I'm pretty sure you've heard from a bunch of folks already about how great this year's Heroes Con was by now. Well, add my name to the list, too, be cause it was truly excellent! I won't go into too much detail about everything that happened the entire weekend, but here are the highlights. Thursday The OOSA artists were invited to a party at our buddy Terence's house. Not everyone from the group could make it, but we went out there with two cars full of friends. It was a nice way to start the show off. The house was packed, but it was still a more intimate setting than the Westin lobby so you could get around and talk to some folks that you hadn't seen for a while. I also got to introduce the newest OOSA artist, Chris Visions, to some of the other guys. He fit right in, of course, and got along with everyone like they had know each other for years. The food was amazing and the people there were great. Thanks, Terence!
Friday We set up at the show in the same block as Robert Wilson IV, Aaron Conley (who brought JB with him) and Dave Wachter, so we were in good company. Ming and Chris Visions were in seperate sections of the hall, so we didn't get to hang out as much as I would have liked. Things were a little slow for me at the OOSA table, but I know that Friday is the day that people are hitting their priorities and getting on commission lists, so I wasn't too worried. The artists did OK with sales and commissions, though. Aaron Conley was at the table next to me and he was busy most of the day selling copies of his book Sabertooth Swordsman. Alexis sold out of all of his comp copies of The Package, too. Good thing I had more for the rest of the weekend.
That night was the drink and draw, for which Alexis was asked to do a print that they sold to help raise money for Team Cul de Sac. All of the OOSA artists drew at least one or two sketches to donate, as well. I ended up buying one Vanessa R. Del Ray drew. I also got to meet and hang out with her quite a bit during the weekend, so that was cool. Same with Aaron, JB, Scarecrow Oven, Board Inker (and friends) and Jeff Stokely. It's always nice to meet new folks, ya know.
Saturday I got to the convention hall early so I could take some time to look around at the exhibitors, but they weren't letting people in until 9:00. That's only 30 minutes before the 3-day pass holders get in. I don't remember that being the case last year. Maybe there was some sort of security issue with folks walking around unattended booths? I missed my exploration time, but the policy is understandable. Also new for this year was the dj playing music in the main lobby and incense being pumped into the convention hall. The scent was a little strong for my taste, but I get the idea. It was only at first anyway, so no big deal.
Anyway, Saturday was packed at the convention hall! I don't know what the numbers were, but it must have been at least double Friday's attendance. I went up the main lobby around noon and there was still a line of people wanting to get in. Crazy! I also heard the line for Kevin Eastman spanned pretty much the entire con floor. All of these people being present resulted in a much busier day for everyone. I sold a bunch of shirts and books, but no art, which I thought was a little odd. Speaking of books, though, we had our copies of the kaBOOMbox anthology delivered to the show. It turned out reeeeaaally nice. It sold well, too. Fabian Rangel Jr. was sitting at Alexis' table today since they have a project together, so it was great to meet him.
That night, it was Mert's for dinner. I love the food, but I don't think Saturday night during Heroes Con is the time to try to go there. Too busy. The company was good, though. Justin Jordan and Stephen Green joined Paul, Andrew, Erin and I. I had to leave early to get ready for the art auction and Saturday Night Suits, which turned into Saturday Night Sweats before too long and I had to ditch the jacket. There were a few people dressed up, but not because of the SNS. Still, it was nice to see. Although... Rico did wear a nice button up shirt just for the cause, as did Seth. Next year, next year.
The auction was well attended as always. While about all of the OOSA crew donated something, only Ming and Chris' paintings made it to the big show, as did a Nathan Fox SVA screen print he donated via OOSA. The nice thing is that they were positioned right next to three other prominent pieces by Bernie Wrightson, Andrew Robinson and Skottie Young so you couldn't help but notice them. The bids were a little low on our pieces I thought, but that seemed to be the case for a lot of the art. I think the days of the $10,000 bids are over. After that, lots of drinking and socializing plus late night pizza at the Mellow Mushroom. Did you know they're open until 4am?! It's a game changer!
Sunday No incense this morning. That must not have gone over well.
Sunday was another slow day for me. Not quite as slow as Friday, though. I sold my one and only piece of art of the weekend and sold out of The Package. I used the time to get out and see some folks and visit with friends, so it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I had to get home so I missed out on the Dead Dog party, regrettably.
