Wednesday, October 08, 2014

APE CON 2014 - Pictures from the front lines

Ok- how to start? 8:00am in my Antarctican bed- I actually was flip-flopping over going to APE, when I was freaking slightly that there was only going to be a limited amount of parking spaces there--- and didn't relish the idea of circling Fort Mason for hours, nor lugging my portfolio blocks away. Fortunately, I got there early enough and had my first experience inside the gates of Fort Mason. Very pretty place, actually...
10:00am- Got there early. 10:15am- Enjoyed the wonderful view of San Francisco bay at Fort Mason. 10:15am- Got bored of the wonderful view of San Francisco bay. As there are no benches, I park my but on this granite post (no, it's not my weight that cracked this)...

10:30am- Look to the right and see this sign and realize my granite butt-warmer is actually a historical monument of sorts. (!) Brief moment of panic, worrying that it's a holy relic of sorts that my posterior has somehow blasphemed and made unholy...

Doors open! Even though APE apparently started here- I'd only seen it at the concourse- it seemed much huger in this venue. Being next to the bay with Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge just outside the doors also made the event feel a lot grander and 'epic' than the building in downtown SF where it was originally... Circle the floor and come across a booth celebrating the Jack Kirby museum. Have a great chat with the guy who was hosting the table- and talk with a dealer who actually informs me that NO DC or Marvel comix are allowed whatsoever at the APE con.
When I mentioned that there was a guy last year who did have some- he shared that the dealer in question did get a warning of sorts.... so.... interesting, made sense. On another note- was also interesting to hear in the buzz that Dan Vado would be taking BACK Apecon for San Jose next year-... but, back to this year's APE report....
Anyhow, I see my friends from the writing group there- Anthony and Nathan- who both have an AWESOME site on plotting/designing comix (that could easily give Scott McCloud a run for his money) are hosting the 24 comic event and stop by there. By the way- this is the site: http://www.blitzcomics.com/go/ I brought my comic there, but didn't really have the 24 comic in my head as a mission per se, but it was a lot of fun as it started. Stayed there and chatted with folked who stopped by and joined in the 24 hour comic event- hours flew by, lots of fun.... in my normal day to day I NEVER come across other comic artists- so, it was really pleasant to sit at a full table of people of all ages/races who took out their pencils, rulers, and papers and just jump into it.... stayed there until 4pm happened and I was due to attend the WRITER-ARTIST meet & greet event I was registered for. 4pm- (Unfortunately no pix of the meet/greet) Just made it to the writer/artist meet and greet- it was set up like 'speed dating'- each person had two minutes to make their pitch, exchange contact info, and move on. It was a lot of fun, and it was a great feeling to experience being across the table from other folks (more than a few that had come from OUT OF STATE just to make the connections)- to share bits of their dreams, that could- like mine- end up in ridicule and obscurity. The range was varied, but the feeling that came out was this: I'm NOT ALONE in being crazy about devoting my time and energy to a comic that may or may never have an audience. It was almost like experiencing an external family you didn't know you had or were part of--- sort of...
6:00pm- afterwards, went back to the 24 hour table- where the event was going to continue on another venue..... but, unfortunately I had made other plans- but I do regret not attending this all-night event.
DAY 02: The Farmer's Market kills the parking in the lot, but I end up getting a parking spot at the same location as where Spock and Kirk were looking for pregnant whales in Star Trek IV, so that was kind of fun...
12noonish- Found my friend Nate's brother Ben Costa- and stopped by to introduce myself and buy a very cool t-shirt at his booth (would have to buy the book next time as I was on a tight budget) (unfortunately no pix) Though post-APE, I guess I should congratulate his kickstarter for his book: $27k??? WOW! Nice guy, glad I got the shirt....here is a link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1643629860/pang-the-wandering-shaolin-monk-vol-2
Later on, have a chat with Andres Salazar, great guy, whose book I bought last year- this is his project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andresjsalazar/pariah-missouri-the-graphic-novel
Also talked with Andres Salazar, who shared some great stories about the process of creating his book Anyhow.... an interesting APE con... will see what happens next year!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wassup???? What's been going on in the background.....

Well--- Been busy with health and life stuff- long story, but hopefully it's on the path for things getting better soon, I hope I hope! But more importantly, on the side, I've been doing a lot of research into the history of China for the project I've slowly been preparing that I hope to unveil soon. Today, I was thrilled to get my 'sampler' package from Printninja.com- which was highly recommended to me by two friends. Also--- came across a graphic novel reprint series called "Vagabond" at my local library which I'm finding VERY interesting art-wise, and because it deals with much asian imagery. Many ancient asian-based comics don't seem to do well at the local comic shops.... the ones I know of, have tried getting them, but they seem to end up in bargain bin purgatory. I hope the project I'm working on doesn't end up in the same purgatory, but will see soon enough.... (crossing fingers)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's been awhile- but it's also been EXTREMELY creative! (Yea me!)

