Cartoon and Illustration

San Diego Comic-Con registration

Wow, this year I feel like an “old  pro”.  I registered as a pro with San Diego Comic-Con just moments ago.  Registration began at 1 pm EST (11 am PST) and I’m done at 1:12!  Hooray!  Now I need to find out if I can dig up a roommate to split hotel, afford a flight out, and arrange to be away.  But those are all just details.

I’ve been working on my latest project.  “Working” is not a strong enough word–“Laboring” might fit.  I’ve been pounding away at the first two pages of pencils for several days now–and it’s just difficult to get over that hump sometimes.

I’ve also been talking to people about my increasing number of convention appearances this year.  Trying to make sure that all the shows I’ve been discussing appearances with are actually confirmed, and trying to find ways to pay for the expenses that are part of the process.  I was thinking that my first show of 2014 was going to be in Mid-April (Marble City Con, Knoxville).  But in the past couple of weeks I’ve realized that I’ve got to go to Middle Georgia Con and Koku-Manga in March (not to mention the NCS jury event in March–which isn’t a convention as such, but feels kind of like one in that I have to make travel arrangements, etc.)

Anyway, a lot to do between now and then.

Better go look for a roomie for San Diego.


Cartoon and Illustration

What I’ve been doing since January 1

Okay, this isn’t bragging and I don’t make “New Years Resolutions”–but I have been trying to keep up a bit more “real” schedule lately.

Which means since the first of the year I have drawn and colored a complete promotional piece for Marble City Comic-Con (to be held in Knoxville this April).  Then I did a completely different piece because they didn’t like the first one.  No problem.  I’m getting a good trade off for the work.  Thanks guys.

Then I inked more pages for “The Other Dead”.  This time for issue #6.  So look for my work in issue 5 and 6.  Hopefully more to come.

Then began working on a new illustration for a book that’s been in process for a number of years now.  Got to finish that one soon.  

Took a “quick illustration” job of a character called Darna (Filipino Superheroine) for a guy in Malaysia!  Finished that the next day.  He wants more, and is planning to commission another in a week or so.  Well, so he says–I don’t doubt his intent, but sometimes things don’t go as planned–but I got paid for number one.  We will see what’s in store from that as time goes on.

Got the go-ahead on a tee-shirt job that I thumbnailed months ago.  They needed it practically overnight–and I delivered!  Pretty good looking too.  That one was brokered by my best buddy, Joel.  He’ll be finishing up the type and color separations and delivering it.  So I know it’s going to look good.

Then finally got to work on what will likely be my major job for the year.  I can’t go into much detail, but it’s a 100 page Graphic Novel.  I’ve got 9 months to complete it, but hope to get it done a lot quicker.  Anyway, I banged out the thumbnails for the first chapter in the past two days.

In between all of this I’ve been keeping up my duties as Chairman of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.  We’re planning our upcoming NCS Division Awards Jury event coming up the First of March.  Our chapter is jurying the Newspaper Comic Strip Division this year!  Very excited about that–but can’t go into a lot of detail, because we have to keep a certain level of security and aren’t supposed to discuss the process publicly.

You can tell things are getting good when people are wanting you NOT to talk about what you’re doing.

Oh, and I’ve also been writing a book–kind of in-between other things.  It’s going kind of slow actually, but I hope to get over the initial hump soon.  Right now it’s kind of “free-writing”, but the book is supposed to be about creating comic characters.  Should be interesting.

And I’m also learning how to sing and play the rhythm guitar for “Showdown” (by ELO) at the same time.  Not ready to do it in public yet.  But getting there.  Jeff Lynne, I salute you!

Cartoon and Illustration

Trail Blazers–trail followers

So I’ve heard it said that older siblings are trail blazers.  I don’t think I really understood that until today.

I am not an older sibling.  I am the baby of the family, and I married the baby of another family (I know that statistically this paring was supposed to be problematic, but we’re the exception to the rule).

So when it comes to being a leader it’s kind of weird for me.  I don’t just make decisions, I gather information and opinions before making most any move.

Let’s face it the most trail blazing moment of my growing up was deciding that I liked New Wave better than Country Rock, and that probably still baffles my brothers.  Sorry guys–I had to rebel a little didn’t I?

No, for most of my life I’ve been going where my brothers have already tread–or alternately avoiding things that tripped them up.  Either way it has been a life of observing and following.

