzy signage and covered it in plaid, even though finding THAT much LOUD fabric was no easy feat.

As seen on TV!


The customers were really pulled in by the crazy mark-down signs, especially the FREE TOASTER deal, though sad to say, nobody spent the $1000 on comics that was required to take it home (as mentioned in the fine-print). That may be just as well, otherwise Roddy wouldn’t have anything to make his breakfast toast with. The New C.E.O. of Nerve Bomb anticipated higher sales this year but even despite all the NEW product (my Dad’s elephant book, a new mini-comic and some Giclee prints) sales were not much more than in 2006, when there was nothing new to sell. It is tough to figure out the key to sales… it isn’t simply a matter of new product, good booth placement and high attendance, that is for sure… because all those things were on hand this year, and KILLER salesmanship as well.

Act NOW to avoid Disappointment!

Roddy works a sucker customer!

Thanks to Roddy and Jimmy’s help with the booth, Rhode and I both had time to do some socialising. One of my favourite things about Comic Con is the chance to meet friends whom I haven’t seen in ages, including a lot of people that I only see at cons. Each evening, there are so many people that I would like to spend time with that it is getting progressively harder and harder each year to organise a get-together when so many people are involved. Spending an hour or so on Wednesday evening (after Preview Night) wandering from pub to pub with a huge group of hungry people, who were steadily growing HANGRY (hungry and angry) I resolved to thereafter venture out to eat with a group only it had a reservation. A few years ago, it was possible to just luck into some place that had space to seat your huge party of chums but that just isn’t possible these days, at least in the nearby Gaslamp area.

San Diego is our town, Baby!

Thursday evening we really hit the jackpot when a stripped down, special-ops task force of hand-picked and hungry folks successfully mounted a raid on a fantastic “all you can eat” Brazillian BBQ place called Rei Do Gado, which was scoped out by our San Diego food recon team of Jeff and Lovelyn (who took us to Hash house Au Go Go last year). Along with them, I spent a very enjoyable evening with Rhode, my good friend John Stevenson and the always hilarious Kirk Thatcher. We got an early reservation and hunkered down together to climb the meat Materhorn pausing between mouthfuls to disturb the surrounding patrons with both the tone and volume of our conversation.

Group Discounts!!
The next night, I had a very enjoyable dinner with another old friend, David Gordon, who now lives in New York. He introduced me to a whole table of his friends from Blue Sky. The service in the restaurant was slow but we weren’t in any hurry and had a very enjoyable time just chatting away about publishing and animation, while our food showed up bit by bit. As we ate, cellphone calls came in from reservation-less and hungry pals who were wandering the wasteland outside, looking for a place to sit and eat on a busy Gaslamp Friday evening, so by the end of the night our table was full of cronies from Pixar, ILM, Maverix and Blue Sky, as more and more friends came our way. Saturday night there was a big group heading off to dine in Old Town but I was very tired and the fact that the group was going a long way with no reservation made me balk (even though I later found out that they all had a fun evening and were seated no problem) and instead I went to dinner close by the convention center with Benton, Anson, Deanna, Bosco, Steve, Steward and his family and an old crony from my Colossal Pictures days, Antonio Toro.

Luscious French Toast.

When you spend all day surrounded by nerds in spandex, it is good to have a hearty breakfast, which I did most days, starting with Rhode and Sam Hiti at the hotel we all shared a room at. Saturday, I had breakfast with John, Kirk and Dave at a Hawaiian themed diner by the harbour. The morning of the last day of the show started well with a HUGE Buffet Breakfast with Vincent Stall, and my hotel roomies Sam and Rhode. Sunday evening wrapped the show with the traditional BBQ at the home of Derek Thompson’s ever gracious parents Barbara and Larry. This is the nicest end to the con for me. A large group of weary but happy attendees and exhibitors got together to wind down over gourmet hotdogs and drinks. Monday morning we slept in a little and had a breakfast at the SUN CAFE before we all made our separate ways home. I managed to fit in a lot of socialising this year but I still missed out on eating with a lot of friends. That is what NEXT YEAR is for.

New Inventory!

No No No! Buy LOW sell HIGH!

No No No! Buy LOW sell HIGH!

