I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Just plain folks come to the Comic-con, too.

Okay, that's misleading. The families we meet every year at the con are anything but plain. These are beautiful and vital people--there to support their family members who have exhibits or are industry guest, friends and loved ones making the annual pilgrimage. There are more families that show up to our table every year and this one was definitely our best.

This is also another banner year for the message board communities who show up at the conventions. The Shanesboard/Sketchbook Sessions came out with a book as well as individual members self-publishing their own work. There are other internet communities like them--I am sadly uninformed but my guess would be these: Mattart, Penciljack, Concept Art, Sinjun, Animation Nation, Flight, Maverix...I can only guess at the rest) that also make the Comic-con THE event of the year to showcase work of their membership and have a grand social gathering. Is it ever, huh? I have a collection of books members generously share with me. My thanks to all.

"Mike!" I shout his name as I see his head bob up and down the main aisle. We catch up and are loud about it--if you know Mr. Mignola he doesn't speak softly and carry a big stick. A voice tuned to carry over the timid, Mike Minola is an artist/star that we all wish to cut our career pattern to. We see each other at this con over the years and catch up only on these brief run ins. "Last year everyone was talking about your book," he says. He's also adept at flattery. Nice guy. I hand him a copy of my book and he hauls one of his limited edition sketchbooks at me. It's good to see him, since he'd been missing for the last two cons (I think) because Hollywood kept him busy. Poor guy.


Con Gripe #1. Why did they separate the artists like Mike, Gene Colan and the rest from where the other artist/exhibitors were? They were in the middle of all that conflagration. So wrong! They were drowned out by the noise there. And what's more, the people who made it to that end tended not be interested in encountering the understated booths and tables of the artist/creator. Put them all together with the rest of the exhibiting artist tables and booths!

Con Gripe#2. Keep everyone hawking their wares using a sound system together in one spot. All the better for them to battle it out for decibel primacy against others so equiped. Our little booth had only the vocal chords god gave us at birth. A weeklong litany on the merits of a script writing tool used by mega bucks screen writers blaring at you is bad. Even worse if it is AMPLIFIED! ( I always wonder about the actual usefulness of a program hawked to be able to aid you in raking in the millions at Hollywood and these guys are toughing it out on the convention floor selling it one program at a time. Wouldn't it be easier to use it yourself and gain the Beverly hills lifestyle at will than do the pedestrian peddling? Hmmmm.)


Earlier, another con regular who used to share a booth with The Mignola--and got scooped up by Hollywood in big way as well--came by. Geof Darrow swoops in, as much as a giant man of gentle demeanor can, and we did our catching up. We'd missed each other on the one time he visited Pixar and I was too busy to visit him when The Matrix was shooting in the Bay Area. Again, the con is fated to be our only way of connecting. I remember him showing me, years ago, the huge vellum pages of exquisite line work he'd been busy with, the story that was about a man on a donkey in the desert fighting the devil. I am waiting for that.

Bruce Timm came by and caught me doing a commision. I had a copy of the current Harley and Ivy comic, "Excellent choice in reading material." I needed it for reference, I can never be sure where those argyle patterns are on Harley. Bruce is due to be at a signing and I hand him a copy of my current issue. "You're doing some Craig Thompson swirly thing on this." Oh, pushaw! I don't see it but...waitaminute, he meant that as a compliment, right?

The table becomes a meeting point, or more appropriately...missing each other point for all the days of the con. Glen Murakami comes by and asks whether I've seen the other guys. Bruce will do the same. The great Paul Dini graced us with his presence with a download on all things Dini and asks as well. We all used to go out together after the con and have a long leisurely dinner. Now, we're at all points of the compass.

Tim Sale also came by to visit us. He shows me a hardcover collection of his work. Impressive tome. Great work. Must pick this one up. Also, I must've gushed about his family--how beautiful they are on this blog before, right? I'll do it again, I swear. Pics below instead.

I have more memories to post but I'm going to wear out my welcome. I've yet to catch up with email at home. Thanks again to all who came by and made our convention a success.

And a special thanks to my wife, Tess for being my booth babe to rule all babes. My daughter Gerin for being such an able stand-in for Daddy and help out with the sales, Geo for lugging our stuff and driving when Daddy needs to crash, Amy for the lunches and snacks. My brother Louie and his wife Julie for coming by and cheering us on. Tammy List for not pulling a prank on me. Haven Alexander, great to see you and your adorable daughter (Andy and Ted says hello. Andy swooned his hello). Jamie, Sam and Rhode for being the best booth neighbors one could hope for.