Final Thoughts One really needs to devote 5 days to get the most out of Heroes Con. Come on Thursday and stay until Monday. There is soooo much happening and so many people to catch up with, it's about impossible to do it all in three days.
While I did fine selling shirts and books, I was a little surprised that I didn't sell any of the art (with the exception of the one piece) I had on hand from Nathan, Toby, Greg and Liz. I don't think it had to do with the prices, either. I just think there were so many artist there doing really affordable commissions (like, $80 or less) that the original comic art just wasn't selling. I wonder if that was the case for everyone. I also heard word of grumbles from the exhibitors that their sales were down because everyone seemed more interested in seeing the artists and buying things in artist alley. Not sure if that was actually the case or how prevalent that actually was. I didn't investigate.
I got a bunch of compliments and praise about OOSA and the OOSA artists from a ton of fans and professionals alike. I was really blown away. I've only been doing this for a short time and I'm super proud of the artists I work with, but I didn't know that so many folks were aware of and digging what we're doing. Thanks for the support, everyone!
It was nice to see Charles Vess doing so well at Heroes. He hasn't been to the show for a long while. I think everyone missed him.
It was also good to see my buddy Steve Mannion at the show for the first time. I believe he's now hooked and will come back again next year.
The show is huge! I don't think I saw half of the room. I even shut down an hour early on Friday just so I could go walk around.
Superman "flying" down the convention floor pathways on a skateboard was pretty funny. So was seeing a guy accidentally bonked on the head by a giant mallet as a Harley Quinn cosplayer put it up on her shoulder for a picture.
As always, the show was amazing due to the efforts of Shelton Drum, his staff and the volunteers. Thanks for another wonderful convention!!!!
When I was offered an opportunity to do the Out of Step exhibit at the William King Museum of Art after I started helping them curate Shelton Drum’s original comic art collection exhibit, I wasn't really sure it was something I wanted to do. I mean, I live in a rural part of Central Appalachia, and while there may be comic book fans here, there are very few people who are into the more “indie” artists I work with through Out of Step Arts. Who would come see it? Would it even be worth the time and effort?
In the end, I decided to do it. I figured that I’d forego attending a May convention like Spectrum Live or TCAF, and instead use the money I would have spent on registration and travel and put it towards the exhibit. (Getting frames for 50 pieces ain’t cheap you know.) Besides, where OOSA would just be a small, obscure part of a show like Spectrum LIVE or TCAF, we would be the headliner of our own museum exhibit! And while there may not be a lot of local interest, I thought there would be good opportunity for exposure for the collective in the online comics community. I’m a little biased, but I think havingMing Doyle, Andrew MacLean, Nathan Fox, Alexis Ziritt, Greg Ruth, Logan Faerber, Toby Cypress, Liz Suburbia, Paul Maybury and Chris Visions all in one show is pretty noteworthy. Heck, two of them are nominated for Eisners this year and we had original art from those books on the wall! Plus, with the Executive Director of the CBLDF coming to the museum for an event while the exhibit would be up? Pshh!! Who wouldn't think that was pretty cool?!
So, after I put in the time, the money, and hung all 50 pieces (by myself), the exhibit was up. I contacted all of the comics news sites about it, and promoted the crap out of it on twitter, tumblr, instagram, etc. The Comic Age and Multiversity Comics were kind enough to run a blurb about the exhibit on their sites (thanks, guys) and I think maybe 20 people were there for the opening event. Ten if you don’t count family and people associated with the museum. It stung a little. I wasn't expecting much, but I was hoping for more. In the weeks leading up to the Superhero Saturday event featuring the CBLDF, I contacted some of the comics news sites again, continued to post on social media sites, and we did a lot of local promotion for the event and the exhibits at the museum. Out of Step was mentioned on the news and in the local paper a couple of times, which was pretty cool. I did a radio interview about OOSA and the exhibit, too. It was great local exposure, but the larger comics community was my target market. The “big splash” I was hoping to make in the comics scene turned out to be more of a ripple in our local pond.