Today though my wife asked me to give her some advice that she could pass along to someone older in a position of authority.  Boy did I feel out of place!  It’s not that I think my position is wrong.  Nor did I think that what I had to offer is in any way confrontational–it’s simply offered as advice.  But I’m not used to giving advice to people who are older than me, particularly when I have always viewed them with a type of awe and reverence.

But I’m 50 now.  There are a lot of people younger than me that I have given advice to.  But because of my familial situation I imagine that my advice often comes off as wishy-washy to them.  My notes of advice often have statements in them like:  “…on the other hand…” and “…just my opinion, you understand…”

Well, that’s all I wanted to say today.  Just stunned by a moment when I was asked to advise someone older than me, someone in a position of authority.  Now I’ll have to see how the whole thing turns out.

Cartoon and Illustration

What New Years means to me…

Okay, forget that title.

Just thought it would be a good idea to update my blog on the first day of the year with a sarcastic jab at the sort of drivel they used to make us do in public school the day we came home from Christmas holidays (back when you could refer to them as such without anyone raising an eyebrow).

So far in the New Year I’ve answered a bunch of emails from members of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society–of which I presently serve as chairman.  Most of these were nice little notes of thanks for my New Years greeting (and in some cases for my Christmas greetings…because these things tend to pile up).  However some were more complex notes about the plans our group is making for jury duty.

Now, when I say “jury duty”, you’re probably thinking the civic type where you get called–under penalty of incarceration, torture, tax levy, etc. if you don’t show up.  But for cartoonists in the National Cartoonists Society there’s a different type of jury duty.  That is we get to look at entries sent to the NCS category awards that are given out at the annual Reuben Gathering in May.

This year the Southeast Chapter (Or SECNCS) has been chosen to jury the newspaper comic strips category.  I can’t go into much detail about the process here because A) I’ve been instructed not to, and B) we’re still working out the process we’ll be taking, when we’ll be meeting, etc.

But I do know that many of our most faithful jury members in past years are actually the newspaper comic strip artists within our chapter.  That is, many of these guys have made a regular habit of driving hundreds of miles just so they could sit in a room with a half-dozen other cartoonists and see all the nifty pieces submitted in the various categories we’ve been given over the past several years.

Backing up a bit to review–I’ve been a full NCS member since the end of 2007–which means my first “jury duty” was in late winter of 2008.  It was very cool because at that time our chapter vice-chairman was Art Roche who worked at Cartoon Network, and so we got to use one of their meeting rooms at CN and the whole place smelled like a new vinyl binder.  It was also very carefully guarded by security people (in spite of it being a Saturday with few people in the buildings).

If memory serves we were also at CN for the jury in 2009 and had great fun doing that jury as well.

But we’ve had to move the event around several times since then for any number of reasons.

We’ve since assembled at the University of Georgia School of Art, The Charlotte Observer, The Smoky Mountain News, and then last year our group was “skipped” so that we could take a break–which was actually a huge relief for me as I’d just taken over as chairman and was pretty freaked out by the prospect of putting together the jury event so soon afterward.

But I’m really excited about our chapter having been chosen to do the newspaper comic strips.  It’s actually something I’ve been working toward since being accepted into the NCS (and hoping for since I started hanging out with the chapter as a non-member way back in 2003).  While chapter vice-chairman I was constantly trying to help our chairman, Jack Pittman, increase the prestige of the SECNCS with more and more spectacular annual meetings.  Jack is responsible for bringing our group such high profile guests, but it was great to be able to work as his executive officer in helping coordinate the events.

Some years we’d see various NCS leaders show up at our annual meetings, or jury duty events:  Sergio Aragonés came to UGA; Frank Pauer (who edits the NCS magazine “The Cartoon!st”) came to our annual meeting in Asheville; and then NCS President, Tom Richmond (as well as Mason Mastroianni and Patty Hart) came to the annual meeting in Savannah!  With each new “visitor” I got the feeling that we were getting closer to our goal.

Now it’s here.

Just have to put all the pieces together.

The first puzzle piece is that we’re going to be holding our jury at UGA again.  The folks at the Lamar Dodd School of Art (in particular Alex Murawski) have offered to host two events for us in 2014!  We’ll be holding jury duty there (in an undisclosed location, of course) sometime in late winter.  Then in late summer or early autumn we’ll have our annual meeting in Athens, GA as well.

But that’s kind of beside the point–much as we appreciate the UGA hosting our group events–I’m just stoked that the SECNCS is going to be jurying the newspaper comic strip category.  So well done everyone!  We’ve finally put the SECNCS on the map.