Friday, July 28, 2006

And then I...

I'm gonna try and cover what happened over the last few days. It's gonna be a bit of a list of stuff, but I'm gonna try and cover all the highlights.


So we woke up today to find that after five days of beautiful sunshine, it was raining its ass off. We decided that the zoo would be a bad idea and decided to make our way to LA. We headed to the station (packed with incredibly beautiful women) and hopped the 2 hour train ride to LA. Via a clueless taxi driver we eventually found our way to the Venice Beach House, a beautiful ivy covered old building 20m from the beach. Yes. 20m. What's the catch? Well... we booked for August not July. Anyway, the owner Brian went above and beyond the call of duty to find us an alternative hotel for tomorrow night and accomodated us last minute for that night.

We decided to chill out and walk along the beach. I'm gonna upload 4 million photos of the sunset and the beach in the next few days. After about 2 hours of walking we found our way to the Santa Monica pier (with only one cute goth chick for eye candy, crazy monkey dudes on roman rings, massive black dudes doing pushups, amateur soccer games, inline hockey and countless volleyball matches.) Grabbing burger and onion strings underneath the ferris wheel of a carnival on the beach we looked out on the ocean and just chiled the hell out. We dragged our asses back and crashed out.


We woke up for breakfast and Sandra the awesomely cool chick who manned the desk drove us to the car rental place where we hired a Ford Taurus. Driving on the right side of the road freaked me out, but apart from what JAn calls, "DRIFT!" where I meander to the right side of the lane (in an attempt to get the driver's seat on the right side of the lane) I found it a lot easier than I expected. We drove to Beverly Hills and wandered around Rodeo Drive and all those places. We continued our addiction to the coffee bean and enjoyed the sun. The sun is actually beautiful here. It's 35 degrees and just beautiful, I wasn't even sweating. It's such a more temperate sun than in Australia.

We then headed to the Grove which is like Fox Studios meets an outdoor Chadstone to meet Roger, his lovely wife Yvette, Roger's mother and their two friends Michelle and Dean. Great Greek dinner and we said our goodbyes and went off to see Clerks 2, which is a worthy but not innovative sequel to the original. We dragged our asses back to the Jolly Roger Motel where I drew all night trying to fill our Shania's order. I pencilled a beautiful Wonder Woman for Renae (that I later totally ruined with watercolour).


Highlight day cos we actually slept in. Every day we'd been running on 5-6 hours sleep, and wednesday we just crashed out. First up we headed back to the Grove for breakfast, Coffee Bean, some sunglasses for me and some presents for Jemma (JAn's uber girlfriend.) Then we headed to the Le Brae tar pits, which are a natural tar pits in the middle of LA (imagine that the museum is right next to a live paleontological excavation site complete with bubbbling tar pits. Inside the museum was fascinting, and I will post photos. Some of the photos may even have the cute 18 year old that was wandering around behind us. =)

Then over to Beverly Hills. People warned us that Beverly Hills was really sleazy, and I want you to imagine Richmond meets St. Kilda with the odd building that would do Collins St. justice. We wandered in and out of tattoo/metal parlours looking for gifts. The day was getting on and half the road was blocked cos Mann's Chinese theater was previewing Will Ferrell's "Talgeda Nights" which I was totally uninterested in. Somehow I convinced JAn to go to Hooters for dinner. We actually had a great meal and got served by the hottest chick in the place... A beautiful black girl by the name of Jelani (sorry, no photos) with the body of an Adam Hughes Wonder Woman. It was this and the great shredded pork that made it unnecessary to spend the rest of my night apologising to JAn.

After we left the Hooters, we were heading to the car when JAn had the great idea to stop and buy a mango off this lil old mexican lady. The mango was on a stick and she was cutting it into a flower. She would then cover it in lemon juice and then sprinkle salt and then chilli powder on it. It was absolutely incredible, and look forward to making the delicacy for people as summer hits.

Then we realised that we had to check in for the hotel! We rushed back to Venice beach (1.5 hours in the car - my back is killing me!) missing Ripley's Believe it or not, the Guiness Book of Records and Wax museum. We went for a walk along the beach and spent the night in, with me continuing to draw while we watched Stan Lee's "Lightspeed" (worse than terrible) and Blade: the series (not too bad).


Spacedog meeting in Beverley Hills at 10am. We got so lost and got there at 10:30am. We then popped over to meet Renae Geerlings (Editor in Chief of Top Cow) and chatted to her for at least an hour or so. She showed us around the Top Cow offices, which are much more of a 70s office meets art studio and hella cool. She's awesome and was really gracious about all the bad art I dumped on her (apart from a cool pic of Sabertooth/Tyler I did, Wonder Woman and Grace (from the Innocents) were both pretty average.

