Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back from San Diego

What a great convention!!!
The big news for me is that I won the Russ Manning Award on Friday Night at the Eisners!!
Past winner of the Manning, Steve Rude, presented it to me (which is also cool because he is a fellow Michigander!). It is quite an honor to be added to the list of past winners. With names like Jeff Smith, Steve Rude, Art Adams, and Dan Brereton, you can see why!!!

The award ceremony itself was magical. Amazing to be in the company of people you admire and respect. I went down the list in the program and made my predictions. I was about 80% right on my guesses. I’m also a huge voice acting geek and was thrilled to meet John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama) after the show and get a photo with him. I’m really thrilled that there will be new DVD movies of Futurama and it’s clear John was too.

I was pleased to be able to chat with two of my comics heroes after the awards as well: Rick Geary and Dave Stewart. Rick does a series of historical books on famous Victorian era murders. His latest just came out ‘The Bloody Benders’ and it’s a great slice of history told so well through Rick’s linework. He won an Eisner for his work on the new Gumby series. I discovered Rick’s work at a Library in Southeastern Michigan. It was before I started Mouse Guard and it showed me that it was ok to use unconventional inking styles (basket hatch, cross hatch, stippling, etc) in comics today. I don’t know that I would have used those inking methods for a Mouse Guard comic if I hadn’t seen Rick’s books first.

Dave Stewart is the colorist’s colorist. As a Hellboy fan I knew him as the colorist of Mignola’s work in recent years. When BPRD spun off into it’s own series, Dave became the colorist for that as well and really got to showcase how well he understands color and where to use it in a panel. His work on BPRD also shows his diversity as a colorist. The work he does on Hellboy is a flatter look to blend well with Mignola’s inks, he uses a more painterly technique on BPRD to compliment Guy Davis’ work And if that isn’t enough, he also colored Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier & the recent Conan books from Dark Horse. I look up to his work when I’m coloring Mouse Guard

Archaia Booth: It’s always great to hang out with the Archaia crowd. Alex Sheikman, Marv Mann, Mark Smylie, Aki Liao, Joe Illdge, Nick Tapalansky, and Alex Eckman-Lawn and I have done a few shows together so it was cool to catch up with what they have been doing and get reaquainted with ‘old friends’. It was also cool to meet some of the new faces at ASP: Ed Lavallee, Patrick McEvoy, Dave Rodriguez, and Larime Taylor. I look forward to sharing booth space with all of you in the cons to come.

Panels: All of the panels I was on went well and seemed to be well received. Thanks to Peter David, Orson Scott Card, Maggie Thompson, the ASP crew, Calvin Reid, Christian Slade, George O’Connor , Jamie Tanner, Leland Myrick, and Miriam Katin for their contributions to the panels. The best part was when I was talking about other publishers knocking on the door after Mouse Guard ‘hit’ and how I was offered more money, but took the deal with less money that offered me more control over Mouse Guard, I was applauded. I’m glad the public understands why creators rights are important and respect the protection of them.

This was my Mom’s first comic convention ever. She was very excited that I was nominated for the Russ Manning and figured she would jump in to the deep end of the convention pool to see the award ceremony. I have to admit I was a bit worried about what she was going to do for the three days she was there. My Mom isn’t a comic fan, doesn’t like sci-fi, pop culture, most new movies, or video games. So I was thrilled when, after the ‘New Voice in Graphic Novels’ Panel she rushed to the table to get booth numbers for three of the artist/writers so she could get down to the con floor and buy their books. I didn’t even see her leave the panel room she moved so quickly. Being a genealogist she had a particular interest in George O’Connor’s Mohawk Country and Miriam Katin’s We Are On Our Own. She also picked up Leland Myrick’s book about his childhood, Missouri Boy. It then dawned on me that she would also like Spiegleman’s Maus. She wrote it down in hopes to find it once she is home.

My wife Julia and sister-in-law Ashley both had a good time as well. Julia is such a good sport about being my lifeline at a con for food and drink and supplies. She has also acquired a taste for original art. She picked a few of the pieces we bought last year and was excited to browse the artists’ work in search of more. Ashley is a movie buff and loved the star sightings. (I think she even sat in on panels she didn’t care about because of how exciting it was to see movie actors in real life) Ashley, Julia and I were all thrilled when Judd Apatow and his Wife Leslie Mann walked by the ASP booth. We stopped them to say how much we are fans of Freaks and Geeks, 40 Year-old Virgin, and Knocked Up (Ashley can recite most of the words to the movie). Ashley was also able to swing her zookeeper clout to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the San Diego Zoo. Like Julia and I, Ashley is now looking forward to SDCC ’08!

