Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sketch Dumping on Comic Con in San Diego

Work Day Sketch Dump: I Do The Weird Stuff

I was in a sketching mood today. One of the things I took away from ComicCon had nothing to do with the other artists at Con, the panelists, or anything else. On the last day of Con I was walking through artist's alley and chatting with the exhibitors there when I stepped up to a booth where an artist was drawing something for a boy who could not have been more than ten or eleven years old. The artist had the boy's sketchbook open in front of her and she was drawing one of his creations. His sketchbook caught my eye. There was no theme, no structure, no single character drawn over and over again. He was just drawing whatever was in his head and it looked so...free. So when I picked up my pencil to doodle at work today I thought of him, and I thought, "fuck it, just draw, don't try to make something that looks amazing, just do what feels good."

When I look at that last sentence and then at these drawings there's only one rational conclusion. I need serious professional help.

Comic Con Day 1 (Continued)

The Witty Women of Steampunk was really good panel where the creators talked about their work and the role of women both in steampunk, and in fiction in general. They broadened the discussion to talk about what steampunk is in general, and personalized it by discussing what it means to them. My notes form the panel are fairly incomplete but the moderator of the panel was nice enough to put the panelist's websites on the screen.

After the panel it was more or less lunch time. None of the four of us really know San Diego at all, so we ended up in a parking lot where Fox had set up some kind of big event for Axe Cop, their new animated series. Free pizza was part of the event, and we were both hungry and sleep deprived so we decided that not paying for lunch was a good idea. The lesson of today's story is this, don't make decisions about meals when you are hungry and sleep deprived.

After lunch we parted ways again. Some of us had panels to go to and some of us were going to the floor.

Not sure how I forgot to mention it, but during my wandering around the convention floor I wandered across a booth where a sculptor was selling his wares. In the collection of scantily clad gorgeous heroines I found this good looking fella. Friends and readers of this blog will know I'm a huge fan of the Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen. I saw this, found it it was sixty dollars, struggled with myself for basically three seconds, and bought it. Money well spent. I know it's a sixty dollar statue of a comic book character that's nowhere near as well known as Spider-Man but it's money. well. spent.

The sculptor signed it for me as well. There was a rumor circulating around the booth that Erik Larsen was at the con and might sign it if I could find him, but I was never able to prove that for a fact. 

Back to "current events"

The next panel on my list was "Advanced Digital Inking Techniques" with Brian Haberlin, co-creator of Witchblade and the artist and co-writer of Anomaly. After a lengthy plug for Anomaly, which is the longest graphic novel ever produced, Haberlin got down to dropping the digital inking knowledge. 

I've started working with digital illustration tools which is why I attended the panel in the first place, so I was looking forward to getting front loaded with some serious techniques. Not wanting to fuck around I sat in the front row. No hiding in the shadows like a timid shrinking violet for this eskimo. Haberlin set up, picked up his stylus, looked at the panel attendees leaning forward in their folding chairs, yearning for knowledge on brushes and opacity controls and said, "we're going to focus on Photoshop today." Fuck. 

I use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, not Photoshop, so this was going to have almost nothing to do with me...and I was sitting in the front row. What followed was basically a painfully dull look into how great Photoshop is. To be fair the content was great, if you use photoshop, it was only particularly dull for me because I don't use Adobe's program, and I can't afford to buy it. With that said, Haberlin is a good instructor and I'm going to keep an eye on his site www.digitalarttutorials.com. He mentioned there might be tutorials coming for other illustration software packages like Manga Studio and Sketchbook Pro. 

From there I headed back to the floor where I picked up a copy of Battlepug and the Lone Wolf and Cub omnibus edition, volume 1. Lone Wolf and Cub is a very famous samurai epic about an assassin and his son that may have been one of the inspirations for The Road to Perdition. The other book, Battlepug, is a hardcover collected edition of the webcomic by the same name. It looked like a fun read, and the book was beautiful so I picked it up, which would not be the last of the impulse purchases for the weekend. 

Around this time I met up with Lendell Prime and we made our way over to artist's alley. While we were over there we met Philip Moy who was selling original panels from his run on G.I. Joe and Samurai Jack. Lendell Prime's face broke into the widest smile I've ever seen on him when he found the G.I. Joe original artwork. I'm pretty sure that smile stayed for the rest of the convention.

While we were wandering artist's alley Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl called Lendell Prime and asked if we were ready for dinner. By then we were starving so Lendell Prime and I met them and we headed into the Gaslight District to find a place to eat. We finally settled on a Mexican Seafood restaurant. 

Something you may not know about guys when they hit their thirties, some foods you've been able to eat your whole life suddenly don't break down all that well. This means you get to be more prone to gas. Mexican food is one of those things that's a no no unless you live alone, or you've been married so long you've given up keeping track of who's farted on who. When we sat down I raised this indelicate subject as a gently as I could.

"Let's agree here and now," I said, "that since we're having vaguely Mexican-ish food for dinner (it was really more of a Mexican fusion type place), there's no judgement tonight. Even if one bed sounds like heavy artillery is shelling the city; no judgement." They laughed, but I don't know for sure if there was any judgement. I'll get to that in a minute.

After dinner we wandered the Gaslight District and ended up in the Chuck Jones Art Museum. I want to go back to San Diego for this alone. The walls were covered with the most amazing original paintings by Chuck Jones and others. The collection included iconic moments from some of the most memorable of Looney Tunes animated shorts. I looked at them and was transported back to the first time I saw many of his cartoons on Saturday morning television while staying with my grandparents at their Kansas farmhouse. I wandered the smallish space soaking in the artwork and reliving moments I thought I'd long forgotten when it occurred to me that my friends were waiting outside. With no small amount of reluctance I made my way out to the street and we headed back to the convention center.

The next thing on our list was the Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog sing-along. Tea Leaf, Celluloid, and I were really excited about this so we made our way to the huge conference room that had been set up for it. We arrived early, and there wasn't a line yet, so we were able to go right in, where we caught the last half of the Spike and Mike Twisted Animation panel. 

By this time all of us were beyond tired. Tea Leaf and Celluloid both looked as if they might happily sleep through the sing along, and Lendell Prime was looking grimly determined that he would not fall asleep until he was horizontal on something resembling a bed. I made the call and suggested that we didn't have to stay if everyone was getting really tired. There was a short debate, and just as everything was getting ready to kick off the sing-along we decided to head to the hotel. 

That first trip to the hotel was one of the most difficult drives of the whole weekend. It involved navigating surface streets in downtown San Diego so we didn't have to go through the Gaslight District, driving four different highways, then finding somewhere to make a u-turn when we found our exit in El Cajon. 

Exhausted, sore, and happier than any of us have probably been in months we checked into the hotel, got to our room, showers happened, and beds were staked out. I excused myself to sneak in a phone call with Mildly Sensational. By the time I got back the lights were out and all three were already sound asleep. I made my way to my side of one of the two queen sized beds (I was sharing with Lendell Prime), climbed under the covers and...did not go to sleep. 

Not right away, at any rate. Some asshole's car alarm went off about every five or ten minutes for an hour before I finally managed to drift off. When I did, it was the soundest, best night's sleep I'd had in a long time. I'd let go of being a square peg in a round hole for a day, and it had done me good. 

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