Whew! There's more but I think I lost those brain cells back in San Diego. See you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Mother of All Comic-cons

Drove all the way down to L.A. from the San Francisco Bay area on the Monday of the San Diego Comic-con. By afternoon of Tuesday I will have driven another two hours to the San Diego Convention Center, done the rigmarole of parking and getting a number for the loading dock, unloaded the van, got my exhibitor badge and then entered the dealer’s floor. It always gives me a charge of excitement to walk in there and see that giant pillared concrete cavern. I will also never see the entire convention in the whole week I’m there. Enrico is set to follow the following day—this gives us a way of assessing how our booth is going to be, a full day early without the pressures of Preview Night breathing down our necks. There is a quiet to the area, not many of the booths around us have people yet to do the same, though all the giant installations seem to be well into completion. From this corner our little booth will have to try to be visible amidst the swirl of this annual circus, presumably all about comics—though each year I wonder if that is more and more just nominal.

Charles Kiyasu had gifted us with the supreme aid of printing our comic book covers and banners to line our back wall and tables. Those posters and banners will be the biggest visual impact any exhibitor could ever want in their booth and those babies sure delivered. I get the comment from many new converts to our books, "I came over because of the posters. What’s Paper Biscuit about?" And to top it off we lucked out that we got such a prime location in the 1400 block. Right smack dab in the middle of everything but far enough away from the giant pavilions that we were never in danger of being subsumed (though the booth to our left hawking a script writing program had to pitch their wares with mike and speakers. I think that amplified pitches like these should be lumped together. Us quiet artist/authors have it tough enough).

Familiar faces of exhibitors come by to say hi. Bonded together by the rigors of putting up an exhibit year after year, your world is all right only when you see them there holding up their part of our yearly gamble. This year is no different and nothing major will upset the rest of the con.

My family made the trek with me this year. I drove the van full of books and booth show stuff, they drove in my old Honda with our luggage. My wife, Tess, will sell many a Paper Biscuit shirt because she’s wearing one herself—my very own booth babe. My daughter (already old enough to be mistaken as either my sister or my girlfriend. This is strange now), Gerin bags our shirts and sells them when Enrico and I are swamped with requests or questions. Geo provided muscle to move our cargo and ever ready to dash out for our latte and cappuccino fix. And did we ever need those.

My apologies to all who invited me to after con get togethers. I’m willing to go but my energy levels will render me sad company and spending time with my family at night takes precedence. Maybe I’ll learn to balance this better next year since a con of all sell and no social interaction is not a complete con. And while I'm on that, wasn’t this what Preview Night was supposed to be for? A chance to meet and see the con before the frenzy opens to the public? Instead it’s just another selling day.

Enrico and I had a good time experiencing our booth year. We had more things to sell and that meant we had to fracture our attention over more things. And because of that I feel that we had less time to really interact with the people who came for our books—which, in the end summation, is the biggest part of why we are there at all. Learning from this, there must be away to meet our public and have a more substantial con experience with them. Something to think more on.

We also helped out some friends by having their things on our table so we can point people to them. Good business karma.

Highlight. Met Craig Thompson. Bought his book, CARNET DE VOYAGE. Enrico had taken a short break from being the selling machine with many arms (getting bills, counting change, giving change, noting the books, logging the sales…oh, boy) and runs back not fifteen minutes just passed since he left. "Look what I got!" He fishes out a copy of CARNET and opens to the page where Craig had drawn that small alter-ego bunny creature of his as well as sign his name and then stamped it with a personal seal. I bolted right out of there.

I stand in line and just my luck a man had several copies of "Blankets" in a queue as well as others by Craig—and this guy never takes a breather gabbing and gabbing, playing six degrees of Craig Thompson, "…so, my friend, who’s a friend of that friend I mentioned earlier, tells a friend about that drawing you did about your drive to the snow and he says…"

I’m not impatient at all…yet. But I am transfixed by this slight young man who delicately proceeds to draw an exacting image of the lady love in the book in brush pen black ink. It was like seeing someone wipe away the paper to reveal the already done image underneath. I am more determined now than ever to get a book signed. I also had a copy of my second issue under my arm, hoping to hand him a copy—knowing full well that he’ll likely ever so politely stash it amongst a growing pile of free books from every artist in the con.

My turn came and his demeanor had not changed though I wonder how long he can keep this level of quality in signing for the whole con, it’s only Thursday ( I think this happened Thursday. So sue me). He asks my name to sign it to me. I blathered a response to spelling, "R-O-N-N-I-E…waitasec.." I remember my book. I hand it to him. I managed to say that I self-publish this and that I wanted to give him this copy. He was already leafing through the book as my low-key pitch mirrored his calm. I was almost whispering.

"This is very nice. Very beautiful." Now, I may have heard that said about my work before but because of his thoughtful delivery, I can make myself believe that he was really impressed. I’ll stick to that for now. "Now, do you ever think of not self-publishing?"