Saturday Night we hooked up with our artist friends at the Sketchbook Sessions in the Marriott lounge. It was good to see my pals from the Hellboy message board (who are now real-life pals): Tad Stones, Maija Graham, Sparky, Lars Norpchen, & Rick Cortes. I also enjoyed seeing Stan Sakai, Sergio Aragones, Steve Hamaker, Andy Runton, Christian Slade, and the Mignolas. Big thanks to all the fans who came out to the show!

Please excuse this enormously long blog post. San Diego is huge so a report needs to be equally big!

Monday, July 23, 2007

San Diego!!!

San Diego Comic Con is right around the corner and here is a run-down of my info for the biggest con in North America:

I will be at Archaia Studio Press' booth (#2049) Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday I'll be speaking on three panels:

Impact University Fri, Jul 27, 12:00-1:30pm, ROOM 30CDE
Features various artists and writers who know the “how to” behind-the-scenes aspects of the comics industry.

Archaia Studios Press Round-Up Fri, Jul 27, 2:30-3:30pm, ROOM 2
ASP comics editor Joseph Illidge leads a round-table discussion of ASP writers and artists

New Voices in Graphic Novels Panel Fri, Jul 27, 4:30-5:30, ROOM 4
A panel moderated by Publishers Weekly’s Calvin Reid. Panel includes Christian Slade (Korgi), George O’Connor (Journey Into Mohawk Country), Jamie Tanner (The Aviary), Leland Myrick (Missouri Boy), and Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), and David Petersen (Mouse Guard).


40 pages b&w with a mix of pencil sketches, inked convention drawings, and new character profiles. An edition of numbered (333) book will be available exclusively at San Diego for $10.

(if any remain they will be sold at Baltimore, No mail order please.)

Other Mouse Guard offerings @ SDCC:

-The ASP booth will have Mouse Guard Fall 1152 hardcovers available, but come early as supplies are limited!

-Issue #1 of Winter 1152 also will debut at SDCC!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Old Sculptures

I have been planning on a new sculpture project for some time now. Time, the size of the project, and my current workload have prevented me from getting much farther than the initial planning stage, but I do hope I can start after con-season.

I know, I know...I'm being secrative.

But the picture on the left should give a clue as to what I have planned.

In the meantime, I will share older sculptures, things that never made it to my website.

This is a small head that I sculpted in '99. It took about three hours from sculpting to making a mold and then casting it in plaster. I was going for an old mummified/applehead look. The finish is urithane and wood stain. Currently this little guy sits on my comic bookshelf, propping up a spot between Craig Thompson's Blankets and Rick Geary's Victorian Murder books.

This oddity was sculpted in the same semester as the previous head.
I loved in the behind the scenes photos of Nightmare Before Christmas (one of my favorite movies) that to catalog and store Jack Skellington's various heads, there were trays (which reminded me of old typesetting trays) with an array of expressions staring back at you. My goal was to make a similar box/tray with human faces.

I quickly ran out of time and so only two of the faces turned out as well as I would have wanted (one being a slight likeness of the person Lieam was based on). It's an idea that if I had more time, I'd push farther: tighter boxes, more expressions, more heads, etc.

The sculpture now lives at the home of Guy Davis, who, for some reason, liked it enough to want to own it.

My next post (shooting for Friday) will have new artwork and an announcement!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

If things had gone another way...

At a recent Motor City Comic Con, Jeremy Bastian, Nate Pride and I were noticing the typical behavior of some booths to resort to having all-girl cast in the comic so they can have booth babes that glom on to any passers-by in that aisle. It can be rather distasteful when the women will almost pull people from other tables and back to theirs.

I made a joke that I almost took Mouse Guard that direction originally, but I ended up going with mice. I guess this got Nate thinking...and last night he gave me this awesome inked drawing!!! It's the 'what if' of an all human female MG. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I love that he gave the 'Lieam' character the full & fluffy hair and 'Kenzie' the rougher wirey hair...all the while making them hotties ;)


Unfortunately, I don't have a new piece to show, but I'll repost a few oldies that were on my site a while back:

A scruffy-looking nerf herder and a walking carpet.
This was one of the first of the outlined watercolor style work I was doing a few years back. I was still using left over wedding invitation paper stock (we handmade our invites).

And Clobberin' time Ben Grimm. Same story on this being an early piece. I was experimenting with different salt on this one (salt is used in watercolor for an effect. When salt is sprinkled onto wet watercolor the salt grains repell the pigment leaving you with low color splotches with 'rings' of color around them. My wife likes to cook so we have a variety of salts: sea, kosher, table, coarse...)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Zoo Day

(crap, I just typed a whole post and lost it...)
My sister-in-law is a zookeeper at the Detroit zoo, so today my nieces came over and we all went to the zoo. Ashley (the super-zookeeper that she is) was able to get us a private feeding on the giraffe feeding platform. It was very cool to be able to spend a lot of time feeding them slowly and not feeling rushed because of the 90 people behind you. We were able to feed them the typical 'cracker' they let you feed them with at the normal feed, but also we got to give them branches with leaves.

