Tag Archives: C2E2

Questionable Content review

Questionable Content

Vols 1 & 2

Available online at http://www.questionablecontent.net/ (online individually or for purchase)

$18 each

I am a relative newcomer to the world of QC, and most other web comics.  I did not start reading any on a regular basis until about 3 years ago.  Most of what I was reading then I have lost interest in, but a few core series have held my interest.  Girls with Slingshots, Wondermark, Gutters and a few others have stayed consistently good for so long, that I cannot see myself falling out with them for a while.

At C2E2 last week I finally had a chance to meet Jeph Jaques of QC.  I have met Danielle Corsetto of GWS and David Malki of Wondermark as well as the Gutters team over the last few conventions, but had not yet had a chance to speak with Jeph.  He is pretty much exactly as I expected, tattooed and pierced and a bit disaffected, I doubt that he is someone I would have a lot to say to in a social setting (my failing, not his), but he was an interesting person to speak to nonetheless.  We spoke briefly about the books and how they are now a much more significant portion of his income than the T-shirts and other merchandise ever were and he did a quick doodle of Pintsize in my books.

From the second volume

I have been reluctant to spend too heavily on collected web comics as they are all available for free online, but sometimes I want a lighter read and do not want to sit in front of a screen, even if it is just the iPad.  I like to unplug at times and go old school analog.  I got the 2 collected volumes of QC at the show and have not been disappointed.  The books are fairly hefty at 160 pages and 300 strips each, and contain a limited commentary for each strip.  A few of the strips have been redrawn to replace lost hi-res files, and even the replaced strips are still here for comparison, albeit in a low-res form.  The amazing thing about these, apart for the stories of the characters is the chance to watch the progression of the quality and style of the art.  All artists grow and evolve to varying degrees, but I have never seen it so prominently on display before.  It is true that you can see it one strip at a time online, but the effect is lessened by the delay, even a brief one, in going from view to view.  In a book where you see 4 strips at a time, the effect is really dramatic.  The quality of the art is weak at the beginning, as Jeph freely admits.  At this stage it is more an exercise in persistence and the willingness to make mistakes in order to learn. Very quickly the art improves and really shows some fun and stylish touches.  The story is silly and fun, with brief hints of some more series future storylines.  My favorite character, Hannelore is not there yet, but Pintsize is very much present.  Watching the growth of the characters, and of the artist, is really a fun treat that I had not expected to enjoy quite this much. 

For the unfamiliar, QC is a story of life and relationships and little talking robots that like to eat cake batter.  The main characters are Martin Reed (described in the books as a cute, skinny indie boy), his roommate Faye and his “anthro-PC Pintsize.  The cast grows quickly and becomes a full ensemble that has a great deal of life to it.  Some of the strips are laugh out loud funny, even though I have read them all prior to having this book.  It is fun to revisit these older strips, and much more satisfying that going back and looking at old comic strips from   the newspapers of my youth.  Why that is, I cannot say, but these strips are as fresh at multiple reads as they were when I first discovered them. There is periodic mention of indie rock and I tend to skip over those few strips when they come up, as I have no interest in that sort of thing, but as the series continues, those references become less frequent and character stays in the forefront.

Anyone looking for something light, fun and entertaining, with a cast of characters that you will quickly come to care about will enjoy this series.  There is a lot of talent and creativity on display here, and watching it grow and mature really adds to this package.

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C2E2: An interview with Franchesco!

I made sure to sit down with another great artist at C2E2 this year and find out what ever I could about his methods, convention appearances and how working digitally has changed the way he does things.

Franchesco! (The ! is very like Elliot S! Maggin or Scott Shaw!) has become a regular face at comic conventions in the last few years, doing commissions, panel appearances and selling prints and sketchbooks.  Like most in Artist Alleys at all of these conventions, there is a tough balance between meeting and talking to the fans and getting down to the business of drawing for them and selling his many wares.

Taylor:  How many shows to you get to each year and what keeps drawing you here when it is easier to just stay home and work?