My SWAG for this year includes a book I have been seeking for some time, namely TIFFANY, written by Yann (prior collaborator with the great Denis Bodart) with artwork by Herval, an artist I first became familiar with through the Drawing Board. Herval has a clean style with great figure drawing and warm, clean colour palettes. The book is in French and although my ability to speak that language is close to zero, I can read it a little and I am battling my way through the book with a dictionary at the moment. The story is a whodunnit, concerning an elegant young woman, descended from the same family as Joan Of Arc, who takes over her brother’s detective agency after he is killed, to investigate his murder.

MONSTER ALLERGY by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa, the husband and wife team that did Sky Doll. This time their artwork is an appealing fusion of both European and Japanese cartoony comics drawing styles.

GYPSY COLLECTED is an omnibus edition of 3 graphic albums, written by Thierry Smolderin and illustrated by a Swiss artist whom I admire very much; Enrico Marini. I first became aware of him when he drew in a very Manga-influenced style on a series called “Olivier Varèse” (also written by Smolderin) which was collected in an English edition called Negative Exposure. More recently, he illustrated a series called RAPTORS which was drawn in a different style. Gypsy shows his artwork in a transition between those two styles.

MASSIVE SWERVE by Robert Valley. I have bought about 4 variations on this book so far… hopefully Robert will actually put out a NEW Massive Swerve (rather than reprints and colour variations) sometime soon.

POPPING THROUGH PICTURES by Amanda Visell is a charming modern picture book in the tradition of little golden books; thick card stock pages and vivid painted, fun and cartoony illustrations. She also makes fantastic little toys which she sold at the con, and more of them can be seen in her Blog.

BUBBLES SKETCHBOOK by Luca Tieri was one of my favourite scores this year. This guy draws cartoons that leap from the page (or screen) with a crazy Pop-Rock energy. I’ve been a big fan of his energetic line and electric colour choices since I somehow stumbled onto his website a few years ago, so it is wonderful to finally own his book. Luca came all the way from Italy to attend the con and I had the pleasure of meeting him in person when he came by my booth with Rajesh from the Department of Art and Power.

Comic-Con exhausts even the super-salesmen

I came by some great little books by way of swaps, including Marty Ito’s PAINTMONSTER book and Doug Holgate‘s SPAGHETTI WESTERN/CHECKMATE WORDSWORTH Mini, both of whom had come a very long way to be at the con (from Japan and Australia, respectively). In exchange for some hits of our OLD SPICE, Marc Nordstrom from B-Minus Comiks swapped me an anthology of their previous hilarious stuff plus a NEW issue of GO GO CHANGEBOTS, which is their very funny Transformers parody. There were a few things that I wanted to buy but didn’t get, and I hope to pick up later. These include Chris Sanders’ new colour sketchbook, and Bill Presing’s beautiful BELLE DU JOUR book.

Close-out Sale!
2007 was the 10th year that I attended Comic Con, the 7th time as an exhibitor and the 4th time sharing an exhibitor-booth with good pal mr Rhode Montijo. In the time that I have been attending, Comic Con has not only grown in size but the focus and tone has changed as well. 10 years ago it was already huge but my memory of that time is that it was mostly about comics and the people you saw about the place, both exhibiting and attending, were overwhelmingly nerdy, pear-shaped or skinny, men.

JIMMY “Easy Terms” BAKERSFIELD, Pimping some pachyderms!

In those days, the few women in attendance were most likely models paid by booths to be in costume. A few years later the numbers of women fans started to climb when we began to see tubby ladies dressed in Sailor Moon outfits. Now the Con is attended by a broad range of men women and children, and a lot of the fans walking around wearing HERO outfits are actually good looking… but thankfully there are still plenty of pear-shaped anime characters, fat Spidermen and skinny Hulks about the place because that is what Comic Con really is about, for me. On the subject of costumes I didn’t attend the masquerade this year so my costume watching was limited to what walked past my booth. This year there were a lot of buff-dudes strutting around in capes and speedos brandishing cardboard shields. Most of them were “spartans” methinks, but some had a Viking vibe.

Selling the hotel to a gullible tourist puts the operation in the red!

Red-Light Special
Highlights of this year’s con (apart from those mentioned already) were:

  • Steve and Bosco’s reaction to the booth (which made it all worthwhile)
  • getting a smile from Rosario Awesome.
  • Steve Purcell winning an Eisner!

Product Recall
The only bummer this year was the Faulty air-conditioner in our hotel that blew piping hot toilet smell into our room.

No interest ’till 2008!

See you CHUMPS next year!

I came away from this year’s show very inspired to do some new stuff for next year. The quality of self published books has really soared from the Black and White sketchbooks done at Kinkos a few years ago, to square bound books, and then to the hardbound full colour books that we see now. The affordability of quality small-run printing means that it is a great time to be a self-publisher but on the other hand it means that you really have to raise your game if you want to stand out these days. The number of indy artists producing their own beautiful figurines and toys is also very inspiring… it gives me a lot to think about!

See you all NEXT YEAR!

(thanks to Rhode Montijo, Jeff Hansen, Sam Hiti, Jav Hernandez and Bosco Ng for the great photographs!)

Jul 102007

This picture was done before I had ever used Photoshop, so the textures were cut out of magazines and glued over a pencil drawing. The line-art is on the paper and on a celluloid overlay. The idea of combining photo-textures with hand drawn animation appealed to me but I could never get anybody else to go for it, despite pitching it on several different projects. This image was a style-proposal for a “healthy dog food” commercial.

Speaking of dogs, I am now working on a MINI COMIC about the dog I got when I was 7 years old. The basis for the tale is a story I had written down a few months ago but didn’t post here because it was too long for a blog post… but just the right length for a MINI-comic.

A mini seemed to be a good excuse to do things differently. So far, I have done the whole thing digitally, all drawn on my 15 inch Cintiq. This has allowed me to play around with ALL the elements – text line and tone – at a much earlier stage of the process than I am used to and I’m enjoying that flexibility. This the first time that I have made a comic this way and it was inspired by watching Ted Mathot working digitally on his Rose and Isabel epic.

The mini will be in landscape format and about half the size of the comics I normally do, at 4.25 X 6.5 inches. Because of the “wide-screen” dimensions, the fact that there is only one panel per page, and proportionally more text, the mini is looking more like a tiny children’s picture book than a standard comic book.

Apart from trying to get away from the clutter of my typical page layouts (which are really jammed with panels) my goal is to draw this one looser than the comics I have made before, but hopefully still have some appealing “drawing” in there. I had in mind the typical level of finish of the storyboards I do professionally, which can be rather scribbly at times.

Depending on how fast I draw, the mini will be either 32 or 36 pages and will be printed at KINKOs or some other copy shop. I will probably make about 100 or so to sell at COMIC-CON.

Jul 262006

The annual pilgrimage, by a caravan of us devout dorks, to COMIC CON (DorkWorld Mecca) has come and gone… and, as always, I had a lot of fun communing with “my people”.

The Caravan
Rhode and I drove down to San Diego on Tuesday in a heavily laden car, tailed closely by Bosco and Steve (looking like assassins in their huge, rented pimp-wagon) who kept an eye on our back wheels, which were splayed cartoonishly outwards by the load of product. (The lads also escorted us homeward on the following Monday; car weighed down with Rhode‘s cash this time, breaking the trip back with the now traditional majestic meat meal at HARRIS RANCH Steak house on I-5).

Location, Location, Location
This year Abismo/Nerve Bomb had a fantastic booth location (unlike many of our friends) and we put a lot of effort into our display and were very happy with the result, even though we had to deal with Jumpsuit-envy. Most years, I experience some kind of Snafu with either a print deadline, my hotel reservation, or a shipment nightmare… This year all went smoothly at my end. Rhode schooled me in how to be philosopical when confronted by life’s mishaps, not only when he graciously went along with the jumpsuit thing (my idea) but also when the mis-direction of several boxes of his books (sent to his home by mistake, rather than the con) made him less upset than I became after paying for two Danish pastries, and later discovered only one in the paper bag when I returned to our booth.

Verilly, Rhode is a classy dude.

Speaking of class, we were BOTH treated to a sneak peek of the awesome first 40 pages of the DEATH DAY graphic novel by the Mighty Sam Hiti, who was our hotel roomie this year. I don’t want to give anything away about the book except to say that this project is very different to Tiempos Finales and is even more ambitious. I was very happy to be part of the inner circle; the rest of you will just have to wait a while to see this book. Hah!

