Sunday, July 18, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
On July 16, the US Postal Service will release the first Sunday Funnies series. The stamps feature five famous strips: Beetle Baily, Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, Archie, and Dennis the Menace. Marcus Hamilton, who has been doing the daily panels for Dennis for over 15 years, is expected to be at special ceremony in Columbus, Ohio where there is the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
Here is the release from the USPS about the stamps:
Dennis the Menace follows the antics of Dennis Mitchell, a good-hearted but mischievous little boy who is perpetually “5-ana-half” years old. His curiosity tests the patience of his loving parents and neighbors, guaranteeing that their lives are anything but dull. The comic debuted in March 1951 as a single-panel gag.
Offering an idealized portrait of American adolescence, Archie existed only in comic-book form before debuting in newspapers in 1946. A typical small-town teenager with a knack for goofing things up, 17-year-old Archie Andrews is often torn between haughty brunette Veronica Lodge and sweet, blonde Betty Cooper.
A military strip with universal appeal, Beetle Bailey first appeared in September 1950. Possibly the laziest man in the army, Private Beetle Bailey is an expert at sleeping and avoiding work. His chronic indolence antagonizes Sergeant Orville P. Snorkel, who is tough on his men but calls them “my boys.”
Garfield first waddled onto the comics page in June 1978. Self-centered and cynical, the crabby tabby hates Mondays and loves lasagna. He lives with Jon Arbuckle, a bumbling bachelor with a fatally flawed fashion sense, and Odie, a dopey but devoted dog.
Calvin and Hobbes explores the fantasy life of 6-year-old Calvin and his tiger pal, Hobbes. The inseparable friends ponder the mysteries of the world and test the fortitude of Calvin’s parents, who never know where their son’s imagination will take him. The strip ran from November 1985 to December 1995.
Marcus will be joined by Ron Ferdinand, the artist of the Sunday installment, and Scott Ketcham, Hank Ketcham's son. Also attending will be Mort Walker from Beetle Bailey, Jim Davis from Garfiled, Craig Boldman (a writer of Archie comics), and Nancy Silberkliet, the co-CEO of Archie Comics and the daughter-in-law of Archie Comics founder,Louis Silberkleit.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This blog isn't just about the Return of Mini-Con, it's also about other comics news people in the area might actually care about. So, for your consideration, Wonder Woman, one of the iconic female characters in comics is going through a costume change. This has happened before, but with efforts by Warner Bros. to make a Wonder Woman movie, some are wondering if the costume change isn't to make things easier for the movie, i.e. getting the comic Wonder Woman to look like the one people will see in the movie. Some people (such as the Washington Times) are even throwing out the idea that the suit is "less patriotic" to give more appeal to a global audience. The same idea was followed on GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, where the 'Joes were turned into an "international" force so it would supposedly do better in overseas release.
I saw the concept for the new costume and didn't get the impression the costume was un-patriotic as much as I figured the costume makes more sense for a super hero who is doing combat. The original outfit might be good for posters and beauty pageants but the new suit is more suited to stealth, combat, and being in the general public. Of course, this redesign looks very very very very similar to one a friend of mine, Kent, came up with some time ago. I can only hope that DC gives him proper credit for the re-design (although I doubt they will!).
Pictured is DC's announced re-design along with two proposed costume changes by Kent (the middle one was the most recent one from earlier this year). Do you think they are similar? Is it a coincidence? Why do you think DC would want to change the Amazon's costume? Do you like it or hate it?
I'd love to see some comments with this one!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
News coverage of the Return of Mini-Con was better this year than last, although no TV stations even called just to see what the buzz was about. I do send out a big thank you to Brian at the Union County weekly who had the first follow-up on the convention with a nice photo spread of pictures we had. Katie Oliver at the Observer had no guarantee on when her story would run, but it finally got into the July 4 paper!
In addition to these stories, I am grateful to Dave McDonald http://davemcdonaldstudio.blogspot.com/ and to Ben Towle http://www.benzilla.com/ (look under June 26) and to the gang at Sketch Charlotte- more specifically Rich and Herc- http://www.sketchcharlotte.com/ for posting about the mini-con. Hopefully, if we go for year three, most of the folks from this year will be on board for next year, too!
Today's pics are scans of the stories as they ran in the respective papers. You can blow them up to get a closer gander or you can look them up on the web (although I believe the Observer requires you to at least register. I don't recall if they require a paid subscription.).
Friday, July 2, 2010
Strange things can happen at a convention. One thing is the requests for sketches you get. Some of what I was asked to draw- a horse, a dragon, 2 Calvin & Hobbes cartoons, the tripods from War of the Worlds, Woody from Toy Story, a fairy, a mermaid, Bowser from Mario Kart and a baby version of Bowser! I heard the guys at Fite Klub had some odd requests like a child who asked for a picture of President Obama. "Alright," said the artist.
"Can you give him horns and a pitchfork, too?" asked the child.
After an uncomfortable pause, the artist said, "How about a super hero?"
Another little girl asked a Fite Klub artist for a picture of Justin Beiber! "How about a super hero?"
Another strange thing at conventions is some people can be discovered. It happened to Chrissie Zullo at the San Diego Con, and it sorta happened to my son, Landon this year. As I was doing a sketch of my own character the Sword, a mom asked Landon if he drew. He showed her some of the Toy Story pictures he had been working on and suddenly kids were asking him for sketches! Landon must have cranked out about eight pictures during the con- a star is born!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here are some tips to help you out- when you get to the library, get a bag and a ticket. The bag will have a comics template, and either a comic, a poster, or some other cool swag in it. The ticket gives you the chance to win more cool stuff including signed prints, graphic novels, autographs of creators who cannot make the show, toys, etc., etc.! Carry the stuff you win or are given in that bag- makes things easier and neater.
If you plan to get sketches or autographs, bring a blank sketch pad for the artists to put their drawings in. It keeps everything together and keeps it neat and clean. You may want to bring a Sharpie marker for autographs, too. Also, when you approach an artist, if the line is long find another table where the line is shorter. If the artist asks what kind of picture you want, keep it simple- a picture of Superman, a head shot of Cyclops, yadda, yadda. Don't ask for a picture of the Black Panther and Iron Fist battling Galactus and the Skrulls in color unless you're willing to pay for it!
Get plenty to eat or drink before coming to the library. Drinks and food are not permitted in the building and it could be 2 or 3 hours before you get back outside the library.
Dress comfortably (unless it's a costume!). Be friendly and patient. If you want to buy books or other prints, bring some money with you.
Now you are ready to patrol The Return of Mini-Con like a pro!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Re-writing the classics? How dare!, some would scream. How about mixing traditions? Ghastly, eh? Well writer Dan Johnson is the guy who dares to rewrite claasic stories, and take long-established traditions and turn them on their ear by mixing them together! This Winston-Salem writer has penned stories fro graphic novels like Thor & Herc and is working diligently with Campfire Books taking classic literature like teh Jungle Book and bringing it to a new audience. Dan heard about The Return of Mini-Con and asked if we had room for him. I replied, "Of course!" (duh!). With the mini-con just a few days away now, here is another artist profile for you to enjoy!
1) Do you remember the first comic you read or bought? What hooked you about comics?
My godmother, Dot, was the one that hooked me on comics when I was about four or so. She read comics all the time and was always bringing me her old issues of Superman, Shazam! and World's Finest. I knew Superman and Batman from Superfriends, so I loved seeing them in comic book form. I also loved the idea of heroes going out to defend the weak and the innocent. The idea of good men and women out there fighting for what was right just inspired me to always try to be a better person. I lost my dad when I was thirteen, so superheroes gave me role models to believe in as a young man when he couldn't be there.
As for the first books I bought myself, that is easy. They were Superman Family #189, Super Team Family #15 and Fantastic Four Annual #12. Actually, those were the first books I picked out for myself. My dad picked up the tab. He and my mom figured they would help with my reading and be cheaper than toys. If they could only see how expensive comics are now!
2) Most people aspire to be the penciller, but some become writers. How did you decide to become a writer?
Well, I originally wanted to be a penciller as well. The turning point was in high school when my art teacher let me do comic book pages for an assignment. I still remember her critiquing my pages. She said I needed to work on my shading and my anatomy was okay, but I needed to pay more attention to details on things like buildings and the like. But then she said that she really liked the story I had written and it really kept her hooked. At the same time, I had an English teacher, Mrs. Shores, who started pushing me to write more and more and she really encouraged me to develop that skill. Thanks to her, I realized that my real gift was writing.
I also figured that if I became a writer, I would be in good company. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Cary Bates and Gerry Conway. As I got older, I discovered Stan Lee, John Broome and Gardner Fox. Also, around the time my teachers were redirecting my professional goal in comics, I was getting into Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and Watchmen. So, in the end, it is all good. Besides, I haven't given up on my artwork totally...
3) What's tougher- writing a Manga(eastern influence) about Norse and Greek gods(western influence) or re-writing classic literature for comics? My guess is the latter since many people feel great art shouldn't be toyed with and others feel comics are not a worthy avenue for literature?
I would have to agree that the latter is tougher, but mainly because of the challenge it represents. Greatest challenge of my life was taking a 400-plus page novel like Oliver Twist and boiling it down to an 80 page comic. Feats of daring and acts of the impossible? Superman ain't got nothing on me!
4) What is involved in taking a classic and converting it into a script?
The big thing is deciding what the important elements are. It is deciding what needs to stay for the story to remain in tact and what can go. Usually I will take Cliff Notes of the novel and use them to help determine what action needs to be on each page. The Campfire process is to turn in a page by page breakdown of each project before we start to script it. This way the editor will know what action will be on each page. It certainly helps me to keep on task. From there, it is a matter of deciding what dialogue can be used and what might need to be edited to gloss over those events or characters that might have been cut from the original novel.
5) Have you ever considered writing a script for TV, movies, or a play?
Actually, I have written a few screenplays. One was for a horror/western short movie that was produced a few years back. I also wrote a couple more screenplays for the same producers, but they were never shot. I also did two screenplays and a rewrite of an existing script for a friend of mine who wanted to start a film company here in North Carolina. Finally, I have written episodes for the Nashville, TN horror host show, Creature Feature, starring Dr. Gangrene (better known as my good buddy, Larry Underwood).
6)What would be your dream writing assignment- writing stories of something iconic like Superman, or creating a world of your own characters?
I would love to tackle Superman and several other heroes I grew up reading as a kid, but nothing beats the feeling of creating your own characters and seeing your own plots take shape and come to life on the page. Playing in someone else's universe can be fun, but controlling your own universe is awesome!
7)What projects are you working on now?
I am working on several projects at the moment, some of which I can not go into too much detail about. For Campfire, I'm currently writing my first biography for the company and I'm developing a series that will be a modern retelling of one of the great literary classics. I am also developing a web comic for Viper Comics. The plot for the first story was just approved and I'm working on the script now. I am still writing for Dennis the Menace, and I will be working on a new batch of gags after I complete this interview, as well as Back Issue magazine, which is published by TwoMorrows. I just did an interview with Herb Trimpe about the mid-1980's Rawhide Kid mini-series, and that will be our Wild West issue that should be out in the next few months. And remember I said I had not given up my artwork just yet? I am working on a comic strip that I would love to draw myself. It is just a matter of time of working it in around my other gigs.
8)What has been your best convention experience? Worst? Weirdest?
I am happy to say I have never had a bad time at any comic book convention. It is like I tell people when they stop by my table and ask how I'm doing, "It's the weekend and I'm at a con! It doesn't get better than that!" I can share my first and most recent best experiences though. My first, best experience at a comic book convention was when I got to go to my first show ever. It was a small show that was held at Hanes Mall on Labor Day, 1982. My dad took me to that one, and I was in sheer Heaven! At the time, I loved it because I was surrounded by old comic books as far as the eye could see! I look back on that day even more fondly now because it was one of the last things my dad and I were able to do together before he got too sick to get around on his own. God love him, he knew I wanted to be in the business, but he never understood how I could make a living drawing "funny books". None the less, he and my mother indulged me at every turn.
My most recent, best experience was at Heroes Con and it was on Sunday when the show was winding down. After several of the other guests had left, I had a chance to talk with Alex Saviuk, the artist on the Spider-Man comic strip, for about thirty minutes. I grew up on comics that Alex drew for, like The Flash and Superman, so it was a thrill to sit and just talk shop with someone who I had admired as a boy and was now treating me like a peer. Before I had to start packing up, I made sure to tell him how much his work meant to me as a kid and thanked him for the great memories and for giving me something to shot for when I was growing up.
