Sunday, September 18, 2016

KC ZineCon 2

I hope that whatever future venues may hold this show, still allow for this window signage to be done. I found myself unconsciously looking for this from last year's show.
KC ZineCon 2 came back in a big way by first switching to a new venue at Pierson Auditorium over at UMKC, and then upping the ante by having a lot more tables filled with a huge variety of creators. If you are a new reader to my blog, and you're interested in the inaugural year of this show, you can check out my blog post and podcast take on it here.
It was really a nice layout, and when I saw all the tables, excitement really overcame me.
The show went pretty well for me. The first few hours of the show had a bit of a lull for me, but right after the 3rd or 4th hour, the room started to fill up with attendees and I managed to almost lose my voice before the end of the day.

I was nervous because I had just put out copies of my first zine, "In the Hearts of Gods and Monsters" and was not sure how well it was going to go over. Turns out, I should have brought more of them, as I traded/sold out of the copies I had on hand. So far, I've gotten great and enthusiastic feedback from the people that have read it. I will have the rest of the first edition run up on my online site and available for sale at future shows as well.
Kept 20 minute timeframes when I was working on sketches during the show.
I only managed to get photos of a few people that had bought some of my work, but I want to extend a giant thank you to all that did stop by, talk, trade and support me by buying my art and writing.
Thank you all!
I had a few people ask about the 50 run edition of my first zine, and yes, the first five issues of it do not have the "/50" edition printed in it, instead those have the edition numbers written in with my signature next to it. All the later ones have it printed in there. This was an oversight on my part, but yes, there will only be 50 copies of this issue.  
My writing style was compared to the narrative writing styling of Anthony Bourdain. That was one of the best compliments I've ever gotten.
I have already started compiling and writing the follow-up to it, "In the Eyes of Gods and Monsters" which should be completed at the latest by the end of the year.
I really wish I could have gotten around to the rest of the tables this year.
Of course, nevermind advertising my own creations, I had to pimp out ICWXP and the forthcoming indie comic show FreeState Comicon out in Lawrence. Thanks to those of you that hung out and watched part of the ICWXP clip and listened to my pitch on the show. You can't go wrong if you love movies, games, robots, puppets, and zombie themed shows. Rikk Wolf always has some kick ass projects in the works, so check out the series!

Those of you that didn't get a chance to catch Craig Klotz while he was visiting KC ZineCon or didn't pick up a flyer for FreeState, check out the site here, and get out to the show to support other great local creators!
Aren't you glad that not only my blog post is somewhat entertaining, but I also bring you cool pop culture things to fill your day with?
So what kinds of cool things did I get from the show you all might be asking? Well, I traded for some great stuff from some creators at the show...
What you see are creations from Frank Miles (Minicomic, Zine "Allow Oui", and alt gretting card), Jerry Ponzer ("Don't Leave Me #2 Zine"), and my dear friend Julia Arredondo's great "Student Debt be Gone" prayer candle.
I have a lot of Julia's works, and you need to check out just how much awesome stuff she is pushing out of Vice Versa Press! Frank's zine was a round of  hilarious observational humor that reminded me of the kind of humor that Mitch Hedberg did in his career. "Don't Leave Me #2" is wonderfully odd with smart humor and makes you think and interact, with science, story, and a crossword puzzle.

If you'd like to listen to the new podcast I just did on this show, just click below!

Until next time, support your local artists, be kind to your fellow beings, and always take the path less traveled!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Podcaster, Writer, Toy Collector, and Animal Rights Activist

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Passenger on the train of thought.

New price tags I was cutting about a week before KCCC. Slowly but steadily upgrading my presentation space at shows.
It's been just at a month since my last update, and I've got KC Zine Con coming up the weekend after this one. To say the last few weeks have been trying and at times just deplorable, would be an understatement. But you know what? That's alright, without the bad times, we can't appreciate the good things in life. They say that life is a rollercoaster, but I believe that life is more a bunch of rides we ride. Some make us sick, some are amazing, and the walks in between them are everything in between.
I got a chance to go to a museum that had a great exhibit on the brain and how we use it.
Couple of good things did come of it all though, I mean, you've always got to look for the bright side of things? If you start off the day saying it's going to be bad, then you've already set the stage for a bad day.
One reason I was bummed was an old staple of my hometown, Hastings, is shutting down.
Progress on personal projects has been somewhat slow in coming, as my attention has been focused on reworking my business model for everything from what kind of art I am making, to just revisiting presentation, creation of new works, and even writing and production of future videos and podcast (which once again are on a temporary sideline until I can get another video card put in this machine). Yeah, I know, and it's weird using this computer without a video card on it. I can watch stuff like YouTube and Vimeo of course, but editing and working with my own video software just isn't going to happen without some sort of new card in place soon. I'm looking into Radeon cards now after speaking with the kick ass Matt over at B-Squared Computers (who works on my rig even knowing how hard I am on it).

