Sunday, February 22, 2015

Louisiana Comicon Pain and Gain

We headed out early, or so we thought. On our arrival the line was 2 miles long. The first ever Comicon in Bossier city, Louisiana drew over a thousand people to stand in line. We stood in line because tickets to building capacity sold out in minutes. One person in our group has his ticket and got to in via a different line. We spent a gruesome and painful four hours standing in that line. It rained on us hard, but someone eventually brought  up a tarp. We held it like a tent over our heads for the longest time. For a man with MS, leaning on a cane and a 12 year old high functioning autistic, the day was a massive challenge. I have to give my son props. He made through with minimal complaining. I'm very proud of him.

While that four hours was painful and gives thought to the next con being in a bigger venue, it definitely was not boring. One of the fellows near us brought a didgeridoo and played it from time to time. There were folks in costume everywhere and constantly walking up and down the line. The rains caused a number of folks to give up. Everyone who gave up only served to steel our resolve.

Finally, we got in. You know what? The four hour painful wait was worth it. My feet and knees were screaming at me. I ignored them and had to go on a search for cool con things and people. It's the smallest place I have ever been in for a comicon, but it was still awesome. There were artists, vendors, and celebrities. We were just in time for my wife to make it to a Q and A with actor Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Criminal Minds). That made the whole trip for her!

On the way to view the winners of the costume contest I went by his table and said in passing; "You made my wife's whole trip." The man stood up and shook my hand on the spot. It was a very cool moment.

I have to say that all the celebrities there were easily approached and friendly. Mary Kate Smith from King of the Nerds was no exception. She was friendly, witty, and fun to talk to. When she did an autograph for my wife she wrote out a full quote awesome message.

For me, I also went specifically to meet the people of the group Southern Geek (couple of these pics stolen from them- so check out their page for more). I met with the Discount Dark Knight, Rafe and his wife, Shannon. I got to say HI to a couple of our cool geek friends Shane and his lovely fiance Krista. Shane is in his Boba Fett gear that he totally built and he's next to DDK. Shane is with the 501st Legion.

My son got a new stuffed cat and some Minecraft toys. I got some Heroclix and the pic my friend and guest artist Ken Davis did for me. Only two artists have given me their originals (which is by no means a requirement) so that's going in my office! All and all, while today I'm moving like a slug, it was all totally worth it! Big thanks to the awesome lady who put a tarp over our heads and left it with us when she found out she was in the wrong line. Big thanks to all the cool people around us who were friendly and fun to hang out with. Big thanks to the con for all it's efforts and everyone inside.

Next time, we won't fail to get the tickets well ahead of time! I hope! Better yet, maybe I'll be at a table of my own?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Artist: Billy Barnette!

Anubis looking tall and strong
It's been an awesome lineup of guest artists lately and today is no exception. Billy Barnette has actually done three GZ characters; Songcutter, Yxee and Anubis. Billy is man making a breakthrough comeback into art as you wills see from our discussion. To check out more of is astounding work you will need to go to Genesis Studios on Facebook.

GZ: So, Billy, how long have you been doing your art?

BB: Been back at it for 3 years after a 10 year hiatus from drawing altogether.

GZ: Wow. Safe to say your art hasn't suffered from the hiatus. What inspires you the most?

BB: My son. Always has been and always will be.

GZ: I can understand that as I feel the same way about my son. Do you have any upcoming projects?

BB: My buddy, Jeremiah Ciardullo, and I are working on a little something something. We're in the process of getting some pages stacked together and we'll be releasing it later this year.

GZ: Sounds a little mysterious and that makes it cool right there. Are you currently for hire or have commissions open?

BB: Unavailable for hire due to our current project but pretty much always open for a good commission piece.

Yxee with Songcutter in back
GZ: So essentially, long term projects are out, but one shots are a possibility. I know the feeling. I think we're definitely looking forward to what you have coming next. Now, is there any advice you have for budding artists?

BB: It sounds so cliche and I know everyone's heard it all before, but the advice I'd give is  draw, draw, draw. Whatever it might be. And whatever you do, don't go on a ten year hiatus!

Excellent points but, I still stay that hiatus hasn't hurt your work (but we are our own worst critics when it comes to art). Thanks so much for being involved. As the rest of you can see, Billy has his own personal and powerful style that shows in all his work. Captain America here is looking expressive and has a strong jaw profile.

And if that's not solid enough for you, take a look at this. That's some awesome detail and expression if you ask me!  Be sure to add his FB page and check out what's going on for current action.You won't be disappointed. And thanks for tuning in, heroes! See you next time!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guest Artist: Kevin Woolfork!

I absolutely love showcasing independent artists! The ability to show you the work that you can't see in your mainstream comics or books is an astounding adventure in talent. Today, we take another step in that adventure and bring you Kevin Woolfork. Kevin honored me with a great pic of Major Xeroh from my novel: Chessmen. Check it out!

So I asked him a few questions as I usually do and found his answers detailed and profound.

GZ: So how long have you been doing your art?

Kevin: I have been drawing ever since I can remember. That had to be the most generic answer you get in regards to drawing. I will say that my skill level has always improved exponentially when I am surrounded by other creators creating. It's difficult creating in a vacuum. Without that feedback and constructive criticism, for me, skill and motivation tends to waver.

GZ: I think that's a great answer, actually. Do you have any current projects?

Kevin: Right now I'm working on a project titled ABOUT TIME. It's a slow and steady grind with a very capable young artist, Rafael Gumboc. I found Rafael on one of the Facebook comic forums and he's been knocking it out of the park with every page. It's about a scientific time traveling family. We're bringing trouble, adventure and hopefully dodging cliches. Through my side project FOOLS WORK Designs, I have designed logos, comic covers, T-shirts and banners. That business is very much in its infancy and has a small client base. Hopefully I will have more time to devote to developing that brand in the near future.

GZ: Sounds very cool. Are you otherwise for hire?

Kevin: If anyone saw something in my skill set that they thought could positively impact their project, I AM for hire. I am a self proclaimed writer, but have spent years studying and dissecting comic art and production. I am conversant with, if not proficient in, most aspects of comic production. My independent study includes writing, character design, inking, basic coloring, page laouts, scripting, dialogue, logo design, and graphic design (branding).

GZ: That does sound like you've got some work under your belt. So what inspires you?

Kevin: I gain inspiration from almost everywhere. I try to find something to motivate me to improve my skills no matter what I see. If something doesn't appeal to me but is finished, I am inspired by it being done. If it's great, I'm given a standard to strive towards. I'm motivated by the things I can't do. I want to be able to do ALL aspects of creating so I know what I'm asking of collaborators. Currently I'm frustrated yet inspired by loading brushes for my Wacom tablet so I can ink and color digitally and learning the basics of comic book lettering. I'm also trying to decipher the controls in Manga Studio. I've heard from many creators that is'a a more intuitive program specific to comic production versus Photoshop which is photo manipulation software the comic book industry hijacked.

To see more of Kevin's work you can check out his Deviantart page, contact him at his Facebook page, or just email him at

In visiting his Devaintart page, you will see that Kevin's work is diverse in many ways, just as he describes above. Even in what he calls a quick sketch, his talents shine through. I particularly liked this gender swap Falcon work.

As always, big thank go out to Kevin and all guest artists for all the amazing talents they share. Don't miss out on independent artists, you never know what you'll see!