Comic con or Media con?
The convention floor was arranged such that I rarely saw exhibitor friends and whenever we met, the discussion was about the layout of the con itself rather than the latest inspiring book, or new talent we had discovered. In recent years there has been a steady growth of big glitzy booths, but this is the first year that it really irked me. Previously, the stuff I was interested in was concentrated in a few areas and was easy to browse during a quick break. This time around, most of the things I wanted to see were sprinkled from one end of the show to the other, hidden away in hard to find nooks and crannies between the massive displays of huge corporate booths…. Artists trying to show their work were placed right in the maw of the media madness zone, consequently I didn’t get to see much of what I was looking for.

Some people said Comic Con is now too big. Art and Comics are being overwhelmed by other things; booths promoting TV shows, Toys, Movies, Games and so forth. I understand why media-producers want booths at Comic Con; the most elaborate and expensive booth, brimming with booth-babes, blaring music and flashing monitors, is substantially cheaper than even the cheapest advertising campaign. They get to broadcast their content to over a hundred thousand pairs of eyeballs over the course of a week, which they hope will then translate into free BUZZ that will expand in the blogosphere. But I can’t figure out why the general public pays to see what are essentially huge advertisements, but there you have it, they do. Judging from the density of the crowds in the media promotions areas the general public is very interested in what they have to offer.

Personally, I don’t mind if Comic Con becomes a general pop-culture media supermarket, but in that case “the product” should be organized so that you can find what you are looking for. I heard rumours that in future the artists alley, small press and art booths may be moved upstairs, leaving the main hall exclusively available to the three-ring media circus. Some artists were annoyed by that idea but I would welcome it, especially if you could buy a ticket to either (a) both areas or, if you preferred, (b) only one or the other. The whole thing could be called MEDIA CON and only the upstairs part; that actually deals with comics, could be called COMIC-con. Others felt that it might be time to create an entirely NEW con, where the focus would be brought back onto artwork, artists, writers and creators. We then wondered why there are no cons after the middle of the year on the west coast and why there isn’t one in LA, a city with perhaps the densest concentration of cartoonists… Maybe its is time for a Fall convention located in LA, called CREATOR-con or CONTENT-Con (or simply TOON con)?

Anyway, that’s enough of my rambling… It’s time to talk about the good stuff: Comics, and the costumed and pear-shaped people who consume them!

The Haul
I picked up MOST of the stuff on my shopping list (the balance to be procured forthwith at shops here and there) managing to score a few great sketches in my copy of Out of Picture from my sometime Co-workers Daniel Munoz Lopez and Robert Mckenzie. In addition to the stuff I had planned to buy ahead of time I got a copy of Chris Sanders’ new sketchbook and pretty much every comic ever drawn by Micheal Aushenker.

Con Beauties
Rhode and I were visited by a woman representing a booth full of Convention models who suggested that we contact her if we need any “Booth Babes”. I pointed out that in our nifty high-waisted jumpsuits we were our own booth babes this year, and if that she had the need for any “booth dorks” in future, she knew who to contact. As for costumed beauties, I saw the most beautiful Wonder Woman I’ve ever seen at the con (and I’ve seen a few, of all shapes and sizes over the years), a very pretty Alice in Wonderland and (brace yourself for a creepy admission) the life sized Princess Leia mannequin in the Gentle Giant booth was exerting a strange attraction on me as well…

Some other great costumes were the two guys painted in shades of grey who were MARV and KEVIN from Sin City, a teeny Supergirl with a huge presence, a great Galactus, a pretty Powergirl and the Robot Caveman guy. I saw a near perfect Chewbacca and, in a strangely disturbing sight, I saw another low-rent Chewie with his head off smoking a ciggie. This year I saw more great costumes on the floor than at the Masquerade, though dancing ninja lady was a crowd pleasing event-closer.

Got any Freebies?
We saw a little camera crew (wearing name tags identifying the production company of a famous media mogul) wandering by the booths focussing their camera on the covers of various books, one after the other, as someone read the titles into a microphone. I pictured the mogul himself, sitting in a hot tub, chomping on a cigar while he watched a live feed, and drank in the pop culture cocktail from afar… Others were more direct; both small children and media folk are always hot for free comics and come by blatantly asking for them. I tend to oblige, as long as the freebie-hunter is less than 4 feet tall. The panhandling is less cute from people who got in for free and are on an expense account (if they are as important as they say they are, anyway). It especially sucks giving a free comic book to a reviewer who then tells everyone on the internet how dumb he thinks my comic is…

Ah well, that’s SHOWBIZNISS.

