Bullies…every kid dealt with them.
This year, me and some colleagues from the Twin Cities Comic Collective were asked to participate in the Rosemount Area Arts Council’s “Star Wars Extravaganza” (http://www.rosemountarts.com/Star-Wars-2014.html), a celebration of all things Star Wars. We were approached by the board of directors of RAAC to draw caricatures for the throngs of people that attended the event. After a conference call and some back-and-forth emails me, Jeff Kulisek, Jack Kotz and Scott Rolfs came up with a set of pre-drawn Star Wars characters (with the heads left blank to accommodate the caricatures. I decided to draw Han Solo, Ashoka Tano and Ben Kenobi.)
The plan was to provide free caricatures for all those that were interested in having one done. We set up a booth displaying all of the different Star Wars character sketches and attendees would select who they wanted to be and brought the sketch to one of the artists. The artist would then do a quick caricature of the subject’s head on the character’s body. Everybody ate it up! The line was out the door for the entire 3+ hours of the event. We ended up staying almost an hour after the doors closed to finish up the last of the kids that wanted their caricature done. Talk about commitment! These kids stood in line for two hours to get a sketch…damn right they were gonna get one.
To be honest, this was the first caricature gig that I’ve done on this scale. I was surprised at how easily I found the likenesses and translated them into pencil and sharpie marker images. The best part were the smiles on the kids’ faces when they saw their own face on Han Solo’s or Boba Fett’s body. It was priceless.
Needless to say, I think we’ll be invited to do this again next year. Thanks to John Loch, Jim Kotz and the rest of the board of directors for RAAC for inviting us to be a part of this awesome event.
Now for a few pics…
One of the best things about Best In Show’s ‘reboot’ is that I get to rewrite my childhood. You’ll notice that the ‘Joe’ character is showing up a lot. Joe is one of my best friends and has been for 20 years. We weren’t children together but through Best In Show, we get a look at what it would’ve been like. This will be true for a lot of characters that will be making appearances and are based on people that I’ve known as an ‘adult’. It’s quite enjoyable and not a little emotional recreating this part of my life. Judging from the feedback from readers, it’s resonating with a lot of them, too.
Last week I experienced the worst thing that could happen to a digital artist…my computer crashed and had to be sent to the repair shop. Luckily, I was able to use my wife’s computer to keep my business running. It’s times like these that really show us how much we take for granted. Like Photoshop brushes. Anyhoo, below are the comic strips that you’ve missed over the last week. Enjoy!
This past weekend my colleagues in ink Lucas Munson, Jeff Kulisek, Jack Kotz and I traveled to Des Moines, IA for the 11th or so annual Comic Book I-Con comicon. It was held at Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines on Saturday October 25th. From what I understand this venue was a considerable upgrade from their previous location. By, say, 35,000 sq ft! I’m happy to say that it payed off…
We had a late start on Friday evening…We all met at Jeff’s house and parked our cars. Amazingly, we packed all of our con gear and our bodies into Jeff’s Hyundai SUV. We left at about 8pm that evening and arrived at Travelodge Des Moines by midnight. Needless to say, we got our room keys and went directly to bed.
Saturday we were up at 7am and down to breakfast shortly thereafter. I love continental breakfasts…especially when they include donuts AND belgian waffles! So, we ate, we drank our coffee, we…I mean I grabbed a donut for the road and we were off to the convention center!
Upon arrival at the load in area, we all grabbed our stuff and headed in. There was no signage so that when we walked through the bay door and saw a rollaway grandstand bleachers and a line of about seven tables I immediately thought: ” Oh, gawd…this CAN’T be it! We’re doomed!” Just as I was about to step on my jaw that was hovering above the floor a woman came up to us and said:”The show is this way.” She lead us through the bowels of the convention center, through back passageways, around hollowed out vending machines and forests of stacked chairs to the actual comicon room. Which was BIG. Because it was so big and there were such a modest amount of vendors and artists, it looked like we were floating through a concrete ocean and the ‘pods’ of tables were little collections of 8′ islands. Soon, we were directed to our tables and much to our irritation, we weren’t set up together as we had previously asked. So, we separated…I went to my table toward the back of the room and the others toward the front. And that was pretty much the last time I saw them until the end of the show…(It all ended up working out very well for us.)
When planning the trip to this show I had invited Kim Baerg, a puppet builder friend to join me at my table. Kim has created a plush version of my Spencer character and now we’re in talks about creating smaller, finger puppet versions as well as other items to tie into Best In Show. Anyhoo, she brought her husband Brad and their three kids for the weekend. Kim did a great job promoting her workshop Joy Filled Puppets and also helped direct people to me. She was a lot of fun to talk to and her family was a joy to have around.
The doors opened at 9am. It was pretty quiet and I’ll admit, I got a little nervous but since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I talked myself down. See, there’s a bell curve when it comes to comicon sales. When the doors open, nobody’s spending money because they’re still seeing what’s out there. By about 11am, they’ve seen everything and come around for the spending trip. Luckily, I’ve been learning a lot of tricks and using a lot of tools to get people to spend that money on me. Things like BEING NICE. Talking to people as they walk by. Handing out ‘Welcome Back’ cards that offer a free gift if they come back and buy something. That kind of stuff.
Well, it worked.
The fanboys and fangirls of Des Moines were into spending money! There were a couple of return customers…Craig has sketch books that he likes to fill at comicons and he always finds me. Ivan has been to see me at every show. I met Ryan at FallCon and when I told him that I was going to be at I-Con, he said he’d be there. I sold a ton of sketch cards. I was chatting up the ‘exclusive’ variant cover and posters. I was commissioned to do custom sketch cards. It was non-stop until almost 3pm! I had to ask my commissioners to come back…more than once! Of course, I hooked them up with some swag for making them wait…
There was even time for an interview with the con promotion video crew which ended up in a six minute video (look for me at abou the 3:57 mark):
As per the comicon bell curve, by about 3pm the faucet is pretty much turned off. Everybody blew through their cash. I was actually exhausted (remember that I work alone, and having talked all day pretty much wore me out.) What is left by that time are the last remnants of the crowd and the creators themselves trolling around for a bargain. 5pm brought the end of the show and packing up before another 3 1/2 hour trip back to the Twin Cities.
All told, this was the most successful one-day show that I’ve ever attended. Are you guys seeing a trend here? Well, for those that didn’t have their coffee the trend is that each show that I attend is usually more successful than the last. And that’s a wonderful trend! Will I travel to Des Moines next year for I-Con 2015? Absolutely!
One of the coolest things about this particular show was the level of family-friendliness. There were kids everywhere and I tried to talk with all of them! I even traded one boy, Frankie, a mini coloring book for an original Captain America sketch. It was a great deal.
In closing, traveling to this show knowing it was in a transitional period was a huge risk. I’d be lying if I said that the four of us that drove down to Des Moines, paid for gas and lodging on top of the table fee, weren’t apprehensive. Lucky for us, the people of Des Moines are solid supporters of quality comics and Scott Wirth and company made good on their promise to put on the best show possible. It’s a helluva way to wrap up our comicon season.
Below are some of the awesome fans that made our trip worthwhile: