Cartoon and Illustration

D-Day for Doodle (Part II)

So while I was doing all that I was doing in Charlotte–shooting Kickstarter vids for Game of Horror, meeting with editors from Valiant, PaperCutz, Boom Studios, etc.  Mike Leonard was at home putting up the new DoorMan online comic.

So now I’ve got two projects going, right?

Wrong.  I’ve got a comic book called Spectra/Polaris to draw now that I’m home.  I haven’t actually got the script for that yet–but I do have the money for it in my possession, and I have a character sketch that has to be done in conjunction with it before I begin the story pencils.

So that’s three?

Well, maybe.  But I’ve got a conference call with a screen-writer and his producer coming up on Wednesday.  We’ve discussed my rates and the studio seems fine with them.  I’ve signed the NDA (which is why I’m not naming any names here), and so this one seems like it might go the distance.


Actually I’m in discussion with another client about a Graphic Novel based on his script.  Should know more in a couple of weeks.


And then there’s the fact that Mike Leonard and I are in the process of putting together a licensing imprint company that features “geek ware” items that we think might be a big hit.


If you don’t count all the work I’ve been doing as chairman of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.  We’ve got a “Cartoon Art Appreciation Day” planned for July 13 at the Asheville Barnes & Nobel.  I was planning to do a cook out with the Asheville gang on July 2.  I’ve been helping out the Glynn Arts Association (Glynn County, GA) with items for their upcoming Jack Davis retrospective…

Plus there’s an event in September with the Patriot Rovers Program in Greensboro…

And our SECNCS annual meeting in Knoxville, October 25-27 to plan.

That’s 10.

Did I mention I’m having a gallery show opening in October as well?

So I’m thinking that’s about 11.  In the meantime I have to play a couple of gigs with Gypsy Bandwagon, get ready to go to San Diego Comic Con and keep things going around home.

It feels kind of like I’m busy.  Can’t say for sure though.  Does this sound busy to anyone else?

So, hopefully now you understood what I was saying in the last post about conventions seeming in the past to revolve around a single event.  Whereas this year’s Heroes Convention seems to have contained many, many, events that have all blurred together into one huge series of events that are–well, kind of confusing me at the moment.  My head is so full of all that I’ve yet to do that I’m finding it difficult to keep track.

So, I’m no Joint Chiefs of Staff, Patton, McArthur or anyone like that–but it feels like everything has been leading up to this moment.  I hope the outcome is what I am anticipating.

Cartoon and Illustration

D-Day for Doodle!

So there are some events in one’s life that are discrete–that is, individually standing apart in one’s memory.  My wedding day is one such event.  Although there were events leading up to my marrying Karin, the day itself is etched in my mind (at least the parts that I can recall from the haze of excitement).  All events leading up to and proceeding from that event are bound up in that event.

In the past I have generally had one specific item that stuck in my mind when I recall attending a convention.  “Oh, yes! That would be Heroes Convention 1982, when the whole gang trekked down to Charlotte and ate out together on Friday night.”

This past weekend at Heroes Convention is likely not going to work that way.  There was simply too much going on for it to center around one event outside of the convention itself.

I’m going to do my best to describe some of the events, without going too long and boring everyone who may bother to read this.  To keep it straight in my head, I’d better go day by day.

Thursday, driving in from the mountains Karin and I got caught in a downpour on Billy Graham Parkway and so missed our turn–getting completely lost in the twists and turns of the streets that make up Charlotte.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been lost in Charlotte, but it’s been a lot of years since I was completely lost.  We eventually made it to the convention center and I simply pulled the van into the loading bay (a first for me) and unloaded my items rather than paying for parking and carrying in the goods as in years past.  Set up in record time (in spite of the larger load) and headed to the suburbs.

We found our way out to Joel and Toni’s (my best friend and his wife, who we normally stay with when attending the show in Charlotte) had a nice dinner and watched a dry British comedy called “The Trip”.  (My favorite part was the reference to Doctor Who, but the reference to Madness’ song “My Name Is Michael Caine” comes in second).

Friday morning found us at the convention center bright and early, yet all the inexpensive parking was already taken–so we had to suck it up and park at the Westin Hotel.  (It’s actually Hertz Parking, but you don’t know how much it Hertz until you pull out in the evening).

I will have to say that Friday is a bit of a blur.  I made my first sale sometime in the morning moving a copy of The T.h.u.n.d.e.r. Agents Companion from Two-Morrows Publishing that had not sold in the years since publication (that is, around the time that DC picked up the series), and so I was glad to move it.  We were then visited by a young friend of ours (one of Karin’s students) who happened to be in town with his older sister–he bought a button (a last minute addition to my offered goods) and then things get blurry.  I got two commissions for sketches within moments of one another.  Then a few more sales of prints and more commissions.  So many commissions, in fact, that after Karin and I had dinner at Steak ‘n’ Shake I had to go home to Joel and Toni’s and work on the final art for the day until 11 pm.

