Aggiecon, oh aggiecon, whatever happened to good ol’ aggiecon? You skip a few years and all of a sudden it goes all Filky and Cospastic. This year was definitely not a comic book year. In fact, it wasn’t a con for art in general. There were a little over 20 panels for writers and maybe half a dozen for artists. To say the least, it was disappointing. I did have fun. I figure, as far as first cons go I could do much worse.
The highs and lows of this con. Well the good news was that when I finally found my table I realized that I’d be spending the entire weekend sitting at the same table as Brian Stelfreeze. The bad news… I spent the entire weekend sitting at the same table as Brian Stelfreeze. Yeah, I didn’t make much money. Actually I didn’t make ANY money. My little marker sketches just don’t cut the shit like fully painted BEEyooTiful girly art from a well established comic artist. I’d hoped to at least make $50 in commissions. Didn’t happen. But I spent a lot of time either jabbering at Brian, or just watching him work. Definitely worth the… not… money.. thing. My main goal with this show was to experience what it’s like to be a working pro at a convention. And I definitely got that.
My studio mate Luis, messed my head up a few weeks ago by pointing out – as I was unabashedly bragging about the possibility of me being on panels with Mr. Stelfreeze– that there is hardly much, if anything at all, that I can add to what Brian might have to say. But it turned out Brian has been on a few panels and probably answered every question there is to answer. And I imagine – from the barrage of questions from him and the 5 and a half people in the early morning crowd – that he enjoyed having someone else share the task. We ended up having some relatively interesting conversations. About the unseen benefits of learning to draw comics in a middle of nowhere town like Lubbock. To the cocaine like addiction we’ve both experienced with producing airbrushed novelty products for the masses in exchange for bags of cash and the small price of our artistic souls. The panel was definitely a fulfilling exchange. And I feel like I more than held my own, and can consider myself to be in the ranks of other professional comic book artists.
I think that was the general feeling for me this weekend. I realized how far I’ve come as a comic book artist. I spent almost the entire weekend at my table critiquing artists portfolios. And absolutely feeling confident in what I was saying. And when the time came for Brian to critique my portfolio. I didn’t get the “you’re pissing me off!” and “what are you doing to me?!” stuff that I was hearing about a lot of the other artists coming through (and the critique I’ve gotten from him every previous year). Instead it was a quiet appreciation. Complimenting my color theory and character development. And a handful of tips on how to stylistically and economically improve what I’m already doing. The whole affair was unexpected, and very flattering. I am to say the least, inspired and reinvigorated.
There are two realizations from this weekend that I will be working on in the immediate future. First, I need to practice simplistic storytelling. I have a tendency to overcomplicate everything. Especially in my artwork. I have a log jam of stories and ideas that I haven’t been able to get out because it takes me so long to draw a finished page. So for the next few months I’m going to start doing simple/quick 1 page stories. 1 hour pages. It’s the sort of thing I’m worst at, and the major thing that’s slowing me down. So I’ll probably take a que from my friend, the genius that is Brian Morante, and start doing something fun.
The second thing, is ironically in the opposite direction. I realized as I was watching Mr. Stelfreeze’s painting demo, that I’d seen it before. In fact, at the atelier it was almost a daily thing. And I realized if I want to get to that level I need to keep learning to draw the figure more confidently. Specifically, I need to move back to San Diego and get back into the Watts school. I’ve been trying to keep up my lessons here, drawing from the figure and doing portraits as often as possible. And working from Andrew Loomis. But I’ve become stagnant, and I’m not sure where to go from where I am. So that’s the plan. My girlfriend and I are planning to move back to San Diego. Probably at the end of the year. This time for much longer than 6 months.
Anyways, to wrap up the con report. One of the most interesting panels this weekend was with Peter”Chewbacca”Mayhew. It was strange seeing him, and seeing all the same mannerisms as chewy. The most interesting to me, was the way he walks. I didn’t realize that Mr Mayhew had a limp in his knees. The walk I’d always known as chewy’s was because he had bowed knees. Mr. Mayhew also had a very fascinating insight into the development of a character. He says that it starts with the feet. The shoes to be specific. Whatever shoes a character is wearing, dictates how a character will stand, and walk and move. It’s something that most of us don’t even consider. When in fact it should start with that, the rest sort of works itself out. I found that very interesting.
Anyways, I’ll leave you with this… it’s a quick sketch caricature I did of Peter Mayhew. Then I touched up the colors in photoshop after scanning it. His hands were incredible. If you’ve ever met Lou Ferigno, his hands were even bigger than that.