It was very cool to watch that long purple/black tounge come out and twist and wrap itself around the branch to pull all the leaves off as it pulled it back into its mouth. The Nieces certainly liked watching that up close too.

Later Ashley (the zookeeping sis-in-law) took us to the hippo exhibit where she was going to feed them. That was a funny sight because she was in civilian lothes, so the other park visitors first wondered why a woman would be walking arround the zoo with an arm full of produce and then, why she would be tossing it into the hippo pond.

The hippo was fun to watch. Huge fleshy mouth opening to accept a cantalope or lettuce head and then submerge it's whole body underwater to chomp on it.

The girls also were treated to a behind the scenes view of the barn and were able to pet the two new sheep and feed them as well as the horse. Of course between all of those special events we toured the Detroit zoo and saw bears, eagles, rhino, bison, seals, chimps, gorillas, elk, warthogs, prariedogs, zebra, and Kangaroos (including the new joey that Ashley named 'Irwin')

Once I was home it was time to do some Mouse Guard work. Today was coloring and so as a warm up, I added some digital pigment to one of my sketches. Sam and Frodo sparring, but I offerd that Sam and Frodo wouldn't have much use for sparring (although I guess they did now that I think about it...only with Aragorn...).

So here is Frodo being ambushed by Gollum (only in mouse forms)

Monday, July 9, 2007

What a great Birthday!!!

Wow! My wife is amazing! She planned 3 seperate Birthday events for me spanning the weekend before and after my birthday as well as the day itself.

For the weekend before, she took me to Boldt Castle in the 1,000 islands of New York. We had bothe been tehre in our younger days, but it was fun to see the castle and island together for the first time. (Flickr gallery of photos from the trip)

My birthday is the 4th of July, so she made a great dinner for us and we went to see the fireworks in a neighboring town (Detroit does their fireworks at the end of June in colaboration with Windsor Ontario in a bi-country over-the-river love-fest...love the idea, hate that it's in June.)

Then this weekend we had a party here at the house for family and friends. My wife had tried to keep the wholle thing a secret, but a few guests had slipped with "see you Saturday" to me earlier in the week. However, she pulled of a HUGE surprise as I had no idea that my sisters (who live in Indiana and Texas) were coming in for the party and staying the night with us!!! Unfortunately with our three schedules being the way they are we only seem to get together for Weddings and Funerals, but we made a pact when they were leaving to all try harder and visit more often.

I also had no idea that my brother-in-law and my Nieces were going to be here!! I was told they were on the other side of the State staying with their grandma, so when three cutie-pie little girls all ran up to me with handmade cards I almost cried.

Ok, enough with the mushy stuff, I'll get to the gifts:
I got the Alex Ross Mythology book, Unbreakable and Young Sherlock Holmes on DVD, The Art of Bone book rust released from Dark Horse, a cool book about Irish folklore and mythology, gift cards galore, and a piece of art work from my pal Jeremy Bastian (see left)

And not to be outdone...Julia brought out a huge gift of fireworks that we could light off that night to close out the week-long Birthday bash!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I don't have a place to upload and share any non-Mouse Guard artwork these days. (besides the asp forums are down, so I couldn't post it there if I even wanted to)...
So here are a few fun pieces that I recently did. I'm mostly asked to draw mice, but from time to time I'm asked to do my take on something from the traditional world of comics fandom or pop culture. I love drawing mice, but it's a nice break to not draw them and get to be a bit more creative in thinkining about "how would I draw that character?"
Here are a few examples of that:
The Sea Captain from the Simpsons.I looked through the guy's sketchbook to see if he liked having artists do their own version or just wanted them to mimic Matt Groening. I was happy to see that he enjoyed the more unique takes on the characters...While I didn't stray too far with this guy, I feel like there is a nice dose of David Petersen in this piece.

Marvel Villian: The Red Skull!!!This guy had a book of all villians. I was thinking about who to do, Magneto, Juggernaut, Vader, Joker, when I saw that someone before me had done a cool Skelletor sketch..I thoght.."awww, I want to draw a skull now...OH RED SKULL!!!" I took the book back to my hotel room and looked up some refrence on the uniforms of the Nazis and blended some of the more menacing pieces together.

Wind in the Willows
Steven Gettis has put together an amazing collection of artists' interpetations of literary figures (these can be either autors themselves or the characters they create). I did a piece from one of my favorite Children's stories Wind in the Willows. You can se ethe rest of steven's site here: http://digitalmedusa.com/sgettis/word/

And Stuffed Toy Yoda.
This guy has themed sketchbooks. I had done one in a book themed around a mythical creature his grandfather told stories about. This was a fresh and new sketchbook with pop-icons and comic characters as stuffed toys. I knew there was a beanie yoda out there already, so I went more for the homemade sock-monkey type rag-doll master jedi

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