Saturday morning the show opened earlier than on Friday, so I made sure we were up early enough to snag some inexpensive parking (in the lot next to the Westin Hotel).  We went into the convention center and rather than having a busy day of more sketching (as I’d anticipated) I spent a lot of time simply talking to people who came by to visit.  Actually, according to my notes I did do two smaller sketches, but Saturday still seems like mostly visiting.  

Part way through the day, Shane Berryhill arrived.  He’d risen at around 3 am to drive in from Chattanooga and once unpacked began his sales pitch (which included lots of kudos thrown my way) before he ran off to see various panel discussions and chase down potential clients.

I had failed to secure report covers for my sample packages up to the show and all the office supply stores were closed on Friday night by the time Karin and I finished dinner.  So Joel and Toni were kind enough to bring in 5 folders they’d picked up on the way to the show (but had to look at 3 stores before they could find them).  Finally having these covers to put around my previously printed sample pages, I was able to visit the Boom Studios table and hand off a copy of my “book”, just as a group of us were heading out to lunch at Fuel Pizza across the street from the convention center.  

This was a pleasant diversion from the show.  Joel, Toni, Karin and I were joined by Kaysha Siemens and her friend “Ribbit”, for a half hour or so of pizza and more crowds of fans.  The discussion was suitably strange and hopefully we’ll see more of Ribbit in the future.

Upon returning to the table I finally got to meet a young artist, Clint Keffer, who I’ve been corresponding with since early this year.  He and his girlfriend Amanda dropped by the table and spent a lot of time just talking about the similarities and differences of working in comics and the music industry.  Anyone passing by might have thought it was a pretty interesting panel discussion taking place right there.

My contribution to the show auction (see previous post) was creating a buzz, and I heard from a number of people concerning it.  But while I really wanted to stay for the auction itself, I realized that I was fading fast as the day continued.  There was no way I would be able to go to the auction and still be at the show on Sunday.  (As an added incentive, the parking lot we were in wanted us out by 9pm–the lot is attached to a disco and that’s around the time their patrons want the spaces).

So we headed back to Joel and Toni’s.  The four of us went out to dinner at a local hot dog and burger restaurant with aspirations–D-Moe’s.  Pretty good Carolina dog there (I’ll rank it around 3rd in my national taste test) but great service and nice decompression time too, sitting out at a picnic table with good friends, away from the hustle and bustle.  Then we had to go out to a local retaining pond to hear frogs saying, “Baby-baby-baby, hey baby!”  (No, seriously, it sounded like a Beavis and Butthead mix tape).  Then we were able to go back to Joel and Toni’s to introduce them to Svengoulie on MeTV.  We watched the first half of House of Dracula before we all realized just how tired we were.

Sunday morning came very early, in spite of the show opening at 11 am, we were scheduled for “second breakfast” with Shane Berryhill at the convention center at 9:30.  He and I took some time to go over our lines for the Kickstarter video we were supposed to shoot during the day, and then go over some notes on which publishers were there actually looking for submissions.

The morning was occupied by Shane and I visiting publisher booths.  Sometimes splitting up, then regrouping when our paths crossed.  I was able to drop samples off with PaperCutz, Valiant, and a couple of others that unfortunately I didn’t write down.  Also got to visit some with the guys from Zenescope–part of the time I spent thanking them for publishing my work in the past several years.  This is because many of the publishers I visited looked at my samples and actually knew the work I’d been doing.  A real break-through for me–not having to explain what the projects were was a real pleasure.

Then Shane got a call from Karin.  Michael McCoy was at our tables waiting for us.

Michael was my art director briefly when we both worked for Quest Comics back around 2000.  He’s since moved on into carpentry and movie direction and kindly offered to help Shane and I tape a Kickstarter video for “Game of Horror” (which we’re still trying to get financed so we can finish).  Shane and I were both feeling a little camera shy, but managed to get through the filming the video with Michael’s low-key direction to guide us.

Be looking for more on that subject in the near future–because we really have to crank up the publicity on that.

The day brought another convention sketch commission.  This one of DC Comics’ Doctor Midnite–which I adored drawing!  When a fan comes to me with a Golden Age DC character I simply love it.  I’d almost rather draw those characters than just about anything else.  (Just for future reference, if you’re interested in getting a sketch from me).

The day ended, we had to get back to the mountains and see our kitty cats.  This was probably more an issue for Karin–but I’m pretty fond of them in spite of my allergies.  But we had to pack up the car and give a ride back to Nebo to our friends, Clay and Christine (uncle and niece, not a couple).  We also had to deliver a piece of commissioned art to Kaysha in Black Mountain (she’d purchased it on Saturday, but it wasn’t done before she and Ribbit had to leave).