Quality Time
Happily, a reviewer who has actually written some NICE things about my silly comics, Michael May, stopped by to say hello in person and it was a pleasure to meet him even if only briefly. Meeting people at the booth is one of my favourite things about Cons and this year was no different, especially as I wasn’t getting about much myself. Talented brothers Mike and Matt Cossin from Las Vegas, came by and showed me their very impressive comics work for Humanoids. I met Sonny Liew Whos Malinky Robot comic I have admired for a while, and I had a long chat with Nikos Koutsis, who had come all the way from Greece to attend, about the comics biz in America and Europe the different tastes and so on. Two animation/storyboarder ladies from Vancouver bought some stuff and chatted a bit.

This year I was selling sketches, so thanks to those people who bought some: Dan Bois, Russell Vossler (who usually picks up some of my stuff), Irma and Rafa Navarro. Speaking of sketching, I forgot to attend the Drawing Board Sketch session at the Marriot this year (after coming out of the Masquerade we were so dazed that we weren’t thinking straight) consequently I didnt see as many Drawing Boarders as I would have liked…

While wandering through the maze of media noise looking for some booth (which I never located) I stumbled upon old pal and mega-talent Cam de Leon, looking very forlorn in his overshadowed booth. He later visited our booth and we swapped our legal war-stories…

The always entertaining Kirk Thatcher came by to catch his breath. It is surely proof of how draining Comic-Con can be that even Kirk looked beat down for a moment on Saturday, until the B-Minus crew hooked him up with a Tecate and we gave him somewhere to sit and drink it. He paid us back for the use of a chair by scaring away our customers with his smart remarks but redeemed himself by treating us to his absolutely perfect GREEDO impression. Hilarious. On the Thursday night I had an enjoyable dinner with both Kirk and my dear chums John Stevenson and Carol Hughes, who I see less of now that they live in LA.

In addtion to con-going pals from the Bay Area (such as the Ghostbots, the E-Ville Press folk, Maverixes, and other cronies) who I often see at home, I usually meet a few friends and ex co-workers I haven’t seen in a while at Comic con. Sometimes it is the only place I DO get to see them. This year Dave Pryor showed us all his new 2 Minute music video he has been making in his spare time. Colossal Pictures compadres Sam Register, and later Sue Crossley also put in much welcome appearances. I was happy to see (briefly) Aaron Blecha, formerly of the Bay Area but now based in London.

Rhode’s been doing cons much longer than I have, and he has many regular visitors who I enjoy meeting each time we do San Diego. Edward Artinian and his charming family visited, and I finally got to meet El Gato’s Micheal Aushenker after hearing about him for years. He led us all to a part of town most of us hadn’t visited before, and to a trendy Sushi restaurant/dance Club where we were by far the ugliest people in the room. After a tasty meal he then showed us how to sashay up to the ladies on the dance floor.

Ted Mathot demonstrated the “never say die” attitude that enabled him to pump out over 160 pages of comics since last Comic Con (in addition to his strenuous day job) when he determinedly led a tired posse of us through town on Sunday night, trying to find a pub that hadn’t already closed. Some of us needed to debate the Short Storm/Tall Wolverine thing and Sam needed to wash the broken glass (aquired at “dinner”) out of his mouth.

Rhode’s childhood pal Jeff, and his wife Lovelyn, often visited Abismo/NerveBomb HQ, as they have in years past, and they brought us sandwiches and burritos a few days in a row. We had an obscenely huge breakfast with them before we left San Diego on Monday morning. The servings at HASH HOUSE Au Go Go are criminally huge, such that not even we dedicated starch munchers can get through them, a fact proven when Jeff (a betting man) threw a twenty dollar gauntlet on the table and flat out challenged all present to try.

Me: STILL didn’t hook up with a Vampirella model (next year for sure, though).
Rhode: Not buying the Unicorn VS Werewolf t-shirt.

OTHER Perspectives
Don’t take my word for it; here are some more CON reports: Ted Mathot, Javier Hernandez (including a great photo of JAV chilling with GALACTUS), Sho Murase, the Out of Picture crew, Lyla Warren’s PHOTO gallery (I grabbed a few, thanks Lyla!) and the mighty Ronaldo. Also, don’t forget to check out Flickr, the AFTERMATH thread at the Drawing board, and YouTube. Still want more?  Bosco has some GREAT pix online: gallery1, gallery2, gallery3, gallery4

And finally, Rhode and I have some cameo appearances in the magnificent Hel on Ice video, produced by the B-MINUS crew.

