Monday, October 8, 2018

Baltimore & NY Comic Con 2018

This blog post is brought to you by eleven cups of diner coffee. I counted.

Baltimore Comic Con usually wipes me out but with New York following only a few days later I was hit with a double whammy of exhaustion. And it doesn’t help to skip meals, my fellow creators. One evening I realized that after mingling with other comics fans, I only had scotch for diner. At 2am I tried to remedy that fact but options are limited in Baltimore. 7-11 fried chicken ain’t bad in the middle of the night. During daylight hours…I can’t say.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This is the eighth year I’ve attended Baltimore Comic Con – seventh vending. It’s my favorite convention because of its emphasis on comic books. Not pop culture celebs or wrestlers but the printed book. It’s the fans themselves that are the highlight for me. Lots of smiles and enthusiasm abound in the halls. If you ever need a pick-me-up of positive vibes, BCC is the place for you.

This year I had all four issues of my World War 2 book THE MOSES MILITIA available. Was hoping to have issue five ready but time was against us. Producing comics is a long process of writing, drawing, coloring, and lettering amidst constant editing to maintain a level of quality from issue to issue. The results are always there in artist Bill Wylie’s pages and number five is already shaping up to be the best issue yet.

In the meantime, my new series THE PUNCH LINER made its debut at the con. The book is an homage to the 1970s TV series Kolchak The Night Stalker. It features stand-up comedian Stan Douglas who has strange encounters in his travels on the road yet he can’t explain why. I gave numerous copies to publishers at the con, all of whom remarked on the quality of the book. Artist Luca Cicchitti has a definite feel for this mix of horror and comedy and rocked the pages! Not just the characters but in maintaining an air of creepiness in his backgrounds. Looking forward to issue two.

The cover by Russ Braun (The Boys, Jimmy’s Bastards) captured the exact feel I wanted  for the book. When I wrote the script I always had Russ in mind for the cover knowing that he was a huge Kolchak and monster fan. At New York I presented him with a printed copy and we all chatted about how much we loved the TV show.

Felix Serrano provided amazing colors for the cover and it’s a joy discovering it was the first time he worked on Russ’ art. Matter of fact they had met for the first time at the New York Con. Hopefully we can do it all again!

Back to Baltimore. The books sold quite well as people came over to pick up the latest issue of Moses Militia and scoop up The Punch Liner. In addition to the fans, it was a delight to run into other creators and reacquaint relationships - Justin Jordan, Amy Chu,
Sean Von Gorman, Gannon Beck, Daniel Kalban, etc. Unfortunately since I didn’t have any side help to run the table it was difficult to saunter around the con and chat. Hopefully next year I’ll have some help, either human or robotic. Doesn’t matter.

A pure joy is also meeting professionals whose work you’ve enjoying for years. Tony Isabella (creator of Black Lightning) was as nice as he comes across on social media which is how he knew me. Mind blown! I hope he continues to attend conventions in the future.

The same goes for legend Howard Chaykin (American Flagg, Cody Starbuck, etc). We had a wonderful conversation about Robert Crumb, mutual friends in common, and writing but don’t bring up Harlan Ellison to him! I learned that. To put it mildly, Howard’s not a fan. I changed that subject quickly by offering him issues one and four of The Moses Militia. He liked the concept and gladly took the books as did Tony Isabella earlier.
Some quick observations – cosplayers are always a bubbling fountain of joy. I took about 340 pictures of different characters and while for women Harley Quinn still reigns supreme as the most common costume, for males it’s pretty clear that Negan from The Walking Dead has toppled Deadpool for sheer numbers. And why not? All you need is a black jacket, a whiffle ball bat (not even with barbed wire), and a sharpie to draw in a porn mustache. I saw it there.
Cosplay pics here:
My hotel room was again quite affordable (meaning cheap) but I could’ve done without the blood stains on the light switch. I didn’t check that box on Expedia.

