Sunday, June 29, 2014

Random Thoughts on New Layouts in the Dad Zone

Random Thoughts

You live, you learn, and you learn to live with regret.

What? Not all of my random thoughts are going to be happy and/or funny.

Tales from the Dad Zone

Since my son was born I've learned a few new things, like how much I can really get done on less than six hours of sleep a night (hint, it's not as much as you would like to think). I've also learned that changing a boy's diaper has an entirely set of do's and don'ts, like don't lean to far over your son while changing him and do keep your mouth closed at all times. Most of all I've learned one seemingly strange, random piece of information. It's this: boys stink. Here I'm  not talking metaphorically like, "raising a boy is hard tiring work that should be done by...someone else." No, I mean the literal olfactory sense of the word, "stink," as in "smells bad." Let the boy go two or three days between baths and you can smell him coming. My son has this tangy acidic funk. The first time I noticed it was in the kitchen, and I thought I'd accidentally got some balsamic vinegar on him after fixing dinner. Turns out it wasn't vinegar. When  my son gets funky he smells like salad dressing.

New Layout

I'm experimenting with a new layout, and I'll probably be tweaking it as I go. I'm not wild about displaying the full text of every post, but this layout does give me some flexibility that Blogger's dynamic themes do not. Most importantly it lets me add custom items to the sidebar. Like the "Donate" button, which I'll explain a little more, below. Until I settle on a look and configuration I like there will probably several changes over the next few days, weeks. Bear with me. It's my hope that it's leading to bigger and better things.

That Money Thing

A notable new addition to the sidebar is a "Donate" button. I'm a thirty-something lefty so I believe in net neutrality, and I believe that content on the Internet should be free, and I will do my best to continue to provide free comics, commentary, doodles, and...don't-les (for lack of a better non-word). What I've found over the lat couple of years of doing this is there are soft-costs associated with providing "free" content (with what Internet Service Providers charge it's more like paying for a monthly pass). Some of those costs include art supplies, getting a better website for Geek Speak, upgrading my digital capabilities, buying and learning new software, getting a better and/or second monitor, and (yes) my time. Further down the road map is merchandise like shirts, mugs, books, and prints, but a donate button is a step I can take right now. If you've enjoyed Geek Speak, sketch dumps, and my commentary, please think about pitching in the price of your favorite coffee drink at Starbucks.

Sketch Dump

I'm not going to leave this post there like some kind of public broadcasting pledge drive (but seriously, I support public broadcasting). Here are more doodles from my notebooks at work. 

This handsome fellow is me taking a stab at drawing the character of "Gluttony" from Full Metal Alchemist. I don't watch a lot of anime, but I got hooked into this and Attack on Titan as a way to pass the time while feeding my son. In Full Metal Alchemist I really love the idea of equivalent exchange; the idea that you can't get something without giving something in return. The concept of this balancing force is a huge theme in the story of the Elric brothers. 

One of my projects required daily email notifications to go out to a list of users. To spice up the daily email to my co-worker on the communications team I started adding some of my drawings. After a while the text of the email messages started to reflect the theme of the drawing. 

Something that will probably become a recurring theme in my sketch dumps is "drawings I can't freely share around the office." This is one. It's not really "NSFW," but she is showing a lot of leg and some side-boob, which is...less than professional. In a way I couldn't help myself. I love the classic femme fatale in her elegant gown, perfect hair, holding a gun, and killing you slowly with a smoldering look. 

Nothing much to say about this other than the obvious; I took a stab at drawing Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes. 

Started this out going for the titular character of the amazing Battle Angel Alita manga series. I didn't quite get there, but ended up liking the result nonetheless. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Massive Sketch Dumping on the New Job

Work-a-Doodle: Sketch Dumping on the New Job

Since my son was born and I changed jobs I'm not posting near as much as I used to, or as much as I would like. That does not mean that my pencil has been idle. I've had my favorite tool gripped firmly in my right hand and giving it a workout and a regular basis. I know what that sounds like, try to keep in mind I'm talking about a pencil here...which somehow does not make that other sentence sound better. Moving on. 