We rushed back to Spacedog for a HUGE production meeting which went from 2pm til 530pm. It was a matter of going through deadlines, projects and assignments. ZER0: GENESIS issue 1 will be out by the February New York Con, and then showcase at San Diego next year. The TPB will be out by Sep.

From Spacedog we ducked back to the hotel, cleaned up and headed to Alex Zamm's house. Alex is the writer of ZER0: GENESIS whom we met at San Diego. To give you an idea of how cool and nice Alex is, within 10min of meeting him, he'd invited us to have dinner at his house, which we had arranged for tonight. Alex is the director of Inspector Gadget 2, a film he is immensely proud of (which he gave me a copy, which I can't wait to watch). His wife Denise is the costume designer for Die Hard 4, and their son, Dashell is one cool kid. Their house is one of the coolest houses I've ever seen. It looks over the house that was both Deckard's house from BLADERUNNER and the HOUSE FROM HAUNTED HILL. They have a curio cabinet which contains everything from Bob Hope's teeth, sharks in formaldehyde and their son's foreskin. Their coffee table is a showcase table of incredible jewellry made from human hair. Alex has a wall in his study with orginal art and dedications from Bill Watterson, Terry Gilliam, Joe Sinnott, Gary Larson, Matt Groening, Charles Schultz and a bunch of other huge names.

Dinner was incredible and we chatted to Alex til 1am about ZER0: GENESIS. He's got some incredibly inspiring ideas.

More on JAn and my thoughts about the dinner and its affect on us tomorrow...

If anyone wants to hear about anything in more detail, just post a comment.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I can’t post all the details about everything I bought cos some of it is a surprise for some friends, but I will do what I can.

I started sketching at 10:30am and finished about 230pm. My queue was even bigger than yesterday. My sketches, were faster and better. I think I’ve figured out how to generate a line. Soon as you sit down, start drawing. I was lucky as late yesterday one of the Top Cow booth dudes handed me a sketch book from a Wizard Magazine dude named Gabe. Apparently Gabe had seen my sketches and wanted one of Batman. I broke that baby out and did arguably one of my best Batmans ever. As people milled past I grabed the first person who bought my book and offered to do them a free pic (holding up the Batman sketch to show them what I meant). I went all out on the pic and showed it around at all the stages to the people milling around. I cracked wise, told some stupid stories and before I knew it, I had a queue of smiling, happy, entertained people that were enjoying my company and watching me draw. My sketches were even better today and the worst of em was about the average one from Saturday. Entire families came back to get sketches again from yesterday. One father told me he had to buy all three of his sons sketchbooks yesterday cos they wanted sketches from me so badly. That was an incredible buzz.

I obviously spent most of my time behind the booth drawing well after my sketching/siging times were over. It was a great opportunity to meet everyone in front and behind the booth. I have to say, the highlight of the con for me was doing those sketches. Wandering around was awesome, but it was signing, chatting and sketching that really made the con for me. I think I made it to one panel and joked to JAn that I probably experienced about 6% of the total con-entertainment content.

Shania was around again and became my artist’s assistant. Anything I needed was in her hand proffered towards me before I even knew I needed it. Pencils, pens, ink wash. We had a great laugh and I promised to meet her at Top Cow later in the week with her commissions for her dad and Renae.

I struggled out of my seat at around 230pm and ran to Subway for lunch just to get some sun, fresh air and avoid the extortionate prices at the con. When I got back I decided it was time to go shopping. I only bought myself sketchbooks from my favourite artists who were selling them; Adam Hughes, Bernie Wrightson and Jason Pearson. I then found that all the things I wanted to buy people had already been sold, or the artist had left. I still found some great stuff, including a print from Scott Hampton. I pointed to which one I liked and started reaching for cash in my wallet when Scott said, “What about you? Do you have any limited prints in there,” gesturing towards my portfolio “that you would want to swap for this one?”

I was shocked, and repeatedly mentioned to Scott that this was a totally unfair deal. Scott wouldn’t have the bar of it and pointed towards the "Fisher: Cathexes" cover that I did. We signed each piece and I walked away with the kindest/greatest deal of the century.

I then grabbed a limited edition print from Gene Ha (which he practically gave away cos he didn’t want to take it home) and another beautiful print from Adam Hughes. Unfortunately Geoff Darrow had already gone home, and I was left Darrowless.