Saturday night is typically when creators hit the bar at the Hyatt Regency to let their hair down. This year though I didn’t run into many people that I knew so I intended to make it an early night. To pass the time, I started drawing superhero stick figures on post-it notes while drinking. Before I realized it, I had the table covered. That drew a few women over who asked to have them (not bragging – that’s what happened, readers!). That turned into hours of discussing comics, movies, and scotch. Before I knew it, 2am creeped up and I had to leave for convenience store fried chicken and sleep.
That next week I attended New York Comic Con (tables are too expensive). The day started with racking up some karma points. A waitress at a local NYC cafĂ© couldn’t raise the metal gates of the shop – the heavy chain was pretty rusted. I assisted by putting all my weight on it as I pulled. Took a few minutes but the gates went up. She was so thankful that she offered me lunch. I just asked to wash the rust off my palms. When I came out of the rest room, she insisted that I have coffee and cake. A yummy way to start the life-draining exercise of NYCC!

As mentioned above, it was fun to see Russ Braun and Felix Serrano (who produced the cover to THE PUNCH LINER) as well as Chris Sotomayor, Brian Smith, Ed McGuinness, Shawn Martinborough  and others. But I have to single out writer Dirk Manning (Tales of Mr Rhee) who posted a video eulogy praising Harlan Ellison after he passed. It was because of that, I had purchased a collection of Ellison’s short stories having only read his comics’ and TV work. I’m really enjoying the book (but again, don’t mention it to Howard Chaykin).

Lastly, I have to mention running into an amazing cosplayer of Ultraman. The suit looked exactly like the TV superhero – rubber with various light-up FX. When I showed him a photo of a Gamera costume I built back in 1996, he whispered in my ear, “I want to fight you.” LOL!

I could go on (the new Dr Who debut, my quest for the Super Powers Mister Miracle, Garth Ennis passing me while I read a Chinese menu in Baltimore) but I need to color pages for The Moses Militia. See you in the comics shop!

-jb 10/8/18

Monday, June 18, 2018

Eternal Con 6/16 – 6/17, 2018

This past weekend I’ve vended at Eternal Con which was held at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, NY. Usually I’ve tabled at out-of-state conventions so it was a relief to only have a twenty minute drive without tolls or multiple gas tank refills to sell my funny books! And believe it or not, one of the best things about this show were the well-cushioned chairs that were provided to us. A welcome change from the hard plastic torture devices you usually get. My buttocks were happy!

My table setup is pretty simple – comic books, prints, and shot glasses for sale. No lofty shelf systems to obscure my neighbors’ tables (there’s really should be a height limit on those) or boxes to step around to get at the good stuff. Just easy access to comic books with simple descriptions on post-it notes on the covers to explain what the book is and why you’ll love it! 

And usually that’s all you need to make a sale. Sometimes a quick answer or two to prod the customer along the way (“Who’s this guy? What does she do? What’s his name? What kind of monster is that?!) which I am always happy to provide!

Sales went well at this show. Customers bought complete sets of THE MOSES MILITIA, my World War 2 series, as well as GOLDENGIRL #1. A few prints sold and to my surprise, one guy bought four Moses Militia shot glasses. I guess he has some serious drinkin’ to do!

If I had one complaint is was the lack of coffee at the show. No one had any but people kept walking by drinking out of copper mugs, taunting me mercilessly (in my mind anyway)! A vendor was selling these metal mugs with an added gimmick – free soda fill ups all weekend). That’s nice and all but I need coffee to fuel me.

To my shock, beer was readily available. I saw guys walking around with open cans (really awful beer for my tastes) which I was surprised to see at a family event. But no coffee?!! Ugh!

One of the fun parts of a con is just merely discussing comics with people. Had enjoyable chats about the Thunder Agents (not realizing until I got that it was Wally Wood’s birthday!), Tomb of Dracula, Wonder Woman, & other books.

Another major bit of enjoyable for me is talking with professionals in the field. My main incentive for vending at cons is to network with publishers, editors, and experienced writers and artists – for critiques of my work or to find freelancers to potentially work with in the future on my projects (within my painfully small budgets, of course).

Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to find Jim Shooter (writer/editor previously at DC, Marvel, Valiant, etc) sitting right behind me. We chatted about his Avengers run - specifically his two part Molecule Man story which I loved. During the course of our chat he asked about my stuff of which I was happy to give him a copy of the latest issue of The Moses Militia. 