My new job doesn't give me much opportunity to sketch in my notebooks, and I've stopped sketching during meetings almost altogether. This is due in no small part to the fact that most meetings I'm in these days are ones I've scheduled, and dividing my attention between what's being said and a doodle of me trimming my nose hairs with a weed-whacker is no longer an option. What sketching I do manage is usually during lunch breaks, in the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the day, or when I can squeeze in a ten-minute breather. It doesn't sound like much, but drawing a line here and a line there really adds up over time. 

Earthworm Jim
I loved this game when it came out. At some point early into my new job I got the image of Earthworm Jim stuck in my head. It probably started when I doodled the space-faring, power-suit wearing, nightcrawling adventurer while waiting at the doctor's office for my name to be called. That started an Earthworm Jim drawing binge that lasted a couple of weeks. To be honest, I've always liked the look of this character, but until recently always struggled with drawing him. 


Classic Comic Strip Reference for the Win!

This was one of the first doodles in my notebook at my new job, and the first that I posted to the Art and Design group on the company's Yammer site. One of my remote co-workers got the Calvin and Hobbes reference in under ten seconds.

Super Heroes Doing Super Normal Things

It might just be me, but I find the idea of superheroes doing normal things kind of amusing. I just like to picture Captain America sitting in the commissary eating a sandwich. For some reason I think of him as a chicken salad sandwich kind of guy. 

There's Always Time for Dumb Office Jokes!

At work I can plan and track my projects in pretty much whichever way works best for me. All of the project managers on my team have the same flexibility. With that said, I think some project planning methods are more effective than others. 

Skin...Gone...Must have...Donut!

It's probably just me, but I look at this and I think, "now there is a skinless man in unspeakable agony. I bet he could really use a donut." 

My Unscheduled Manager Meeting Face

This is pretty much what I'm doing on the inside whenever my manager sends me a message in Lync that says "do you have a minute? Please come to my office." She's never given me a reason to be filled with dread at the idea of her summons, bit it's there every time, nonetheless.

Princess Anna

From that animated film about ice and princesses with that song that my daughter seems compelled to sing at all hours of the day and night (sigh). I drew this character because everybody is drawing Elsa, even when they're not being exactly complimentary. Drawing Anna seemed like a good way to stand out. 

You Can't be a Winner Every Day

You can't knock things out of the park every day, and not every day at a new job is going to be a good one. I think that's that kind of day I was having when I drew this. 

I Give Myself Very Good Advice...

...but I very seldom follow it. I'm still struggling with this. I was conditioned for years to hit "reply" or "reply all" as soon as I received an email; to give that immediate feedback. As it turns out that's a really, deeply terrible way to work. It sets an expectation with people that you're going to respond right away to whatever they send you, you might be answering a question that was really meant for someone else on the email, and most importantly, responding right away doesn't give you time to really think about the answer

More Dumb Office Humor

One of the managers went to an event called "Mobile Jam." This is what popped into my head when he said it. I'm not proud of it. 

The Albatross

Someone must have shot the IT equivalent of an albatross, because one of my projects really was not going anywhere for a long time. The name of the project used to be in the sign over "my" head in this picture. I removed it before posting this to avoid any awkwardness at work, but I think this might become my standard image for projects that are stuck, or fail to launch for reasons outside of my control. 

Amelia: Student Witch

A couple of my original characters. Neither of them is exactly what they appear at first glance.

There's a Sad Vader in All of Us

Based at least in part on that "Vader Kid" Super Bowl commercial from a few years ago. 

Emo Guy: Disaffected Superhero 

He's super morose and draws his power from a magic electronic cigarette.

Says it All

To avoid any possible confusion, that is a suit jacket that is flying open and that's a blouse underneath. She's not topless under the jacket. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Geek Speaking of Three Year Old Intuition

Geek Speak: Hell hath no fury!

Like a teenage witch hit with a spitball apparently. This started with a drawing of a little witch sitting in one of those awful desks that kids get wedged into from elementary through middle school. I got the idea after I'd already drawn Amelia at her desk in one of my smaller sketchbooks, so it was a challenge to try to draw her again. Not long after I started working on this comic strip these characters started to take on a life of their own. I don't want to say anything definite, yet, but look for there to be more of Amelia. 

