Monday, July 31, 2006

"Pistolas" Ordering Page

For those of you interested in buying a copy of the new book, click HERE to access the ordering page or click on the image below. All orders will be signed on the cover, with an ink or brush doodle on the back page. Limit two books per person, positively no retailers, please. Thanks for your support.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Aftermath

San Diego

San Diego

San Diego

San Diego

Back to Reality
After a long trip and much needed decompressing, we're back in NYC, doing what we do best: that is wasting time in cyber space. San Diego was big, exhausting and magical in many ways, first of all: the book looks beautiful, you have to understand, I hadn't seen the final product until I arrived at the convention floor. What?! you thought I was joking? Nicole printed this book in less than 4 days and my friend Kandrix smuggled the first batch 'cross the border into US soil just in time for the Comic Con, I've never doubted Nicole's ability to deliver the goods, the pics she sent me are great but seeing the book in person totally blew me away, it looks and feels Fan Fuckin' Tastic!

I will put up an ordering page for those of you who have expressed interest in acquiring "Pistolas"

We sold out on the books we put together for the show, at one point we started to assemble a bunch of unbound copies I received late Saturday from Canada right on the spot to meet the demand, phew! that was fun!!

There's just sooooo many people I need to thank for making this trip a huge success for us. As always, my heart-felt thanks to my friends Kandrix and Laurie for all the help, setting up our shop at the con and for all their efforts in making "Pistolas" a reality.

My best buddy, Stephen Silver, we slept in his castle and drank from his silver cup. Stephen and his lovely wife are such great hosts. Andrew Wilson in San Diego for his hospitality and attention.

The list goes on and on and I will continue typing tomorrow, there's just so much to tell you, I don't know where to start. I go get me some sleep now.

. . . . . .To be continued.

. . .Yeah, that felt good! Like I was sayin', we had a great time at the show, sharing a booth with our friends Takeshi Miyazawa who draws the Marvel Comics hit "Spiderman Loves MariJuana" and Kandrix & Laurie B. who produce "A Monk's Tale", a superb independent comic which should not be confused with "A Monkey's Tail"

From the Top: Yours B. Truly looking frazzled, Takeshi sketching for a fan as Kandrix staples his fingers, cob salad and a few remaining 'Pistolas", among other goodies, Takeshi and Megan listening to Y.B. Truly's rendition of 'I will Survive', drawing is a serious business :), good friends, good times!
(last 4 pics courtesy of John Burchfield & Manucha)

The San Diego Experience: One Day At A Time
We arrived at LAX on Tuesday morning, 2 of our bags never made the trip, we jumped into a rental and took off to San Diego, we met with our canadian friends, registered and set up at the convention that same afternoon and spent the rest of day on the phone with airline personnel attempting unsuccessfully to locate the missing luggage, towards the end of the day the airline finally found the lost pieces and shipped them to where we were staying.

Wednesday was "preview night" (from 6 to 9PM) which is really not open to the general public, nonetheless, the convention floor was packed, we sold a lot of books, which was surprising to me because we've never sold much on past preview nights, this was a prelude to the madness about to unfold. On that same evening, "Megan The Pagan" and this humble servant drove to Carlsbad Village to have dinner at Koko's on Pacific Coast Highway, I highly recommend this steak house, excellent food and surprisingly low prices, right across from the beach, open until midnight. Unfortunately the evening was not perfect; on our way to Koko's our rental was violently egged by a group of social misfits hiding in the warm shadows of the Southern California night.

Thursday was a good day, it started slow but it picked up towards the end. We had dinner at the "Whiskey Girl" courtesy of our good friend Paul Davis, Paul insisted on paying for the meal and who am I to say no to free food?

I had locked my keys inside our vehicle and called Avis to help us, I was very impressed with the service, they dispatched a local tow truck and we were good to go in no time.