On Sundays, typically I like to bring in Dunkin Donuts munchkins to give out to my fellow vendors. People are usually tired and grumpy but you’d be surprised how far a tiny little pastry will brighten someone’s day. As an added bonus, people will remember that small gesture. Pro artists were coming over to my table to thank me, look over my books, & provide advice.

Having an established professional tell you that you’re doing quality work is a great feeling. Maybe you’re not ready for the pros yet but you’re on the right track. It keeps me going forward.   

There were a lot of cool cosplayers in attendance notably a great looking Dr Doom.
You can find the pics I took on my facebook page here:

Of course, I need to mention the main guest at the convention – William Shatner. As a friend pointed out, he looks like a cuddly teddy bear, round with curly hair but as another person described, “A teddy bear that doesn’t want to be touched.” And I don’t blame him. The guy is 87 years old. Leave him be. And one point, he walked right past my table (fast enough that I wasn’t able to get my camera out in time). To me, it’s such a reality bender to see such an iconic figure in real life. Was so happy to see him in person within arms’ length. 

So a very enjoyable experience. I would do this convention again but now I’m in preparation for Baltimore in September. Back to work on the next issue of MM!

-jb 6/18/18

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Baltimore Comic Con 9/22/17 - 9/24/17

My living room is littered with boxes of comics, prints strewn on the floor, spilled postcards, and bags of candy. Another Baltimore Comic Con has come and gone!

This past summer has been a constant battle to defeat a nightmare of a deadline - finishing production of MOSES MILITIA #4, my World War 2 comic book series about a team of Jewish soldiers battling Nazi paranormal schemes. Each time artist Bill Wylie has turned in pages, I've been astonished at seeing the script springing to life...and then I'd look at the calendar and freak out.

For those unfamiliar with how the donuts get made, this is the comic book process - the writer writes the script, the artist turns it into art (pencils & inks), the colorist does his thing, ditto the letterer, and then the finished book (including ads & a back cover) goes to the printer who needs a week minimum (my guy anyway) to bring you a finished stapled book. While all this is going on, you need to be aware of your deadline. For me it was September 20th - the day before I was driving down to Baltimore for Comic Con.

In my attempt to learn as much of the production as I could, it was my intention to color and letter the entire book but as my deadline crept up it was obvious that I needed help. Luckily I was able to get the amazing Dave Sharpe to letter the book while getting a last minute hand from the incredible Chris Sotomayor to color the last two pages of MM4. Both of them teach their respective fields online through Comics Experience (which I recommend highly -

So the donuts got made & I couldn't be happier. MOSES MILITIA #4 looks fantastic and could sit side by side with any book on LCS shelves. It kicks off the new story arc where the team has to deal with Nazis discovering Skull Island - yes, that one where giant apes come from. Bear in mind I wrote this in 2010. No plagiarism here, kids!

In Baltimore I started off with a surprise in my hotel dresser - a full, one piece pants suit. Somebody had a party. Then it was off to get some local fried chicken & fries right next door to a local sex shop advertising "We have Fleshlights!" Chicken is good enough for me, thank you.

The first day of the Con started great. I have a corner table close to the entrance of Artist Alley & a nice neighbor (Visionary Comics). It can be a nightmare if the table next to you is....less than friendly but Mike & his family were a delight. We covered each other's tables for breaks & they ran coffee runs! Woo-hoo!
Ran into Mike from Vampire Robots ( and placed an order for Godzilla stuff because I can never have enough!!

The cosplayers this year were amazing! This year the clear choice of players was RICK & MORTY...or more specfically Rick. Not too many Mortys around.
Here is where the pics are -

The second day was packed. Lots of people but not too many sales. That was the general consensus of the vendors I spoke to. The reasons were speculative but one could be that the loss of the Harvey Awards caused a drop in professionals attending the Con. Who knows?

