I’ll be at NYCC This Weekend

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If you’re headed to New York Comic Con this week, you’ll spot me sitting in with the National Cartoonists Society (Booth #304) on a couple days:

• Saturday, October 6th  1 – 4

• Sunday, October 7th  10 – 1:30

I’ll have the new Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special with me, as well as my other books. And if I can manage to get him onto a crowded train without starting a riot, then lug him to Javits Convention Center, I may also have my furry buddy, Puppet Bigfoot (he’s a long shot, though. It’s like lugging around an unconscious badger around the city).

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Anyway, stop by and say hi. I’ll be sharing the table with some really talented cartoonists. -v

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Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special / Printer Review

The Untold Tales of Bigfoot Fall Special books are in — and they look great! I’ll have them with me at New York Comic Con this October when I sit in with the National Cartoonists Society. I also have some copies in my online shop (just $6 plus s/h/tx)!

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

What’s Inside

  • 35 pages of fall-inspired art and story from the Untold Tales of Bigfoot webcomic,  including Devil In The Details and the Reuben-Nominated Heading For A Fall!
  • Two pages of story not published online (I added a couple pages to give Scout a little more room to babble and complain.)
  • Devil In The Details (published online in black and white) is now printed in full color!

Review: Comix Well Spring/Greko Printing

You may or may not recall, I had a negative experience with Ka-Blam Digital Printing that sent me looking for a different printer for this project. A friend recommended Comix Well Spring, so I thought I’d give ’em a try. How’d they do? Let’s see…

Colors Look Good

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Comix Well Spring did a great job of matching my CMYK colors. The brights are bright, the darks are dark, and the subtle gradients all came out the way I wanted them to.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Mind you, I opted for the hard copy proof to be mailed to me (a nominal fee of $10) so I could adjust my files before going to final print. And I’m glad I did. There’s always a possibility that what you see on your screen won’t match what the printer puts out. So using a hard copy proof to help make your adjustments is a good idea.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

I opted for the heavier paper (80# gloss text) and the pages feel substantial, with no bleed-through (unless you hold the pages up to a light). The cover was standard (80# gloss cover) and it feels durable and looks great.

Quality Packing and Shipping

With Ka-Blam, it was damaged books and poor customer service response that led me to look for a new printer. How did Comix Well Spring stack up?

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Comix Well Spring packed my order in a sturdy box, lined with a thick layer of packing paper. The comic books were then shrink-wrapped and packed (in bundles of 25) into padded, sealed UPS envelopes. Did that protect the corners? Darn tootin’!

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

I unpacked every shrink-wrapped bundle of my comics and every one of them looks like this. Pristine corners, no dings, no folds, no spine damage. I couldn’t be happier with the packaging.

Customer Service Is Excellent

Ka-Blam Digital Printing dropped the ball with their customer service. In contrast, Comix Well Spring was more than happy to answer a ton of questions for me before I even ordered. I wanted to make sure my colors and templates were set up properly, double check their shipping methods and return policy — they answered all my questions before/during/and after our transaction promptly and politely.

Final Review

I give Comix Well Spring a solid A and happily recommend them to anybody who wants to get their comics printed. Their prices are competitive (especially in larger quantities) and their product is impressive. They also have a handy price quote calculator on their site so you can see how much your project might cost before you order. -v

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Untold Tales of Bigfoot Nominated for Another NCS Reuben!

UToB_ReubenNom3_DorseHere’s some fun news (for me, anyway). Untold Tales of Bigfoot has been nominated by the National Cartoonists Society for a Silver Reuben in the Online Comics: Long Form division. This is Bigfoot and Scout’s third nomination (they won in 2013).

We’ve been buzzing about this here in the cave for the last few days, feeling very honored and grateful. Congratulations to my fellow nominees, John Allison and Ru Xu. Bigfoot and I consider the nomination itself a win, thrilled to be recognized alongside some other very talented creators. Scout, however, really wants the wall plaque and he won’t shut up about it.