Franchesco!:  Somewhere around five, maybe?  I think that five is a safe number.  There is the big shows like San Diego, Chicago and New York and there are some of the middle size shows that I really like.

(It should be said at this point that Franchesco! is wildly popular at the shows that he regularly attends.  As we spoke there were several interruptions by fans and friends that cannot wait to get a chance to speak to him.  He is one of the most approachable artists at these shows and always has time to say hello.  So if at some point, we go off the rails a bit, that will be my fault, as it can be difficult to keep the thread going.  But watching the way he interacted with people was every bit as telling as specific answers to questions.  He truly enjoys meeting people.)

The sizes of the shows really exploded when Image came into the picture.  The size of the halls had to increase and the crowds were out of control.  At one show a Fire Marshall had to come in and close the place down, because the isles were not wide enough, so they increased the size of the isles, so now that this (referring to the width of the isles at C2E2, which seem much more spacious to me than at Wizard and other cons) is now the standard.  So the fact that this is not enough is a testament to how much the hobby has grown.  I assume that you and I have been doing this for more than a day or two, so we remember that there was a moment there that people were saying that comics are dead, it’s over, its finished, so I would get the “so what am I going to do” flash.  I love it so much and it was going to go away.  Now things are as good as they ever were.  Can you imagine if it was just the two of us that showed up?

Taylor:  Well, we could have a wicked game of handball.

Franchesco!:  Glass half empty, glass half full.

Taylor:  I have watched you in recent years changing over from traditions all pencil and ink to a mix of traditional and digital techniques.  Has that been a big adjustment of is there a steep learning curve?

Franchesco!:  The switch to digital, the actual mechanics of it, is simple but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.  For me I love, love love the idea of pencil on paper because that is how it has always been for me from when I first started.  So that is where I imprinted on the process.  When I started doodling, there was not option.  Now I can see kids in grade school doing this digitally, they could do whatever since it is just the way it started for them.  The Mechanics is not as challenging for me as the mindset.  The technology has evolved for me, to the point where it mimics the same motion and feel that you get when you are drawing traditionally.  The tool itself is not the issue, I just have a real love for traditional.  I have a love for original art, as you know, I don’t part with my original art.  Most people sell their art, but I don’t.  I hold on to everything I do.  The closest I come to parting with my original art is the sketches I do at conventions.  So I find that digital streamlined the process to the point where it is much more efficient, much faster and it gives the client something they can use and hit the ground running as opposed to having to incorporate an additional step,  like coming in and doing more prep work or preparing to make changes to a physical original.  Just scanning the artwork alone, which doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but you multiply that by how many pages and if it is a big publisher, they have to hire someone just to do that for all the projects, just to get the images ready for post production, so when you don’t have to do that, it is a lot better for time and costs.

Taylor:  So are you working from the start of something in digital more and stay there through the full process or is it always graphite, then digital?

Franchesco!:  That is what I am doing for the Anarchy Girls project.  When I started it was the way I had always done, with paper and pencil, then after drawing it, I would scan it and send it to my publisher.  Then it got to the point where I was making so many changes to the image once it was scanned in that it seemed redundant to the process.  The digital became an “and” to the process.  Not so much taking stuff out, it was altering the artwork to where it needed to be to appease the client.  The client has a certain vision and I always enjoy being able to make the client happy.  So now when the evolution happens, it happens with one person whether it is my art director or my editor.  But for this, I am not working with one person, I’m working with a team of people and you can please all of the people, all of the time…sometimes, but that is not always the case so even when everybody is happy, some has a requirement and says, “can we do this?” and the answer is yes with digital.  Because you don’t have to now take the artwork and erase and redo it traditionally and scan it in, which causes other issues, like never being able to get it to line up or match other parts of the project just right, so that impedes the outcome.  If the changes can be done digitally, on a digital original, then everything is easier, matches correctly and the colors don’t shift etc.  So I realized that instead of doing the sketches digitally, printing it out and light boxing in for a physical original, I didn’t need to take it out of the computer then change it and put it back in because, I could now do it all in there.  Long story short, the computer has been a Godsend to the process. Sometimes it is not a perfect process.

(At this point someone handed him exclusive copies of a book for Zenescope with one of his covers on the front.  He lit up like a kid on Christmas and was thrilled to see for the first time, the finished product of this book. The book was for the Grimm’s Fairy Tales series and had a stunning cover of Alice in Wonderland, in the Franchesco! style and really was something to see.  This caused him to recall a different, not so positive experience.)

Recently I had an experience with one of my pieces.  It looked like it had been put through a meat grinder by the client after I handed it over, and I was like, “are you kidding me?” It was like someone kicked me in the nuts.  There is always the need for interpretation.  Some people see things a certain way, but this was just sloppy at best.  What made it even harder to accept was the individual that I don’t want to name, was surprised and shocked that I was upset.  I was not used to that.  Usually I work with top-notch people who do phenomenal work like this book.  This is a joy to see! Thanks for making me look so good. I really enjoyed working on this and when we started, we were going to go in a completely different direction with what we wanted to do and this one image, done just for us for fun, is what we kept coming back to.  This one, (as opposed to the other meat grinder experience) was a real fun one to do.

Taylor:  Outside of comics there has been a lot of ad work like the Axe comic.  It seems like it would be a little out of the ordinary for them and you.  How did that come about?

Franchesco!:  It was a kind of unusual thing to work on, sure.  We know what comics are like and how they come about.  You draw them, print them and go to the store and buy them.  This project is available digitally and free.  So it makes me feel good to put a comic out there in front of people who might not see them otherwise and say “check this out!”  I love doing this with Axe, because it is everything that I love to do, but it allows me to be a kind of ambassador for comics.  It sounds like a big word, but I hate the fact that we can trip over comic books anymore, We all discovered comics because we saw them on the newsstand spinner racks and that does not happen anymore.  This project makes me feel good that people who would not normally set foot in a comic shop are going to get to see this, and hopefully say “hey look, comics books”.  The fact that the people I work with, love comics as well, and they are all doing everything they can to make it the best that it can be.

Taylor:  One of the questions in these kind of interviews is the influences one.  The answers are all fairly pat.  So I want to come at with a different sensibility.  If you art was the bastard love child of any two other artists, who would they be?

Franchesco!:  (laughing)  I love that question, but I think someone else would have to answer that because I’m too close to it, I don’t see it.  I always am wishing I could do better.  I am never quite happy with it.  I always wish I could draw better.  I love lots of other people’s work, but I am too close to what I do to look at it like that.

Taylor:  Are there any things that you have done in the past that you would like back to do again now that you have grown and know what you know?

Franchesco!:  The blank page is scary enough.  It is easy for everyone else to be an armchair quarterback, with this suggestion or that and you want to ask them “where were you five minutes ago with your ideas?”  There is a 101 decisions that you make with every line.  Is the hand going to be this way or that way?  Worm’s-eye view or bird’s-eye view?  Every artist brings their own personal take, from panel layouts to vantage points, so it is always changing for them too.  To answer that directly…every single piece that I have ever done.  I never stop wanting to make it better.

A lot of artists are the same way and that comes from making it their own.  The best ones, you don’t have to look for the signature.  You see it and you know exactly who drew that.  It’s a John Byrne or Art Adams.  That is what I love about comics, the eclectic nature of the medium, that allows so many singular voices to come through.

I have not reached the point yet where the job gets old.  One of the things that I am very fortunate about is that I haven’t lost that lovin feeling.  It doesn’t feel like work.

Taylor:  You have made a name for yourself with the “good girl” art.

American Dream by Franchesco!

Franchesco!:  I wish I could say that was by design.

Taylor:  What I would ask then is, do you ever think to yourself, “Man I wish I could just do a damn landscape!”?

Franchesco!:  I’ve done that and people don’t even recognize it.  I love to draw, so if I had to draw paperclips all day long they would be the most fun paper clips I have ever drawn.

Taylor:  Sexiest, boobiest paper clips ever!

Franchesco!:  Right, they would have all kinds of curves!  But it was not by design, I just enjoy drawing the way I draw, but when I draw women, people seem to sit up and take more notice of that.