This was originally going to be a final post on WonderCon, but after so much time everything that took place at the convention in April has kind of (or completely) lost its immediacy, if not its relevancy. That and the finishing work on this strip damn near killed me. I don't work with color too terribly often, so it's pretty rough, but I wanted her magic to be something...well...magical. 

Tales from the Dad Zone

It is not my intention to turn this into a daddy blog. There are other, better blogs out there in the world for that. Despite my best intentions, I don't think I'll be able to help it creeping in. Fatherhood is such a huge part of my life, and occupies so much of my thinking right now. Plus, were it not for one of my little ones, the strip above might not have happened.

I was feeling pretty bleak about the prospects of my being able to continue with any creative endeavor, let alone the strip. There are so many demands on my time between the job and the family that I just had started to feel like it would be best to put away the pencils, the pens, and the sketchbooks and focus on providing as much security for my family as is within my power. These thoughts and darker swirled around in the space between my ears that I charitably call my mind as I was doing dishes and I progressively felt more like shit. 

In the midst of my preparations for artistic seppuku I heard my daughter walk up behind me, which is not altogether unusual when I'm in the kitchen. 

"Daddy," she said, "Daddy this yours. This yours, daddy." 

I turned around my daughter was looking at me very seriously and holding sketchbook. The very thing I had just been thinking about putting away and never touching again. 

"This yours daddy." 

I took it from her and thanked her. She said, "you're welcome" and then flitted off somewhere to do the important work that all three year old children know is the stuff that binds the universe together. 

She left me standing in the kitchen, holding my sketchbook, stunned by what had just happened. That day I sat down and started drawing new strips. By the end of the weekend I had completed the pencils for six new strips. I don't know if my daughter is magic, or that was some kind of amazing cosmic coincidence, but in her small way, whether she meant to or not, my daughter reminded me that I can never give up. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Conning of Wonder a Story in Pictures II

Conning More Wonder from Photos

It's now officially more than a month since the end of WonderCon and I'm still posting about it. While not exactly timely I hope it is at least a little enjoyable. The second and third days of WonderCon yielded many more opportunities to catch photos of people in gorgeously elaborate costumes, or just gorgeous people in'll see what I mean. I was also able to attend a few interesting panels, and more than a couple that were a complete waste of time. Overall I had an amazing weekend and walked away with a few one of a kind mementos. Here are some more of my photos.

Anyone who follows Doctor Who has "their doctor" for me and Mildly Sensational it's the fourth doctor. He's the one we remember from being kids and our parents let us watch Doctor Who for the first time. In both cases the show scared the dickens out of us with all of its monsters and crazy over the top action. These guys clearly like the ninth Doctor played by Chris Eccleston. That or they like leather jackets and buzz cuts. The best part of their cosplay was the Dalek. It was built around a dolly so they could wheel it around with them. 

If not the best Star Wars themed costume I saw that weekend, it was certainly the most badass. I heard some of my fellow geeks call this guy "dark Mandalorian" and he was getting a lot of attention from fanboys with cameras, though probably not as much as...

...this lady's hammer. Seriously. Look at the size of that thing. How does she lift it with such tiny arms? I bet swinging that thing causes her some serious back pain. She attracted a lot of attention for...obvious reasons. I know she wanted to move freely around the con because shortly after this picture was taken she told the clot that had formed around her, "I would like to keep moving now." I didn't see her after this so I can only assume that she must have gone back to her car or hotel room at some point to change into something less...conspicuous. Ok. I have to get this out of my system, "BEHOLD! IT IS THE LADY OF THE STORM HERSELF! THE MIGHTY THORINA THUNDERBOOBS!" There I said it. Moving on. 

Easily one of my favorite costumes of the weekend, if not my absolute favorite. This young lady's Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon was absolutely spot on, and it was fun getting this picture of her holding the axe out toward the camera. The pose and the attitude were perfect. I don't know if she was there for the masquerade or not. If so I hope she did pretty well.

