Saturday, May 29, 2010

Artist Profile: Eraklis (Herc) Petmezas

Eraklis Petmezas is one who doesn't let comics confine him to doing just one thing. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design, he has put his artistic abilities to use for a number of musicians- especially album covers- and has done editorial illustrations, storyboarding and retail displays for Borders Books and Music. Eraklis (or Herc, as he is called by his friends) consistently wishes peace for everyone he meets (how many other people do that for you?) and seems to be able to get people to work with him- see his Sketch Charlotte blog for an example! We are excited to have Herc here with us and we hope you come to see him as well! Get to know Herc a little by reading our Q&A below! Also, enjoy these pics by Herc- one is a self-portrait, another is his Greek detective Kostas and the third is Mr. Lune trying to go get some milk, but those darn cats won't leave him alone! Enjoy!

1) What projects have you worked on- comics, album covers, etc?

I've worked on numerous art for bands. Any thing for album cover art to flyers. I've worked on storyboards and I was fortunate to illustrate the Tell Tale Heart which is one of my favorite Poe stories. Through the years I've worked on numerous comics. Mostly self published. I've been a contributor to Anthologies. Most recently for The Dollar Bin and 803 studios. I've also written about comics for The Pulse, Independent Propaganda and many more. I conduct a Comics Camp for kids that is loads of fun. I also started Sketch Charlotte, a local group of artists that meet, sketch and talk about all things art.

2) Your current project is about a Greek detective. What makes him different from other gumshoes like Columbo, Mike Hammer, Batman or Sherlock? When will we get to read it?

I'd like to think what sets him apart is my sensibilities and the fact that Greece is a big part of the story. As I get to tell more stories about Kostas I intend to also use a lot of Greek culture. You can find it at local shops like Heroes aren't Hard To Find or contact me through my blog (where I'll be posting it).

3) What has been your best convention experience? Weirdest? Worst?

All conventions are a high point for me. Most often I get to hang out with friends I don't normally see. Plus, all the beautiful new comics and creators I get to find out about. I've never really had too bad of an experience. Perhaps, an overzealous fan talking about super hero comics. ha ha. All in all conventions are fun and exciting.

4) What is the one thing about comics or illustration you wish you knew 10 years ago?

How to market myself better. That really is the hardest part of being an artist. Getting your voice out there for people to see and hopefully pay for.

5) How did you come up with your style of art?

That's a tough one. I think my style is an amalgam of all my influences.

6) You are like a comics ambassador- what do you do to motivate and encourage teens about reading or creating comics?

Thanks for saying that. I first try to find out their interests. There are so many great comics out there. You just need to tailor them to what the kids like. All kids draw so getting that out of them isn't too hard. I love to see what they create. It's so pure and fun. It gets me enthused about my own work.

7) What do you do at times to get away from drawing pictures?

Besides spending time with my family I like reading all kinds of books and comics. Watching movies and listening to music.

8) Did you have a favorite cartoon show as a kid? How about now?

As a kid it's hard to remember. I did like a show called Galaxy High School and Robotech was pretty awesome. Now, Secret Saturdays and Star Wars Clone wars are both great. I hear rumblings of Samurai Jack coming back.

9) How have comics changed since you were a kid? Are they better, worse, or just different these days?

Honestly, they've always been great. I think there is so much diversity out there. Plus, we're finally getting a lot of the European comics translated. It's a good time to be reading comics. I'm so happy at their success. When I was a kid you didn't find whole sections of comics in bookstores. The success of Bone also opened many doors for comic creators at the big Book publishing houses. The more places that publish comics the better for the creators to make a living. The price is the only thing that changed. I think it's hard for a kid to pick up a new comic at the price point we're at.

10) The best comic book ever is....

Ha ha. It would be too difficult to pick one.

If you want to learn more about Herc, you can go to the following addresses to read his journal or see his art: &

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Free Workshop June 17!

Free is a word we all like to hear, and when it comes to finding something for kids to do, free can be even better. Consider the upcoming Comics Workshop with Dave McDonald on Thursday, June 17. Dave is a many of many hats and has put them all to good use through his comic creations like Hamster Sam and Survival Island. At Dave's workshop, he will show tweens (kids between the ages of 10 and 12 years old) how to create a single-page comic. From character design to establishing a setting and laying out the points of the story to finally getting that bristol board page inked, lettered and completed, Dave will walk kids through the all the steps. When they are done, they will be ready to tell their own stories using a comic-style format.
This workshop has been generously provided by the Union West Rotary, and seating is limited to 30 kids, ages 10-12. The program will begin at 4:30 and run to about 6:30. For more information or to sign up, see someone in the Children's area at Union West or call: 704-821-7475 ext 4.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artist Profile: John DaCosta

John DaCosta is a Charlotte-based comic artist who brought Tom Corbett, Space Cadet into the 21st century- sorta. See, Tom's story takes place in the future, but the last Tom stories were done in the 20th century in the late 50's and early 60's. Does that make it clear?
He also is launching a new web comic on his blog, where the cover and two pages of the wedding special are up and ready for viewing.

said he will be at Monroe on Saturday the 26th. He looks forward to showing young people what blowing stuff up in outer space is like in the stories of Tom Corbett. You'll find that John has a quirky sense of humor (just check out the photo he sent us!), likes being around fans and comic creators and can work in either the digital or paper realm when it comes to his art! According to one interview, John used to draw Snoopy as a GI JOE! What could be more American than that?
So, without anymore delay, here is our little interview with John, along with some of his art from Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Enjoy!

1) How long have you been involved in creating comics?
I've been drawing comics for 5 years, but cartooning most of my life.

2) Did you go to school to learn to be an artist, or were you self-taught? It's a combination of both- I studied art in some form every year I was in school, but I couldn't get the education I needed so I'd always draw with peers who would push me to be better.

3) What was your favorite cartoon character as a kid? Comic book character? How about now?
As a kid- Snake Eyes from GI Joe. who doesn't love a ninja who can't talk. Nowadays- there's a few cartoons I watch mostly Clone Wars and Generator Rex has been interesting, but I also like the new Iron Man cartoon.

4) What was it like to bring a 1950's icon like Tom Corbett back into comics? What was your biggest concern- keeping the technology edgy or the characters contemporary?
I did my homework and watched clips of the old episodes and did a lot of searching online. It was intimidating at first, but I tried to make it my own and use a fun cartooney style to bring him to life.

5) What other projects have you been on? What are you working on now?
I've done a handful of pinups, short stories but this is probably the biggest piece of work I've done. Right now I'm developing my own web comic for fun @ if anyone is interested in checking it out.

6) You are a member of Sketch Charlotte. Do you find it surprising that so many people are into creating their own comic or cartoon art?
No, not at all- I believe that everyone has a story to tell- it's a matter of finding the proper outlet to tell it or live it out.

7) What has been your worst/ best/ weirdest convention experience?
Best experience at a con- was having a ton of creators over for a huge cook out- I've done that a few times and it's always a good experience. Weirdest- is drawing portraits of people in Next Generation costumes....

8) Outside of comics, what else do you do?
I play the Bass and electric guitar at our church, hang out with the family and I also spend a lot of time wood working.

9) Is the future of comics in good shape or bad shape?
I think aspects are in good shape- the digital age will be very interesting to see how things progress.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Want to win some great stuff? Then you gotta be here!

Do you like to win stuff? Can you draw or make a costume? Can you just show up at a place? Any of those things will give you the chance to win some great swag at our mini-con.
I mentioned in an earlier post how I was introduced to Snow Wildsmith, a reviewer on graphic novels and an adviser to libraries on how to build a graphic novel collection. When you review these books for major publications, obviously you're going to make some connections, and Snow's connections have been invaluable! Snow sent out emails to various publishers and the response was tremendous. Here is a brief list:
:01 (First Second)- 18 graphic novels including all six Sardine in Outer Space, Robot Dreams, Adventures in Cartooning, Little Tyrant (volumes 1 & 2), Little Vampire, City of Spies and more!
Boom Studios- two copies of Wall-E signed by J Torres and a copy of The Incredibles signed by Marcia Takara.
DC Kids- Supergirl- Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade; Batman: The Brave and the Bold; Billy Batson & the Power of Shazam; and Tiny Titans- Sidekickin' It!
Top Shelf Productions- 150 copies of Owly & Friends, the Free Comic Book Day edition!
Capstone Publishing- Posters, pencils, bookmarks, a canvas bag, and LOTS of books! Graphic novels like Reality Check, Recon Academy, The Jungle Book, and Princess Candy and several "hybrid" books (those that have traits of both standard books and graphic novels): Truth & Rumors- US Presidents, Dinosaur Wars, The Truth About Trolls, Test Drive- a Robot & Rico story, Pit Crew Punch, Claudia Christina Cortez, and Dragonblood.
I approached our local Burger King here in Indian Trail since BK is marketing the Iron Man 2 film to see if they would be willing to make a donation and their manager very graciously gave a complete set of the kids toys (all 8) that are being offered!