See you next year, definitely at Comic Con (we paid already) and who knows… maybe even at Creator Con…

Apr 132006

People said this year’s Alternative Press Expo was slower than the last, but I heard that last year too. APE used to be first on the Californian convention-calendar, and benefited from the build-up of gomer excitement during the 7 months following Comic Con. That nerd dividend now goes to Wondercon (since the date switch with APE) which may explain the lower attendance? Or, perhaps the suddenly balmy weather inspired San Franciscans, trapped indoors by weeks of rain, to forgo comics for a weekend outside…

Ah, who knows? And in the end, who cares? I enjoyed myself as I always do at APE. I don’t mind if it doesn’t get any bigger; It is a nice, human sized convention. Best of all, the attendees are hungry for home-cooked comics, which is what I was serving up (even though it was leftovers) including the 2nd printing of Rocket Rabbit #1, which is technically new for THIS show, as the art wasn’t completed till after last year’s APE (My ability to rationalise my own lameness will not be beat).

The Books
I believe that you haven’t really been to a comic convention unless you (A) see a Klingon eating a hotdog and (B) go home with your bags stuffed with comics. As APE is an EXPO (the THINKING person’s con) there are no pear shaped people in heroic outfits… but thankfully you can still get comics. I was able to get some good stuff by swapping my books, but had to pay hard cash to those people that weren’t bamboozled by my Nerve Bomb dollars…

CRIMSON CLOVER by Johnny Siu. I had exchanged some emails with Johnny earlier in the year when he was looking for printing options, so it was pleasant to see the finished product: a sweet little full colour story book.

PYRAMID CAR and ADVANCED TALK by Scott Campbell. Do you like dumb gags as much as I do? This guy REALLY understands the full, comedic power of stupid. Most people do not realise that it takes amazing smarts to do good “dumb humour” and this guy has Mensa-level powers of dumb-comedy. Pyramid Car is a funny little book. And so is Advanced Talk. Find them and buy them. Do not read them when eating or drinking lest you honk cup-ramen out your nose.

MALINKY ROBOT by Sonny Liew. This is a whole book by one of the contributors to FLIGHT. There are a lot of things I could compare this to, but it has a unique look and flavour so why do that annoying “compare” thing? It is best just to say that the artwork and writing are both fun and evocative.

BASILISK by Kazimir Strzepek. I have picked up all of Kaz’s comics work that I have found (most of it at last year’s APE) and it has all been really fun to read. This particular mini collects a 16 page funny fantasy story that was drawn for an anthology called ELFWORLD, which is being put together by Jeffrey Brown.

FISHCHILD STORIES by Mary Patterson. This is a tasty little collection of her charming paintings of animals in mundane human settings (my personal favourite is the rabbit shaving himself while looking in a bathroom mirror). For this collection Mary added some captions beneath the pics that evoke a story on every page.

NOBLE BOY by Scott Morse. My APE table was near Scott’s, and I could see him painting and drawing the entire time, he never stops creating. Scott works at a major animation studio, is a prolific comics artist in his SPARE time, AND has a family… I don’t know how he does it all, and so well….

CAUGHT CREATURES by Daniel Davis. Not a comic book but a collection of Daniel’s creature designs with a brief bio on each in the form of a wacky haiku poem. This book is beautifully printed.

One of the funniest comics I saw wasn’t even on sale. It was by a guy called Raz, who sadly didn’t get the story finished in time for APE, but he gave us an advance screening of the rough cut when he let us read it in his sketchbook. Powerful stuff. Rude. Wrong, but SO good. I saw, but didn’t buy, some great minis by Tom Gauld. I have seen these around town (at Super7 I believe) so I hope to get them later, I will kick myself if they aren’t there, though.

Apart from comics, I picked up a hand-made Journal by Kate Ranson-Walsh. The trouble with nicely made sketchbooks and journals is that I am afraid to sully them with any of my sappy writing or crude little pictures… let’s see if I can brave it with this one.

The Show
While sitting behind the exhibitors table, I chatted with lots of great people; old friends, total strangers and everything in between, which is always a pleasant aspect of exhibiting for me. Here’s a day by day breakdown of the show.