The con wrapped up and after all the people had left we began to get an idea of just how big this place was (our exhibitor status on our badge let us stick around). We said goodbye to Jason Cranford-Teague and headed back to dump our stuff back at the hotel. We then made our way to a Brazillian all-you-can-eat restaurant that Tim Bradstreet recommended. It was there that we bumped into fellow Australian and Melbournian comic shop owner, Matt from Comics R Us. It was a tiny bit pricey, but the food was incredible. We dragged our sorry asses back to the hotel and collapsed. Our plan was to get up early and check out the world-famous San Diego zoo.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Celebrity Saturday

While I was inundated with incredibly famous people (in my eyes anyway) on Friday, it was nothing compared to who I met on Saturday.

I had an early signing at 11am, and my sketching was much better and faster. I drew til 4pm with some people waiting up to 30 to 40 minutes in line. And when I say line, I mean no more than about 6 people at once. No one really knew who I was, but I was taking 10-15min per sketch and I think people were really appreciating the time, effort and final product. I was trying to make it as interactive as possible. I held up the sketch at the pencil, ink and final inkwashed stage so people could see what was going on and what they had been waiting for. I found a really nice style which involved doing busts with a Jae Lee/Josh Middleton inspired colouring. I'm regretting not taking photos of them.

At about 2pm I was kicked out of my spot, but I stuck around and kept sketching for people who had been waiting for me. I was really happy with all but one or two of them, and even then those were probably as good as the best ones yesterday. I met Jennifer, an aide of Roger who did a filmed interview with me, and the two of us had a great laugh. At the end of my shift I snuck over to the other side of the booth to find a huge queue for Seth Green who co-created “The Freshmen”. I asked Annie if I could get my Freshmen TPB signed and she helped me jump the queue and get a photo with Seth, who is incredibly cool and low key.

I went for a small wander and had a cool chat with Jason Pearson and David Mack. David remembered me from Sydney many years ago, and I met his girlfriend Mandy Amano (daughter of artist Jeff, not Yoshitaka). I find the real trick is knowing when to leave. Hit em hard and funny and then politely excuse yourself.

So I wandered back to the Top Cow booth, Renae rocked up with her husband Tyler Mane, his daughter Shania and son Lysander. Tyler Mane is a MASSIVE dude, and his kids are damn cool, especially Shania who is one of the smartest kids I’ve met. I’ve got a theory about interacting with kids, and that is: you don’t treat em like a kid, and they don’t act like kids. JAn and I geeked out with Renae’s lovely family (see photos) and had a great laugh with Shania who I vicariously live out my fatherhood impulses with.

We then met up with Jason who wandered around the con with us. He knew Scott Hampton and offered to introduce us to him. On the way we got distracted by Dave McKean (OMG!! I shook his hand!), John J. Muth, Mike Mignola (grabbed a pressie for a friend) and Art Adams. We got a chance to talk to Tim Bradstreet who loved Australia when he was there on his honeymoon/con circuit in 1996 and mentioned that while most people would head to the Hyatt, there would be a small crew of people meeting at the Hilton. We finally met Scott Hampton who, after telling him what I was doing said, “Welcome aboard!” which meant so much to me. He is hands down one of the nicest guys. (Tomorrow I will tell a little story to illustrate this when I did more shopping for friends.) That sounds incredibly lame, but I gotta tell you, all we’ve met are really nice people. It’s gotten to the point where JAn screams himself to sleep in his pillow as he has no other targets for his rage.

Totally buzzed, we took Jason out for dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant. Real guacamole, real salsa, freshly made corn chips. I ordered two mains (as I do) and asked for extra rice and beans. The waitress was a little concerned about potentially wasted food – but that misconception was soon rectified.

While I had been slaving at the booth JAn had been hailed down by two gorgeous goth chicks who had invited him out to a club. So we headed back to the hotel to clean up and then made our way out to a massive disappointment. There was a line around the corner of Normals. This was no goth/ebm/industrial club. It was a normal club which these girls were dancing at. We blew the whole idea off, our plan was to head to the Hilton and see what was going on and then maybe make our way to the Hyatt after.

So we arrive at the Hilton and there’s a small group of about 10 people all sitting around an outside table. Tim Bradstreet gave us a huge grin and we introduced ourselves to the people around the table: Bernie Wrightson and his lovely wife Liz, Joe Jusko, Grant Goleash, Steve Niles and his spunky girlfriend, Sarah, Joel from Tripwire and a bunch of really nice dudes.