He claws outward, grasping at relevancy. Saturday really did have some great costumes. His is the only Spawn costume I've seen out of three conventions, and it was pretty much flawless. The only way I can think of to make it more accurate would have been for him to pull of the mask and reveal that he's actually Michael Jai White.  

I spotted these three getting their photos taken by a couple of guys with gear that looked they were at the con as professional photographers for another blog or news site. I managed to sneak in and get a couple of pictures. After asking Astrid to hold her axe out toward the camera I had a lot of fun getting similar "action poses" from other cosplayers. It's fun to get pictures of their costumes, sure, but I think the effect is better if you can get them doing something active. 

No convention would be complete without t least one Wolverine. It seems like he's in just about every other title from the M branch of the big two, so I'm honestly a little surprised there weren't more. As good as this costume was there was one other guy there who was built like Thor, but was sporting the claws and weird haircut of everyone's favorite human blender with rage issues. His was the best Wolverine costume of the day, but this guy was a close second.

Saturday was the day I set aside to do shopping for friends and family. When I knew that WonderCon was coming up I reached out to some dear friends living in Boulder and asked if there was anything they wanted. They gave me a few ideas and I headed to the Con looking for the perfect gifts for my Colorado brother-from-another-mother and his family. In my search I stumbled across a booth that was selling a number of comic books with blank cardstock covers. These are becoming more popular as collectibles because they allow you to take them to a favorite artist and get them personalized with one-of-a-kind cover art. I picked up four. Three to go back to Colorado and one for myself. For my friends in Colorado I picked up Uncanny X-Men, Avengers, and Superman Unchained. For myself I picked up The Shadow. Below are the finished covers and links to the artist's websites.

Uncanny X-Men by Josh Figueroa

Avengers cover by Brianna Garcia 

A breath taking cover for Superman Unchained by Ruben Martinez

And a little something for me: The Shadow, cover by the only artist I know outside of WonderCon, the terrific Anthony Diecidue

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Conning of Wonder a Story in Pictures

Conning of Wonder in Photos

When it's almost a month past the event it's probably too late to tell a Con Story that will mean anything. For the record, it's not for a lack of wanting to post, or a lack of something to say. Even when I don't have something specific to write about I can always fill the space with paragraphs of gibberish like "Flerpy werpy derpy floop!" There are nights I get home from work when it feels like that's about all the mental juice I have, anyway. I digress. A picture is worth a thousand words so I thought I would share a few thousand words worth of photos from my weekend at Wonder Con.

Anaheim's convention center has a couple of really nice courtyard areas with fountains and palm trees. At one point in the afternoon I went out on one of the balconies to get some air and to call the family. While I did my best to decipher what my daughter was trying to tell me in the secret language of three-year-olds I took this picture looking out over the courtyard. It looks like there are a lot of people hanging out, waiting in line at the food trucks, and running between panels at the convention. This is not a lot of people. Take all the people pictured here and increase the density of the crowd by about fifty percent and you'll just about get to how crowded it gets at Comic Con.

Easily one of the best things about Wonder Con in Anaheim is the number of people in costume. Every one of my friends who attended this year commented on the number of cosplayers and the quality of the work put into their costumes. I saw these two as I was walking back in from having some lunch. Hers was the best Poison Ivy I saw the entire weekend. He was a pretty decent take on a male Harley Quinn. The best thing about this moment happened when I walked away. A couple of little boys, who could not have been older than seven or eight, were there wearing a Robin and a Spider-Man costume. Both little boys ran up to these two and asked to have their picture taken with them. Poison and Harley both lit up and posed for a series of pictures with the tiny superheroes. From where I was standing on the outside I couldn't tell who was enjoying it more.

I took this picture on Friday, then ran into him again on Sunday and had the chance to talk with him. It turns out he's in the service, and everything he's wearing and carrying here is the genuine article, including the rifle. It was rendered inoperable for the purposes of the convention. It's funny in a way that in a gathering of people dressed as their favorite fantasy heroes there is a real one walking around almost unnoticed.

Comic book conventions are hardly limited to comic books. The experience just would not be the same without the occasional TIE pilot waving a fist at you. I'm sure he's judging me from behind that mask.