Superhero Saturday rolled around and it was a great event. Over 200 people (which is a pretty good turnout by all accounts) came out to the museum to participate and listen to the lecture on the history of censorship in comics. Kids came dressed as superheroes, everyone enjoyed seeing the exhibits, Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF was impressed… It was a good day.
And that was pretty much the culmination of the Out of Step exhibit for me. It’s only up for the month of May, so the only thing I have left to do is take it down on Sunday. Even if it didn't get noticed as I had hoped it would, it’s still a wonderful exhibit, and I’m really proud of the OOSA artists and the work they had on display. If you asked me if I was glad I did it, I would probably say, “Uh, yeah, I suppose.”
Until I got a text yesterday from the curator of the museum’s programming, that is.
Callie Hietala coordinates the programming at the museum, but she also does the tours of the exhibits for groups that come in. She texted me to let me know that she was showing a group of middle school students around, and that when they got the Out of Step exhibit, a little girl told her, “I feel at home here. This is exactly how I want to draw!” That comment instantly made everything worthwhile. The fact that seeing the art from the OOSA artists on the walls of the museum in her home town may have sparked, inspired, reassured and/or validated something for that kid is far more important to me than getting mentioned on the internet. Now I feel the Out of Step exhibit might just be the most important thing I've done through Out of Step Arts so far.
Who knows, maybe that little ripple in our local pond will lead to this girl making her own big splash in the comics scene one day.
That's right! OOSA will be at Heroes Con 2014 en masse with Ming Doyle, Chris Visions, Andrew MacLean, Alexis Ziritt, Logan Faerber and Paul Maybury all in attendance. Along with original art, prints, books and commissions, there will also be a few debuts for the show. The kaBOOMbox Volume 1 anthology, featuring over 200 pages of work from the OOSA and Brand New Nostalgia collectives will be available for the first time. A whole bunch of the artists who are in the book will be there and would love to sign your copy.
The Package, written by Elliot Blake with art by Alexis Ziritt, will also be available, as will Andrew MacLean's new book Head Lopper Part Two: The Wolves of Barra. I'll be there as well selling original art from Toby Cypress, Greg Ruth and Nathan Fox (including a new batch of Nathan's work), plus whatever Liz Subrbia and Toby Cypress OOSA tees I have left.
Heroes Con is such a great show so I hope you're planning to get to Charlotte, NC June 20th-22nd. It's not something you'll want to miss.
Hey folks. I just wanted to let you know about the OOSA showcase exhibit, Out of Step, at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, VA. The exhibit will run the month of May and will feature a total of 50 pieces from all of the OOSA artists including their work from comics (with art from two 2014 Eisner Award nominated books), illustration jobs and personal projects.
The opening will be May 1st from 6-8 and will be part of Abingdon’s First Thursdays community arts event. As part of the opening, we will be showing a screening of The Drybrush Master. This documentary by Ben Tobin features OOSA artist Greg Ruth and his work on his book The Lost Boy. You’ll be able to see some of the original artwork from the book as part of the exhibit, as well.
If you’re nearby, I hope you can make it to the opening. If you’re from out of town, though, I would suggest you wait until Memorial Day weekend to get the most out of your visit. Why? Well, not only will you get to see the Out of Step exhibit and the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find: The Original Art Collection of Shelton Drum exhibit, but you will also be able to hear the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director, Charles Brownstein, give his lecture “The History of Censorship in Comics” on Saturyday, May 24th at 2:00pm. It will be a big day of celebrating comics at the museum, so don’t miss it!
Out of Step displays the diversity of styles and approaches used in visual storytelling, as well as the artistic dexterity of some of the professionals working in the graphic arts. This show features paintings and illustrations from the Out of Step Arts Collective, coordinated by Bristol, Virginia resident Neil Bramlette.
The artists include Greg Ruth, Alexis Ziritt, Ming Doyle, Andrew MacLean, Chris Visions, Logan Faerber, Toby Cypress, Paul Maybury, Liz Suburbia and Nathan Fox. Neil Bramlette founded Out of Step Arts in 2011 to support emerging and established artists with strongly unique styles who are not only interested in working in comics, but also in other artistic fields and mediums, as well. Neil’s eclectic interests in art, music and culture have lead to the formation of a very diverse group of artists from all across the United States.