You might have also noticed a Dreamstime link over on the right hand column now (if you're looking at this on a mobile device you may not see it), that takes you to my photography account there. You can find a steadily increasing amount of stock photography I am selling through the site.

Some of good things that have come along well though include my first Zine publication that I am debuting at KC Zinecon, that chronicles a handful of stories about incidents and happenings I went through as a security guard for two bars over a span of fifteen years. This is the cover in progress below. I'm currently doing some last minute proofing and getting some copies ready for Patreon members that are supporting me (they get a free copy of it for being cool enough to help me as a working artist). You can check out the cover preview here on Patreon (the post is for all to see).

So you're probably wondering where my update from KCCC is. There was a video effort that I had made, but between technical issues, and the show being very slow overall, I decided to do something a bit different with the footage I do have from it, so that will be coming hopefully by the end of this month. I was actually pretty excited as I'd had a new microphone setup in my truck and installed a booth camera to record time-lapse moments of the show. Hopefully, I can still salvage the idea, even in lieu of the show having been not as good as last year's outing for me.
(Left) The new booth camera setup for time lapse footage. (Right) My wall of art.
All that aside, I will share some of the photos I took from the show below
Many thanks to Gary and Aaron for picking up some originals at the show!
I think this WW2 cosplay was my favorite of the show. (Right) Lady Thor and Lady Loki were also great.
I did have more photos, but I hope to have those added later. I was pretty absent from my booth during the show, so I do apologize to people I missed that came by to visit.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure if it was because shows earlier in the year had hit wallets harder, or because of it being an election year (that usually helps kill spending because people get worried), but this year's show was nowhere near the level of last year for me. The show was still good from a catching up and seeing old friends and meeting new ones level, but man, it was enough that it had me rethinking how to approach next year.

Numbers I've heard were around 10,000 or so attendees. I'm not sure I saw even a percentage of that around where I was, and I had a camera running to show traffic patterns on both sides of my booth, and when I had looked at them, I didn't ever see that amount. Far from scientific, but maybe it was the floor layout, or something, but the show seemed off this year. 

Now to be fair, a lot of this is just my own take on the show. I try to be fair in my assessment and take on the shows I do. Even one of my all time favorites to do, SFAL had one year that was not as great as the others, but it rebounded in a most excellent way. Let's hope some of the stuff I've heard about Wizard looking to buy the show or any of the other rumors are simply that. Rumors. KCCC has the chance to become something akin to Alternative Press Expo or even C2E2 if it played it's cards right. 

But something I have been wary of, and wondered aloud in conversation with more than a few people that weekend...

Has the pop culture bubble began to deflate? I mean, let's be honest. And this is directed at the people who were attending comic cons prior to the MCU movies, before Disney bought Star Wars, before the CW network became DC's saviour, before Pop Vinyls oversaturated Hot Topics.

Have you all noticed a proliferation, an increase in interest, that hasn't always been for the better?

This is not the first time this has happened. Think back to the days after Return of the Jedi ended it's theatre run, and the concept of Saturday Morning Cartoons became obsolete. There were dark years when all this geek stuff was considered to not be cool, or was so fringe it wasn't funny. I have memories of of celebrating a gaming or comic shop opening up because those were safe spaces, gaming and upcoming fantasy or sci-fi news was found out in magazines, and later on a few fledgling websites towards the early 90's.

Geekdom/Nerdiness of course came back into the forefront when a lot of us, myself included got older, started having money to spend, and a desire to see old characters and series come to life again. But it's mainstream now. It's been that way really since Big Bang Theory hit the airwaves and gave your average joe a look at the worlds we knew and existed in.  Sorta.

I hear more and more how people have so so much stuff. Stuff they've bought, traded for, looked for. Walls covered in art and posters. Shelves crammed with statues, toys, games, props,... you name it. Even for someone like myself, I have really cut down on my collecting and have started to let go of many things, and plan to let go of even more.

At the same time we live in an amazing time where we have seen the Avengers come to life onscreen, more superhero movies than we can shake a stick at, incredible video games, a resurgence of sci fi in myriad ways, and so much more,... but are we reaching a critical burnout zone? I mean I see it in artist alley a lot of times. I've spoken to vendors that have a hell of a time moving stuff that a few years ago was not as hard to move, because more collectors means more sellers. It also means companies like Funko are pumping out collectable figures at insane rates. