Archive for July, 2008

A sample from a project I am currently working on. Well, half a sample anyway. The other page is text, and I’m not going to let any cats out of any bags even if the cat wants out of the bag and the bag is falling apart…something like that.

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Just back from the Comic Con. I had a great time and met with dozens of folks I haven’t seen in a while. It was, I think, the most crowded I have ever seen it. Though I did not attend last year, and recently I was spending a lot of time behind various publishers tables hawking my work, so maybe I was out of touch with the true ‘can’t turn, can’t move, help!’ aspect of being on the floor around 2:00 on a Saturday.

I took very few pictures. But I did eat a pretzel from one of the floor booths this year. I think it was $4.00 (good profit margin in pretzels, better than comics) and I’m pretty sure it was left over from two years ago so it made me feel at home

Two of my pictures that capture the Comic Con experience for me.

Pretty good Planet of the Apes costumes. One of the may types of suprises you get at the Con when you tunr a corner. But far fewer people are in costume than the media make you think. And even less are just there on their own. I see more and more that I would guess are sponsored by the various IP’s they are dressing up to be. But this was pretty good and was different then the 300 Star Wars stormtroopers I saw and the 261 Jokers.

This is a quick shot of statues from some collector company or another. The Rocketeer and Captain Hook I believe. But what the picture does capture in all it’s badness is the the overwhelming cacophony of colors, images, things and oddness that assault you when you walk the aisles. Giant oversize statues of monsters, 40 foot tall posters. People dressed as aliens, banners, posters, video games being played, giant flat screens with trailers looping, cases of props from sci-fi movies, contrasting colors spinning your eyes ETC…The con feels to me, quite a bit like this (all be it, bad) picture.

Now, back to work. More art posting soon.

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off to comic con

I hope to post a few pictures from my days in sandy San Diego using the WordPress app for iPhone. We will see if : A. I have the time and B. I can find good enough reception. Or C. I collapse from exhaustion and paying $17.00 for a hot dog on the convention floor because I didn’t have time to get out for lunch.

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This is an older illustration, but not one I have shared before. A lot of what I am working on right now can’t be shared yet. So, I guess I will show more sketches and work that hasn’t been posted before from my portfolio. What can I say about this? Jack and Jill. Photoshop. He looks funny…

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I know more than a few cartoonists read his blog and we exchange emails. So what I am going to propose here is not me trying to undermine the comic strip business. It’s just…an idea. Really a question. Maybe it’s dumb…

Why shouldn’t newspapers be collecting fees from syndicates for continuing to expose comic strip in their pages? The strip is really an entertainment brand and the newspapers are paying to expose this brand to a given population on a daily basis.

Considering that newspapers are having a hard time making money, advertising is shrinking (I guess the comic strips being in a paper doesn’t stop advertisers from finding other venues to spend in). So why should a newspaper PAY to continue to expose a brand, like say, Garfield? A strip like Garfield is a media empire, and it makes millions. Papers pay to expose that brand to readers on a daily basis. Garfield is an ad for the Garfield Brand and I think papers should charge for that space, just as they would any other advertiser. In the old days newspapers would have biding wars for a comic strip because it drew readers. That is not true anymore and papers need to change their thinking.

I recently read that Garfield (can’t be killed with stakes, silver bullets or garlic. Cats really do have 9 lives) is headed back on-air on cartoon network to inflict pain on minors and adults who watch cartoons. It got me to thinking…Garfield runs in like 200 bazillion papers in this country…well, there aren’t 200 bazillion papers LEFT in this country, as they are going out of business and going bankrupt. But it still runs in lots. Basically the strip is a daily ad for the Garfield Entertainment Brand. Right? Every day Garfield gets infront of, some number of eyes (quickly dwindling numbers of eyes) and collects money from the newspaper because of it.

But the days of people actually buying a paper for a comic strip are done. I would think any poll you do would show very few people (2%, .5% ?) buy a paper BECAUSE of a particular comic strip. In this crazy, 24-7 multimedia age, newspapers are enjoying an aging and declining readership and thus ad sales are falling. They need new revenue sources.