The Asbury Park Comic Con is this weekend (April, 12-13) and I'll be there along with Toby Cypress and Andrew MacLean. They'll have books, prints and art. I'll have art from Greg Ruth, Paul Maybury and Nathan Fox, too. Plus maybe an extra little special something from Nathan. Come by our booth at C-352 and say "Hey".
Check out www.asburyparkcomicon.com to see the other guests and goings-on. It looks like it will be a fantastic show.
Chris Visions! I'm so happy to finally be able to announce this since I've been sitting on it for a while. It's been especially hard since Chris Visions has been getting a lot of attention recently for his upcoming series Dead Letters with Chris Sebela from Boom! Studios. And all of that attention is much deserved because he's an amazing, versatile artist. If you haven't heard of him yet, don't worry, you will. He was recently chosen from hundreds of artists to be part of a small group to do some promotional art for NBC's series Hannibal, so there's that.
Chris' inky, energetic style is a great compliment to the current artists in the OOSA collective, and his illustrative style gives him a unique voice. I'm excited to have him on board, as are the rest of the OOSA crew. Be sure to check out Chris' profile to see some of his work if you aren't already familiar with it. You can also follow him on Instagram and Tumblr to see what he's up to, as well.
Glad to have you as part of the team, Chris!
I worked with the William King Museum and Shelton Drum to curate this showcase of Shelton's amazing comic art collection. It has original comic art, Heroes Con promotional art and some of Shelton's private commissions from some the biggest names in comics past and present.
There are over 80 pieces in the exhibit and the artist list is a true all-star roster from the last 60 years. Artist include:
Steve Ditko - Joe Kubert - Jack Kirby - Don Heck - Gil Kane -John Buscema - Neal Adams - Frank Brunner - John Romita - George Perez - Frank Miller - Paul Smith - Charles Vess - Jim Starlin - Steve Bissette - Matt Wagner - Mike Zeck - John Byrne - Paul Gulacy - Wally Wood - Lee Elias - Larry Lieber - Frank Frazetta - Richard Thompson - Mac Raboy - Neal Adams - Johnny Hart - Jim Scancarelli - Brian Stelfreeze - Sanford Greene - Mike Wieringo - Butch Guice - Mike Zeck - Tim Sale George Perez - Dave Sim - Sergio Aragones - Paul Chadwick - Joe Quesada - John Romita, Jr. - Jeff Smith - Alex Ross - George Perez - Dan Jurgens - Murphy Anderson - Rick Leonardi - Ron Garney - Travis Charest - Adam Hughes - James Jean - Darwyn Cooke - Mike Mignola - Joe Jusko - Bill Sienkiewicz - Jim Silke - David Williams - Phil Noto - Steve Rude - Bernie Wrightson - Scott Hampton
The exhibit is up until June 29 so I hope you all can make the trip to Abingdon, VA to see it.
Exhibit details here.
Nathan is an amazing artist and long-time friend of OOSA. He's always been supportive of and interested in the artists in the collective. He's helped them get work on projects he was working on, promoted their art... Heck, he even wrote the introduction for the OOSA/BNN collaborative anthology kaBOOMbox Volume 1! He's always been considered part of the family and a big influence on a lot of the OOSA artists, so it's only logical that he be an official member of the crew.
If you aren't, by some chance, familiar with Nathan's work, he's done illustrations for Entertainment Magazine, The New York Times, ESPN, Wired, Playboy and so on. He's also worked for every major comics publisher. His most recent assignments are providing covers for Vertigo Comics' FBP and the recently announced Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers book from Dynamite Entertainment. You can click on his profile to learn more about him and see samples of his work.
Over the next few weeks, I will be adding a TON of his original artwork for sale in the OOSA Store. He'll also have a few shirts available in the OOSA Bodega. Nathan will be joining us at the Asbury Park ComiCon in April, so be sure to come out and say hello.
You may have heard me talking about the OOSA Bodega a little bit. It's an online shop where all of the OOSA artists have unique print-on-demand T-shirts for sale. The artists have complete control over all aspects of the design process and they will also be receiving all of the profits after the costs are covered. And since this is a print-on-demand process, the artists can add new designs to their stores whenever they feel like it and avoid the large up-front costs, color limitations and inventory issues that come with screen printed shirts. It’s a win-win situation for the artists and the fans of their work! Alexis Ziritt (who also runs Fistful Apparel) will be at the helm managing production and overseeing quality control, so I know these shirts will be nothing but top-notch. I think we're breaking some new ground here and I'm really proud of all of the work and support that Alexis and the other OOSA artists have given this innovative project.