It's been a long time since the last post- Mucho changes going on in my personal life which I won't bore anyone with- BUT... Creatively- It's been REEEEALLY pretty good, albeit extremely slow. Lots of research for two titles that I've been working on and hope to self-publish by August or September. One is a martial arts one- but one that I hope is different enough from what's been out there- Sadly, a LOT of asian comics seem to end up in the 'clearance' rack at comic shops and wrestling with the right approach and concept that I hope has some appeal. After all- It's not Marvel. It's not DC. It's not Dark Horse- Yet- It's not Manga either. But, anyways, it's been a LONG time percolating. The second one is a somewhat more lighthearted fare that is having a few concept problems, but I like the characters. Anyhow- On another note: Going to be what looks like a really fun (I hope!) summer at the movies. Really enjoyed (though not quite as tight as the Dark Knight) the new Captain America movie--- Scarjo has never exactly been my choice for Widow (especially since Emily Blunt was originally cast and is by far a better choice imo) but I admit that for her version of Widow, this film put her to best use & Marvel has been REALLY smart in realizing that the supporting cast is just as important to the appeal of their Marvel properties as is the lead character. Batroc? Black Widow? Falcon? How cool is that in a Captain America movie? Anyhow--- The worry comes that the title I have in mind, that someone else will come in first before I reach the publication date. Oh well... will see...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014 New Year's Creative Goals and Projects

2014 has officially started- no time to waste!

Ok..... So, the biggest danger is standing still or being paralyzed by indecision. This is one of three graphic novel projects that I hope to complete (at least a first draft) by the end of the year.

Concept notes to follow, plus creative figuring out....

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buh-bye 2013.... The year that coulda been better, coulda been worse....

Hard to believe that the end of the year has popped up again so fast. At the end of each year, I try to go over for myself whether or not the year I made the year successful enough for me or not.

Short answer: Yeah. Enough, though of course not nearly as successful as I would have liked. I just have taken on too many projects and that wasn't that smart. On the other hand, I did try out some things or re-visited some things that I'm glad that I did.
Quick shout out to shout out to Benton and DeAna.. Thanks for the wonderful xmas cards all these years !

(By the way, happy xmas to all, though belated)
Memorable bits for myself in the fan realm...

JANUARY - MARCH:
* Went back and took a beginning film class as a refresher. It was good review, the saddest thing is remembering not only how difficult it can be for a class of strangers to necessarily get along (I didn't get into any arguments- but I was suprised how things have not evolved in that almost every writing and film class seems to devolve into people backing into groups rather than all blending together by the end)- but it really was 'survival of the ones who most pesevered' by the end. Bottom line: I was reminded that no matter the person(s), it's NOT easy to get people to work on your project. I was thrilled that I kept mine fairly modest by design but was able to complete a phony trailer and short film at the same time. Helped a few people out at the same time, helping a few other students complete their first short film- and that had was rewarding to be able to help them and vicariously feel that joy again of COMPLETING one's first short film- and it was exciting to get over my own phobias about being too over the hill at this point to ask complete strangers out of the blue to be in a film for no money. (Yes, it still is terrifying to be rejected at any age, but how thrilling when people say yes, and when you put together something worthwhile to yourself at the end.

MAY
* Was 'pushed' to attend the Big Wow! convention in town. Saw a rather cranky (too bad, he was awesome in person years ago at Comicon) Neal Adams, talked to a few indy publishers, and was wowed by the mid-size scale of the convention. Also suprised how friendly the conventiongoers were, made a few friends just waiting in line- (Doesn't happen so much at Comicon- it's too damn huge) - it's certainly has grown. Also finished my pencils (for the most part) of the Faith graphic novel that I brought to Big Wow, as I was searching for an affordable inker/finisher. There, I also got a great review of pencils by a professional inker who works for DC/Marvel- which was a giant boost to the ego- very honest on what was rushed, but he seemed to genuinely find them done well.

JUNE-JULY
* Created a graphic novel class for kids... which on the surface can seem odd if I haven't been published, but I gave the pitch as to what I was designing. Essentially, I was/am passionate about creating a class that I would have loved to have had as a kid. The first session was disappointing, but I'm glad that the reviews don't reflect that. Even though it was small enrollment for session one, most of the kids voted it up- and the second session was fantastic- As with most classes, I find the first go-round is nerve-wracking because it's untested except in your head. Then, one does a post-mortem - review what worked/what didn't, then go back and try it again- and the second time had a standing-room only enrollment and there were so many great talented kids in there that were hungry to create- that I really learned probably as much from me, as I did from them.

SEPTEMBER
* Found an 11x17 scanner! But.... still haven't set it up yet. Must do today! Bad crazy asian man. Very bad.
* One of my good friends who freelance writes for a living comes to visit, and we shoot the breeze over the creative frustration.

OCTOBER
* Start a new writing class that gets to be a bit much- in juggling what's going on in life, too- but the instructor extended an invite to retake it. The content is great, for sure. Will see... but considering how some life things came up in conflict with it later on, no regrets.
* A friend nudges me to go to APE-CON! Fun to be a dealer, although admittedly we got into a few heated disagreements about the booth. Met some very cool people there who had/have been doing it for years. Attending the self-publishing chat was part inspiring and depressing at the same time. On one hand, it's nice to know that there are others who are broke but genuinely love the art form as I do. Bummer because we're all freaking old and Dan Vado says that he feels that self-publishing in the current form may be dead and that on-line is the future.
* On the flip side, the writer in the booth next to us did a kickstarter that was successful and shared his story about being a scientist who quit his day job, to pursue doing his graphic novel.... and had GREAT success this weekend. And, no, his wife is not thrilled with his decision.
* What's odd is that I notice a pattern of one thing I wasn't planning on attending leading into something else rather cool happening instead.

NOVEMBER - DECEMBER
* Another side effect of APE is that I found out about a local writing group that was also trying to do comics, so I have started to attend that. That, in turn, got me to moving further ahead in the comics' realm and prepping a few graphic novels- along with learning much with my friends' self-publishing ventures this year.
* Well, the bummer side is that the year wrapped up with a full-time teaching position falling through & health issues that are on-going..... but I look forward to getting things revved up this new year.

Happy new years to all!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Realization that I shoulda had many moons ago: It's not IMPOSSIBLE to create alone, but.... easier if you're part of communities....


Been a crazy month. Job stuff and life and family stuff, juggled in the air with a few meetings with the new writing group, full of very kind and generous folks. I'd been part of (and even had started) writing groups before, but more often than not, they fall by the wayside after a few months. Why does this group succeed whereas the others failed? I don't know all the variables, but one thing seems to be key: NO CRITICISM is the rule. Odd how just sharing with an audience and sitting at a table writing together can be calming and suprisingly far more productive than I would have thought. (The previous writer groups were critique- based, although I still think there is merit to those as well) Anyhow...

The problem of working alone has it's pluses and minuses. The plus side is: nobody is giving you a deadline, and there's no need to be accountable to anybody but yourself. There's no pressure.

The bad side to working alone is just that: there's no pressure.

In any case, the group is full of very nice folks, but I know full well that if I want to be more productive, I can't just depend on one group to keep me on track. However, I compare it to having to meet someone to go out and jog. If there's always an excuse NOT to jog, it's harder to dismiss jogging or putting it aside if there's going to be another person waiting for you at a certain time to be there.

So, what am I saying?

Writer's group was a great start.

Maybe this time around I should be part of a FEW creator groups. More than one writer's group. And artist's group as well? Maybe...

In any case, still lots of juggling before the end of the new year...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The fun begins (well, for me, anyways)... Doing art research for my graphic novel series....


The writing group was incredibly welcoming, although I admit I felt incredibly small and intimidated when I found out how many there were published authors.

Still... the main thing is- it's got me enthused and got me to get STARTED on what might be my 'life's work'.

Now, in saying that, it's not like I expect any great masses to actually enjoy the book(s), but I feel great in that I feel like I've gone through giving a damn about what others might feel or think about my work- and now... FINALLY, feeling confident that what I'm doing will be so personally rewarding that I honestly won't care. (Hopefully)

Right now, I'm embracing two things that I felt used to be obstacles in creating a comic: (1)the idea that there are TONS of comics already out there, and (2)the idea that there's MILLIONS (perhaps billions?)of fabulous concept and art designs that will always dwarf what little I can offer. But-- the difference between this go-round and the last go-round, is that I'm going to look at those two factors as allies- and not competition to what I'm trying to do.

One thing that I'm currently doing is 'dream casting' my ensemble of characters. Finding that's a lot of fun- although the tough thing might be what I have to do AFTER I set up the panels and have to bring these characters/images to life. Too often I see art references used in books, and the result feels like- well - (and I've been guilty of this, too)- traced photos.

Ralph Bakshi once said that the difference between bad rotoscoping and good rotoscoping was the artistry that was used so that the reference wasn't totally depended on, but merely used as a basis. I need to keep that in mind.

In any case, story ideas are influencing some art ideas; art is helping come up with story bits. Cool fun. Hope it lasts.