Doctor Who is nearly as big a deal at the convention as Star Wars. She was dressed as "Sexy" the mind and soul of the TARDIS in the body of a woman from an episode of Doctor Who that was written by Neil Gaiman. 

It might look like there are only a couple of reasons why I took a photo of this costume, and there are. I recognized her as the bartender from "Poker Night at the Inventory 2," an indie game from Telltale Games, and if you know the game she nailed the costume.

These two were wearing what I think are the best costumes I saw all weekend. They are not any characters in particular, and the best description I can come up with to give them is "Steampunk Space Gunslingers." All of the pieces were either purchased or hand made.

There are more pictures from that weekend, but they'll have to wait until this tired ass dad has had some sleep.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Conning of Wonder 2014

Anaheim WonderCon, 2014

The weekend of the 18th through the 20th was an amazing, colorful, and inspirational time at the annual WonderCon comic book convention in Anaheim, California. there is a lot I would like to talk about, but for the sake of sanity and not dragging things out too long I'm going to try to condense things into two blog posts. In this post I'll talk about the highs and the few lows of each day, and I'll follow that up with a post featuring some of the photos of cosplayers I took during the convention.

That's what I meant to do, anyway. Oh well. I'll try to condense things a little more when I talk about Saturday and Sunday.

Leading up to WonderCon
In the days and weeks leading up to WonderCon I grew increasingly excited. When I attended in 2013, WonderCon changed my life. It was that WonderCon where, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt as though I were somewhere I belonged. I didn't have to pretend to be someone else to get approval, or behave in a certain way so that I could get a paycheck, I could just be. This year was about trying to recapture that feeling.

Friday, April 18th
One major difference between this year and last is I didn't have a six month old infant in the house and all the demands that go along with a baby. One of the joys of being the parent when one or more of your kids is still a baby is playing "sleep roulette." You never know when one of the young ones is going to wake up needing to be fed, or changed, or just because he decided it was play time. At 3:00 in the morning on the Friday of WonderCon my son decided it was a great time for that latter. He woke up and we did our usual thing. He got fed, and changed, and then I spent the next half hour trying to get him to go to sleep again. He was having none of it. He just grinned and sucked his fist in response to my bouncing, and pacing, and shushing. After half an hour of that I gave up and put him down on his play mat to squirm, and roll, and gnaw on things to his little heart's content. It wasn't until 4:30 that he finally started making the noises I associate with reaching "I'm tired now dammit!" and I was able to put him to bed. My night's sleep was completely shot. As a result instead of waking up early so I could be on the road no later than 7:30 or 8:00, I woke up at 8:00. As a thank you to my wife for letting me abandon her with the kids for three days (though I would be home in the evenings) I made breakfast that morning, so I didn't ultimately get on the road to Anaheim until after 9:00. If you ever been to a convention you know this basically means you're dooming yourself to waiting in an everlasting line just to get in the door.

The drive to Anaheim was mercifully easy. Part of that had to be that it was Friday at a time when most people are already at work for the day. Part of it had to be that it was also Good Friday. Once I arrived, the real fun started. The convention center had everyone arranged into four queues to get into the parking structure. The lines moved one car at a time as the car at the front paid at the booth and were allowed to go forward. That was the first line I had to get through. I flirted outrageously with the nice old lady in the parking attendant booth, paid for parking, and found a spot, but didn't pay much attention to where it was...which becomes important not much later.

After parking I made my way outside. Sure enough, the line to get in was the length of the convention center, wrapped down the block, and doubled back on itself. The line was for everyone. Professional guests like me and paid ticket holders alike. So I settled in for the "hurry up and wait" phase of my day. Keep in mind that in the absence of sleep everything I'm doing is fueled by coffee and determination. In this case I was lucky enough to be in line with people who were open to talking and joking and generally keeping things light while we waited. One of the people in line with me was a young woman (am I really old enough to use that without irony? shit.) named Tiffany who has her own business making Disney-themed custom merchandise. Her wares are available on the web through this site: She was a paid attendee. It may be just my opinion, but I think it possible that she has a better case for attending on a complimentary professional pass than some old geek who draws a silly little comic strip.

