Saturday, June 27, 2009

Claire Sitting

This is the painting from my weekly meeting of my painting group the Dirty Palette Club. My friend Claire came up to pose for us this week and it was a lot of fun, though this was a tough painting because of the angle and the shadow side of her face. I wiped this out 2 times before I got what I wanted--still I got something and lost something--but that's how it goes, I wanted to keep this looser like a study, 11 x 14 in oil. Claire will also be modeling for some of my Super Sad paintings.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Super Sad

This is a black and white sketch done for another series of paintings I have planned called Super Sad, this is roughly 5 x 8 in acrylic. The final painting will be quite large.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Portrait Class Week 5

This was the 5th week of the class I am taking over the summer and it seems the classes have just wooshed by so fast, I feel that I have made progress though, every week I feel the slight inch upwards, but it is a real fight and I often wipe out my painting and start again. Al is a great teacher, very patient and really has the ability to hone in on what each individual student needs to improve on in their work. In the pic above you can see one of our weekly reviews where we bring in work done outside of class to review. Our class is a good mix of regular students and other local artists of all ages.
I also love that he has given some demos in class, i love watching teachers give deoms, especially if the can verbalize their process like Al caan.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Philly Wizzer World-09: Attack of the Babymen Final Report

As promised here is the big wrap-up report on what appears to be or was much rumored to be the final Wizard World con in Philadelphia. Once again I will say right up front my report or review is based on my perspective and place and experience in the business as a professional artist, and I am just laying it out as I see it.

After last years lame show I decided to not get a table this year, and instead I just showed up and walked the show yakking with a few friends and fellow pros like Walt Simonson and parked my feet at my buddy Scott Cohn's table. The air has been going out of this show for many years, but the last 2-3 years was really a big downturn. This year I think the tent collapsed. Artist alley was very small this year, though they suddenly had a sign with the location of every artist's table.

Now I'm sure there were people who were doing great, every show has somebody who did great, I just didn't see or talk to any of them. Now I know Wizard as a company has been facing hard times, laying off many staffers and I think that might have a lot to do with the poor advertising of the show in the greater Philadelphia area and the feeling of disconnect. The crowd was the smallest this year it has ever been,I'd say 10,000 tops, I'm sure the Heroes Con drew away many pros, the crappy weather kept people at home, it rained like hell on Saturday morning, the economy is also having an effect, but in the end I think Wizard just didn't do all they could have done and the fact is there are so many shows now, shows are not special any more.

I also think the industry as a whole is in a spot where we can really see that now without new readers the old readers get stretched thin. This is an issue that will continue to drive down the retail business in comics year after year, and face it, without new 13 year-olds coming in, those slowly rotting boxes of old comics are increasingly heavier and heavier to cart back and forth. The fire sale on trades and graphic novels at this show was amazing. I wasn't buying anything, but retailers were literally giving the things away on Sunday afternoon. Bottom line-- no new readers eventually means death or a big return to small venues where quarter boxes and 5-for-a-dollar boxes will rule the day. Sad old men selling shit to other sad old men. I couldn't believe the amount of dolls, action figures and toys literally littering every space, and it seems to me nobody was buying this stuff. The Babymen already have this stuff, so with literally no new readers, new fans, what is everybody going to do with the ever growing piles of crap?

I will say that one of the things Wizard has really fallen down on is making the local media aware of the show, none of my students at Uarts, a major art college a few blocks away knew about the show, there were never any flyers in the schools of which there are many in Philly, there were flyers for all kinds of things in the school all year but a con like this lives or dies by the sheer volume of people in the door. One of the things that has always frustrated me as an artist working in the comic business is just how poorly comics is often run as a business. The old addage, "that you have to spend money to make money" is true, but you also have to spend your money right.

The crowd even on Saturday, the normal heavy day or any show was never that crazy, and by 3:30-4, the crowd really thinned out, the show was not over till 7pm. I know most retailers and artist had mixed feelings, the show was weak, so they didn't make much, many were frustrated Wizard didn't do a better job, and most felt bad that this would be maybe the last con here, but were not that sorry it might not return. There were a lot less costumes this year, there was the usual platoon of Star Wars characters walking the floor, a few home grown costumes, a lot of zombies for some reason. There was aslo a booth were you could get your face painted, so I saw many kids with faces painted with Spider-man eyes, bat logos, etc.
No big tent publishers this year, Marvel and DC were not there, no Spike TV, no big video game company, no manga or animae, hardly any girls.

In short, no mojo at this show. It's a shame because as a shows go this con is easy to get to via car, regional rail or public transportation, lots of great eating within a few blocks, so this show had a lot of reasons it could have been better.

The last few years there were a lot more women at the show,this year there were a few booths selling gothy corsets, the tape and bootleg DVD guys were back, it was mostly a comic and very heavy toy show. In short it was a Babymen show, and a weak one at that. There were a bunch of TV people there, the usual suspects like Lou Ferrigno, Erin Grey, a bunch of wrestlers, the gal who was the female terminator, Edward James Olmos, and Kitt, the car from Knight Rider--wheee! But often when I passed by many were sitting there looking very bored. If you are trying to attract normal people, fans of LOST, then you need to let them know that the TV stars are here. Normal people don't know or care about people drawing comics, the biggest names in comic books are not house hold names. Babymen know who drew what issue of Bouncing Boy, but the average guy who will bring his kids to this type of show will remember the Honky-Tonk man.


In short, it wasn't a show that had a lot to offer anyone but the type of fan who likes mostly superheroes and super hero toys and not much else. I just knew getting a table in this case would have been a waste of my money and time and I'd would have been sitting starring out at the wandering fans most of the weekend. No thanks. It's also a very impersonal show, in Baltimore or Heroes Marc Nathan and Shelton Drum bring you snacks, water, even hamburgers. Wizard has always been very impersonal in that way and those little things go a long way to making people feel better about doing business with you by again, making things personal, warm and friendly. I have always felt that they will take my money, but that's where our relationship ends, and that is bad business. Face it,outside of Hollywood and licensing shows comics is a handshake industry for us artists working in it or retailers. It's a face-to-face business at cons, you get to know people over many years, and it's a small dollar business.

Sunday the show was really light in attendance, as expected, and there were not even that many costumed fans to snap pics of, so after some time looking over Walt Simonson's shoulder at some new work I headed over the Dick Blick with my buddy Scott Neely and bought a bunch of art supplies. I came back as the con and was greeted by the sound of zipping tape, screeching dollies as people were busting this puppy down early and booking back home.

I will on one hand be sorta' sad if this was the last big show in my home town, but I also won't really miss it if it is. This town seems to be cursed with comic conventions, Fred Greenberg used to do them till he went bust and otherwise you are left with the local cons at the WMCA or Holiday Inn at the end of the world, no thanks.

Captain America is a pick-pocket!

All this sounds pretty negative, but the show did have some upsides. I met some cool people, got to meet some younger local artists, recent graduates, coming up and looking for work, met a new publisher Eric Gregorio and his 4th Dimension Entertainment who just published a great new graphic novel Lackadaisy by Tracy J Butler a really great cartoonist, I urge you to go get yourself a copy of this book. So every cloud has a silver lining--even in Philly.

Thor looking for a smoke.

Bobba Fett gets Ray Park's autograpgh.

Philthydelphia Wizzer World-09: Attack of the Babymen

Just a quick hit this am to say I'll give an extensive report on the Philly Wizard con tonight, but suffice to say the smell is ripe on the carcass of this show. It's in a much smaller hall and the crowd was significantly smaller this year, way. way smaller. I didn't get a table (though Wizard did contact me several times to get me to try and buy one) as I just knew it wouldn't be worth it so I am just walking the show, snap'n picks and sitting at my buddy Scott Cohn's table and yakking with the occasional friend, fellow pro , ex-student or fan.

More tonight....