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.

Friday, July 22, 2005

San Diego Comic-con 2005

San Diego Comic-con. Enrico and I have been doing this for a few years now and somehow each time it feels like we've never done it at all. Like some amnesiac haze is making you giddy to do it all again. All the dudes from work showing up made this year's festivities even more fun. My thanks to the E-ville crew, you know who you are, for making this the best fun a guy could have being around comic books. We had many tequila shots, won a trivia contest (even came away with Stella Artois glass which will forever be known at "The Trophy"), wondered how San Diego could be colder than the Bay Area in summer, ate sushi, met old friends and colleagues, sold books, gulped food too fast, stumbled into the dealer's floor late, shopped too much and laughed a whole lot the whole time. Not bad for a buncha guys who draw funny books.

A coalition of the willful. We've been lucky with our placement at the con over the years and this year is no exception. We shared with the fantastic crew of Flight this year, along with Nucleus Gallery and Rex Steel, Nazi Smasher. It was cozy and full of activity, non stop. As if that wasn't enough, we had the one and only Bill Plimpton with us. We got all the demographics and niches that mattered covered, I think. My thanks to Kazu and the talented and uber nice crew of Flight (Johane,Kean…everyone!) for putting up with us, the Nucleus folks, (Ben, Ben et al), Bill Presing and Alex Woo for the support and the ham and cheese samitches…so many things had to go well for this crazy venture to work and you couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch of people to do this with.

Enrico is swamped by our audience. That's happy Ted Mathot overlooking the harbor and the convention center, Altitude bar. Bobby Marmolejo is my lucky charm at SDCC. He bought the very first Paper Biscuit from me long ago before Preview Night opened. He does it every year without fail, no sense in messing with luck. The E-ville crew, Nazi Smasher and Enrico--many tequilla shots later. Glen Murakami and Vyvan Pham (I have more pics of her for later). Haven & Scott with their daughter, beautiful family,eh? Allen Yamashita in his first visit to Comic-con.

My Comic-con Moment. When I started out in California looking for work I had to contend with so many things that were new to me. Sylvain was a full-fledged freelance artist of merit already when we met, while I was scratching out a toe hold into regular paycheck land. Over the years he would be generous with advice and liberal with introductions to people he knew (met Moebius through him) and I would be ever grateful. "Hey, you're a very talented artist. Someone will do this for you someday, might as well be me and get the credit for it." I'll always remember that.

So, when I see him standing at the Flight table asking about books, I shout out his name—loud enough to make a few heads turn—and we both were back to where we left off. Sylvain's been busy with movies (big ones) and living abroad, contemplating an approach to his life and work. We write intermittently and never see each other. It's been fifteen years since we first met. We erupt into hellos and how are you's and caught up--as well as one could in the frenzy of selling books. "I'll give you the short-hand version," filling in years in a concise few minutes. It was so good to see my friend. Glad to know he'll be around more.

My Comic-con Moment, TWO. Sylvain had made a note to visit me the next day at the con because he had to go back to his girlfriend, Stella, who was favoring a broken leg (on the mend) and unable to amble too much over the con floor. The next day was another flurry of con frenzy with Enrico and I taking turns sitting in the booth. It was my turn to sit when I saw this man in a gray t-shirt walk into our area looking for something. I know this face from somewhere... He comes over to Johane and asks in a faint voice, "Do you know where I can find Ronnie del Carmen?" I was standing next to her so she merely pointed to me. He looks over and extends a hand to shake,"I'm Bill Sienkiewicz."

WHOA! I'm thrown off my groove. "OH MY! I'm...." I snap into fan boy mode, "…You have no idea how many times I've read "The Demon Bear" saga in New Mutants or how many times I've bought those books over and over again…and The Shadow? Man, it is an honor to meet you!" Here was Bill Sienkiewicz coming over to look for me to meet ME! That is so awesome! I ranted as much out loud. He quietly said that he wanted to meet me because of some designs I had submitted to a project we both are working on, "Those designs are beautiful!" I think I'll remember the way he said that for long while. I gushed and demurred at the same time and intending to say more when Sylvain shows up.

"Sylvain! Look! Meet Bill Sienkiewicz!" He was looking at me for a fraction and turned to understand my introduction, "Awww…" hand on his heart, "This is an honor, sir. So nice to meet you." Without planning it we had this Trifecta. Bill knows of Sylvain's career and was glad to meet him. Mind utterly blown.

I managed to hand Bill some of my books and jabber more nonsense. He had to go back to his table and we all said goodbyes. I looked around to finally notice that the con is still going on. I can rant about this for weeks but I have more Con reports to post and pictures. My camera had taken pictures but some of them didn't download. I'll do my best to post the rest of my update in the days to come. Thanks to all who made it to our tables this year, you are the reason we show up every year and we are grateful. Till next post.