Unfortunately I was unable to go to any of the panels this year because I didn't have a helper to cover the table. That was a big snag but I was able to realize a personal dream. TOMB OF DRACULA #52 was the first Marvel comic I bought back in 1977. I still have that book which Gene Colan (the penciller) had signed when I first met him in 1991. Now I have signatures from Tom Palmer (the inker) and Marv Wolfman (the writer). Both of them were moved by my enjoyment of their work & explaining how that issue made me seek out the entire run. TOMB is still my all time favorite comic series.

Marv also said that he recognized me though he didn't know from  where. Besides Facebook (we're friends) I couldn't say but he did ask about my book and said, "Any book against the Nazi horde sounds good to me!" And now he has a copy of MOSES MILITIA #4 as a gift!

That evening everyone gathered at the Hyatt Regency (site of the new RINGO Awards) for drinks. It was nice to run into Tom Palmer once again, Sean Van Gorman (artist/writer), and Amy Chu (writer). I also ran into fellow indie comics creators that I had met from last year and we had a nice discussion about comics and comedians over many a round! Everybody loves Kyle Kinane!

The third day started off with an annoying false fire alarm that kept everyone outside for half an hour in the blazing sun. Ugh! But once the fire department gave the OK we were back in business.

The day ended with a very pleasant chat with colorist pro Laura Martin who had given me some great advice at last year's con. As she looked through the pages of MOSES MILITIA #4 she was pleased that I took that advice to heart and gave me some very nice compliments on my work. I think I floated back to my table. Thanks Laura!

So in summery, I'm very pleased with the comments from fans, buyers, and professionals on MOSES MILITIA. Sales may have been down but Baltimore Comic Con is always a pleasant experience and I will vend there again. Hopefully with the next issues of MM in hand.

-JB 9/27/17

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Baltimore Comic Con - Sept 2nd - 4th, 2016

As an indie comics creator there’s not a lot of spare time to do anything. If I have a free moment, my first impulse is to start sketching or writing my next plot. Vacation isn’t a word in my pocket dictionary. So that’s one reason (among many) that I look forward to Baltimore Comic Con. It’s my favorite show because it’s purely comics based. No wrestlers or celebrities here. Although they had a couple, it was not the focus.

So this was my sixth time attending and/or vending in Artist Alley with my comics, THE MOSES MILITIA and GOLDENGIRL. Yes, it’s exhausting to stand for eight hours but when you’re pushing lemonade (which you sincerely believe is the best on the block) then it’s exhilarating!

What made this Con especially exhausting, it was the first that I didn’t have a helper/assistant to allow me time to saunter around the place. That said I did find the opportunity to say hi to a few friends (Brian Smith, Amy Chu, etc.) and meet a few that I’ve only known virtually on social media (Dirk Manning, Justin Jordan, etc.).

There’s also the fun of meeting other indie creators who share in the joy of making comics. Some of the books I picked up were Space Corps, My Gal the Zombie, Primal Instinct, Zachariah Thorn, and Tales of Mr Rhee volume 1 by Dirk Manning. After I’m done writing this blog entry, I’ll be reading these over a well-deserved espresso!

Friday night dinner was especially memorable because I wandered into Ten Ten Ramen, a Japanese restaurant. I immediately felt comfortable for three reasons: the animated “Howl’s Moving Castle” was playing on the TV screens, Massive Attack’s “Teardop” (aka the theme from the TV show House) was playing over the speakers, and a Godzilla figure stared at me while I ate. I was at home!

Saturday evening usually means drinks at the Hyatt hotel bar after the Harvey Awards. Creators, retailers, and fans can mingle and chat over booze. Had a lot of fun meeting people from Source Point Press and Devil’s Due. Super nice gals and guys!

Over the course of the weekend, I always take pics of cosplayers. You can find the folder here at my Facebook page ( Friday seemed to have a plethora of Deadpools everywhere but overall the Con was swarming with Harleys of every category: Suicide Squad, video game, original Bruce Timm, etc. There were so many bumping into each other that my fellow vendors and I were discussing a Thunderdome event where all the Harleys would enter, battle to the death, and “only one would leave!” But they were so cute, soft and squishy, that they probably couldn’t do it. Then we speculated that they could use the huge hammer props as weapons. Ah, but they were also thin – made of paper and Styrofoam. Then we came up with the idea of using the handles to plunge into the eye sockets of their targets. Things got darker after that so we dropped the conversation.

