Just now I saw a guy playing the old Sonic 2 Genesis game ON HIS PHONE on the subway! I was struck by a wave of nostalgia. But dude, he knew some stuff I didn't think about before, like he was able to get all 7 chaos emeralds in the Green Hill Zone?!! He said you had to get 50 rings BEFORE touching the swinging "save" star post thing. Somehow that went over my head as a kid - it seemed like sometimes the star post would take me to the emerald zone, but sometimes it wouldn't. To anyone unfamiliar with Sonic all this will seem like jargon. Anyway, don't we all miss those days when we could be so engrossed in stuff like video games and not have to worry about paying bills and such?
Yesterday I turned the big 3-0! To be honest, for quite awhile I was dreading it, but in actuality it was a super awesome day! Took the day off from freelancing and did fun stuff around NYC. At one point I stumbled upon Nintendo World and played video games for like an hour! I felt like a kid again! Did you know that Nintendo bought Sega and you can play Sonic games on Nintendo now? Apparently that happened like 10 years ago... shows how out of the loop I am on that.
Thoughts on 30:
I really am glad to have more knowledge about life in general, freelancing, and the comics industry. I have more confidence in my abilities and am taking more risks with things I didn't think I could do. I've grown to present myself and my work more professionally, am better at communicating, and can stand my ground. I feel comfortable turning down projects that don't pay anything/much.
A lot of people say I look younger than I am, which is great, but there can be a downside professionally. I'm 30, no I did not just graduate from college (even though I look like it), and I won't work for free or an internship anymore. Over the past 4 years in NYC I've encountered some people that are looking to take advantage of young people's talent and naivete. Even though I got caught up in those situations, I know better now.
I guess I'm technically an adult now. I need to get my head out of the "starving artist" zone and really put more effort into building a real future for myself through my artwork. No easy task, but... I really miss having expendable income. I'm glad I'm making enough to squeak by in New York, but I need to do better. Treated myself and was treated to some nice things on my birthday, and I realized that lots of adults wouldn't think twice about going out to eat or going shopping. I want to change that in my 30s. GAME ON!
I never do "test pages" to submit to comic publishers, because I often find it a waste of time. Spending so much time and effort on something that's not paid, will probably get lost in piles of submissions, and I'm not passionate about doesn't make sense. But there is one exception: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG! I read the Sonic comics (published by Archie) as a kid and always loved everything Sonic - from the videogames to tv shows to ... I even still have a Sonic pillow in my room right now. My ringtone and alarm on my phone is the Sonic theme song (in the videogame where he turns "invincible"). I am 29 years old.
So I ran into some peeps at Archie at various comic conventions and decided to do a test page. Mind you, this was almost a year ago. I have written the story, which is based on the Sonic comics "Off-Panel" section at the back of the books - kind of like slapstick humor. I've drawn it and inked all by hand - even hand lettered. Colored it in Photoshop, trying to replicate their current coloring styles (as they used some different artists, there was still some variation). I'd work on all this here and there, but this project kept getting pushed back due to paying work taking priority, but it's finally done and I submitted it! That's one thing to check off my "to-do" list.
I'm not expecting a response. I've applied to too many jobs and have gotten rejected each time to know that it takes a diamond-in-the-rough to win, and that's when a position is even available. It may be the case that Archie likes it, but there's no work available. In any case, for all my efforts, at least it was Sonic and not The Hulk or something I'm not interested in (sorry Hulk fans).
Happy belated Easter! Speaking of basket-case...
The Baltimore Comic Convention was a great time this past weekend! This was the first time I shared a table with 2 other people (Ellen Stedfeld and Carlos Abdu). There are pros and cons to sharing a table with a lot of people. Cons are that you have less space, it takes some time to coordinate things like transportation etc, and we learned that we needed to figure out how to work together to talk to people who passed by - don't talk all at once - either take turns or one person should give a summary of everyone's merchandise.
There are some cool pros too: We had a special deal where you could get one custom piece of artwork done by all 3 of us! Here's how it worked: A customer wanted the character Ryu from Street Fighter. Carlos penciled it:
Ellen inked it:
And I colored it!
And it came out beautifully! GO TEAM!!
Other pros of sharing a table are (of course) keeping costs down. It's also advantageous have someone else "man" the table if you want to leave the table. You can also pool your resources together when you have multiple people. For this trip Ellen found us all a place to stay with her friends (thank you Marie & Jeff!). I took charge of the food by grocery shopping for us all the night before and making lunches for everyone. It was so much cheaper buying a loaf of bread and everything for 3 people's lunches to last 2 days than if we'd all bought lunch individually.
Another perk was that we could share each other's display stuff. I have my own piping archway that hung our sign, our drawings, and Ellen's mobile (as shown in the top picture). Below, you can see my new story, "The Lucky Penny," in a special standing case that Carlos shared. I want to get more of those! He also shared those star Post-Its for pricing, which are super cool and effective because you can stick them right on books. I had the new Power Rangers Megaforce book for sale (thanks to Michael Petranek for comps!). You'll also see a bonus sketch of Mindy Indy as a Dodgeball Teen by Emilio Velez in the back.
Overall, we all sold some stuff, had a good time, and learned a lot. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table! As always it was great to meet new people and reconnect with friends and fans :) VICTORY!
WOW! Ok I know New York Comic Con was last week, but I need to recap! It was so intense that I had to recover for awhile. I took those videos on Friday, and the crowds in the video got even bigger for Saturday and Sunday.
I got a tripod/easel at the 24 hour Staples Thursday night to elevate my poster for better exposure. It worked! More people saw my sign and looked at my table. I also taped drawings to the poster so people could see examples of my drawing style. Most importantly, I put a sign at the top that said "Colorist for DeadPool" and that really drew attention! I got about 4 DeadPool commissions from that! People were interviewing me and taking pictures - NO JOKE! I felt like a celebrity!
I spent all of Saturday and Sunday just drawing commissions! It was amazing! I had a list of drawings to do and honestly took more than I could handle, but it was a great learning experience!
This pic was my first commission! A guy dressed as Dead Pool and his girlfriend wanted their favorite characters (Dead Pool and MewTwo from Pokemon) fighting. This became a theme of the weekend - couples wanting their favorite characters either fighting or cuddling.
He's so happy with the sketch! Later on, I drew another Deadpool sketch (below) and put it on my poster, and he bought that one too! Repeat customers!!
This commission was for an amazing girl, Mya Terry, who's battling cancer. Her aunt/godmother went around getting sketches of Mya as a "super girl," because she's been through a lot and is very courageous. Mya even wrote a book about getting an NG feeding tube. I went for a Rainbow Brite/Sailor Moon theme for the sketch. Her aunt was thrilled and even got me and Scott (the artist next to me) fries :) Hope Mya likes the drawing!
One guy wanted some Avengers head shots for his niece and nephew. I chose Scarlet Witch and Captain America.
I looked up references for characters on my smart phone. Luckily this year Artist Alley was in a spot that had good reception! I had kind of cramped drawing space for my little half table, and I kept knocking over the Aer Head stand and Ellen's comics next to me, but I made it work. Here are some other sketches I did, but I didn't have the chance to take pictures of all of them:
This guy heard I was a colorist (word of mouth spreading like wildfire!) and asked me to color a black & white drawing someone did of the Fraggles. I totally had the theme song stuck in my head all day after that!
I kept seeing all these people dressed up with horns that looked like candy corn. It's from a web comic that got pretty popular called Homestuck. I got about 3 commissions of Homestuck characters!
This guy was a teacher who was getting sketches to show his students many different drawing styles. My first Aer Head commission! It's interesting to me to see the variety of people that come to comic con for different reasons :)
And ending with my favorite, Sonic! Didn't even need a reference for that because I drew Sonic all the time as a kid :) I love My Little Ponies too :)
The flyering worked well too - my friend Ellen passed around flyers and brought about 20 more people to the table, and of those maybe half signed up for the mailing list :) A few bought misfortune cookie mini comics, and half just took the free cookies.
All in all, New York Comic Con was a HUGE success. I made my table money back plus a huge profit! This was an eye opening experience because now I see that doing the comic con circuit can be a legitimate way to make a living, if you do it right. Next time, I'm going to do more sample sketches beforehand so they're ready to sell, and I need to practice drawing faster!
Words are not enough to describe how awesome and inspiring the New York Comic Con was this year! I met SO MANY awesome people everywhere I went and learned immensely important things for my career as a cartoonist.
