SD ComiCon

San Diego. What a beautiful town (yes, that's an old clipper-ship in the background, I think one of the two docked there was used in the blockbuster Master and Commander). My girlfriend/fellow artist Danielle Griffith and I arrived ready to hit the Convention Center via the smooth Toyota Matrix owned by the one-and-only Court Jones, good friend whom I've come to know through the NCN. As usual (from what I hear- I've only attended one ComicCon in 2002), the convention center was absolutely packed. On Saturday (typically the busiest day of the Con) I hear they turned away over 400 potential attendees. Fortunately I had a badge for the entire time, so I could walk right in, but it was a shame to see the line of anxious youngsters and adults extending around one of the largest convention centers in the world, into the adjascent Marriot Hotel parking garage, and over the horizon.

It's almost frustrating just trying to walk around, yet you can't leave, because there are so many great artists and so much to see. I didn't take many pictures, but I saw a lot. Most people bring portfolios and business cards with hopes to get a job. I didn't want to worry about that (I did that 2 years ago and found that it was awkward to approach people I admired with my work, even if they were helpful and accomodating), so I just kept my eyes wide, learned what I could from the amazing mentors. It was such a usual occurrence to see amazing artists peppered throughout one giant hall:

Here you see Sergio Aragones... and yes, he signs 3 items for nearly everyone that walks by, including doing original, unique sketches for anyone that asks. I watched him do one, and it was truly a piece of himself being poured into it, rather than a stock-stamp sketch, reserved for the event. I admire him a bit more now, after seeing that.

Two years ago, when I attended, I didn't really know who he was (I didn't grow up with MAD) and my friend was fawning all over him. He asked to see my little portfolio, and said,

"Have you sent anything to MAD?"

"No, I really haven't thought of it."

"You should, they get a lot of crap, and this is not crap." (then he may as well have said, "NEXT!")

It was very entertaining and weird, and for some strange reason, I admired it. If you haven't seen his work, pick up any issue of MAD magazine, past or current, and find the "A MAD Look at ____". He's in every issue and draws a lot. Until you try it, it's hard to appreciate the work he and others do. Another chap that is in the same category is my friend Tom Richmond (see my links, check his overflowing blog). Tom wasn't at the Con this year, but his work is even more involved, as he's averaging out with more than one gig/issue of MAD, along with plenty of other commissions, all with very involved digital color, still using fountain ('dip) pens (crow-quill).

Another grotesquely prolific artist that I'll never stop admiring is my buddy Stephen Silver. This guy had his funny little booth with his cute ol' wifey selling his silly books and overrated art (just kidding). I ma
de his table a regular stop while roaming the halls, sort of a meeting place for me and friends, just to get a smile on my face when it got too crowded, and to see his art once again.

It's great to see a friend whom I learn so much from doing so well with fans. I know it can become work for him, but he was moving those books and prints like nobody's business... and I will never stop preaching about the value of his little sketchbook, the only book that I throw into my bag when I travel, go to work, or just hit the local bookstore to sketch. I look at it while watching TV, when riding in my roommate's car, and while on the toilet (come on, we all read on the toilet) - don't worry, Steve, I wash up good.

Moving on...

The con was great. I saw some artists that I know very personally, like my best friend from college, Ben Dewey and new buddy Nathan Staples (watch out, a rising duo in the comics world) - friend Steve Fishwick (silver's best buddy), Gabe Hunt, David Wolter, Bryan Flanigan, Andy Murray (of whom has a very similarly-inspired website as I), Arkady Roytman, Chris Daily, and many others. I also saw many artists that I've seen and met online, and in years past... most of whom were very nice and personable, like Bill Plympton, Bobby Chiu, Michel Gagnet, Angel Medina, Jeff Watts & Eric Gist, and more. I wish I could have found Alberto Ruiz, design artist, extraordinaire... friend of friends, whom I couldn't find (grr).

And other than that it was a lot of fanboys in costumes (lots of storm troopers, of which I'll spare you the imagery), lots of amazing art for sale and fun toys, neat exhibits and displays, overpriced water and coffee, and cool panels and demonstrations every day. After the overload, Danielle, Court and I spent a day relaxing and sightseeing in Balboa Park where we saw some museums, neat cacti and foliage and got in trouble for helping a gregarious hairy old fella feed 'cheezy poofs' to the exotic fish. --->

We po
sed for some silly photos as per Court's request inlcuding a 'gay frolic', among others. It was a fun day that ended with Court painting a portrait of Danielle while I worked on optimizing some images for my upcoming book.


If you like comics, if you don't care about them but like art or illustration, do something fun and smart and at least attend one Comic Con International in San Diego. It occurrs every summer and if you can prove you're some sort of artist, you can register on their website and get in for free. It's very inspiring and worth your time. I can't imagine not going back at least every other year. And if you think a plane ticket is too expensive, then sign up for a Capital One GoMiles airline rewards credit card, buy all gas and groceries with it for 8 months, and you'll have a free round-trip from anywhere; so no excuses!

Now I'll randomly leave you with a disturbing image of my rubbery skin, large part of the inspiration behind my exaggerations and distorted artwork... sick, isn't it? - (as Borat says)
"I like... is NICE."


The Gaber's Sketchblog said...

Comic-Con was a big art overdose. I'd be happy to do it over and over again.

Patrick said...

I Joe ,first,thanks for the link.
I had a lot of fun visiting your blog,your work is terrific!.
Surely the funniest caricature I have seen for a while.

ken said...

wow!!! Mate, your caricatures are absolutely stunning... blown away here.

Elton John made me laugh :D

Jeannette said...

oh my god

Anonymous said...

how many people are gonna read all this