Bill Sienkiewicz
Sylvain Despretz at Nuclear Burn
Flight Comics
Nucleus Gallery

E-ville posted pics of their adventures.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Paper Biscuit t-shirts

Tess and Gerin posed for me this afternoon at Rooz Cafe on Piedmont Avenue. Coffee's good, wireless is free, artwork on the walls support local aritsts and the light is good for fashion shoots. And they also like my books!

Current designs. Another cutting-it-too-close production idea that was pulled off lickety-split. Thanks to Brian Stern at Badskulls for the zippy, on the fly produciton solutions. All materials we're bringing down to Comic-con were made real by the willingness of suppliers to work with my schedules and limitations. If I were more organized I'd be somewhat of a threat. Or at least a mild annoyance.

This year's t-shirts are made with crowd favorite American Apparel tees. They come in Grass and Heather. The tees were modelled by the beauties in my life: my beautiful muse, partner, healer, Tess models the green and Gerin, our charming stunner daughter models the heather. We have them in men's shirts as well but I'll spare you my visage until you reach the con. Sizes are in L and M. The large in both men and women, in our experience, seem to fit Large and Medium body types and the Medium can accomodate Medium to Small. Come and check it out.

Bad Skulls
Rooz Cafe

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Frogg's Lament" a Paper Biscuit Nina adventure

Paper Biscuit 2.5, that is. Printed by Westcan. 40 pages, B&W, Cougar natural 70 lbs. First all digital production. No actual pencils were used in the making of this book.

Comic-con? Nah. Enrico and I had promised ourselves, and each other, that we were going to take it easy this year at Comic-con. Our work schedules have gone crazier, our tenacity wearing thin, it was a good time to experience what it was like to just walk around the con and see people. You know, be a fan again. We have a collective driving down to the con from the farm at Emeryville and we can offer support and cheer them on without having to mind our own booth.

But after our pleasant showing at APE and experiencing the familiar frenzy of being at a convention at the earlier WonderCon our resolve wasn't as certain. Especially since Kazu of Flight had this notion of linking booths and sharing the load of being so present at these cons.

"Well...there's the matter of not having anything new to show at San Diego." We thought that having the same book from last year isn't so bad, we can dial down the sales push. Signing up would mean significant savings since Bill Presing's Nazi Smasher is going to take half the booth (he had a banner year last year but was farther away from us. Now we'll be nice and cozy). Ben of Nucleus Gallery will be with us as well along with goodies from his store/gallery. It was looking like a lower cash investment and have a place to roost--low key, low cost, still good profile. And we all like those Flight Kids anyway (they have a new book and momentum from last year's hit anthology) The upside is looking very good and the down sides were not so down. We're going to go anyway, right? So, why not?

We signed up. But from then on it was a secret dread that we were showing up empty handed to the best comic-book show on earth. For weeks neither of us wanted to say it. It would be such a missed opportunity not to have something new for the show.

That full color Nina on the right of the book is the postcard that tucks neatly inside PB 2.5--a happy coincidence since the drawing on the card's back was intended for the inside front cover.

A pesky amphibian rises. I love illustrated books. The spot illustration of Tenniel and Shepard are my faves. How I would love to do a turn at doing illustrations like them. I am a fan of the Pooh illustrations since forever. For some reason I never read The Adventures of Toad of "Wind in the Willows" fame. My children had them when they were little but I had somehow skipped even opening them. Until I came across a small, hardcover edition of The Adventures of Toad. I recognized E.H.Shepard's drawings--grimaced at the bad color wash slathered under the line work, obviously done to add a new facet to the same drawings--and began to read it. I've ridden the Disney ride once with my kids and have never seen the cartoon. So, this was a treat.

Then it hit me. Why not give myself the job of doing spot illustrations on a small Nina adventure that was inspired by this book? Yeah, and create my very own obsessive amphibian! Yeah! Thus, Buford K. Frogg was born. But this is a Nina story after all and so we meet Nina just as she has fallen asleep, a good uneventful, restful sleep that's eluded her in so long. She was reading a small book about a certain toad as she drifted off to sleep. You can guess what happens next. Or you can visit me at our booth at the San Diego Comic-con, booth no.932 and buy a copy.

While you're there check out Enrico's full color book of his 24-hour comic exercise, "Sketch Crawling." It is a limited print run of the chronicles of Enrico as he goes through his day and do a Sketchcrawl. Very nice book, if I do say so myself. Pencil and watercolor in that immediate and charming way that only Enrico can make look effortless.

So, it looks like we do have new stuff to show this year after all. We cut it pretty close again this time. Thanks to Chris Young of Westcan Printing Group for taking care of my books, Ryan DeGrave for the tech support prying me out of design predicaments and Glenda Ashley for making sure I get the books in time. As you can see I went ahead and had postcards made, AND even sprung for a new Paper Biscuit t-shirt thru Bad Skulls. Looking like a full complement of a show, ain't it?

I'll see you all there.

Westcan Printing Group
Casarosa Journal featuring Sketch Crawling
Monkeysuit featuring Rex Steele, Nazi Smasher
Nucleus Gallery
Flight Comics
Flight 2 review in CBR