The line eventually moved inside and I split off from my fellow queue compatriots. I was there as a professional after all! Certainly the registration process would pay deference to my elevated status and move me and my fellow comics professionals through with an appropriate level of urgency. No. Professional registrations were divided into five or six queues based on last name, and mine happened to be the longest of the five or six queues for professional registration. Such is the price of having a last name near the beginning of the alphabet. If my last name were Zacharias I'd have been in and done in five minutes. As it was my Queue Compatriots passed me going in the other direction, their newly acquired passes dangling from lanyards around their necks.

Slow thought it might have been moving I did eventually make my way to the head of the professional line ending with the last name of "Cruz," and picked up both my passes and my two guest passes. From there I was directed into a third line where professionals and their guests were told to wait for entrance to the convention. I was in that line for maybe fifteen minutes before they let us onto the convention floor, a full fifteen minutes ahead of the regular attendees, whom I shall lovingly refer to as "rabble" (no, I won't, I just wanted to say "rabble").

When I began I had every noble intention of exercising some spending discipline. I was going to save my ducats, dammit! My money would not change hands until Sunday when the deals would be plentiful and the vendors desperate to unload stock so they wouldn't have to carry it back to the truck. No. Inside of the first half an hour I'd already spent $50, a third of my budget for the day. In the process, however, I did get to meet the very cool Justin White, AJ Herrera, and Andrea LaBartunek who were holding down the fort at the Forbidden Panel booth. I picked up three issues of their title Zombie Kill Squad and a great print of an
illustration of Maleficent. It came up that I have my little comic strip, and they asked to see it. I'll definitely be following up on that.

From there I made my way over to the area that, to me, is the whole reason for the convention in the first place. I'm speaking, of course, of that haven of talented dreamers and ambitious go-getters. I'm speaking of Artist's Alley. Maybe it's because WonderCon is smaller than Comic Con overall, but Artist's Alley at WonderCon felt like it was bigger, with more artists than the big summer convention. The less expensive booth fees for WonderCon probably have something to do with that.

My first stop was at the booth of Brianna Garcia, where I picked up a print of one of my favorite pieces of her work. It's kind of a silly thing with Rapunzel and Spider-Man, but it will go great in my daughter's room, and it's something she will appreciate more as she gets older. Brianna, for her part, was getting off to a rough start to the Con. She had lost her voice the day before (Thursday) and couldn't talk. I made some lame crack about communicating with semaphore as I waved my arms over my head. She was gracious enough not to charge extra for humoring the lousy joke.

After embarrassing myself, but picking up a great piece of original art, it was about time for the first panel of the convention, a discussion featuring cartoon luminary Sergio Aragones where he would be talking about some upcoming projects. Before going to my panel I thought it prudent to drop my purchases off in the car.

Remember when I said I hadn't slept and the only things keeping me vertical were coffee and willpower? It's amazing what fatigue will do to your judgement. I spent the next hour wandering the bowels of the parking garage looking for my car. Such was the extent of my fatigue induced lack of judgement I did two laps past the same parked cars, then went outside, came back in a different entrance (albeit closer to the one I had used on my arrival) and proceeded to make at least two more laps around what was clearly the wrong parking level. I did eventually work out that my car was probably parked on a different level. After reaching that critical epiphany I found my car within about ten minutes, but had lost an hour and completely missed the Sergio Aragones panel. Evidently suffering more from sleep deprivation than I first thought I rested in the car for about an hour then fueled up with another cup of coffee.

Not the print I bought, but representative of Kesinger's brilliant artwork.On re-entering the con I noticed the first table inside the door belonged to the very gifted Brian Kessinger. Walking your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod. The book is published by Baby Tattoo books and available from Amazon. As it turns out Brian is a super nice guy, and it was fun talking to him since we both work for Disney and having that in common was a built-in ice-breaker.
Brian created a character, Victoria, and her pet octopus, Otto in a series of illustrations which then led to publishing a book,

Not too long after that I ended up catching the end of a panel discussion of The Fifth Beatle, a graphic
novel by Vivek Tiwary with illustrations by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker. I didn't have any real interest in this panel, I just sat in on the end so I could get a good seat for Jim Lee's panel which was to follow immediately thereafter. My mistake. Turns out Vivek Tiwary is a really interesting guy, with a really interesting story to tell about making the book and now going on to making the movie, and he is very well spoken. It would have been worthwhile to be there for the whole panel, even for someone who, like me, is not the biggest fan of The Beatles.