Taylor:  You said you don’t sell your originals.  What is it that is so different about the commission sketches that they can be let go so much more readily?

Franchesco!:  That is because I know from the beginning that this is not going to be for me.  Right from the beginning, before I even put pencil to paper that it is not for me.  That is the only way that I can make the distinction and cut the umbilical cord, because it was not there to begin with.

I love that I am very fortunate that I can do what I love to do for a living.  When I first got in, it was hard.  I didn’t know that I was not ready.  It was like learning every step of the way.  Portfolio review after portfolio review, and editors would say things that I shouldn’t do, but that were still evident in the books they were publishing.  It was a perspective thing.  They were looking at things differently and had a set of skills that they were looking for.  I had a lot of puzzle pieces that were missing.  I’m still trying to figure them out sometimes!

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My Day at C2E2 part three

OK, this is the last of the posts for the C2E2 2011.  It was a fabulous con and I’m still buzzing slightly.  I have gone over most of the people and costumes, now I will touch briefly on the stuff I brought back.

There were lots of “events” at the show.  None of which were of any interest to me.  Virtually all of them are things that can be seen on-line and I have seen most of them already since the show.  What interests me is the people and sights and of course, the stuff!  I have become big on the con sketchbooks.  They are not really all that collectible as anyone that wants them, has them.  There are a couple of older ones that are harder to find, but value is not the goal.  I like the glimpses into the process for some of the artists and just to have more of the material of some of the others.

I will start with someone I was not looking for.  I stumbled across the artist Franchesco! while looking for someone else in the Artist’s Alley.  He was friendly and outgoing, and really liked talking about his process.  That is a difficult thing for some artists to do.  They don’t discuss what they do, they just want the end product to speak for itself.  Franchesco! is a little different.  As I understand it, he is reluctant to sell most of his work, so anything you get is done as specific commissions.  I was so impressed by the work I saw at his table and so enjoyed talking to him I made sure to pick up his con sketchbook without seeing anything other than this amazing cover…

Scarlet Witch by Franchesco! from the cover to The Art of Franchesco! 2




This full color book is fantastic and I think what struck me about his work is the similarity to an old favorite of mine, Rick Leonardi.  They have a very similar stylistic approach and much of the end result has the same feel.  There is a very elaborate design to even the simplest pieces which creates a huge amount of energy in each drawing.  His pencils are so tight and detailed that there would be little need for inks at all.  We discussed that for a bit.  His is a style and technique that, once inked, causes a fair deal of detail to be lost in fact.  The inadequacies of most printing processes save those of higher end art portfolios and prints, make it necessary to simplify and lose a lot of the detail.  Which is a shame as his work at the pencil stage is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  In person it is even more remarkable.




This is not the best example in the world to illustrate my point, but it will serve for this format.  Also, these two pieces are in the sketchbook in question.


Pencils only.

Full inks and color.












Much of what he does at the pencil stage is obviously intended to later be replaced by color, but to be honest I have always been of the opinion that color is overrated.  While often needed to convey certain things, it can just as easily cover subtlety and a delicate beauty that only exists at the pencil stage.

Another artist I was looking forward to see this year, I had seen last year for the first time.  Stephane Roux is relatively new to the industry, but has quickly established himself as a great and very fun cover artist.  I picked up this year’s book as well as an older one from 2008.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it and discovered an original sketch on the inside front cover!

Scarlet Witch

Next on my list was Terry Moore of Strangers in Paradise, Echo and the soon to be published How to Draw Women and Rachel Rising.  He is one that I saw last year and at that time he seemed a bit out of sorts.  No foul really, it happens.  So this year I made sure to be as upbeat and friendly as I could.  It was not needed as he seemed very relaxed this year and very excited to discuss the two new projects.  His enthusiasm got me even more interested than I had been.  He signed a couple of trades that I had brought with me and the 2010 sketchbook too.  It has the neat wraparound cover with the characters from SiP, Echo etc.  This book like most, is B&W.



Terry Moore 2010 sketchbook cover

Another find that I had not expected was Lisa Lubera, a local artist from the Chicago area whose con sketchbook is light and fun.  Her color book is much nicer than some of the less known artists at these shows.  There is a difference between spending time and spending money on a project.  She did not spend piles of money but the effort put into this book to make it look good is evident on every page.  Here is the cover…

Fun stuff!

Jill Thompson had a book this year, so I was excited to see how nice a package she put together.  Full color was a must given that her style is mostly watercolors for these sketches.

Another one I had been wanting was from my friend Kurt Wood.  I grabbed all three he had available and he did a free sketch in the space set aside on the cover of the 2009 book.  I said I wanted Power Girl, or more specifically PG’s you-know-whats.  These two books are below.  I’m all about contrast.

There was also this year’s Adam Hughes book.  I must confess to not liking it as much as last year’s.  Sorry Adam.  I still love you.  His book too is B&W and features con sketches from the previous year’s con season.  They are usually fully rendered and very nice and the Playboy parody cover is a nice touch.

We “discovered” another really fun artist this year.  Serena Guerra’s books (we grabbed the 2010 & 2011 books ) are an oddity.  They are spiral bound at the top instead of stapled at the center or glued.  She also has a blank page in the back for sketches.  The wife requested Death in hers and I asked for Harley Quinn in mine.  She did both quite nicely.  As they are pencil sketches, they will not show up here all that well so here are the covers…

There were lots of art prints to be bought this year as well.  Unfortunately they are too large to scan here easily.  So there.

The last of the sketchbooks I grabbed were from a pair of guys sitting next to each other in the alley.  Bald Guy Studios is the name of one (I’m sorry Bald Guy, I forgot your name.  But people can find you at http://www.baldguystudios.com/BALD_GUY_STUDIOS/HOME.html ) and the other is Chad Spilker.  Both are true pin-up style art with the emphasis on classic cheesecake.  Unlike another favorite of mine, Dave Stevens, these guys are a bit more sexually charged.  I don’t normally go quite this far into the erotica, but they are both talented and have a real sense of fun in their work, particularly Spilker.  These are not the kind of art that everyone can enjoy.  Some of it is very racy and some just one step shy of pornography.  On balance, they are fun and sexy and the very few that I personally think step over my personal line, are still quite nice, even beautiful.  They lack the grace and gentle poise of the classics like Gil Elvgren or Alberto Vargas, and even at times the stylistic choices that make Stevens or Hughes stand out among the piles of other cheesecake artists out there, but there is no denying that these guys have something.  An unidentifiable quality that makes them fun and alluring.  These are large, glue bound books in B&W and were a very good price for what you get.

Well, it's the law. Says so right here!

That one is from Bald Guy, these last two are from Spilker.  One is the cover and the other from inside the book.  I have endeavored to find one that is a good example of the style he employs for these drawings without showing too much as some are pretty racy.

Size matters in this very thick book. Really, it's a big book!
















Well, that is my coverage of C2E2, or at least my thoughts etc on my day there.  As I review these posts, I notice about 5000 words between the three of them!  Wow.  Just wow.

I have a few books still left from my last trip to my LCS so the I will get back on the horse and do the reviews for them.  Hope you will join me for them…

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My Day at C2E2 part two

Let’s see now, where was I?  Oh yes, left of with Skeletor.

I will try not to be quite so wordy but I had a great time in even just the one day, so I’m feeling a little bubbly.

One of the things that the wife and I were particularly looking forward to was the chance to meet Danielle Corsetto, creator of the webcomic Girls with Slingshots.  We were a little scared when we failed to find her booth right off, and wandered about for a bit looking for them.  Despair soon started to fall as we still failed to find her.  For those not in the know, GWS is a spectacularly funny webcomic she and I discovered a few weeks ago when we were looking through the C2E2 guest list.  I had been hoping mt favorites would be there again this year (Wondermark and Questionable Content–links on the home page) and finding that they were not, was looking for other things that might be fun.  Faye, that’s the wife as a reminder, saw the strip first and quickly got me into it as well.  The adventures of Hazel, Jaimie McPedro (the talking cactus!) and the legion of odd kitties they have has been one of the most fun strips I have ever read.  Started in 2004, the strip has been going strong ever since and has been Danielle’s full-time gig for quite some time.  As things were really looking bleak, we saw the booth.  There was nobody in the way at that moment and we pounced!  She was an absolute delight to speak to.  We each got McPedro plushies, and she did up word balloons to go with them.  Since we are both dirty minded, we asked for something dirty in the balloons and she happily obliged.  The less dirty of the 2 is below…

The drunken hero of our story...

She was a blast.  I also got the kitties poster which she added a ghost kitty sketch to, and a Special K mouse pad which she drew on as well.  Then she posed for a picture holding one of our McPedros with another in the foreground.

We all have photos like this in our past.

The big mission for Faye had been completed, and to be honest, meeting the creator of something I am currently very into was a lot of fun.  Most of what I do at these cons is talk to the older creators that were influencing my more formative years, so to have something current be as much fun as GWS is made this all the more special.

Then we moved on and found one of the collectibles booths that specialized in the more rare and, to be fair, pricey stuff.  I was not going to be able to pay the kind of money being asked for this beautifully crafted shield, but the guy selling it was more than willing to let me get a picture with it if we went over to the booth next door and donated $5 to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Awareness folks that were there.  With the donation happily made I got my hero moment.

Not quite the Cap I remember

This thing was magnificent, and if I had $450 to spend on something that would sit on a shelf  (except for those times when the wife is out and I can stalk bravely around the house with it on my arm) I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

No comic and sci-fi convention would be complete without a little Doctor Who stuff, and in the booth that featured Mr. McNiece, mentioned last time was a great “Ironside” Dalek from the episode Victory of the Daleks.  I was surprised at how good it looked and didn’t think to ask if it was something that the store running the booth had created or if it was a genuine prop, or just a great replica.

Then we went back into Artist’s Alley for a while.  I have found that I need to do the alley in multiple trips through.  Partly due to the lines that may cause me to shy away until later, but also because I get a little overwhelmed.  You can very quickly become blinded to what you see and not remember any of it.  I try hard to hit a specific list of creators that I want to be sure not to miss.  I like to get them done and be sure I don’t miss the things I specifically came for.  I like the con sketchbooks a lot and I usually bring one item for each of them to be signed.  This year Gail Simone, Adam Hughes, Kevin MaGuire, Jill Thompson, Terry Moore and Dexter Vines were just a few of them and I managed to catch all of the above and most of the others on my list.  I will go into more about the people and the art next time.  Here I want to continue with the fans and the fun sites that you always see at these cons.

Among the many amazing costumes this year were a few more mid level characters represented.  Every cons sees lots of Wonder Womans and Batmen, not that many get graced as effectively by Booster Gold and Arnold J Rimmer from Red Dwarf!  As these two shots below show, you can do basic costumes well and if you really want to much more difficult costumes well if you are willing to make the effort to do it right.


The greatest hero you've never heard of.

There was lots of Marvel costumes too.  Some of the best were the Age of Apokolips versions of Wolverine, Rouge and Magneto.  At I think that’s where they are from since I didn’t read that series.

So what do you think? Taco Bell or Fishy Joe's?

I will wrap up this post with the last few of the very best pictures my wife Faye so ably took.  The next post will cover the stuff I brought back with me.  Well some of the stuff.  It is very easy to spend yourself into the poorhouse at these things just buying only the coolest stuff and leaving the just kind of cool for someone else.

The captions for theses following pictures say it all really…

A Star Wars family

No con is complete without Slave Leia

Good costumes for the MOS and the DK

The Dread Pirate Wesley

And no group of con pictures would be complete without hearing from the lovely ladies.  With these, I will leave you till next time when I wrap up my coverage of C2E2 2.0!

"I'm sorry Messrs Allen and West, DC Comics will not longer be needing your services."

An Adam Hughes drawing come to life!