I got a 4 day "Professional" pass. Usually the con is 3 days, but Thursday was open to just Professionals. That's why you see all that clear space around me in the top picture, and craziness in the pic just above (taken Saturday). It helped to have time to scope things out before it got insane. I was able to talk with some other professionals I may not have gotten one-on-one time with otherwise, like Victor Gorelick: Co-President/E-I-C of Archie Comics, and Paul Kaminski: Compilation Editor of Sonic the Hedgehog. More on Sonic later :)
Half the time I spent going to panels (meaning interviews with creators/business people, rather than drawn comic panels on a page!). The ones I targeted were mostly about "how to" things, like self-publishing your comic, copyrighting, and digital distributing. One of the best panels was about using Kickstarter to fund and market your comic, so that may be the way AER HEAD gets out into the world. I even went to a panel about planning events in a comic store. It was aimed at store owners, but was actually very helpful in teaching interesting marketing techniques. Another useful one was about digital coloring. Christina Strain blew my mind away with all the awesome Photoshop stuff she demonstrated. I thought I knew a lot about coloring before, but there's so much more to learn!
I loved the panel about Womanthology, which is a compilation of short comic stories drawn and written by women. Womanthology is being put together by Renae De Liz, who I got to meet and is super awesome! She also drew the gorgeous artwork for the graphic novel adaptation of The Last Unicorn (one of my favorite childhood animations). I also met her husband, Ray Dillon, who inked and colored her work. This couple is so inspiring not only because their artwork is supernaturally amazing, but they have such drive and passion about them, as well as being very friendly down-to-earth people. Another Last Unicorn person I saw was Peter S. Beagle, who wrote the original prose novel that the animation was based off. I met him once before at the San Diego Comic Con years ago, and it was just as awesome seeing him again.
Another highlight was the Sonic the Hedgehog panel! I've been a lifelong fan of Sonic - from the videogames to the tv shows to the comic. I was thrilled to meet my favorite Sonic artist, Patrick Spaziante ("Spaz")! I asked him lots of questions about his career, gave him one of my AER HEAD mini comics, and practically launched into outer space when he said that HE liked MY artwork! How cool is THAT? As Sonic would say: "Way past cool!" I also briefly met Ian Flynn, writer of Sonic. Everyone working on Sonic just beams with positive energy and it shows that they really love what they do. Someday, I want to be part of that team!
I also spent a lot of time in the "Artist's Alley" section of the Con. This is the section where independent comic publishers and freelance artists have booths to sell their books and showcase their artwork. The more I talked with artists there, the more I felt the calling to get a table at this and other cons too. Some artists suggested starting with the smaller conventions to save money, so keep an eye out for mindy indy at your local Brooklyn cons soon :) (In this context, "con" is short for convention. I don't intend to con people :)
I noticed a significant difference in people's general responses to me this year when I mentioned that I colored Marvel comics as Kyle Baker's assistant. (I was careful not to look like I was blatantly name-dropping, and didn't bring it up with everyone. It naturally came up in conversations). I had a published Deadpool Max comic to show as an example too. Last year, I toted my portfolio around to publishers and asked advice, and was told at worst that my style wasn't what they were looking for, and at best to just submit samples online to the company's general email, not to anyone specific. (I don't like online art submissions, because like job submissions, I think they go into a black void and my time was wasted). But this year, people paid attention to me more! I got lots of positive feedback from the AER HEAD mini comics, and I may have gotten some possible leads to future projects - fingers crossed!
Speaking of Deadpool, a gazillion people dressed up as him! Everywhere I turned, there was Deadpool! I think because there's a movie coming out soon. I felt special that I get to contribute my talents to something so big and popular :)
While I'm at it, here are more cool costumes! If you don't know, Comic Cons are places where people dress as their favorite characters, often going to amazing lengths over details. I especially appreciate when I see unique characters from my childhood, like Darkwing Duck! Look at how the guy made the duck feet - they're 3 shoes glued together!
There are so many more awesome stories to tell, but it's past 4AM. Overall, this year's NYCC was more amazing than I could have imagined! I met fantastic people, reconnected with some old friends, learned a whole lot about the business, and had a TON of fun all at once!