Our trip home took a while longer than it might have.  We stopped uptown Charlotte at a place called Yoforia for frozen yogurt before actually getting on the road.  But we got home okay, and before 10:30 pm.  The cats were very affectionate and let us know they missed us.

Today I’m in the studio trying to get all my follow up emails done and then get files to Michael McCoy to finish up that Game of Horror Kickstarter.  But now it’s time for lunch.

Cartoon and Illustration

Now, the details (well, some of the details) and a long pep talk to myself

So for weeks now it seems I have been hinting at what is occupying my time lately, but didn’t want to get into details to much–at least not until the ink was dry on the contracts.

Of course there’s very little wet ink involved in my contracts anymore.  Most of them are signed digitally.  This sounds very advanced and I think it may even impress some people that I know how to do a “digital signature”.  But it was actually a necessity with some of the clients I work for who seem to need the finished work BEFORE the contract is finalized.  So I somehow figured out how to do this in Adobe Acrobat, and have only had to fix it once when somehow my computer “ate” the information (I think it was during an upgrade of Acrobat).

But that’s got nothing to do with the details.  The details are, that I’ve been signed to design elements for a new board game called “Kings of Israel”

Specifically I’ve been called on to make the game-board itself, building on the beta version to hopefully make the game play more compelling by giving it those little tweaks that will delight the eye in such a way that each time you play the game you’ll find something new to look at.

I’m also supposed to be working on a common element for some of the game cards–but for now we’re concentrating on the board itself–which actually contains many elements that will have to be combined to make the whole thing work.  It’s been fun so far (one whole day!) and the client, Lance Hill is a nice guy–who actually has a budget for this project.  (Some of you other clients out there could learn a thing or two from this fellow).

The other project’s contract is as good as signed, so I’ll talk a bit about it.  It’s a comic book called Spectra/Polaris, written by a fellow I’ve known for around ten years now, Brett Frankel.  He owns a comic shop called “House of Pop Culture” in the DC suburbs, and I first met him at Wizard World Chicago.

The show hadn’t even opened officially when Brett stepped across the aisle, smiled, shook my hand and then proceeded to buy a bunch of art from me.  What’s not to like?

Brett then commissioned me to draw a sketch of a character he’d created.  Then a few months later hired me to draw a whole issue of Spectra/Polaris for him.  We’ve had occasional other S/P related projects since that time (I did a logo, turn-arounds for two of the main characters)–but never got any further along with the story.

Now Brett and I are working toward making it a regular gig.  Or as regular as anything gets in this business.  I’m supposed to begin penciling a new issue sometime mid-February, with plans to continue after that issue is done.

Of course, there’s still the relaunch of DoorMan as a webcomic coming up sometime in the spring.  The good news is that is all “in the can” already, having been completed back in the 90s when Mike Leonard and I worked for Cult Press and Caliber Comics.  I’ve got all the old pages scanned, and aside from a lettering tweak and small correction here and there they’re ready to go.  Mike will be handling most of the logistics on that.

Game of Horror continues as well.  Author, Shane Berryhill and I (hopefully helped along  by costume designer, Kaysha Siemens) will be putting our shoulders to the wheel and trying to get group funding to complete the remaining 66 pages of story art.  So some time will have to be devoted to that soon.

To complicate matters more, I just got a note this morning from EGBA Originals out in LA.  I’ve been doing work for their line of custom invitations for several years now.  The owner of EGBA, Mo Taxon, has had a number of health issues recently, but seems to be getting back on his feet and has yet another project in the offing.  I can’t discuss those details as it’s still in negotiation phase, but it does give a better idea of the sort of schedule I may be facing over the coming months.

The thing is, for years I’ve operated on the idea that one good project at a time was all I should attempt to handle.  While many of my friends have been juggling multiple contracts simultaneously, and making a success of it by many standards.  I consoled myself by thinking things like, “well they’re more talented at juggling than I am,” and, “they’re doing single illustrations, while I’m engaged in telling long complicated stories.”

But the reality of this business (perhaps of any business) is that sometimes things simply fall apart.  When that has happened to me, I have often found myself scrambling around for work to fill in the schedule.  My friends and associates (as well as my circumstances over the last couple of years) have convinced me to try a bit of juggling.  That is, say “yes” to just about everything (within reason) and then let Providence work out the scheduling.

Much better than sitting around twiddling my thumbs when someone else’s schedule gets bogged down.  And such things will happen.  I think my problem has been that I have treated assignments as if they were events, rather than work-a-day challenges to be met.

Now I’m going to see about making a real living at this job.  It’s not like there’s anything standing in my way.  My family needs me to make money so we can pay the bills; I do have a unique skill set and people asking me to utilize it for their projects; and all other avenues for employment seem to have been cut off.  Might as well load up on jobs and see how things progress.