After the Con ended on Friday, the booth crew (which by now had enlisted Art Thibert, Chris Chua, Cody Baker, John Giang among others) headed towards the Bayside area to a trendy, tourist-friendly restaurant called Anthony's Grotto, we waited to be seated for what it seemed like an eternity, I hate these trendy places and avoid them like the plague. You see, the convention is brutal, at the end of the day you're exhausted, hungry and in no mood to wait 2 hours to eat, this time however I went along with the choice made by my friends; big mistake! I can't speak for the others but as far as i was concerned all we ended up with was an overrated and disappointing meal; super expensive, meager portions and bland food, what a waste of time and money!, the food was so bad, our waiter recommended another restaurant.
Call me low-class if you will but I would have gone to "In-and-Out" burgers instead and had a better dining experience. Next year I'll go back to that lovely persian restaurant in the "Gas Lamp" district, I just forgot the name, write me an email if you know what I'm talking about.

Saturday was an extraordinary day, financially we had the best day ever at any convention by far, we virtually sold out on "Pistolas". We had dinner with the equivalent of a rock supergroup: Bernard Chang, J.P. Leon, Sean Chen, and a fellow convention warrior I met a couple of years ago named Tommy Lee Edwards, we got our fingers dirty at the Texas style BBQ eatery located next to the Embassy Hotel on Harbor Blvd., John Paul insisted on paying for the meal and who am I to say no to free food?

That very same night we headed over to the Marriott Hotel for the 4th annual sketching session, this is a tradition started by us "Drawing Board" members back in 2003; dozens and dozens of artists take over the lobby of the hotel, mingling, drinking and drawing on other people's sketchbooks, it truly is a sight to behold. It's also a chance to meet old friends and make new ones, the convention has gotten so big that is nearly impossible to get to see everyone you came there to see, the Marriott sessions bring us all together for one very magical night. I must have drawn at least 2o sketches before the night was done and drank just as many Coronas. Good times!

Sunday was pretty hectic but bittersweet because I knew the end was near. We had had such an amazing con, I didn't want it to end. I locked the keys in the car again, inside the trunk; however, I did not call Avis this time, I jammed a wooded wedge in the door frame and pop the automatic lock open with a heavy wire I found near the railroad yard. McGiver has nothing on me :)

The Bitter End
We spent a few days driving around the LA area, visiting friends at the various animation and design studios, comic book stores, etc. One of such places was Design Studio Press in Culver City, it was a real treat to chat about art and business with the studio founder, Scott Robertson, thank you, Scott for all the gifts and for the insightful and priceless information.

We also visited Stephen Silver at Nickelodeon, who was kind enough to give us a tour of the entire studio.

Further Acknowledgements
A shout out to my boy Jonathan Chan at Image Comics, Manucha & Catalina; thanks for being so kind to my daughter and for all the attention and assistance, Paul Davis, Jana Cook, Angelo, Theo "The Red Sox Fan", "Red Rooster' and his entire family; thanks for the shirts, guys!!, Sean Owolo, the super talented Jo Chen, Jason Pearson, Cully hamner, the gorgeous Elisabeth Brizzi, Jose Lopez, Patrick Morgan, Rob & Sue, Ed Reynolds, the beautiful Ratna "My Love", Steve Kim, Wade & Patricia, Stephane Kardos, John Burchfield, the lovely Caroline Stewart at Bud Plant; thanks for the help, Amy & Stuart Ng, Justin, Craig, Fabian & Scott at the Design Studio Press booth and last but not least, to all the kind people who stopped by our booth and bought our products or just said hello. I'll see you next year!

Edit: I almost forgot to give a hearty holla to my good friend Sean Jackson at "Comics factory" in Pasadena (1298 E. Colorado Blvd.) I dropped a ton of books there, so if you live in the area and haven't bought any of my books yet because you hate using your credit card, head over there and purchase some, George, Sean and the rest of the crew will take good care of you.

The same goes for Paul Grimshaw at "House of Secrets" in Burbank (1930 W. Olive) I've dealt with Paul and Eric now for a few years and I can tell you with certainty, you won't find nicer people to do business with and call friends at the same time, they were the first shop in the entire state of California to take a chance on my books.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

San Diego Booth #5433

San Diego Comicon

Gone to California!
By the time you read this I'll be sitting in a plane heading west. The mother of all 'comics' conventions is here, following the family tradition (anything done more than once becomes a tradition around here, just in case you haven't noticed), Megan 'The Pagan' and yours truly will be attending the 2006 version of the greatest Geek Festival known to mankind. We'll take this unique opportunity to premiere our new book called: "(Veinte Mujeres Con) PISTOLAS".