Meanwhile strips use the exposure of the newspaper to build a media empire. Peanuts did it, Popeye did it 80 years ago and countless other strips jumped from the comics pages to other media. But newspapers can no longer afford to be a free media building platform, while enjoying none of the ancillary revenue. If Garfield wasn’t running daily in newspapers, would the brand be as valuable? Would they get the chance to make fine films and TV and, god knows, probably video games? Yet, the newspapers pay for the privilege to run the comic strip. The papers should fight for a revenue share or at least a fee that correspondences to an ad. Or, they won’t run the strips. What’s going to happen? Will millions of people drop the newspaper? Heck, I’m not sure millions of people even GET newspapers anymore. But that strip is functioning as an ad. And if a newspaper actually values its readers, I would think they would charge for access to them.

So, it’s just an idea for a new age of dying newspapers and evolving media. BTW, I would consider paying a few bucks a year to NOT have Garfield in my paper…

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a fantastic mall of the future. or something…

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It’s been well over 90 here lately, so here’s a quick sketch from a colder time at the playgorund.

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Been away on a short trip to Vancouver. And this visit reminded me why I tell everyone it is my favorite city in North America. But more on that some other time. Had a great visit and spent some time at the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit called “Krazy!”. It covered comics, video games, animation, manga, anime… Pretty much graphic pop culture. It was too much. The focus was so spread out it felt like a garage sale. And I think it was way too heavy with comics. Mr. Spiegelman and Mr. Ware were the gatekeepers to the comics section, and it showed. It was pretty much an issue of RAW. And of course, as we all know, RAW was the best, because Art Spiegelman put it together and he would only do The Best.

OK. All snide comments aside, it did lean a little too heavily on the comics read by the smallest portion of the comics world. And seeing comics in a museum is always a weird thing. It’s not that I don’t admire them and enjoy them and occasionally lust after an original from a particular artist, but the seriousness a museum creates around an item (Duchamp put a urinal in a museum for a reason) seems out of place and invites some giggles. I think the comics section was the largest, but drawn from the fewest people.

The show topic was broad, but outside of the comics, not very deep. The animation section was hit and miss with a lot of time being spent on Dreamworks horrible adaptation of a pretty uninspired comic strip (imagine that) called Over The Hedge. Ahhh, that wasn’t exactly a breakthrough in the history of animation. So including that as a main part of the animation exhibit brought it all down a bit.

I can’t speak to the Manga exhibit as I know very little about that genre. Some amazing draftsmanship was on display. Lots of robots.

Same for the anime portion of the exhibit. I know it when I see it, and I have enjoyed a few titles that are considered anime, but I have no idea what should be considered ‘classic’ and what was important in its development. Some great stuff to watch though and the video galleries (mini theaters) were well designed. Lots of robots, flying this time.

The video game section was pretty interesting and they did a good job involving multimedia exhibits. You got some sense of the rapid evolution of games and graphics over the past 20 years. Will Wright was the curator of that section so it was a bit slanted towards his work, (Spore can’t really be in a museum getting accolades yet as it isn’t even released, come on!) But I have heard Will Wright speak and he is really interesting and brought a diverse perspective to that portion of the exhibit.

Many years ago I went to the Chicago Art Institutes’s show, I think it was called POP!, and it looked at comics in relation to high art….maybe it was called low art/high art. Anyway, it had a great and diverse collection of cartoon work from a broad selection of artists. But this show seemed to focus mostly on comic books and ‘graphic novels’ when it came to cartooning. So perhaps the choice of people makes better sense when examined with that in mind. But I could draw up a list of people I would like to see included in a situation like this, and many of them are from the RAW school.

BTW. I don’t think Gary Panter was in the exhibit…now that seems to be a pretty bad miscalculation. Unless I missed him…

That’s it for now. Back to work.

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