Last weekend my wife and I made our yearly trip to the Motorcity Comic Con. It’s a mish-mash of comic illustrators, comicbook and merchandise vendors, b-movie and former tv show stars, and the largest collection of geeks you can hold in a single building outside a Star Trek convention. My wife has been going to it for the last few years and actually enjoys it quite a bit though she was hesitant at first. Who could blame here though when you see a guy dressed as rainbow-brite, or someone with a fake eyeball hanging from the side of their face while they muches on a bag of popcorn? But hey that’s Comic Con culture.

This year was actually considerably busier than last year which is surprising given the Mad Max Road Warrior level of gas prices we’re approaching. If Tina Turner shows up siphoning my gas tank I know it’s time to head the the bunker. It was tough to squeeze through some aisles but they changed the layout of the event and that actually made the illustrators area much easier to get around in.

Each year I bring two sketchbooks so that I can get drawings from some of the talented artists there. They usually charge anywhere from $5 to $30 on average for a quick drawing or inking. It’s great to see some of the wide range of styles and creative approaches and I really value having anyones work in my book. I don’t necessarily go for big name illustrators and prefer to get work from a variety of everyone one. I was only able to get about 4 sketches this year as many of them were already booked up for the day trying to get some sketches done for other people. That actually turned out to be a good thing as it gave me an opportunity to chat with them a bit more since I wasn’t frantically hunting down my sketchbooks shuffling them from artist to artist like some sort of art addict (which I am). In fact I get so engrossed in talking with fellow creatives that my wife and I got separated from each other in the crowd. In that much foot traffic I thought there was no way I’d track her down again until the place closed up, but luckily my friends from work, Chris and Mandy, ran into her and called on the cellphone to meet up at the front of the show. We went out to lunch as well which was nice to spend some time talking away from the stress of the office. Some of the artists I chat with regularly are Mark Bloodworth who illustrated my Lost Highway promotional poster and is currently working on a new one for me (I can’t wait…it’s gonna be sweeeettt.) Mark has a great passion for illustration and also loves b-movie and cult films like myself so we definitely see eye to eye on what type of illustration work I need. He’s a very accomplished artist doing work on the original Hellraiser comicbook series which I didn’t even realize that until after viewing his website when we first met a year back. I also like to hang out with Dave Aikens and his buddy Alan for a while. Both amazingly talented and nice guys. Dave is an extremely successful illustrator doing work for Hasbro and Nickelodeon among others. I designed his website for him quite a few years back. He also does the artwork for the awesome boardgame “Zombies!” He’ll often gets the requests to draw Dora the Explorer as a zombie but Nickelodeon would be none to happy with him. Alan always surprises me with this stunning quick inkings he does for my sketchbook. I just give him a abstract concept like “creepy trick-or-treater” or “creepy thing under the stairs” and he takes it and runs with it (see trick or treater sketch below.)

I think the big highlight was briefly chatting with the publisher of Mad Scientist magazine. It’s a neat little b-movie magazine that’s got some well written articles and features about classic b-movie films. He seemed interested in having my contributions as a b-movie writer and illustrator to the magazine so we’ll see if that leads to my big break. Next stop Hollywood and my own late night b-movie show! I sent him an email and plan to follow-up with a call soon.

I Also talked to Tommy Castillo whose work just blew me away at it’s level of detail and artistic style. We’re hoping to work out a deal for him to do the cover to my b-movie review book which I plan to have ready by the end of the year if all goes well. I think his painted approach to a vintage cover would suit it well. It’s so hard to find the time to persue writing the book but I’m chipping away at it.

So we were on our feet for hours and got pretty worn out but stayed until closing to get one last drawing in before they packed up for the night. I unfortunately missed the costume contest but saw most of the contestant walking the aisles earlier. You have to admire their creativity and dedication in putting some of their extremely detailed and realistic costumes together. I think there was a Star Wars theme this year as I saw lots of storm troopers and a trio of princess lea’s in slave costumes. As always I was so inspired and fired up for my own creative endeavors from meeting and talking with other illustrators. We definitely look forward to next years event. I believe there’s another convention coming up in November in Birch run called XcapeCon so we plan to check that out as well and will be bringing extra cash…mostly for gas money. Hope to see ya there.

Here’s a few of the sketches I got this year.