"PISTOLAS' is a gorgeous, limited edition (500 copies only) volume, made with love by an independent publisher and printed by a caring and quality obsessed woman. The book features some of the sketches seen on this blog (entirely re-drawn just for the book) and new drawings you haven't seen before.

I'm very proud of this collection of drawings because the production values are out of this world, beautiful, thick and luscious paper throughtout, no filler, no bullshit, no Kinko's special, just pure unadulterated line drawing madness, exploring and celebrating the female form of course, as we should, because let's face it already: women are the only reason why this bitter life is still worth living; just take a good look around you, aren't you disgusted with politicians?, the fucked-up environment, gas prices, the Middle East about to explode, North Korea's version of Don King aiming to nuke you just for fun, idiot Bush and his merry band of retrograde neocon assholes raping and maming Iraq and its people, turning that country into a parking lot, imposing their brand of corporate democracy on the rest of the world, can't even watch one second of decent TV, all you see now is recycled garbage, blind celebrity worship and ill-conceived reality programs which showcase humans at their worst, basking in all their humiliating and shameless 'glory'. However shitty life really is, all of this is forgotten when you stand on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan (right across the street from Macy's) for 2 hours.

Recently I was asked by a snot-nosed punkass-comic book fanboy: "Women? is that all you draw?" I had to restrain myself and show composure beyond what I'm capable of, I wanted to head-bunt him ala Zidane, just lift him off his feet a few and smash the bastard's head against the bumpy concrete, time and time again, just enough to render him into an unidentifiable and bloody lump of human flesh, instead I just replied " What else is there to draw?, cartoon fuckin' animals", I tell you, the nerve of the kid.

Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself, we'll be at booth # 5433, my name is not in the directory so don't look for it there, the booth is under my pals Kandrix & Laurie, if you're in doubt of where I'll be exhibiting my wares, check the program under KONSEQUENTIAL STUDIOS . There will be prints and books and live drawing and fun, fun, fun!!

"Pistolas": From Idea To Reality
Before I even thought of the book I have had this image dancing in my head for years, finally I fleshed it out last year at the Long Beach Wizard Convention, I am very fond of this particular drawing for reasons unknown to me, I knew I would eventually find a place for it.

Now, as some of you may already know, my "books" are simply collections of selected drawings following a common thread, putting these collections together is not rocket science for sure but it does require a considerable amount of work, mostly planning.

I have drawn hundreds of women with guns but not all of the images can fit in the particular chosen format or co-exist in harmony with other drawings; when designing an artbook you must take into consideration many factors for the book to "read" well and achieve a kind of visual flow or like they say in comics and animation "continuity".

I think the hardest part of putting together a collection of drawings or songs or anything for that matter is...well, the 'putting together' part and I believe it's even more difficult when you're bringing together images that were created separately and for the most part have very little connection with one another, stylistically speaking or otherwise, unless you're compiling a retrospective volume on somebody's work over a period of time, themed 'artbooks' such as 'Pistolas' can benefit from a common style of drawing and sense of unity.

After agonizing over things like which images will make the 'cut', the format, the title, the page count, the materials, printing methods and effects, etc., etc. I then reconciled all of my choices with the economic factors such as cost of printing, retail price, wholesale price (if applicable)

Potential page breakdowns and possible formats & layouts.

I've decided (after much debate with myself and looking realistically at my possibilities -read time/money limitations-) to go ahead and make this a limited edition artbook. The economics of supply-and-demand rule the printing industry, the more books you print, the less expensive they become, so I was well-aware that this would basically cost me an arm and a leg for 500 units, using the best materials and labor possible.

With most of my preliminary work done I was ready to strike a deal with an overseas printer for 10 different titles, but that was before we got hit with family emergencies which threw things for a spin to say the least, in fact I wasn't too sure that I would be able to have another book ready for the San Diego show, but at this point is where I met Nicole Hankel from ABLE PRINTING in Calgary, Canada.

Nicole is an amazing printer, extremely knowledgeable and detail-oriented (as you will see later on) and an even more amazing person, we haven't actually met but I feel as if I've known her all my life, she knew about my struggles with family issues and my extremely short deadline to get this project done in time for the Sand Diego show (a mere week away) she volunteered and came through with flying colors. Many thanks to Nicole, her crew and my boy Kandrix who introduced me to this incredible woman.

The Making of "Pistolas"

The following is a kind of chronological overview of the genesis of this book, I'm planning on doing an expanded article on this subject (including digital coloring of the cover) for an upcoming issue of DRAW! Magazine:


San Diego Comicon
The cover art, as well as the drawings that make up this collection were drawn with Col-Erase 20045 (Carmine red) on 70 gsm 'Pearl' Natural Vellum. The original cover art measures 19" x 24"

San Diego Comicon

Building a 'Dummy"

San Diego Comicon

The (pencil) cover art was scanned in and colored in Adobe Photoshop, after several color proofs and much trial and error, test prints were generated (on an Epson StylusPro 4000 printer) to create a 'comp' or 'dummy'. This comprehensive prototype built to the actual specifications of the final product aids a great deal in planning the book to avoid technical pitfalls such as bleed (overprint) areas, placement of graphic elements and such.

San Diego Comicon

The pencil drawing serves as a "peek-a-boo flap" engineered to be placed right over the actual cover.

San Diego Comicon

Measuring and cutting the 'flap' to perfectly match the cover.

San Diego Comicon

Measuring and cutting the cover lining to be wrapped around a 30mm. card board. Both, a hard cover and soft cover versions were designed and mocked-up.

San Diego Comicon

Applying spray mount (glue) to the board to simulate the actual laminating process used by the printer.

San Diego Comicon

Inside pages ( Epson test prints) to complete the 'dummy' book.

San Diego Comicon

The 'dummy" also helped me in determining the order of the inside pages. Here's one of the 2 working prototypes built to spec after the holes were drilled and the spiral coil was inserted.

San Diego Comicon

San Diego Comicon

A view of the working 'flap' and bound prototype with a different color coil. Next stop: The Printer.

The Real Thing by Nicole Hankel

It all starts with a few sheets of paper....

The Skid on the left will be transformed into A Monk's Tale (Kandrix & Laurie's comics), the stock on the right is destined to become a gorgeous art book

Then we add a little bit of ink...

Process Black in Foreground, Process Yellow in the Background. (Missing from photo are Process Magenta and Process Cyan) We buy Ink by the Kilogram. The larger cans weigh 2.5kg, and we can easily go through 2.5kg of ink in a single shift on a newsletter with average coverage - text and photos.
Heavy Ink Coverage, such as the front of your
artbook, will go through it much faster.

(Hey! This is boring... Get to the REAL artwork!!! You know what we came here to see!)

Here's one of the girls hanging out as a negative on the light table.

On the assumption that you are not that familiar with the printing process, I'll give a bit of a short tutorial of the process.

It's summed up in five easy steps
1. Pull out remaining hair waiting for Artist.
2. Output digital files to negative
3. Burn negatives to metal plates
4. Hang the plates on the press, print the artwork, let dry
5. Trim finished printed product, collate, bind, ship.

Ok, seriously... the artwork is output on a device called an Imagesetter. (Think a bloody big printer that prints on raw negatives using a finely calibrated laser). Once the image is imaged on film, the film is developed (We use a film developer that makes the ones that you used to find in the 1hour photo shops look like a miniature. Ours will process film up to 18 inches thick). The negative is seen on a light table - everywhere that light shows through the negative will appear on the final printed image.

The stripper who works with the negatives (whose mind went RIGHT to the gutter now? that's what the job is called...stripping.) will mask them using masking sheets which allow only the portions of the negative that are to be printed to be burned onto the plate. We use a punch register system that allows for exact alignment every time (note the holes in both the negative (above) and the plate (below).