9) Are you a Marvel or a DC (or something else entirely?)
I'm a DC boy all the way when it comes to comic books. When it comes to movies, I gotta admit that Marvel has the edge.
10) Celebrity death match! Ernie vs Bert, and what would the outcome be?
My money is on Bert. He has a lot of anger and rage in him (you can see it in his eyes). Heaven help Ernie, and us all, if Bert ever has the chance to unleash his fury.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I have to tell you that Dave McDonald was great with the kids at his workshop last night! I didn't get to sit in on the whole thing, but I was amazed at some of the ideas and techniques he threw out to the kids. Several of them looked for me after the workshop to show me their creations and I was really excited to see them. Dave also dropped off his "Comics Workshop Cartooning Kit' as a prize for the Art Challenge at Union West. The boxed kit includes pencil, sharpener, dual-point marker, sketch pad, a very nice workbook that follows the instructional DVD, which is also in the box? How much would something like this cost? $60? $40? No! Dave said he has a limited number of kits available but he is selling them for just $20! If you are interested, go to Dave's link over on the right.
Pictures coming soon!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We have been working hard to make sure this year's Return of Mini-Con goes as smoothly as possible. For those of you who want to know just what will be happening when and where, fret no more! There is a schedule and we have it ready to show you! Just click either image to get a larger picture to read from.
The Costume Contest at Monroe is for kids ages 5-9 and 10-15. Costumes will be judged on originality and looking like the character the child represents. Participants can sign in at the information tent (located inside the library just behind the circulation desk).
The Comics 101 Seminar is for parents or educators who want to learn more about how comics have changed and are changing what kids today read. Jimmie Quisenberry of the UCPS is aware of the program and may allow the 2.5- 3 hours of credit to be added to someone's CED! In addition, we will give out three copies of Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" along with other books from Yen Press!
Our Rising Stars Art Challenge is not for the weak! There will be a limit on the number of kids who participate. Each child will be given a script, paper and pencil. They will be told they have 30 minutes to turn the script into a comic book page! Art will be judged on raw talent, following the script, and story telling ability. The winner at Union West will receive a Comics Workshop kit from Dave McDonald which includes his DVD of his workshop! The Monroe winner will receive a one-year subscription to the online library of Archie Comics (a $50 value!)!!
Finally, things will end in Monroe with a social in the Griffin Room as the rest of the library is closed. Here, people can mingle with the artists, ask questions, compare swag with others and just have a good time!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Immediately after work on Monday, I RAN out the door, met my family in the parking lot and took off for the movies! We got there about 45 minutes early, which turned out not to be early, but "just in time" according to the man at the door. There's hardly any room left.
After a short wait, the movie began and wow! it was something to behold! The trailer for Tangled looked a little overdone in 3-D, but the cartoon short, Day & Night took two standard concepts and completely turned them on their ear to present a story that worked for everyone in the family, with humor that worked on different levels.
Toy Story 3 worked well in the 3-D format. It wasn't overdone or gratuitous, and seemed to be very natural about 20 minutes into the movie. The cast of characters was smaller than in the previous films, but allowed for enjoyment of the characters than in the previous films, too.
The story begins with Andy, practically grown up now and about to leave home for college. His room is being claimed by his little sister and his mother says some things have to go- either trash, attic, or donate. Andy chooses to put his toys in the attic (which Jesse and Bullseye are willing to deal with this time), but he wants to take Woody to college with him. A mishap has the toys sent the way of the trash but a last second escape turns into a trip to the Sunnyside Daycare via the donation bin. There, they are befriended by the toys of Sunnyside, led by Lots O' Lovin' Bear. Some great physical comedy of young children "playing" with the toys convinces Buzz and the others the daycare is not all it was promised to be. From there the movie moves from one escape to another that each has you wondering "How do they get out of this one?!" The movie ends in a very sentimental sequence that does a great job of closing the Toy Story trilogy. Definately see this film if it was on your "maybe" list!
Friday, June 11, 2010
AL Bigley - Draw Comics Like a Pro
FREE! June 12th, 2010 2-3pm
What do Monsters Inc, Batman, NASCAR, Bugs Bunny, X-Men, Shrek, and Michael Jordan all have in common?