And after a slight delay due to technical reasons, the OOSA Bodega is now open!!! To start things off, Greg Ruth and Alexis Ziritt have some designs up in their shops for you to choose from. In time, all of the OOSA artists will have designs up as well. We'll be sure to let you know when new shirts are available. Go check it out!
In order to clean out some some of the older stuff that's been hanging around in the OOSA store and make room for some new stuff that will be arriving soon, we are having a big blowout sale! You can get Alexis Ziritt's illustrations for only $35 each and Toby Cypress' Blue Estate pages for only $45 each!!! I also have what's left of the OOSA t-shirts for only $12 each. All with free shipping in the US. http://outofsteparts.bigcartel.com/category/year-end-clearance-special
There has been a lot of talk about the inappropriate treatment of women in the comics industry the last few weeks with Tess Fowler leading the charge. Lots of people are coming forward with stories and a lot of really deplorable things are getting brought into the light. Now, I typically don’t enter my opinions into discussions on comic book “hot button” issues in any online or formal format for several reasons, but after reading what happened to Conny Valentina, I feel like I should make an official statement regarding Out of Step Arts’ policy on harassment. So what happened? Well, you can read what Conny wrote on her facebook for the full story in her words, but essentially, while at a convention in the US in 2011, a well-known (as of yet unnamed publicly) artist broke into her hotel room during the night (with a key he had obtained from the front desk under false pretenses), stripped naked, and got into her bed while she was sleeping! That goes way beyond the wink and a nudge “I’ll be nice to you if you’re nice to me” male power-play. That is downright criminal behavior! The convention organizer has already contacted Conny to discuss the matter and will be talking to the hotel to insure that no instances like that will ever happen again during future conventions. Conny is really brave for speaking out and I applaud her for it.
As for my policy regarding harassment and inappropriate behavior; I won’t tolerate it. If you feel that any of the OOSA artists have behaved in an inappropriate, offensive, threatening or harassing (sexual or otherwise) manner towards you, please notify me and I will deal with it.
Now, if you behave in an inappropriate, offensive, threatening or harassing (sexual or otherwise) manner towards any of the OOSA artists, I will also deal with that. Swiftly.
The OOSA artists, besides being talented and hardworking, are nice, honest and caring people. I am proud to have each of them as a part of the collective and I feel that they act as ambassadors for Out of Step Arts and the larger comics industry as a whole. In being an OOSA artist, I expect that they will treat people with respect and dignity, just as I expect them to be treated in the same manner by others. I will do my best to insure this happens.
Hey folks. I just thought I’d give a little update while there is a lull in the action here at OOSA headquarters. We are getting ready to take some big steps with Out of Step Arts. In the coming months, we’ll be adding a new artist to the collective and offering some new ways for you to get art from all of your favorite artists here. All of that stuff is still in the works, but I’ll be able to talk more about everything soon. I’m excited about it, though. I feel like these additions will bring OOSA to new level and further distinguish both the artists and the brand. So, stick around. Big things are coming! In the meantime; take another look at the original art in the store, check out all the OOSA artists' sites, and follow OOSA on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates.
Cola-Con is coming up this Friday and Saturday (October 25th and 26th) in Columbia, SC and I'll be there selling prints, shirts and original art from some of the OOSA artists. I've always been a big fan of hip hop so I'm really looking forward to attending and soaking it all in. Plus, artists like Sanford Greene, Ron Wimberly, Dexter Vines and Ed Piskor will be there, as well as live performances from The Foreign Exchange and Dead Prez. There's a lot of other guests and groups, too. Check out the Cola-Con Facebook page for details and their website to buy tickets.