I say that I’ve not thought about it. I’m having fun doing the book my own way. I mention that Top Shelf was the one place I had considered. "You should."

Now from here on I can’t recall the word he used. I think the gist is that he volunteers, "I’ll back you if you do." Or maybe he used the word "endorse." I’m not sure. I’ve since rerun that encounter a hundred times in my head and I can't stumble on the actual dialogue, now lost to the ether.

"I'll keep this right here..." as he pulls his bag from under the table and carefully slips it in the small case, "...to read later." I'm forever flattered. I will, in the days following, have the notion of returning to his signing and buy another book in the hopes that he’d remember me and say, "I just handed your book to the guys and…"always bubbling in a corner of my mind.

I did manage to stand in line again around Sunday afternoon but chickened out. Likely nothing more will happen beyond that first exchange and its better that way. I like to keep that encounter just the way it is.


More Comic-con reports to follow as well as more pictures.
Check out my booth partner Enrico's Journal for his pictures and con report.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Paper Biscuit #2

A Second Full Issue. Here it is. Full color cover, forty interior pages, natural color pages, B/W art with a touch of warm grays. I had mock-ups that showed that the line work was going to work but I held my breath for a while. I’m glad to breathe that sigh of relief now. It looks gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

Forty pages of story book, no production sketch section, no editorial thank-you’s and background on the story. Just story. After the launch of the first issue I had wanted to tackle a way to really set this story up without rushing it (one would think that forty pages would be more than enough). I hope you all like it when you see it. Although I’m all anxiety right now. Not about waiting for the day I can set it in front of people at the SD con. No. Just the plain WAITING!!! Them furshlugginer books AIN’T HERE YET!!!

Westcan had the books bound and set in motion to deliver the books to me last Friday. It’s in a truck right now. Heading south from Canada. It will take the whole week to get here! It’s scheduled to arrive this coming Friday. I had such a lead time on this thing and now I’m on pins and needles waiting for the books, which are already done, to get here on the last work day before I’m to take my trip down south!

Easy…easy…calming down. There are fallback positions to take and all will be handled. The books will get there no matter what. It’s just that I had hoped to have this time to do other things rather than worry about the delivery of those books. Sheesh.

Anyway…Enrico and I are frantically preparing our offerings for this year. Have a listen. First, Enrico has his half of Fragments to show, Intermezzo—it is so good, you all will want to buy two. Check it out on his website, he has pictures. Then, a return engagement of the Art of Mia. But last and most certainly not least, a second, all new issue of Adventures of Mia! How about them apples!

As for me, I’ve got the aforementioned Paper Biscuit #2 making it's debut--get a couple, honest to God stories I've heard of friends appropriating the one copy. Next, after selling out at last year's SD Comic-con I had a year of saying that I may reprint it at a later date. Well, it's here now, a second printing of the small book that can, Paper Biscuit # 1.5. I hope to see all of you who couldn't get a copy last year, 'hear? And finally, where would I be without the one that started it all, straight from Japan, the ever durable Paper Biscuit #1. Had enough? We also have last year’s darling of an art book, Fragments by yours truly and Enrico.

Okay, we went all out and got ourselves a booth. Check us out in booth No. 1422. There we’re going to have t-shirts--Mia t-shirts, Haiku t-shirts, Nina t-shirts, Peg t-shirts in a variety of colors and sizes.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a limited edition, hand stomped by the aritsts themselves…Pin-back Buttons! A varied collection of buttons from both Enrico and I to collect and treasure forever—we won’t be making them again after this year and we only made a limited quantity. Get them while they last, seriously.

So, it seems that this year is going to be the year to beat. We look forward to seeing you all. In the meantime I’m taking a walk around the block to get my circulation in check. See you in San Diego!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Miyazaki-Moebius.com! Man, oh, man!!

I am fit to be tied. This is just the kind of Elseworlds event that had to happen in my universe but it might as well be in an alternate one. Okay, that's
overly dramatic...but it is well outside of my reach. AND I can't speak a lick of French. The headline is a link to the site.

I just hope this somehow manages to come around to the U.S.--preferrably the westcoast, since I'm wishing.

Look at those big grins. Love these two. Oh, to grow old as gracefully as they've managed to.



(Translation post c/o Tonin from the Sketchbooksessions/shanesboard)

Miyazaki-Moebius Expo takes place in France from 15 November 2004 to 9 March 2005. Website (in French).

Translation by Karl Loeffler (thanks!)


Two major artists unveil their collection of personal drawings to the world for the first time.

Moebius and Miyazaki well soon come together to exhibit more than 300 works.