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My day at C2E2! Part one

OK, the first thing I have to say is, next year I will go for 2 days or maybe the whole 3 day extravaganza!  Last year I didn’t feel rushed, this year I just didn’t manage to see anything like all I wanted to do.  Next year at least 2 days.  The reason I did just the one day this year and last was, I am not a crowds person.  Friday is the least crowded, so there.  Next year I will just have to deal.

The littlest Amazon Princess!

This little powerhouse was the first and one of the best costumes we saw all day.  I should mention at this point my lovely wife Faye took all of these pictures, and they all look great!

It turned out to be a very nice sunny and more or less warm day for mid March.  We took the train into Chicago and walked a few blocks to the Artists Cafe on Michigan Avenue downtown.  After a very good breakfast, we hopped the bus and got to the con way earlier that I had intended.  I like getting there early just not 2 and a half hours early.  But that put us only 30 or 40 people from the front of the line, so that’s OK then.  As always at these kind of things, you can find people you have never met and have a perfectly nice chat while waiting in line.  Never mind they are total strangers and you will never see them again, even at the con.  These are people who are “one of us” so it’s OK.  I did actually see a few of my line buddies through the day.

A stylin Black Adam, Wolverine and Oh my GOD!!

More of the people who give these conventions their flavor.  This was the scene just outside the con floor while people were beginning to mill around.  I didn’t see all that many good costumes on Friday last year.  This year they were everywhere!  Many were very elaborate and most were really very good.  there were a few stupid looking one and there is alway some fool that puts no real thought into it at all and just wears some crappy store-bought plastic mask with a string holding it on.  But for the most part, this was a great and creative bunch.

Then, as the 501st div of Star Wars guys ushered the waiting line of fans in, I failed completely to be a grown up and be nice as the pictures below demonstrate.  In the first one I can just be seen sneaking up on the Stormtrooper, next all you see is me being a bit of a weenie and showing that even an adult can act like a doofus.

Yes, I am an immature nerd!

Then the con silliness and fun really got going with me meeting a giant Uglydoll…

This is the kind of fun that I largely missed out on last year but that I caught this time around.  While seeing more of the color and fun this year was great, it is absolutely why I didn’t manage to get as much of the other stuff into my experience this year.  Last year I was all about Artist’s Alley, and to be fair, that was most of the goal this year.  This year what changed was having the wife along.  I invited her because last year was SO much fun and there were so many things that I knew she would enjoy.  I wanted to even things out a bit this year since I knew deep down that the alley would not be as interesting to her as she really has only a cursory knowledge of comics and the people who make them.  That is why it will be a 2 day adventure next year.  This day was just too rushed.  Next is a friend of ours, Kurt Wood.  He is also my dealer as he provides me

with a large dose of comics at the shop he runs in Milwaukee.  ( see the link for Collector’s Edge Comics on the sidebar of the homepage)  He is also a great and really fun artist.  His stuff can be seen at his homepage on the links section.

I'm not ugly, you ugly!

Then it was deeper into the alley.  Like every year, I have a list of ones that I want to make a point to get to.  I usually manage 3/4 of that list or a little better.  Longer than expected lines, or a change in their schedules causes me to miss some each time, so that is just the way these things are.

One of my favorites for the last 20 years or so is the wonderful Jill Thompson.  Her art has Graced the pages of Sandman (including the fabulous Lil’ Endless Storybook), Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing and

I have the power!

her creator owned Scary Godmother series of books.  I have been to see her 3 or 4 times now and have managed to get stuff signed and have enjoyable and informative chats every time.  She is always very generous with the fans.

Jill Thompson and I.

Meeting different artists and writers has always been fun for me.  It is always exciting to tell people that they improve my day with their life’s work and they almost always are appreciative and grateful that you like what they do.  They sit at these uncomfortable tables for hours and they rarely lose the ability to make each fan feel like they and they alone are the reason they do what they do.  Jill is no exception.

I didn’t get pictures of everyone I saw.  In some cases it was because Cameraperson Faye was distracted elsewhere, but more often it was because I am such a helpless fanboy that I forget.

One I didn’t forget was Stephane Roux.  He is one of the best cover artists in the industry today, most know for the great covers he is doing for DC books like Zatanna.