Friday: APE 2006 started a day earlier than usual when we got our Abismo/Nerve Bomb badges Friday night at the Last Gasp mixer held in their rambling, comics stuffed facility. Rhode said it was like the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only stuffed with comics. The staff was trusted the geeks and let them into their Ali Baba’s cave of pop-culture goodies; booze in one hand and comic books in the other.

Saturday: Rhode‘s just released CLOUD BOY books went on sale for the first time after they were brought directly to the con by Oscar (Rhode’s new bodyguard) who handled all the many sales, leaving Rhode free to indulge his mob of fans. A few people who bought my books at previous shows came by to tell me that they had enjoyed them. So if you are one of those people, thanks for taking the time to do that.

KAZU visited our table and Rhode and I were able to express our admiration for all that he is involved in; his personal books and of course FLIGHT. Kazu recently posted a link to my blog from his own site which drove an unbelievable volume of traffic my way and I was able to thank him for that in person. Then we talked about story writing, creative blocks, and whether there is any guide through that process… which is something that Rhode and I swap notes on all the time.

Saturday evening has been The Isotope mini-comics awards party for the last several APEs. Apart from it’s obvious appeal of being a place to buy comics, I enjoy the Isotope for the people who work and hang-out there. I hear the funniest conversations each time I visit, including the party this year. As the store filled up with partyers, some of us chatted out on the sidewalk in the fresh air, as the glamour of Mini comics’ most prestigious awards ceremony played out before us through the front window.

Jared filled me in on the details of his on-going special effects make-up gig on a feature film. He’s never happier than when slapping artificial gore around. You can read more about his encounters with Michael Berryman, Ruth Buzzi and co on Jared’s blog.

Marc and AK regaled me with their hilarious hard drinking tales, and Marc gave me tips on how to pull off a discreet booze-puke in a social setting. It is not a technique that a boring old tee-totaller like myself really needs, but it made for hilarious listening, which is always the case when any of the B-Minus crew get on a storytelling roll. Plus, I got to hear all the inside scoop on the Ms Monster back-story and heard previews of some outrageously hilarious stories from upcoming B-Minus comics.

I was in the middle of telling Marc and AK about The gomer consultancy idea that Lon, Derek, Bosco, Rhode and I have been bandying about as our latest get-rich scheme, when we all had to talk Rafa down from the precipice of a harsh Midichlorian freak out! An embittered Star Wars fan having a crisis of faith is a hard thing to watch, and distraction is the best remedy… It was only by reminding him how cool the new Battlestar Galactica is that we were able to calm him down. BSG was a healing, soothing balm to his prequel ravaged soul… (It has been observed that it would be tough to convince someone just walking out of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 that by 2006 Star Wars would be be so much flabby ass, and Battlestar Galactica would be THE SHIT…)

Abismo/Nerve Bomb

Sunday: By early afternoon Rhode’s Cloud Boy books were all sold out, which didn’t surprise anyone, except perhaps the modest Mr. Montijo himself. At the end of the day, Cold Cut distributors picked up a LOAD of each of my books which definitely put me firmly in the black financially, and meant that I had much less stuff to lug home.

The day ended at Chef Jia’s Hunan restaurant on the border between North Beach and Chinatown. I had signed an exclusive agreement for a pleasant deCONpression dinner with Javier and Rhode. A pleasant easy going end to a fun, easy going con.

Mar 262006

The title page for a chapter that deals with stories and limericks about elephants at work.

In other News, for those of you who live in Australia, ALL my self published books are now available from IMPACT COMICS in Canberra. Also, BUD PLANT has discounted my Rocket Rabbit book at his site. You can buy them from him even cheaper than you can from me.

Feb 212006

Rocket RabbitBold Brian Kalin-O’Connell has recently wrought a powerful picture of Rocket Rabbit dodging disaster; a snarling, super-sized simian! I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing a few people do pin-ups of NAUTI GIRL (which you can see in my COMICS section under the “Pinup gallery” link) but not too many people (apart from my nephews) have had a crack at drawing Rocket. Perhaps Brian will inspire a few more?

To behold the full-size majesty of this super pin-up, get on over to Brian’s Blog and click on the small sized preview he has posted there. And while you are over there, don’t forget to look around and see more of Brian’s artwork.