I was posting yesterday about the way JAn interacts with people. Watching Tim Bradstreet do his thing is pretty much the same. The man is going to be working for as long as he wants, cos not only is he one of the most talented artists and cover designers in the business but also one of the funniest, commanding, humble and incisive individuals I’ve met since JAn. It basically turned into the “JAn and Tim Show” with the rest of us chipping in to provide more material. Suffice to say, we never saw the Hyatt. Our waitress, Pumpkin Mead (her porn name: you know, first pet and the name of the street you first lived on) was great and we were all taken aback when Steve Niles picked up the check. He also gave JAn and I his number so he could either give us some advice around LA or take us around if he had time.

One of the dudes, Chris kindly drove everyone home (turns out Tim was staying at our hotel also) at 2am cos pretty much everywhere stops serving alcohol then.

What a crappy city. =)

Monday, July 24, 2006


When tourists come to Australia, one of the first things they rave on about is how beautiful our women are. I'm trying to figure this out because I have never seen more beautiful women in my life than in San Diego.

Let me be absolutely clear when I say, I'm not an "oggler". I don't stare at women, no matter how beautiful they are, and I certainly don't look behind me. Lemme give you a scale. I think 7 is worth a long lingering glace. An 8 is secondary check. 9 is a long, long look (not a stare) and well... I've never seen a 10.

Let me just I have seen that many 7's I've lost count. A damn lot of 8s and 9s and even a 9.5 (a stunning young black waitress at a steak joint who I would have proposed to if my mouth had worked). My theory is it's some sort of long lost "sowing wild oats"/"grass is greener" primitive impulse that kicks in when you're among new genetic stock.

JAn listened to this theory politely and then replied, "You know, you can have all the 7s, 8s, 9s you want. I go home to my girlfriend (who's a 10) every night and that's all I need to know."

I hate the lucky sonavabitch.

He's really been invaluable. As my artblog has found a wider audience, he's been instrumental in helping me find a professional and appropriate tone. There's also no-one I would rather be here in San Diego with. Watching JAn work his magic on people with his incisive charm dripping with intellectual pop culture references is brilliant. His friends love him for it, and I hope you get the opportunity to experience it one day.

But anyway... Friday.

I'm not gonna bore you with breakfast (hotel buffet) nor how I made it to the con (shuttle bus). Today was the first day of the con and i was told that it was busier than it had ever been. I wandered the floor, endeavouring to cover every footstop of this air-hangar sized labyrinthe. I got photos of all my favourite artists. Passing by the Wizard booth I said "Hi" to Karen Evora who was one of our drinking buddies late last night at the Hyatt. Karen is just a bucket of energy in human form and is just about one of the most sweetest people walking this planet. I excused myself and ran off to the Brian Bolland panel. Brian is an extraordinarily reserved gentleman who spent half the panel trying to justify doing digital work over pen and paper work. To me it's kinda like explaining why you should write with a word processor rather than pen and paper.

I then made my way to my first signing and met Matt Hawkins (President of Top Cow) this smiling man-sized energy machine. Then the incredibly lovely David Nakayama (Proximity Effect, Revved and City of Heroes) rocked up. I then met David Wohl and was totally blown away by how welcoming, gracious and cheerful this veteran of the industry is. I then sat down to sign and sketch. My sketches were awful. Of the 6 that I did, 2 were ok, the other 4 should have seen me deported.

Renae Geerlings (Editor in Chief of Top Cow) rocked up from portfolio reviews and we lamented how we both missed stuff because of committments. We then gushed about Battlestar Galactica.

Roger then introduced JAn and I to Jason Cranford-Teague from AOL Red (the teen content part of AOL). Jason dug my covers and got chatting to JAn. Turns out Jason was on the exact same page as us: comics, role-playing games and music. Next thing I know we're out to dinner with his boss at Masala Indian restaurant. We had a great chat and all got on like a house on fire.

JAn and I excused ourselves and made our way to the Eisners. Our "Professional/Exhibitors" badges are about the best badges you can get without being an organiser. We walked straight past the mile long queue and through the professional's entrance into the hall to take 2nd row seats. The Eisners started with Scott Kurtz's (PVP) win with the most heartfelt, funny, poignant and concise speech. Despite a couple of highlights it was a bit downhill from there.