Either way, we’ll be having a great time rubbing elbows with all the other cartooning professionals at the 72nd Annual Reuben Awards, May 25th-27th in the City of Brotherly Love, good ol’ Philadelphia, PA! Whether we go home with the bauble or not, it is always a sincere pleasure to spend the weekend hanging out with some of the funniest, creative people I know. -v

For a complete list of the nominees in all the divisions, CLICK HERE!

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Do The Work: Stop swiping other people’s art.

Quick note to aspiring artists and designers. Don’t swipe. Yeah, it’s easy and maybe you can turn a buck or two passing off someone else’s work as your own. But you’re doing a disservice to those people who work hard to put out entertaining content and, maybe more importantly, you’re strangling your own creative flow. Plus it makes you look bad.

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This is far down on my list of things to expend energy on, but back in 2014, I did an ink sketch of the Hatbox Ghost from Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The character’s a favorite of mine, and I wanted to see what he’d look like if I put my personal spin on him. He came out okay, so I posted my process on this site and people seemed to enjoy it.

Since then, I’ve seen this exact design/image presented (without attribution to me) as someone’s cool tattoo, enlarged as someone’s Halloween lawn display, and most recently as a series of poorly-traced prints in someone’s Etsy shop. All presented as those folks’ “original design.”

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Son, just…don’t.

If you really want to make fan art, if you really want to be creative, put some effort into it and make your own. Maybe you can’t draw as well as someone else yet, or maybe you’re creatively blocked at this moment. But honestly, the more you work on it, the more of yourself you put in your work, the more you practice…the better you’ll get.

This fan art thing? It’s just fun for me. I’m hoping not to waste too much time worrying about this stuff. I haven’t built a cottage industry on Etsy or Ebay drawing other people’s characters, but I know that some folks have and that’s maybe as far as they want to go with their art. And that’s cool. As long as it’s their art.

So, tl/dr: do the work. If you didn’t, don’t say that you did. -v

Out and About: Upcoming Shows and Events

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Hey, I’m emerging from the cave for a few upcoming events in the next month or two. Here’s a short list (more to be added):

April 7th & 8th: MoCCA Festival This Weekend in NYC

If you’re in New York this weekend and plan to attend MoCCA (Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon, and animation festival) I will be sitting in at the National Cartoonists Society table on Saturday (3:45 to 7) and Sunday (3:45 to 6). MoCCA is a 2-day event with all kinds of cool stuff, and there will be other cartoonists at the NCS table throughout the weekend. Admission is only $7 a day!

“Held at the luxurious and modern Metropolitan West located on West 46th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues, MoCCA’s host venue will encompass two floors of exhibitor tables, a gallery of original art showcasing the work of special guests, and pop-up cafés throughout the space.” CLICK FOR DETAILS!

May 5th: Free Comic Book Day at Phantom of the Attic, Oakland

I’ve done Free Comic Book Day at this amazing comic shop before and had a blast meeting people, selling books, and doing quick commission sketches. It’s a wonderful shop with a great staff and it’s stocked floor to ceiling with fun. I’ll be sharing a table with Jim Rugg (Street Angel, Afrodisiac) so stop by and say hi. PHANTOM FB PAGE

May 19th & 20th: 3 Rivers Comicon in Pittsburgh

I did this con last year, had a great time, and so I’m doing it again this year. Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, I’ll be at my own table at 3 Rivers Comicon in Pittsburgh. There’s always a great guest list of talented artists at this con. CLICK FOR DETAILS

I’ll add a few more notable events as the details shore up, but this is a good start for now. Hope to see you out there! -v

Up And Away! A Collaborative Art Project

It’s the 1930s. Big City has become a place where greed trumps goodness, a city in desperate need of a hero. A hero like no other. The very first superhero.

Planning The Caper

This year, The Pittsburgh CLO invited members of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators to attend rehearsals of the CLO musical Up And Away, as a collaborative effort to produce artwork inspired by the show.

In this post, I’m going to break down my basic illustration process and ramble on a little about the show (because it’s really fun and you should go see it if you can).

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Assembling The Team

I think there were six of us invited to attend early rehearsals for the show. We were there to get a feel for the show, and then create anything we wanted. Some of us illustrated scenes, some of us did renderings of the rehearsals, some did portraits of the cast. But from the very start, I knew I wanted to create a fictional comic book cover that featured the characters from the superhero-themed musical. Here’s the thumbnail I sketched out during that first rehearsal:

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Clip Studio Paint To The Rescue

I used Clip Studio Paint to set up my image. As usual, the perspective rulers were invaluable in helping me redraw the background architecture over my sketch (the show is set in “Big City”). I used the blue drafting pencil to sketch in characters based on reference sketches I did at rehearsal, and a G-Pen to ink them in. These aren’t caricatures of the cast as much as representations of the archetypes the actors portray in the show.

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About The Show

Up And Away is jam-packed with references to comic book culture. The two brothers (who leave their farm to find adventure in Big City) are Jerry and Joe Jessup (a nod to Superman creators, Siegel and Shuster). There’s a fast-talking lady-reporter, a mysterious billionaire, a tough but doting mother, and a host of costumed kooks running rampant in the city.

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One of the most interesting things about this project was seeing director Marlo Hunter, creators Kevin Hammonds and Kristin Bair, and the cast members hammer the show into shape during rehearsals; changing blocking and choreography, editing scenes, working out the props and stagecraft. Process. It’s fun to watch things unfold, piece by piece, whether it’s an illustration or a comedy-musical.

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Kevin Hammonds (Book and Lyrics) and Kristin Bair (Music) put together a catchy bunch of tunes. I must have heard “New Kind Of Hero” two dozen times that first day. Anyone who’s ever rehearsed a live musical performance knows you’re going to go over and over and over the songs. But that was fine, because when I saw the show opening week, I could practically sing along.

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The performers are fantastic too.  It’s one of those shows that employs a small cast (just five) who have to race through backstage quick-changes to play a series of alternate roles (with those roles sometimes possessing alter-egos themselves).

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And, in keeping with the stripped-down feel of a small cast, Up And Away employs classic, lo-fi stagecraft to achieve its own brand of special effects. Think “standing on one leg and bending at the waist with your arms forward to simulate flying over a collapsible MDF cityscape.” I don’t know how you’re picturing that, but trust me, it works.

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As the little corner box intimates, Up And Away made it’s premiere here in Pittsburgh in January. But it’ll be running at the CLO Cabaret at Theater Square through Sunday, April 22nd. If you’re in Pittsburgh during that time, and you want to spend a fun couple of hours at a musical comedy made for comic fans, try to get tickets.

Art Show And Sale

And, as of this Wednesday, March 14, the Cabaret Gallery will have the Pittsburgh Illustrators’ Up And Away art on display and for sale, with 20% going to the Pittsburgh CLO. I’ll have two pieces there — the comic book cover (signed & numbered prints) and an ink and marker rendering of the villains in the show (based on brief descriptions in an early draft of the script). This was a fun project, a nice way to spend a few weeks with some talented creators and performers, and I got to see a superhero musical for free! Whooooosh! (that was me, flying away, in case you didn’t catch it) -v

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And here, just for fun, the fictional comic book cover:

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Chutz-Pow, The Art of Resistance Opening

I will be at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh this Sunday, February 11th, to celebrate the opening of The Art of Resistance — original comic pages from the first two volumes of Chutz-Pow, as well as the release of the all-new Chutz-Pow Volume 3, which I worked on.

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Chutz-Pow: Superheroes of the Holocaust is a comic book series produced right here in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. These books tell the stories of survivors of the Holocaust. The third and latest volume focuses on survivors who were just children when World War 2 changed their lives.

A bunch of my cartoonist friends have work in this volume (Mark Zingarelli, Howard Bender, Marcel Walker, Wayne Wise, Loran Skinkis) and most of them will be there at the opening. Tickets at the door are a very reasonable $5. Here’s the rest of the details on the event. Stop by to see the artwork from the first two volumes, pick up copies of all three books, and talk to some of the writers and illustrators who worked on all three books.