Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Comic Con 2011 - drawings and artists

2011 Comic Con was epic. I have never seen so many legendary artists in one place before.

Thursday: I was there with my friend (and award winning author) David Gordon to promote his newest book, Jett Pup, and his page in the Tr!ckster collection. I picked him up at the airport and drove straight to the publisher/printer party where his books were displayed. After the 5 hour flight, David headed straight for the free sushi. Cigars were for sale and a full bar flowed. David couldn't believe his luck!

David Gordon by Graham Smith
Like magnetism, I was drawn into the next room. The DJ was killing the old school jams and the crowd was sucking it up with a straw. Awe man! Geeky artists love to dance, yo! AND there was a life drawing session going on!

The Gallery Girls commanded the stage dressed as barbarians. Fur bikini's, chain mail panties and curvy swords. I stood in the back and scribbled into my brand new, homemade sketchbook # 26. Now, I couldn't believe MY luck! This was better than finding a parking spot right away.

Some dude tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a free 18 x 24 newsprint pad, a set of pastels, and a graphite stick (6B the kind I like to draw with). The night couldn't get any better... until I was escorted to the last available seat in the front row. Right next to the DJ!

Then someone brought me a free drink. I love this place!

I begin scribbling as fast as I can. The guy next to me is killing it, the next guy down from him looks to be drawing pretty well, too. I have to stop peeking and get to work. There were about 50 artists drawing at the same time.

The barbarian's pose for 20 minutes at a time. Our end of the row is all drawing in time with the music, heads bobbing, drinks spilling. Big smiles all around. I swear the DJ played, "Whoomp, there it is" when the barbarian girls took the stage!

I'm not paying attention to my drawing anymore. I'm just soaking in it. I see world famous pin-up artist Alberto Ruiz behind me. (Who made me nervous.) David Gordon was drawing on the floor. Looking down the row, Vanessa Lemen, and Ron Lemen of Studio Second Street were expertly drawing a barbarian girl pretending to club another with a bone! I see Ironman animator, Paul Davies and pin-up artist, Eddy Holly sitting in front of LA's Dave Crosland, all drawing to the music. Life drawing Dream Team, right there, kid!

Alberto Ruiz (left), Eddy Holly (back), Paul Davies (front), Graham Smith (right)

2:00 am. They kicked us out and the barbarians drove back to LA. Everyone stood outside talking, the night's weather was perfect and was about to get better.

3:00 am. Alberto Ruiz's birthday. Paul Davies and Albert Ruiz invited David Gordon and I out for a late night breakfast. Over hash browns, bacon, eggs and black coffee, Alberto demonstrated how he draws feet using the least amount of lines possible, the difference between male and female feet, drawing examples right in my sketchbook. In turn, David Gordon discussed the principals of design. Just before sunrise, we crawled back home. Day One. Done.

Feet drawing tips from Alberto Ruiz!
Alberto Ruiz explains his theories on energy and direction of line work when drawing the figure.
I draw the drinks and appetizers at BICE while the printer schmoozes Alberto
Friday: Walked the show and saw Big Dave Wilkins holds up the belt with Peter Han, Dzu Nguyen pimping his portfolio and Sho Murase in Artists Alley. We schmoozed over drinks at the Omni bar, with the folks that printed Tr!ckster, Jett Pup and Alberto Ruiz's books - Steven Goff of Global PSD picked up the tab. Thanks man. Ted Adams, CEO of IDW Publishing sat right next to us!

Dave Gordon and I escaped just in time to attend one of those weird trade show dinners, upstairs at the Omni hotel - where the unlikeliest mix of people is most likely.

Comedy writer, Martin Olson (Encyclopedia of Hell, Invasion Manual of Earth) and John Stevenson (Director of Kung Fu Panda) were unfortunate enough to be stuck at my end of the table. (I, of course, was thrilled!) John Stevenson wore blue tinted glasses. Mental note, in case I wanted to draw him later. Martin Olson looked more "Double-Oh-Seven" than a comedy writer. I wrote that line 'cause I figure he might read this.

Kirk R. Thatcher (Star Trek, ET, Muppets, Star Wars) sat on my right, across from Australian artist, James Baker. (Thanks for autographing "Sephilina the Nauti-Girl" for me, James!)

Kirk R. Thatcher is a giant man, with a giant beard, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. His name tag? Jeff Lebowski! He asked everyone a theoretical question involving questionable deeds I can't even think of a way to euphemize. It was so awesome! David Gordon pretended not to hear. James Baker's girlfriend, and super talented artist Julia Lundman,  just stared at him, blinking. Later, nothing but laughing from that end of the table, so I guess the punchline was worth it.

Back at our end of the table, John Stevenson blurted out that he is the only Director in Hollywood that takes the bus. Leaning in and talking low, he confided in us about his terrible, overwhelming anxiety about driving. Evidently, he is terrified to cause an accident and hurt other people. So, he takes the bus or taxi to the set. He was super nice, and patiently explained how he made the leap from story lead to director, at Dreamworks. Which is another story.

Already bored with his Grilled Beet Salad, comedy writer Martin Olson poured gas on the fire, asking John Stevenson:

MO: "What about when you play driving video games, do you freak out then?"

JS: "No. I'm fine with that.

MO: "What about roller coasters?"

By this time, I'm all smiles. I loved my end of the table! Discussions of unspeakable acts on the right and high functioning neurosis on the left, made us three artists in the middle seem normal and boring, by movie people standards anyways!

So much for the warm ups.

David and I went straight to the party at Tr!ckster after that. By this time, names were irrelevant and deeds unavowed. A good time was had by all. Day 2. Done.

David and I took it easy, drawing in our sketchbooks and sitting in the shade across from the Convention Center, when Matt Peters (story board artist) and Bill Pressing (Rex Steele, Dreamworks) sat down for some shade. Bill Pressing offered some advice on book creation and posed uncomfortably for a few fan photos. I had already lost my voice from the night before, so I bought us both a Coke. Earlier, his printer told me, that after seeing Bill's drawings, she figured him to be "ass" man. That's all I could think of when I met him.

Heineken, Pepsi, sushi, Skittles and shade got us through the day and prepared us for another (potentially strange) dinner. Who knows what the night would bring? The entire staff of Global PSD, Alberto Ruiz and San Diego photographer Tim Mantoani were thrown together with Dave and I, at a big round table at BiCE restaurant.

Tim Mantoani is working on a book using large format Polaroid (20 x 24 inches) and explained how it works. It's a peel-apart instant poster! How cool is that? Graciously and once again, Steven and Adrianne Goff of Global PSD hosted and picked up the tab! Thanks again!

That night, local artists, Paul Davies (Sony) and Dave Wilkins (Sony, DC, Marvel) were hosting sketchbook sessions for the visiting artists at a cafe, down the way.

Alberto, David and I, along with the Global PSD staffers, Kate and Christina, headed off to see if we could find the sketchbook event on a midnight mission. We missed it, couldn't find it, or both. (We're artists not Seal Team Six, yo!)

On the way back, we found geeks sleeping along the walkway, behind the convention center. They were the first in line for next years Comic Con tickets!

David completed his Comic Con victory walk back to the car, smoking a cigar. Day Three. Done.

Jett Pup book signing by David Gordon. I bought a "Don Juan's Night of Love" movie poster from 1955 (USA) from Century Guild, ate some Pho, and dropped Dave off at the Amtrak station. Comic Con. Done.

It's unanimous!

- G

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