Traditionally, artists have trained themselves by travelling; the free exchange of ideas has always been an important creative resource. Moebius is French, Hayao Miyazaki is Japanese. These two world-builders each have their own field of expression, and their highly individual visions have influenced animation and comic book artists the world over. The path they have beaten for future generations is clear.

Two cultures, two styles, one soul.

Although separated by thousands of kilometers and radically different cultures, the artists mutually discovered each other’s works before even meeting. Their two bodies of work, although quite different in reality, have each evolved from a common spirit. Both Moebius and Miyazaki push the boundaries of story, character, art, and the technical aspects of animation.

An exhibit that can be read at many levels and that will enchant young and old alike.

Incidently, Moebius' daughter is named Nausicaa.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


(Illustration done on Oekaki board)

What now?! I know it's old. An iMac Special edition, over four years old. But what did I do to deserve this? Now, I am locked out of all the email I have to answer. So, folks if you've sent me stuff and I've not replied, it ain't my fault. It's sitting in my hard drive and the utilities repair says, "...found serious errors." And I've got collected correspondence I was going to use to write a book on Story and storyboarding. Arrgh, again!

This means that I'm up the creek with a large hunk of metal and plastic that does nothing. If any of you would like to resend me your questions or emails, I'll gladly try to get to them--thank goodness I have a Powerbook. Otherwise, I'm afraid that it may all seem like a big snub. I try to answer all my mail and I think I've very diligent about it.

So, let that be a lesson to all of ya!...Back up your files!

(Why is there a girl in the foreground blissfully going about her routine while I'm in the background about to have a seizure? Nothin' wrong with that, is there?)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A drawing to close the day

(Illustration done on Oekaki board)

I've been lost in the swirl of production deadlines, here at work and other projects outside. I need to limber up and get to a good place of drawing again. Paper Biscuit #2 is about to ship to me, maybe in the next week and I just got the second printing of Paper Biscuit 1.5. The days leading the SD con are flying past me and I've got a million things to do before I get to just drive down there.

We got a booth this year and wouldn't you know it that we're right smack dab in the middle of everything on fursligginer Main St. I know, I know...it's a good thing. I'm wary of the fact that all the majors are there selling in that torrent of the masses while we hawk our independent wares at prices aimed at our niche audience. Paranoid? You betcha.

Of course I can see the opportunity this is and maybe it will be the best year yet. I hope that we can keep our audience and maybe grow new ones. All that are wolves far afield. Must tend to immediate and the now -- I will answer an online interview and get to some comic pages. And of course the most pressing thing to do before all that is post on my blog, right?

My procrastination style knows no bounds.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Modesto's Fave Native Sons

Hip Hop sybling sensations, Ron, Gary, Doug, and Bruce from the homespun farmlands of Modesto California

Says Papa Sanchez:

"We really feel we've begun to make some headroom in the tough Modesto market. I'm not one to "toot my own horn" but we now can command a hefty asking price at the Green Vine Community Center--even on a Saturday night."

Check out "Fuggetaboutit" and "The Sanchez Lament" mp3's on their site. "It's all about the Sanchez," A proud Modesto insider chimes in. "I hear buzz that one of the brothers is coming back from a tour in Japan with Primus and will be ready to cut the album."


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Frans Masereel

Amazing how storytelling through visuals can pack a gut punch like this. The graphic impact of each idea on the page is just breathtaking.

Frans Masereel (1889-1972) Blankenberge, Belgium. "Frans Masereel was the greatest woodcut artist of our time. A pacifist in World War I, he tried to make his art accessible to the ordinary man. His works were banned by the Nazis and widely distributed in Communist countries. But he rejected "political" art and party affiliation, condemning all enslavements, oppression, war and violence, injustice, and the power of money." (from graphicwitness.org)

The Idea. first published 1920. Thomas Mann wrote in a later edition,"'...so compelling, so deeply felt, so rich in ideas that one never tires of looking at them.'" Here is a written running commentary of "The Idea."

The City. 1925. The scope, here complete, is epic and unflinching.

Go Places and Draw them

I have sketchbooks in a safety deposit box in a bank in my community. Okay, that's a little disclosure of bizzare item # 23 from me. It is my laboratory, those books. They keep odds and ends of papers, tickets, string...flotsam. I happen to like keeping them in the pages as I found them, when I found them. Journal and drawing entries are made as you'd expect. Some of those scribbles wind up in the printed books.

I just found this site while trolling (Boing Boing>March Design). I just skimmed a few pages. I will delve into it at snack times (which can be often). I always like finding people who are as hooked on making sketchbooks as I am and, if you're not, turning you into one of us. Although, I wish I traveled as much as this guy, Enrique Flores (man, those entries are so amazing and relaxed!). The inside of studios may not be as exotic. Hmmm...now that I write this, that may not be so cracked an idea.