My books sold well, as they did at EternalCon on Long Island a few months earlier. It was there that I completely sold out of MOSES MILITIA and had to go back to print. Luckily I picked up a fresh run just two days before traveling to Baltimore. Was in full panic mode before then. And lo and behold, MOSES has fans! I had multiple people who had the prior issues asking for the next. They’re coming, faithful readers! The incredible Bill Wylie is hard at work drawing the next story arc which will be available soon.

There were constant compliments on the art of the series. Passersby would stop in their tracks as they glanced at the prints we made of the covers of the book. I could’ve made a montage of all the wonderful comments on Bill’s work.

And yes, I made prints of all the covers including GOLDENGIRL with art by Jamal Igle and colored by Chris Sotomayer. Those stunning images were like screaming billboards that drew everyone in and sold books on their own without pitches from me. Should’ve made them a long time ago. 

My minor quibbles. The one issue that I, and several others had, was the lack of a wireless signal at the con. Hope that gets rectified in the future. Also on Saturday some moron decided to pull the fire alarm causing everyone to evacuate the Con in the last hour. Other than that BCC was a blast!

Sunday brought me an unexpected thrill when I met Howard Chaykin, a longtime hero of mine (American Flagg, Cody Starbuck, Dominic Fortune, etc.). It was early enough that his table wasn’t swamped. We got to chat for a bit about comics, a mutual friend of ours that he went to school with; and we talked a little about MOSES MILITIA which he liked the concept of and the art. Gave him a postcard of the cover. 

Leaving Baltimore was a headache. I had purchased discounted garage parking online where I had a printout of a barcode to scan for entry and exit. Well the parking garage scanner wasn’t working. Your humble narrator had to sit at the exit on a steep downwards angle for 45 minutes while I telephoned customer service who tried to get someone to drive to the garage to let me out. Now I’m not the type to get angry at someone who has nothing to do with the problem so I passed time calming the phone clerk down. When I got home I did receive a credit from the company bringing my total cost of parking to $10 for the entire weekend. Yay me!

After three days of munching on crackers and granola bars, I decided to treat myself to a dinner of comfort food which meant finding a buffet. Well, there weren’t any along the way but what New Jersey lacks in a pleasant fragrance they make up for it with quality diners. Not this time. I found a place in the middle of nowhere next to one of those clichĂ© chemical or power plants that you see along the Turnpike. The ambulance pulling away from the parking lot should’ve been a warning sign but it was late and I was starving. There was a bunch of weirdness that belonged in a Netflix horror show but I ignored them – like being the only male in the place at a diner with a mostly full parking lot and all the women customers seemingly there for Sunday evening’s all-you-can-eat chicken pot pie dinners. Now I’m wondering about the gender of the person carted away in the ambulance. Hmm….

No, I didn’t get the pot pie. I had truly awful chicken scampi on overcooked spaghetti. Great coffee though.

Thus passed my latest adventure at Baltimore Comic Con. Morty the rat is happy to see me & glad to finally get some Chinese noodle treats!

- James

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ETERNALCON - June 10th - 12th 2016 in Garden City, Long Island NY

Since the demise of ICON at Stony Brook University, I haven’t booked tables at any local cons. Last year I attended Eternal Con located at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island NY and was impressed with the location. There are exhibits of all forms of air travel including outer space which appeals to the little kid in me. So I decided to book a table for 2016 without any expectations. Usually when I sign up for cons I use them as an opportunity for exposure. EternalCon surprised me.

Right out of the gate my World War 2 series THE MOSES MILITIA (art by the amazing BILL WYLIE) started selling. Usually it was the pitch descriptions on post-it notes that I placed on the covers that caught their eye. “Jewish heroes kicking Nazi ass!” did more to sell the book than anything I said.

I think I’ll stick that tagline onto the trade collection in the future! MOSES MILITIA did so well that by Saturday afternoon the book had completely sold out. At the time I couldn’t enjoy the success because I was panicking that I wouldn’t have anything for Sunday. Luckily I managed to find more copies in a closet at home. Those sold out as well the next day.

My other book GOLDENGIRL about a female hero forced into an early retirement at the age of thirty also did well.
There are a lot of topical themes I tried to cover in that story but it’s hard to list them on a post-it note! But as I described them to people, my sales pitch succeeded, especially with women who are my target audience for GG.

Comic fans in general were the highlight of the convention. There was a positive energy that filled the hall with enthusiasm for the funny books we were pitching, for art sketches, or just to discuss comics. Can’t think of one negative incident with the attendees. The only complaint I had was the lack of air conditioning. Being on the second floor under a wide expanse of  windows and bathed in sunshine didn’t help. Felt like I should’ve basted in butter while I was baking. Ugh!

The cosplayers were out in full force with every level of craftmanship from suits made of paper, to store bought, to professional quality but all with a love for the activity.

Everyone posed joyfully for pictures. Had a odd moment where I ran into a cosplayer from Instagram who I thought was from Italy due to her pseudonym but was actually local. Italian profile names are a thing apparently! 

That joy extended to my fellow vendors. Ran into a bunch of old friends (including Ken Knudtsen, Chris Sotomayor, Todd Matthy, Dominic Sparano, etc) and made a bunch of new ones, artist Jamal Jones and writer James Schumacher (get his horror book! Sunday I brought in a crate of munchkins for all of us because donuts bring the world together. I'm convinced we could solve border conflicts if we air-dropped donuts on armies instead of bombs!

Didn’t really get a chance to walk around and meet any celebrities although it would’ve been a thrill to meet Brent (Data) Spiner. The lovely Chase (Deep Space Nine) Masterson did pass by. She signed my friend (& artist) Andrew Rodriguez' t-shirt and left an adorable note on his shoulder. Guess that’s not going in the wash!

So EternalCon was a lot of fun. There was talk that it may move to a larger venue but the museum location does provide a unique perspective where there are other interests all around for the attendees. Most likely I will sign up for a table again next year.

Now to call my printer for more MOSES MILITIA books!


BALTIMORE COMIC CON - September 25th - 27th 2015

Sorry! This late entry is on attending Baltimore Comic Con last September 2015. As the fourth time I’ve booked a table at the Convention Center, BCC is always a joy to attend because it's purely focused on comics rather than general pop culture. And this year I was very excited because I was debuting my newest book, GOLDENGIRL #1! 

GOLDENGIRL was an idea that formed when I was part of the New York City creator collective known as Pronto Comics. As a group, we pooled our resources to put out quality material and one of the books was an anthology called KICKED. The idea (brilliantly conceived by writer Joe Toledo) was about an intervention for a superhero sidekick by former partners of the same hero, Captain Awesome. Each chapter was a bleak anecdote of how the square-jawed hero screwed over his juniors.

My contribution was called Loser Boy, a “hero” who was passed over to join Captain Awesome for the talented (and much cuter) GoldenGirl. She just had a cameo in that tale but she grew on me. So I crafted a story that grew into a 48 page tale of greed, ageism, and sexism.

Part of my motivation was to see if I could write a female hero under certain parameters.
1) to ensure she didn’t require any help or needed rescuing by males.
2) to explore themes unique to a female hero – her looks, age, whether she would be taken seriously by a male corporate society.
3) to apply the Bechdel test.

For anyone not familiar with the Bechdel test, it’s a set of guidelines (associated with cartoonist Alison Bechdel) usually applied to films to determine if any attempt was made to make the female characters three dimensional and not a stereotype.

Those guidelines are:
1) Does the story have at least two women in it.
2) Do they talk to each other
3) And is the subject about something other than a man.

Using all that, I crafted “The Death of GoldenGirl” about how a corporate sponsored hero suddenly became yesterday’s news due to her turning thirty. In a youth oriented society and a lack of roles for older actresses, why wouldn’t that apply to superheroes? So in the plot a promotional representative comes up with a scheme to get GoldenGirl back into the spotlight with tragic consequences.

This story had a few false starts with at least three artists unable to finish the project due to other commitments. So I put a call out to artists on various sites that connect talent. I received at least 100 submissions but settled on the talented Julian Taveras who I thought lived in The Bronx. For that reason I thought he was local enough that we could meet in person to discuss the project. After he signed on, I discovered he was living in Ohio! We wouldn’t meet in person for a year but I’ll get to that later.

Around the time the pages started coming in from Julian, DC (and Supergirl) artist Jamal Igle was running a kickstarter project for his independent book, MOLLY DANGER. One of the incentives was a cover drawn by him which I signed up for whole-heartedly. The finished cover far exceeded my expectations. And with color from the amazing Chris Sotomayor, you can see the result.

While I worked many sleepless nights to color the interior 48 pages, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t have the time to letter it so I turned to the incredible Dave Sharpe. He saved the project by getting it finished on time and adding a professional sheen to the balloons and captions. Never underestimate good lettering, people. That saying should be in fortune cookies.

So books in tow, I got to my hotel in Baltimore. In the middle of the night there was a knock at the door. It was Julian Taveras who had taken a bus from Ohio to Baltimore to do sketches at the table and sign books. There was many a celebratory toast made that weekend, a drink for the book, a drink for comics, follow by drinks for no reason!

Highlights from the convention:  I picked up the original art for the cover from Jamal Igle. I’ve known Jamal for a few years now having met in the hotel bar at a previous BCC and trading silly DJ stories. Again, amazing cover! 

Picking up some original art from the incredible Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez - a drawing of Mr Freeze from the Batman TV series (the Otto Preminger version). Still have to frame that piece.

Meeting Neal Adams and telling him how my 1st comic was Detective #410 by him and Dennis O’Neill. He graciously posed for a pic holding up the cover of GOLDENGIRL. 

Meeting colorist Laura Martin who I had spoken to during the online coloring courses I had taken under Chris Sotomayor (sign up at Comics Experience’s website!). She had taken a few moments to give me valuable feedback (pro & con) of my coloring on GoldenGirl. Can’t thank her enough.

GOLDENGIRL sold well as well as my World War 2 series THE MOSES MILITIA making for another enjoyable Baltimore con. Seeing those two books on the table gave me pause and think, “Hmm…I’m not just saying I want to make comics. I’m doing it!” That’s another free fortune cookie saying from me to you!


Monday, September 22, 2014

SMALL PRESS EXPO September 13-14, 2014!

The past four years I’ve attended or booked a table at the Baltimore Comic Convention. For this year’s BCC, I planned on debuting a new comic book but alas, it didn’t happen due to missed deadlines by the artist. (If only I kept up with my drawing instead of fronting a punk band for 7 years...but I digress.)

So I decided to attend the Small Press Expo (or SPX) in Bethedsa, Maryland which caters to purely independent comics. The main reason I went to SPX was to find a replacement artist but it became clear to me that everyone there is doing their own thing. And that’s awesome! It’s great to see creators working their dreams instead of worn down artists pushing out content when they have no proverbial “horse in that race.”

That first day I wandered, navigating up and down long aisles checking out art styles to see who would fit my project. The optimism and pride in everyone’s eyes as they described their books was infectious. I picked up quite a few of them. Here’s some quickie reviews:

First off, I made a beeline for Th3rd World’s table to get volume four of “The Stuff of Legend” which I highly recommend. A great story about a boy kidnapped by the boogeyman and his toys come to his rescue.

My favorite book last year was the blaxploitation parody “Afrodisiac” from ADHouse which blew me away so it was a great surprise to meet one of the creators, Jim Rugg, and pick up another of his books, “Street Angel.” We had a fun chat about his stuff as well as diverse topics such as Power Man/Iron Fist and Black Dynamite which we both were fans of. 

 “The Humans” is a cool book about what appears to be a Pierre Boule planet where apes rule and features an ape bike gang who rumbles with a rival outfit. Nice art and storytelling. I’ll pick up more when it comes out through Image.

Crime books are my thing so I had to pick up “Rebel Gun” by Josh Hixson. Phenomenal art! A low budget film with a real life serial killer is the plot of “The Auteur,” a wacked out book that would make a great animated film if Ralph Bakshi got a hold of it. “Bunny Girl” is an adorable book about the creator’s one year old. 

Every time I see writer Amy Chu, I always pick up what ever book she has. Never disappoints and “VIP Room” is no exception. Keep your eye on her.

On the second day, I had two goals in mind. One was to meet up a rep from ComiXology. They had sent a group email to participants of their Submit program which I was (MOSES MILITIA available now!) asking if they were attending. If they were to approach them and say hello. Easier said than done because ComiXology did not have a table nor did I know what they looked like. Well, I had asked a SPX staff member and they told me it was probably Chip Mosher. When I asked what he looked like, he said and I quote, “He’s a tall guy with a beard.” ???? Have you been to a Comic Con full of millennial hipsters? They’re all tall guys with beards!!!

My second goal was to grab a coffee and find a couch in the catacombs of the hotel where I can write on my laptop for the next “Moses Militia” arc. The creative energy of the con was a battery I decided to plug into while it was peaking. As I got a few pages in, people starting filling up the area. On my left I noticed there was a whole breakfast set-up of coffee, juice, bagels and pastries. And yep, they were free! Tumblr had sponsored a networking meet-up for con attendees. Not only did they bring munchies but there was a box of free trades they were giving away. (Grabbed me a trade of “Powers” by Bendis and Oeming!)

So I placed my script on pause, had some eats and mingled. Met a lot of (again) cool people and managed to meet a few promising artists.

Now here I must mention two incidents with comics professionals – one negative one positive. Since I don’t believe in posting negative comments about pros, the negative story will be about a “nameless anonymous guy/gal.” So I approached NAG to ask a simple question about submitting my book, “The Moses Militia,” for review to this person’s site. The query was “should I wait until it is gathered into a trade before I send it in?” NAG immediately went into some diatribe about genres that had nothing to do with what I had asked. When it was clear that NAG wanted to let off steam about…whatever, I decided to cut it short and gave this person a postcard with the cover of my book so this person would be familiar with it when I sent it in. Well, for some reason NAG rolled his/her eyes at the site of the card and said with a sarcastic tone, “Oh great. Moses Militia” before walking off. I have no idea what that was about. I knew this person was anti-superhero (which was part of NAG’s rant) but MM is not that. Maybe because the image is professional looking and features heroic poses (gee, sorry it looks good!) that’s the impression NAG got? Who knows. I like the next story better…
Moses Militia available at ComiXology:
So I made another sweep of the Con to talk to a few more potential artists when I was sure I found the right person. Her portfolio which was open on her table was very impressive. I decided to make my pitch and dazzle her with a money offer. Now where I made my mistake was failing to look at her name tag or the 7 foot tall standing banner behind her or the many trades on the table with her name plainly in sight. Hell, why bother with details? I’m gonna hire her! After a brief discussion she politely turned me down. That’s when I looked around and found out that I tried to hire Carla Speed McNeil for a pittance of her regular page rate. And believe me, what I offered her was a fraction of what she gets. Admittedly I was unfamiliar with her work but I did know her name. So I quickly apologized which she replied there was no need. Nope, I embarrassed myself and insisted that I felt an apology was in order. I should mention she liked what I was pitching, which centered around a female character (a point she admired) and thought the rate I was offering was great for newcomers to the field. Very gracious. Very professional. Looking forward to meeting up with her again.

Later in the day I attended a Q&A panel by Jules Feiffer who discussed many legendary cartoonists including Milton Caniff and Will Eisner. Soon after I managed to meet up with him and picked up a personalized copy of his graphic novel “Kill My Mother.”

As I turned to exit the con, a tall bearded man passed by. Could it be the elusive Chip Mosher of ComiXology? I tapped him on the shoulder and indeed discovered it was him. When I told him the description I was going on, we both laughed. Another really nice guy.

So I am now a fan of SPX and will most likely attend it next year if not book a table myself. Now I’ve got a lot of reading to do….

- jb