That panel wrapped up, leaving me wanting to run out and pick up this little graphic novel about the man who put The Beatles on the map. Which led to the panel that had brought me down from Burbank in the first place: Drawing with Jim Lee. If you're a fan of comics, and you've never seen a Jim Lee panel, put it on your bucket list. He's awesome. He is very much about demystifying the process of sequential art. In most of these panels he talks about the artistic process and illustrating the characters he's working on at DC (among his other responsibilities), which usually means drawing Batman, or a Batman villain, or another character in the Batman books. This time he decided to make the panel about the storytelling process, revealed through working on pages from an upcoming issue of Batman. As the audience watched he had the writer, Scott Snyder, email him the script. He then invited aspiring artists from the audience to join him on stage where he read them the script and asked them to draw rough panels. He then talked about their layouts as he "inked" their pages with a sharpie. When that was done, he revealed the page he had done for the same script, and it was remarkable how similar his page was to elements from each of the three rough layouts put forward by the aspiring artists.

After his panels, at least at WonderCon, Jim Lee does something that others at his level do very rarely. Instead of exiting through a back door or a side entrance, he goes out through the main exit with the fans. Inevitably this leads to a clot of people forming around him and shoving all sorts of paraphernalia at him to sign. He signs everything, graciously takes pictures with his fans, and has a smile on his face the whole time. Jim Lee is a class act.

After taking this terrible selfie with Jim Lee I realized I was completely out of gas. Coffee and determination were no longer enough to sustain me, so it was time to go home. I needed what little reserves of energy remained for engaging "daddy-mode" on getting home.

As I drove home, reflecting on the day, it occurred to me that something in my chest, or the general vicinity thereof, had unclenched. I was happy, and at peace. All that I can attribute that feeling to, is a sense of rightness with how I'd spent my day. There can be no question: being surrounded by that culture, living and breathing the enthusiasm for sequential story telling is something that drives me. For one glorious day, I fit. I found where I belong.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Geek Speaking of Spy Stuff, Like, for Sure

Geek Speak: Like, Totally Spying or Whatever 

The overreach of NSA surveillance has been in the media spotlight long enough now that most of the shine has worn away and the national appetite for controversy and drama is naturally turning back to TMZ and whatever the Kardashians are doing this week. Even so, there are some things in the story about the NSA surveillance system pulling in all of our phone calls and text messages. What are they really getting? Probably about a billion text messages a day that contain the letter "k" and nothing else. They might get the occasional "sext" message, which would be good for about five minutes of levity, and probably a welcome break from the mind melting boredom of sifting through all the meaningless bullshit people send each other on a daily basis. I'm sure somewhere in there are the gossip messages pulling the curtain back on the high-school dating scene with all of its sophistication and depth.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Bombs and Birthday Chefs


Every so often something surprises me when it tumbles out of my head and onto a blank page, such was the case with the drawing below. I'd initially drawn this little guy running around with his wick on fire as a kind of warm-up doodle; something to get the creative juices flowing so I could work on one of my more "serious" (yeah, right) efforts. It was fun and it was kind of cute. Then I drew this while taking a lunch break from work. It's like I'm channeling my inner Hans Christian Anderson. Honestly, I wonder what that might say about me.

Extreme Chef: 33 - Birthday Candles: 0
My brother's birthday was last week and I decided to do something a little different to commemorate it. For the last few months he's been working as a cook at an upscale hotel in Denver. By all accounts he's been doing a bang-up job, too. I didn't have anything to send him, so I thought I would try my hand at a special comic strip.

It's already been said, but happy birthday, Chris. Keep doing what you're doing and I'll keep telling everyone how awesome you are.