Tuesday, July 26, 2011


(photo by Pat Loika)

Without getting too romantic about it, Comic Con at its best is all about the porous divide between fan and celebrity and creator and creation.  Fans are inspired to become the creations they admire, aspiring creators learn can directly from the pros, and pros get to see the immediate reaction of their work on the face of a fan. For me, the experience that best summed it up was first seeing fans appreciate Mike Mignola and his work at the Tr!ckster Con and then seeing him back across the street poring over the linework of Toby Cypress, commenting that he'd like to bring the same elasticity to his own interiors.

Below are a few pics of my experiences of the Con as fan and novice professional.


FEEDING GROUND Pins by The Angry Robot and Bookmarks by Scott Newman.

The Archaia booth is like a bookstore in the middle of a convention floor.  Thanks to their staff and awesome interns for doing so much for a small company.  Their fans and creators really appreciate it.

A FEEDING frenzy! Honestly, talking with and meeting strangers is one of my favorite things. T-Shirt by Fast Custom Shirts.

OH NOES!  ISSUE 6 available at the Con, still not sure when they are in stores.  Also, the floppies are the only way to get FG as an English/Spanish flip book.

FEEDING GROUND co-creator and hotel buddy (Out Demons!) Chris Mangun working Archaia's Satellite Booth.


Among the many great meals I had in San Diego (Burgers at HODAD's, Fish Tacos at TIN FISH, Steak at MORTON's) one of the best was the Frozen Mojito and Pulled Pork Taco lunch at LA PUERTA.


(photo by Pat Loika)

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jim McCann at a Con when he was still working PR for Marvel and we discussed Dazzler's crotch-burst costume.  Since then, we have both published books through Archaia and seeing him, artist Janet Lee, and his husband Michael is always a Con plus.  Even better, their book RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN won an Eisner (The Oscars for comics) for Best Graphic Novel! It is an utterly unique tale and package, a modern fable illustrated in decoupage on wood, that is a great example of the best comics have to offer.

My SDCC Haul

WOLVES by Becky Cloonan - The book I most eagerly sought out.  Becky's inking has become a story in itself.
CORA by Ted Mathot - I discovered this at the Tr!ckster Con as a book of great space and pause.
RODD RACER by Toby Cypress - The book I mentioned in the opening paragraph and possibly the best comic car chase ever.
BLUE ESTATE by Viktor Kalvachev, Andrew Osborne, and various - The lynchpin of my current comic tastes, this crime book features art by Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, and others.  Viktor is a massive talent and one of my major Con discoveries.
Postcards by Nathan Fox - One goal of mine is to create art and comics that feel as spontaneous and outrageous as a song.  With his line and palette, Nathan does just that.
HULK by Jeff Parker and Patrick Zircher - This was a black and white ashcan given away by Marvel.  As such, the inks show off an artist doing the work of his career and a writer tapping the potential in a character (Red Hulk) that at first seemed like a gimmick.
International Cities Playing Cards by Bill Presing and Josh Cooley - Another Tr!ckster discovery and a gift for a friend. I worked with Bill at my first job at Jumbo Pictures.  Since then he's gone on to work for Pixar and, on the side, has spent years drawing some of the most accomplished and charming pin-ups.

TR!CKSTER Artist Workshop

If one goal of the TR!CKSTER counter-Con was to bring attention back to comics and comic artists, this artist workshop, in which attendants gathered around a table as asked questions as several professionals (Thompson, Moon, Crosland, Francavilla) was a chill, direct, way to do that.  Coincidentally, Francisco Francavilla (above) was doing layouts for the IMMORTALS book for Archaia.

Last Bit...

San Diego, where even the municipal buildings are comic book-themed.

SDCC11 _ ARCHAIA Bookmarks

Our publisher, ARCHAIA ENTERTAINMENT, is a young company with an already sizable, diverse, and distinguished catalogue of books.  They publish licensed properties like those based on PLANET OF THE APES and the works of Jim Henson (FRAGGLE ROCK, THE DARK CRYSTAL with original designer Brian Froud, and, incredibly, A TALE OF SAND, a graphic novel adaptation of an unpublished screenplay by Jim), all-ages fiction like Eisner Award-winning RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN and MOUSE GUARD, adult fiction like THE KILLER and OLD CITY BLUES, and unique horror fiction like AWAKENING and, our book, FEEDING GROUND.

You can find many of these titles online at Comixology and Graphic. ly, on Amazon, and at your Local Comic Shop.

Indicative of their ability to do so much with a small team, the Archaia booth at San Diego Comic Con featured 72 (!) different bookmarks based on their entire library. Designed by Archaia designer Scott Newman, and his brother Brian, they are a feat of execution (fitting  different content in the same format AND packing the back with text info) and endurance.

I thought I was going to include these in my SDCC Wrap-Up but they are so cool and there are so many of them (only a dozen of the 72 below) that they deserve their own post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

FEEDING GROUND _ San Diego-Bound

Last year, Swifty and I attended our first San Diego Comic Con as a last-minute decision when Archaia, our publisher, asked us to sit on one of their panels.  Twas a whirlwind trip filled with Spanish Tapas, a living room of THE WALKING DEAD, and larger-than-life He-Man statues. Then, we only had posters to sign as the first issue of FEEDING GROUND hadn't even come out yet.  Now, the series is complete (Issue 6 was supposed to ship this week) and the files for the Hardcover Collection have been sent to the printer (see the covers to the English and Spanish editions below).

You can Pre-Order the book HERE and read the first full issue for FREE on our new Facebook page HERE.

I'll be reporting back after the Con and here's where you can find me, with FG co-creator Chris Mangun, if you're there.  Please swing by and say hi.

Signings at San Diego Comic Con 2011

7-9 PM
ARCHAIA Alley Table #4401/4500

930-11 AM
ARCHAIA Booth #2635

230-4 PM
ARCHAIA Alley Table #4401/4500

930-11 AM
ARCHAIA Booth #2635

11 AM - 1230 PM
ARCHAIA Alley Table #4401/4500

4-6 PM
ARCHAIA Booth #2635

930-11 AM
ARCHAIA Booth #2635

My business cards just arrived and I'm getting ready to hit the road...

Sunday, July 17, 2011


NEWS!: You can now purchase some of these images as poster prints HERE on Society6!

In honor of the visual library of poetic imagery realized by the BREAKING BAD creators and crew, I've concocted these Loteria versions of some of the more poignant images from the show.  You can read some cheat sheet translations of the less obvious Spanish below and a fuller explanation of the cards HERE.  You can also find the larger individual cards in sets 2, 3, and 4. Please let me know if my rudimentary Spanish skills gummed up my messages.  Note: Only a single card is a direct description of the image. You know which one?

Caution: Possible SPOILERS if you're not fully caught up with the episodes.

8 - EL OSO - While I wasn't completely sold on the pool tease and ultimate Season 2 reveal, the lingering eye of THE BEAR served as a spooky, guilt-laden totem of Walt's conscience.

32 - ADJUSTADO - "TIGHT, TIGHT, TIGHT!" Tuco's catchphrase and current predicament encased in a lucite cube.  Also, Hank's chest during a panic attack.

37 - UNA PUERTA - This is the one of which I am most proudLast season, we see Jessie obsessing over Jane's outgoing message and then over a cigarette with lipstick left in his car ashtray. Later in the season, we actually get a show-opener where Jessie and Jane make it out to the Georgie O'Keefe museum and rather than the pictures of vaginas that he was promised, Jessie is flummoxed by an abstract painting of a door. Jane's response is that O'Keefe was not "obsessing" over it, painting the door in every imaginable light, she was loving it, trying to remember it exactly as it was. As Jane extinguishes her cigarette in the car ashtray, Jessie repeats incredulously "A door. A DOOR?"

41 - SANGRON - Literally "a bleeder" which is what Jessie often is.  Figuratively, a whiner or bitcher as in "BITCH!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

BREAKING BAD _ Loteria Cards 04

The FINAL 4!

You can see the rest HERE and check back on Sunday for the full sheet along with some Spanish translations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BREAKING BAD _ Loteria Cards 03

NEWS!: You can now purchase some of these images as poster prints HERE on Society6!

Here you have the next round of BREAKING BAD Loteria Cards.  You can find the first two sets HERE and HERE.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BREAKING BAD _ Loteria Cards 02

NEWS!: You can now purchase some of these images as poster prints HERE on Society6!

For more information and the first four designs, check the previous post HERE.

Since I started working on these, I've discovered that artist Chepo Peña did a one for one mash-up of the original Loteria deck with famous Star Wars characters and scenes.  Really funny nerdy stuff - some favorites below and more HERE.

Also found that the New York Times had a great article on Wednesday called "The Dark Art of BREAKING BAD."

Here's an excerpt that gives you a sense of creator Vince Gilligan's attention to detail:
This, it turns out, is an abbreviated version of a process that Gilligan goes through with virtually every article of clothing, every choice of color, every prop and every extra who appears in “Breaking Bad.” “You see this shirt?” said Dean Norris, who plays Hank Schrader, as he sat on the veranda between takes. He spoke in a stage whisper, out of the side of his mouth, like an inmate describing a warden who has gone insane. “Vince had to see five versions of it before he chose it. Five different shades of a gray T-shirt. That’s unique,” he said, heading into the house. “That’s beyond.”

Alright, onto the next 4.  Race to your online Spanish/English dictionary as needed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BREAKING BAD _ Loteria Cards 01

NEWS!: You can now purchase some of these images as poster prints HERE on Society6!
UPDATE: You can see the full sheet of 16 BREAKING BAD cards HERE

AMC's BREAKING BAD is currently my favorite show on television. I was late to the game, but, after THE WIRE, it is the sort of dark, smart, narrative that demands your attention and rewards dedicated viewing. The acting, particularly by lead Brian Cranston, has been notably lauded but I'm writing today because of how it consistently inspires me with some of the medium's most poetic imagery.  With much of the action of the show occurring in and driven by the drug trade of the Mexico/US Border, Vince Gilligan and his team revel in the art of visual storytelling and utilize a picture > 1,000 words approach that lends an epic potency to the story beyond the tropes of a traditional crime drama.

As a bit of fan art, and in hot anticipation of the next season premiere on July 17th, I've set out to recognize the show by marrying some of the BREAKING BAD iconography with another applicable medium: Mexican Loteria Cards.  

Like a Mexican version of "Bingo," Loteria is a game of chance that employs a gridded board (a 4x4 tabla) and an illustrated deck of cards instead of numbered ping pong balls.  The "authentic" deck, illustrated by Don Clemente Gallo, consists of a total of 54 iconic images of people, animals, and objects.  Riddles often accompany the reading of a card and the whole set has a totemic or Tarot Card quality to it.

With BREAKING BAD, I've decided to start with 4 sets of 4 images to complete a single tabla. The images will be recognizable to fans of the show; some are fan favorites that have driven plotlines and others are those that the camera has lingered on long enough to charge with significance.  In a break from the source material, I am not merely translating the name of the subject into Spanish.  Adding a little poetry of my own, I'm choosing terms that reveal more of the item's importance to the narrative.

Below are the first four.  I have the rest planned out and ready to go but please feel free to write with any suggestions.  Also, check out the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast for some informative behind-the-scenes chatter by a tight creative team.