September has been pretty amazing as far as comic shows go. First, I went with Alexis Ziritt to the Cincy ComiCon. It was the con's inaugural show, but you never would have known it. The organizers were well...uh, organized (duh) and the volunteers were super attentive to the exhibitors and attendees. You could really tell that they had put a lot of thought into the show based on past experiences (good and bad) they had either as guests, exhibitors, or attendees themselves. It was a 3-day convention, which is a big undertaking for your first time putting on a show. Friday was only open to "VIP" guests who supported the kickstarter campaign and it was only open for about 4 hours. It was a soft opening with a small crowd. This might not have been to good for some of the exhibitors, but this is the type of thing that comics enthusiasts and collectors love. A first crack at getting the best stuff. I expect word will get out and this will be a more utilized option in the following years. Saturday and Sunday were more typical of what you'd expect attendance-wise with Saturday actually getting pretty crowded. On the social/activity side, the con offered a drink and draw event at The Hall of Justice's museum Friday night and an art auction on Saturday night. Both were a good time. The D&D at the museum was a nice environment to hold the event. Lots of interesting stuff to look at in between conversations and lots of little areas to hang out and chat. It was also spread out so you didn't have to yell to be heard or strain to hear over crowd noise. The auction was a small, but active group. The auctioneer and host (Kara Moore) kept things moving at a good pace so you weren't "stuck" there all night. This is important if you want to bid on one of the items that comes at the end of the night. There were quality pieces available in the auction from some big name artists, too. The prices were good with a real steal or two, as well. Again, once word gets out about the auction in the collector community, this event will only get better.
I had a good time and got to meet a bunch of new people. I look forward to going back again next year's show (for which they have already booked a larger space).
So after hosting Alexis at my house for a few days, we trekked up to Bethesda, MD to meet Toby Cypress, Andrew MacLean and his wife Erin for SPX. None of us had ever exhibited at SPX before, and I was the only one who had ever even been to the show (once last year). I was a little worried on how OOSA would be received since we do more of what might be considered "mainstream" type comics. I felt we might be kind of atypical for the show and thusly looked over. In actuality, that couldn't have been further from the fact. Everyone was fantastic! Lots of people were aware of Andrew, Alexis and Toby's work already and even those who weren't gave their stuff a good look. Our location in the corner was great, too. I was a little concerned about being out of the main thoroughfare and how that might affect our traffic (and sales), but we had lots of space for us behind the tables and it turned out the space provided a nice relaxing area for the attendees to get out of the crowded pathways and have an unhurried look and a nice chat with the artists. We all had a great show and sold lots of books, prints and shirts. Liz Suburbia was sitting with Kevin Czap at the show, but came over to visit a few times. She got to meet the other OOSA artists and take a break from the crowds. It made me happy to have the group together, but it made me wish the rest of the OOSA artists could be there too. Maybe next year.
It was a great time outside of the expo's business hours as well. It's always great to catch up with folks that I only get to see a couple of times a year, meet new and interesting people, and rub elbows with comics all-stars. I could do some major name-dropping... but I won't. I'll just say I was in amazing company all weekend long. But that's SPX in a nutshell i guess, isn't it?
So, thanks to everyone that came to see us at CIncy ComiCon and SPX. And if you took the time to check out our stuff or talk with us about whatever, it is certainly appreciated. I know I enjoyed every minute of it.
See you next time!
I'll be at the Cincy ComiCon Friday, Sept. 6 - Sunday, Sept. 8. I'll be set up at table C-10, right next to OOSA artist Alexis Ziritt (C-11). I'm really impressed with what they're doing with this show. Lots of great artists, big name sponsors and exhibitors, and a ton of fun events and programming. With their line-up, you would never know that this is the convention's FIRST YEAR. Way to come out of the gate, guys! Buy your tickets and check out all of the goings-on at www.CincyComiCon.com.
The very following weekend (Sept. 14th - 15th), I'll be at SPX. And not just me; OOSA artists Alexis Ziritt, Toby Cypress, Liz Suburbia and Andrew MacLean will also be there. You can find us on our own OOSA Island at tables 44-46. SPX is going to be HUGE this year with over 600 artists planning to be somewhere in the room. Visit the SPX website to find out everything you need to know. www.spxpo.com
OOSA artist Alexis Ziritt has worked in comics (Mekano Turbo, The Package) and has provided illustrations for several publications (WWE Magazine, Complex) and companies (Patagonia, The Levitation Project). Recently, Alexis was asked to design the summer tour shirt for the band MASTODON.