Stephane Roux

He and Jill were both on their second year at C2E2, and seeing them, like many of the others that returned for the second year of this con gives me great hope for the continued existence of this new show.  Stephane is always eager to meet the fans.  Not every artist is as comfortable as he is.  It takes real skill as an artist and real people skills to work on a commission sketch at the same time you are speaking to and making eye contact with the fans.  Many very experienced and talented people just have never mastered it.  Doug Mahnke is another artist we saw this year.  As talented as they come, he is most recently known for his run on the Green Lantern books.  While Doug is a really fine artist, he is lees comfortable with the fans, I think.  Another favorite of mine that has to specifically and deliberately split things up between time for drawing for fans and time for meeting with them more directly is Adam Hughes.  There are few that seem to attend as many cons as he and his wonderful wife and equally talented artist Alison Sohn.  But it is clear that he wants to work on the commissioned sketches and set aside specific and limited times to sign and devote direct attention to the fans.  To be fair, even the superstar artists like Adam make a sizeable portion of their income from the commissions done at these shows, and while there are fans that begrudge them the lack of attention paid to fans at times, the shows can a big deal to these guys.  Adam does not ignore people when they come up while he is drawing, far from it as he can be very talkative, but when he is working Alison tends to be the one you spend time talking to.  She is a very fun and witty person and she believes passionately in what she says.  this year she was pushing hard to get donations for Japanese earthquake relief.  When the signing times that Adam has set aside arrive, he pays great attention to the fans and clearly enjoys the time spent getting to know them.

Me and Christian Alamy

Next up we take a moment to mention 2 real fun moments for me.

Christian Alamy is another artist on the Green Lantern books with Doug Mahnke.  They were seated next to each other in the alley.  I had a hardcover for him and Doug to sign and then broke out something that he clearly had not seen in a long time, a copy of The Endless Gallery.  That is the floppy open on the table in front of him here.  He was so excited to see it, he interrupted Doug in his meet and greet next to him to show him the page he had done years ago in this pin-up book.  He thanked me very warmly and was a real treat.  The next one was later in the day outside of the alley in the exhibitor’s section.  Specifically at the Dr Who Store booth.  A guest in the booth was the grand and glorious Ian McNiece.  He was there as he made appearances in the 5th series of Doctor Who as Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Signing and posing for pictures with the fans, he is clearly a fine and likeable man.  While I am a Doctor Who fan of several decades, I was not here to talk about his excellent turn as the PM.  No, I wanted to thank him for one of my favorite films, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but came down a Mountain.  When I mentioned that and another old film of his, A Life Less Ordinary, he leaned back in his chair and howled with laughter and clapped his hands.  He loved being reminded of something that he had done so long ago and we chatted about the films briefly.  As far as I am concerned, both films are better for his presence and The Englishman is funny almost entire because of his performance.  He is fabulous as the much stressed elder surveyor to Hugh Grant’s leading-man character.  It was a highlight of the con for me to so delight 2 people with examples of the far-reaching and lasting effects of their work.

I will end this first part of my experiences at C2E2 2011 with another silly and fun example of the costumes the fans were wearing.  Even the Mighty Skeletor wants to get autographs of his favorite artists!

Taking a break from getting his ass kicked by He Man.

I hope you enjoyed this first look at C2E2 2.0 in Chicago.  I will be back with what will likely be 2 more posts about the day in the next few days as I continue to marshal my thoughts about the day.  See you soon.

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C2E2 2.0 is heeeeerrrrreeeeee!!

It is that time of year.  The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend.

Yes, i will post pictures and write about what I see.  I will stay away from the “news” since that will be covered elsewhere.

Leaving bright and early tomorrow and will probably not sleep tonight.  Post or two to follow this weekend!

Stand  by…

To keep things interesting while you wait, a lovely artsy fartsy thing (or two) in the comic book mode.

First, the Joker by Mike DeoDato Jr.

And below, an Adam Hughes con sketch of the original Green Lantern and the lovely Batgirl by Alex Ross

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