Afterwards, I joined JAn outside for a smoke and got chatting to Elizabeth a fellow smoker and friend of many high profile comic industry professionals. One of them was Charles Browstein the writer of "Eisner/Miller". He let me hold his Eisner, which was both a buzz and a little depressing (cos it wasn't mine). I saw Frank Miller and "fanboyed" him and he was gracious in a skittish sorta way. Kyle Baker (weighed down by Eisners) also accepted a handshake and some gushing praise. I found JAn thanking Diana Schutz for taking so much of her time with us years ago back in Sydney and graciously replying to our submission. She introduced us to Eduardo Barretto who I confused for Carlos Ezquerra. Despite the confusion he was kind enough to give me a mountain of advice and his email address. Just as Eduardo left, Mark Buckingham walked over and we chatted for ages about his career, Chris Bachalo, Fables, Miracleman and his brand new Eisner.

Click here for some images (more incoming after I get home and crop them): SANDIEGO1

Sunday, July 23, 2006

25 hours...


I will accompany this stuff with photos, but that will be when i get home and sort out photoshop and windows. Right now, all my photos are living on a folder on JAn's laptop which he called, "Jason's Shitty Shitty Crappy Photos". Speaking of the grande bastard himself this is the first time i can wedge his laptop out of his heat-stricken sweaty fingers long enough to actualoly post something.

So thank you all for sending email. No really. Thank you. No, I mean it. ALL of you.


But yeah, why 25 hours? Cos that's how long it took from the minute i left my house to step into my hotel room in San Diego. 14 hour plane journey. Not so bad with the new Bruce Willis film, "16 Blocks" to keep us company. After that, JAn and I basically just drank ourselves into oblivion with JAn cutting me off after a while cos he got sick of having to move cos I have the bladder of a 4 year old.

And thus begins a tale of celebrity and more neck snapping beauty than I have ever seen in the longest time.

So after a 40minute bus trip to Union Station from LAX, we find ourselves in a line for the train to San Diego. JAn and I are peering around blearily when 5 gorgeous women all dressed up in 30s and 40s gear approach us, "Is this the train to Del Roy?" they ask. Apparently the races were on there and it was a huge event. After confirming it was, JAn and I both ate our sandiwiches facing backwards. The train again was packed to the rafters wityh incredibly beautfiful women all parading up and down the aisles in my semi-consciousness.

JAn reckons they all had fake breasts, but i prefer to live in ignorance and believe in a better world.

There's a funny difference between Australia and America. As you guys know, three sorts of people talk to you on the train in Australia. Those bumming for money, those looking for a fight and those who are just crazy. We're on the train and the guy seated next to us starts yelling at the people at the front of the carriage. I go into duck and cover mode cos there's gonna be a huge fight right? But they all just cheer back and everyone starts laughing. And everyone talks to everyone on the train. It's totally weird. (Jas' valley girl impersonation).

So we eventually make it to our hotel room ("No thankyou, separate beds, please.) and crash out for 3 hours.

We head down to the con for preview night at about 730pm and meet Roger and the lovely Katrina, the correspondent from Donner advertising representing the Mazda account (see the ad I did below). It's preview night with limited numbers and tickets but it's still busier than i've ever seen Supanova (the biggest Aussie con). It's huge. You could land air craft in there. I will post some photos to show you what I mean. And it's so incredibly dense. It took me 2 hours walking up and down every aisle and not stopping to make my way from one end to the other.

So we see the Top Cow booth, swap cards with Matt Hawkins (president) and meet Annie Pham (Spacedog marketing) and Christian Beranek (Spacedog Editor). Then Roger takes us all out for ribs. But not just any rib place, the place where they shot the "Sleazy Bar Scene" (quoted from the sign) in Top Gun. We also saw Glen Danzig there and JAn got a photo with him. We then headed to the top of the Hyatt for drinks.

We drank and drank and drank to find that Christian, his brother and his mate were staying in our room also. Some sort of misbooking, but it was all cool. They were nice guys and we were as drunk as skunks. Except one dude who snored like he was dying at the top of his lungs. Not a lot of sleep was had and JAn threw up cos he's soft.

When I get more time I will post more, but as it is we're 20min late for a club...

JAn has made me promise that I'm going to try and make him look better in the next entry.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Forgive me peoples for I have sinned

I've got a really good excuse... Really.

Windows crapped itself. I haven't been able to get online. In fact, I've only just been able to load windows (by reinstalling ontop of itself).

I've lost a BUNCH of data.

I've got no Office, Photoshop or Everquest. I'm DYING here.

So until I get things sorted, please hang in there.

Just before things went AWOL I did manage to get a bunch of stuff done. So I will post all that asap.