To celebrate this conglomeration of awesomeness, OOSA is going to give away two tickets to see Mastodon (along with opening acts ASG and US Christmas) at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC on August 14th.
It's pretty simple to enter: If you want a chance to win the two tickets, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "MASTODON ROCKS". I'll pick one winner (you'll get both tickets) at random on Friday, August 9th and notify them via email. That's it. Good luck! (The contest has ended)
Remember: these two tickets are only for the Mastodon show at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC on August 14th. If you can't make it to that show, there is no need for you to enter the contest. Please visit the Orange Peel website for specific information about the venue and the show itself.
I'll have a table set up at my home-town convention, the Bristol RobCon, on July 27th. I'll have shirts, original art and prints available. I've also
duped invited my friend Rico Renzi to join me for the day. If you don't know, Rico is an amazing colorist who has done work for a ton of comic book companies on titles like Adventure Time, Avengers, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Deadpool, Loose Ends, Powerpuff Girls, Scott Pilgrim, Wolverine and Yo Gabba Gabba. He is currently doing the colors on Collider written by Simon Oliver with Robbi Rodriguez and Nathan Fox providing the art. Anyway, if you're in the Tri-Cities area, come out and see us.
In other news, I've been invited to participate in a Custom T-Shirt show in Fredericksburg, VA on August 2nd. Tailor Made 3 will take place at PONSHOP Studios and will feature several designers from the Northern Virginia area. I'll be featuring the Liz Suburbia and Toby Cypress OOSA Tees, of course. As soon as I get more information about the show, I'll be sure to post it here. In the meantime, check out last years show.
Aw, man. Heroes Con. I love that show! This year was pretty great, as it always is. Lots of talented artists, good friends, a relaxed vibe and tons of opportunities to socialize with like-minded folks at the show and after hours. A big thank you to Shelton and all of the Heroes Con staff/volunteers for putting on such a fantastic show. Here are some of my thoughts and highlights:
It was great to sit in Indie Island with Paul, Alexis, Andrew and his wife Erin. Those guys are always fun to be around. Ming was positioned in another section of the floor, but not too far away. That's alright, though, because she was soooo busy with commissions, I don't think she had time to talk anyway. Logan had to cancel at the last minute so he didn't make it this year. It's kind of bitter sweet because while we missed him being there, I got to use his table rather than just squeezing in somewhere. Also in our block were guys like Rob Ullman, Jared Cullum, J. Chris Campbell, Andy Runton, Wes Brooks and Hatuey Diaz from Top Shelf. They were all pleasure to be seated with. I know Rico Renzi works hard at putting people together who will enjoy each other's company, so kudos Rico.
I think all of the OOSA artists had a good show. I know they were all drawing a lot. Paul sold a bunch of books and did several commissions. Alexis brought a little of everything, but I think his new Doom Rider shirt was his biggest seller. He also had a bunch of commissions on Sunday. Andrew did great selling his book Head Lopper. Several people came over looking for it based on the recommendation of others that had bought it at the show. Other people would escort folks over to his table in person and say "Here is that book you need to buy". Ming, like I said earlier, had a ton of commissions. I'd be willing to bet it was close to 30. And me? I sold a bunch of the OOSA shirts and Liz Suburbia's zines. After related food and travel expenses for the show, I just about broke even and might have even made a few dollars profit. Which, after last year, is fantastic for me. Driving up Friday morning and going home on Sunday night shaved some costs, so that helped.
I'm sure you all have heard about how big the con floor was this year. I think this had it's pros and cons. As an exhibitor, I really appreciated the extra space behind the tables. Lots of room to put your stuff and still be able to get around without tripping over banners and such. I also liked the linear layout of the floor. There was a nice main thoroughfare through artist alley that allowed you to see the majority of the tables in one pass just by looking left and right. Also, the walkways were really wide which eased congestion and made it nice for people with small children and strollers. This also made it easy to get around slow walkers, sudden stoppers, lines of fans waiting for signatures, people taking pictures of cosplayers, and folks pulling carts loaded with comic boxes. The downside for the large floor space was that there was no quick trip to anywhere. Working a table, I had limited opportunities to get away. If I wanted to go say "Hi" to someone or go buy/look at something, I was gone for at least 20 minutes and there was no time for distractions. I bet I only saw about 25% of what was on display and a lot of that was just in passing. I'm sure the people on the outskirts of the floor saw fewer casual lookers than they would have in a smaller space. I heard random rumblings about how the large space was affecting sales, but then I heard others talk about how great their sales were this year. Not really sure how much of an effect the size of the convention hall had on that, though. Overall, I think having the larger space was a good thing. I know it was an expensive move for the show, so I'm hoping it payed off in extra ticket/table sales.
