Before I even start this post... I want to say a quick thank you tooo... well, you!
Whether you've been checking out my blog and supporting me from the very beginning (Thanks Wendi and Megan!), or you're someone that I've collected along the way, Thank YOU for reading! I made a decision, early on... that I wasn't going to do this blog for the attention or "adoration" of my fans... but for myself. This was me... trying to find my voice. Trying to find a way to communicate through and with my silly little 'drawrings.' I'm proud to say that somewhere along the way, I feel like I've accomplished some of that... which isn't to say I don't have a long way to go, but I have come a long way too.
It's been nearly a year now since I started 'blogging' (not that I consider myself a 'blogger' by any stretch)... but I have managed to rack up 81 posts. Kinda impressive when I think about it... Sure, it could be more... and I know I've had a few 'dry spells' along the way... but I kept at it. Here's to year two. Cheers!
Ego Comics Infotainment Group wrapped up our first official comic book convention. Albuquerque Comic Expo 2012 ended on Sunday night at 6pm. It was a three day event, spanning Friday, Saturday & Sunday. We've both been working hard to get everything that we planned ready for the 'really big shoe', and a lot of our time and energy has been aligned towards that very goal. In the meantime, I know that some other aspects of our lives have suffered... especially towards the end as we made the 'big push' to get it all wrapped up. A special thank you to my/our families for being supportive and understanding that this was something that we NEEDED to do.
And boy, did we.
20 years. This has been 20 years in the making. Neil and I met in an art classroom during my freshman year of High School. A shared admiration and desire to draw and create stories brought us together... and we've been creating Stomping Ground (in one form or another) since.
This convention was the first time we've EVER put our little creation 'out there', beyond our own families and a couple of close friends. Nervous... you betcha'. But proud. No expectations. Just our intentions... our art... and our words.
A very wise, and incredibly talented man, I had the privilege to meet at the show (Kody Chamberlain - Artist and Creator of Sweets.) said to me (and I've heard it before - but it still rings true,) "You build your audience one fan at a time." I feel like we got started on that. Somehow, my drawings and Neil's words actually caught the interest of a couple of people. It was really cool, and inspiring to watch people walk by our table... glancing this way and that at the plethora of great and wonderful things to see at this show... and every once in a while, watch someone slow down, and actually stop... to look a little closer at something I drew, to see that little spark of interest, ignite into something more. And it was even cooler to get an opportunity to talk to someone about it. And even cooler still, when that person handed over a few of their hard earned dollars just to take it home with them. What a wild, wonderful and strange experience... to get a compliment from a stranger (unsolicited) that my stuff was 'cool'... or that they actually enjoyed my artwork, and to actually exchange money for a drawing. This is the First of the things I learned during those 3 days... My drawing and Neil's words... have value. I have a strange view, and somewhat skewed sense of value and what things are worth. I was not sure if anyone would pay $5.00 for a picture I drew. They did. I'm not saying that they sold like gangbusters... but we did sell a few. We made a few 'connections'... and that's all anyone on this rock can really ask for, isn't it? To connect to another person through something you love. And to get paid for the experience is just the icing on the cake.
The Second thing I learned during this show... was that you HAVE to network. You have to connect. To other fans, but also to other artists / creators / writers. We're a community. There are things to be learned... things to be inspired by... and some very generous and awesome people out there who are just great to know. I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of new creators and artists at the show. I totally 'geeked out' about getting to talk to Andy Kuhn for a while. I came across his work at the Albuquerque Comic Con in January of this year. Can't believe I hadn't heard of him before, but something about his work just really caught my eye, and I was an instant fan. It was awesome to get to see him again, and 'talk shop' a little. I gave him a copy of our book, and he kinda giggled that he used to play in a band called Stomping Ground. He asked me to sign it! That was pretty awesome! Wish I had some disposable income for this show, I'd love to own some of his art (but of course with the kids - nice things don't tend to last too long in the house... *sigh*, probably better I didn't but it would still be nice to support such a talented, and super nice guy!) Before the end of the show on Sunday, I went over just to say thanks, and tell him it was nice talking to him, and as I was walkin' up he said "Hey Ben", That was a highlight! Sorry... I told ya', I geeked out a little bit! I look forward to talking to him more in the future.
On Sunday, the show was slower, and Neil and I took turns walking the show... didn't have much of a chance to really see the rest of the show on Friday or Saturday... so the slowness provided for a little more exploring. While walking around Artist Alley, I was just kinda on the lookout for something that 'jumped out' at me. I noticed a couple of uniquely beautiful pieces, and really admired the line work, use of color and detail of the prints on display. After chatting for a few minutes with the man responsible for creating them, Devin Kraft, and mentioning that I was an 'exhibitor' too, he offered to walk with me over to my booth, and check out my stuff too. We strolled over and he seemed to genuinely take an interest in my work, and we talked for a while about styles, inspirations, indie books. And he took me over to meet Chris Brunner of 12 Gauge Comics. Somehow we got sidetracked along the way, and ended up talking to Kody Chamberlain - who just released Sweets. It was very interesting chat, and I got some sensational insight into this whole 'comic book artist' gig from Mr. Chamberlain, and that whole experience was a real eye-opener.
Devin and I agreed to exchange books - (ART TRADE = AWESOME!!) and he gave me a copy of his book - "The Devil and Dr. John", and links to the other books that he had online. If you get a chance, click that link, read the story, and check out his other work at Cheshire Cat Art. The man has some serious talent, and a real eye for design / layout / composition / color and some beautiful lines, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of his books and checking out the rest of his gallery over the next couple of nights. I already have a couple of favorite pieces, and I'm going to have to see if I can buy a couple of prints next time I see him. Also, Devin was sharing a table with Logan Pack, another incredibly talented illustrator. I didn't get to talk to Logan as much as I would have liked, but the guy is awesomely talented!! Check out some of the prints that he had for sale here... awesome work!! And I can totally see why he sold so many of this image... it's gorgeous...
Right before the show wound down, I ran over to tell Devin thanks for talking, and that it was nice to meet him, and we got to talking again... he offered to give me a quick critique of the books I had given him... and it was positively insightful. Confirmed some of my own suspicions, and reinforced some of the things I'm doing right, and provided some much needed ideas about a few things that I could do better.
I spent a little time with the guys and gals of 7000bc again as well. It was great to see them all at the show - and I enjoyed talking to both Bram and Monica Meehan of the completely awesome "Raised by Squirrels" series, and Peter Ziomek and his brother Paul - (Who just put out their graphic novel "Fakin' the Funk"!) I also got to meet and talk some digital kung fu with David "ArtAssassin" Harrigan! And I'm sure many more. Apologies to anyone that I forgot... exhaustion and the fuzziness of the late night is once again setting in.
Oh... but before I sign off... the Third thing I learned... We're not doing another con like this until we release our book. It's simple. But it's a fact.
The plan is simple. The 5pg short story we published in the back of our sketchbook/field guide... is going to be continued for 7 more pages (total of 12)... 5 short stories focusing on a handful of our prominent / pertinent characters (sort of a Stomping Ground Zero issue)... we'll collect all those into one book, and then we get started on issue one.
6 months... and we got a lot to do. Time to start doing.
Now... I'm off to bed.
***And Deron (I hope I spelled that right) I promised you something on the last day of the show. If you read this - I still would like to make good on that. If you have a chance, please reply to this post or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll see about getting those to you somehow.