Along with these great items, yours truly also made an effort to collect many great reads from Free Comic Book Day. In addition, many of our guest artists (and several who won't be at the mini-con) have donated copies of their books and even some original sketches to use as special prizes. And even if you don't win something in the art challenge, or the costume contest, or just at random, you're still certain to walk out with some great sketches and maybe even find a couple of things to buy at a great price!

To Snow- if there could be an MVP for this mini-con, you could certainly be the winner! Thanks for all your help!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Just 7 Weeks Until the Return of Mini-Con!

That's right- today marks the wait for the Return of Mini-Con at just seven weeks! Fortunately, things are falling together nicely as I have had some wonderful people step up to help make this convention bigger and better than last year's affair! It looks like there will be some wonderful prize packs to hand out filled with basic art supplies and great comics and original pieces of comic art! The library system has a license to show features by select studios which means we can show some features at the mini-con!
I'll have more on who is giving what to this convention to help make it better than last year's and how it all came about. But that's a story for another time. Get the word out, tell your friends because this is the biggest FREE convention in the area, and outside of HeroesCon and the one-day Charlotte Comic Cons, there isn't much for comics fans to feed off this side of Charlotte.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh, what a day it was!

So, Free Comic Book Day has come and gone, and all I can say about it is "WOW!" I took my daughter and my sons with me to Heroes Aren't Hard to Find where I touched base with Dustin Harbin, one of the featured artists at this year's Return of Mini-Con. He told me about Ian Flynn, the writer on Sonic the Hedgehog and said he would make a great person to ask to the mini-con- so I will ask him! I also got to give a quick greeting to Budd Root and Andy Smith- two great artists from last year's con. Both of them had lines of folks waiting for sketches and I didn't want to hold them up! Back inside the store, my daughter spotted a teacher from her school (gasp!) and one of the library patrons spotted me! She introduced me to a wonderful person named Snow. Snow had put together an anime con for a Char-Meck library a year ago and had made some very good connections that helped her convention go well. She was willing to make some of those contacts for me and see if they would help with this convention, too! What a break! Shelton, the owner of Heroes was all over the place and he seemed to be going between boss mode and enjoying the crowd mode. My kids and I made our way around the store, finding not only the FCBD titles, but also scoring some other freebie comics and promotionals. My youngest also got a set of buttons that look like the various lantern rings from Blackest Night/ Brightest Day. He also found a Black Lantern ring! There were also bookmarks, newsletters, postcards and mini posters. Just the free stuff would've made the trip fantastic, but the store also had hundreds and hundreds of comics in the dollar bins- a great way to fill gaps in collections or find something you had always been meaning to read. We were also fortunate to get parking just across the street from Heroes, too. Things couldn't have gone better (except if we could've gotten some sketches from Brian Stelfreez and Adam Hughes)!
We then made our way towards Rebel Base Comics in the Cotswold area. It was late afternoon and many of the free comics were gone, but that was okay. It meant Troy must've had a good turn-out at his store, too. A Tusken Raider, Luis, was just done for the day and he let the kids take a look at all the gear that went into making the suit. Inside the store an Imperial Biker Scout was making the rounds. We stopped and talked to Jim McGhee of Area 51 Comics. Jim was a lot of fun to talk to, and he took the time to answer my daughter's questions about his webcomics, drawing dinosaurs, and why aliens make for good story and plot movers. A very nice guy, and he would've been at the mini-con, except he is going to a wedding that weekend. Bummer! My sons were amazed at not just the selection of comics (Rebel Base doesn't have the square footage of Heroes) but the seemingly unending selection of toys from the late 70's up to the present. We did score some fantastic posters and the War Machine Heroclix at Rebel Base! Awesome. WBTV was there filming, so I think we made it on the news, too.
Both stores put on first-rate events and they were the kind of thing everyone in the family could enjoy. To Troy and to Shelton (and your employees) thank you so much!
The comics this year didn't disappoint. We picked up a total of 17 comics- all 10 of the "Gold" comics and seven of the "Silver." The best titles though, in my opinion, were G.I Joe- Larry Hama is back as scribe and has an interesting start to the series; Fractured Fables and Oni Press Free-For-All were the funniest of the bunch; Irredeemable/Incorruptible was the best of the older audience books I got to see. It was interesting to see the world's greatest villain step up as the only person who could stop the world's greatest hero who has gone suddenly VERY bad. Might be worth looking into further! Seeing Dr. Solar and Magnus getting re-launched was nice, too.
Wonder how they will top FCBD next year?