The organizers did a good job making use of the extra space this year. They had some cool cars in one section, an Akira gallery set up, large areas with chairs and tables for eating/reading/resting/talking, food vendors, etc. They also had several things set up just for kids like a super pet "petting zoo" where you could have your picture made with various comic book animal sidekicks and a kids comic library. There was a kids Heroes Con passport with specific kid-friendly destinations and activities highlighted and a reward of free comics if you got all of your pages stamped. (This was my idea by the way. Or at least I suggested it to Rico a few years ago. Just sayin'.)
Friday night was the Drink and Draw event. It got moved to the Hilton this year, which I think was a good decision. It was nice having a larger space for the crowd, and the indoor/outdoor option makes it so the fundraiser isn't at risk of being impacted by the weather. Which is good, because it rained. Hard. I think there might need to be a few tweaks for next year (like perhaps more tables for people to sketch on), but this was this was definitely a necessary step in the right direction due to the growing popularity of the event. My favorite moment of the night was seeing Paul and Dustin Harbin sketching together. Paul was drawing a picture of Dustin. Dustin was also drawing a picture of Dustin. On a side note, it makes me happy that all of the OOSA artists showed up and contributed some sketches for the fundraiser. That display of character in my artists makes me proud.
We had our Brand New Nostalgia/Out of Step Arts panel, "I remember when Brand New Nostalgia was cool", on Saturday. It featured Andrew MacLean, Alexis Ziritt, Tradd Moore, James Harren, Paul Maybury, Joe Dellagatta, Brandon Clarke and myself. Was it well attended? Did people remember when BNN was cool? Let's just say that there were a few available seats in the room. Making the best of it, we just had an informal chat about what everyone submitted to the kaBOOMbox Vol. 1 anthology and showed some preview pages. I think it was actually pretty fun and informative for everyone present. And Tradd got a chance to eat his breakfast, so that was good. I think we'll have a video of the talk available for you to see online soon.
Saturday night was the big auction night. I got invited to the pre-auction shindig Shelton puts on for a select few for the first time (which I really enjoyed and appreciated). Free food, open bar, great company. What a way to start the evening! The auction was packed and there were a lot of great pieces available. Pieces from Adam Hughes and Mark Brooks were notably absent, though, because they are typically the big money pieces. Hopefully that didn't effect the overall income of auction since the money raised goes towards putting on next year's Heroes Con. After watching the auction for a bit, I was invited to go out with Ming, Becky Cloonan, and Jimmy Aquino for oysters (which I had never tried before). I spent the rest of the evening/early morning at the Westin bar chit-chatting with folks. I got to talk a long time with my old friend and consummate class-act, Erik Jones, which was nice because we only get to see each other at Heroes Con. I'm happy that his career is taking off and it was good to catch up.
Sunday I was tired. I left at the end of the show to drive back home so I didn't have a chance to go to the Dead Dog party, regrettably. I hope everyone had a good time.
Other quick thoughts and highlights: - Chris Pitzer's and Jim Rugg's mustaches. - Shelton mentioned the museum exhibit that we are working on together during his panel interview with Jim Rugg. It should be on the TMSIDK podcast. - Next year, I am instituting "Saturday Night Suits". Let's class this place up a little fellas. - It was great to see everyone, even though I had to reintroduce myself to some people because I look so different from years past.
Something I'd like to see next year: I'd like to see more publishing companies on the floor. Especially if the con is going to keep the larger space. Being such a well-respected and popular show, there is no reason that companies like Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse and IDW shouldn't come. I'm sure this more of them deciding not to come as opposed to Heroes Con not inviting them.
Something I don't want to see next year: Aquaman. If you saw him, you know what I'm talking about. *Shudder*