They've all been drawn by AL BIGLEY, one of the most versatile, in-demand artist / cartoonists around! Al's worked for folks like DC Comics, Golden Books, Disney/Pixar, CBS, Children's Television Workshop, Marvel Comics, Saban, McDonald's, and more! He will be here at cheap Joe's, with copies of his book "Draw Comic's Like a Pro". Come and talk to him in person at Cheap Joe's art supply store! June 12th from 2-3pm! Cheap Joe's is located at 4420 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC near Morrison's costumes.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Return of Mini-Con is just two weeks away, and the final wrinkles are getting worked out, stuff is still coming in, and artists are still asking to join in! I recently got a reply back from Steven Prouse of 803 Studios in Columbia, SC who told me he is coming for the Saturday event, and he is bringing artist Mike Sudduth with him! Mike is new to 803 Studios, and Steven is one of the founders and is a writer working on stories like Graffiti, Hand Me Downs, and Knowledge is Power.
Adding to Saturday's fun is the new Fite Klub Studios, a group of four men who are campaigning hard to get the attention of the big guys in the comics world. These four, also from South Carolina, include Brian Hollins, Jake Williams, Corey Davis (who is also with 803 Studios!) and Ben Murrey.
We want you to come out on Friday and Saturday (June 25-26) and make all these great artists and writers feel welcomed and very, very busy!
But that's not all I have to talk about! If I hadn't mentioned it already, Oni Press sent 400 more copies of their FCBD comic, making over 525 copies we have to hand out over two days! Once all the buttons, stickers, pencils, posters, comics, toys, and graphic novels were added together, their are more than 1,200 items to be handed out over the two days, and we may have even more stuff coming in! With the artists, the Star Wars characters from the 501st, and the hand-outs, this is one event that should have something for everyone in the family!
The art today is some of the story headers from 803 Studios (you can find them at 803studios.net) and pictures from the four members of Fite Klub Studios. Enjoy!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
That's right- it's a double dose of comics creativity on June 17. Beginning at 4:30, cartoonist and comics creator Dave McDonald will host a two-hour workshop all about creating your own comic. Dave will guide kids through the steps of fleshing out a character and a setting, to coming up with a short story or gag, and then placing the art and finishing the page. Dave's workshop comes with bristol boards similar to the ones used by professional illustrators for the kids to put their masterpieces on. He also includes the pencils and markers- all the kids need to do is show up! The program is designed for kids between the ages of 10 and 12 years. Space for the program is limited to a total of 30 kids, and so far 20 have signed up. If you are interested, call the Union West Library at 704-821-7475 ext 4 and reserve your spot, or drop by and sign up at the children's desk. The cost of this program has been generously covered by the Union West Rotary and so I'd like to offer a big thank you to each of them!
If you are younger than 10 or older than 12, the Cartooning Club will continue with its regular monthly meeting at 5:30. We'll look at how to draw heroes and characters based on different time periods and we'll get a last preview at the great swag that has come in for The Return of Mini-Con! The Cartooning Club will meet in the main area of the children's department.
Also I should mention two more things- 1) if you can't go to Dave's workshop in person, you can buy the DVD kit from him at his website (look at the links on the left!). 2) Friday, June 18, comic artist and conceptualizer Al Bigley will do a show-and-tell styled talk at the Monroe Library. Al will have a variety of his art to show off, talk about how his art is used for more things besides comics, and answer questions and maybe show a little of how he goes about drawing up his incredible pictures! Mark your calendars for these events, folks! They are a great lead-in to our mini-con.
Monday, June 7, 2010
More comics goodness is taking over our library! Al Bigley's art is on display in the Union West Library's lobby area. Al has stuff from when he designed the card backing for the Batman action figures, pictures from Batman story books (his first work for DC!), t-shirts he designed of NASCAR drivers, an educational toy featuring his art, in-house art of Food Lion, and pages he did for Archie Comics, the West Coast Avengers, and more! You can also get a glimpse of his work on Sonic the Hedgehog and the Power Rangers.
Al also dropped off six signed color prints to be used as part of our prize packs and they look awesome!
I was not able to attend Heroes Con this year (for shame!) but Al stepped in and took a bunch of the flyers to the big convention to hand out and get the word out. Thanks so much, Al!
Enjoy these samples of Al's art, or better yet, come and see them yourself. You can see more of Al's art at albigley.com.