I believe this is the yellow plate. (For the cover there were five plates - one for each of Yellow, Cyan, Magenta, Black and the Spot Varnish).

We burn the negative onto a metal printing plate using UV light. Everywhere that light passes through the negative image is left on the plate (it shows up as a greenish/blue/teal colour). When printing, the ink only sticks to the plate where image shows, and the remaining ink is washed off using a water/chemistry bath (fountain solution).

Here's a shot of the front of the press open - you can see the plate for the spot varnish mountedon the cylinder - in front you can see ink rollers - Heidelberg has quite an involved roller train that allows the pressman a great deal of control over the ink.

After the plate is mounted on the press, ink and fountain solution are added and.... Kazam! the real magic happens here... then we wait patiently for the ink to dry.

What you've all been waiting for... The Cover Story!

San Diego Comicon

Printed and ready to cut. The colourful squares on the far edge of the sheet are a colour bar which allows the the pressman/woman to measure the strength of each of the process colours (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black) to ensure that inks are even across the page, and they are running at an appropriate strength - different sections of the page require more ink, and the pressman needs to ensure that the ink flow is neither too heavy or too light.

More Covers!

San Diego Comicon

Sheets are removed from the press in small "lifts" to allow the ink to dry without offsetting on the back of the next sheet. These sheets are finished and ready to be cut after they finish drying. (Doesn't that varnish look hot!?)

Here some of the girls are hanging out after being cut down, ready for collating.
Our shop have the girls lounging on every flat surface... they seem to like it back there! (They want to know when more of their friends are going to come for a party.)

We've checked with them, and they are all quite comfortable, and are looking forward to their holiday with you in San Diego.

San Diego Comicon

As we cut everything down, we believe in the old adage "cut once, measure twice". Here's the cover with the overlap sheet.

San Diego Comicon
The fun part is always putting it all together! Let's see... I'm gonna need hammer, nails....

San Diego Comicon

Thick paper really stacks up - Covers are cut and ready to be collated. You can really see
the varnish reflecting the light if you look at the circle/number.

San Diego Comicon

San Diego Comicon

The girls are ready to go for a ride... here we're loading the collator.

San Diego Comicon

And another shot of the collator tower. Lots of paper!

Quality Control Process

And of course, we have to ensure that we pass through rigid quality controls, so our Quality Control Supervisor "Tycho" is seen here personally testing out the thickness of that cover stock.

San Diego Comicon

While Tycho heartily approved of the stock, she began to have a few second thoughts on the wisdom of destructive testing. Is that thing loaded?

Hope you enjoyed - and this is what you were looking for.

I think you will be very happy with the finished printed product!


Able Printing
#3 700 58th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta
(403) 271-4101

Note: (Nicole and Alberto will expand on these topics in an upcoming article for Draw! Magazine)

I'll see you in San Diego!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back From Heroes

Charlotte was really nice and mellow, the convention was well-attended as expected, I had a great time hanging with the usual gang of criminals: Phil Noto, Jason Pearson, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully and the rest of that southern boys' club, Sean Hissey, Randy (thanks for lunch), my buddy Jason, Craig Z, Andrew Robinson, Hawaiian Dave, Randy Martin, Francesco Francavilla & his lovely wife, Manuel Aguilera & his better half, the Thompson Twins: Greg & Jen, Kat & Jessica, Mike & Echo, Todd & Craig, Jack & Jill, Betty & Veronica, Mork & Mindy and Laurel & Hardy.

John Beatty and I shared a hotel room and war stories, Higashi brought the Coronas and the lime, again; this has become a tradition already. thanks for the trips to the airport, John! I owe you. :))

I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Adhouse booth with the gracious Chris Pitzer and hanged until the wee hours with those wacky comickers, including but not limited to: The "awesome" Sandford Greene, Joe Pekar, Tony and Kara Moore, Rick and Danni Remender, Jeremy, Russ, Robbi and the rest of the Image Comics guys, Phew!, I'm exhausted!

Fun with Guns

Banner design for the San Diego Comicon, this is my favorite drawing, finally colored in Photoshop.

For a ridiculously huge fat face click HERE.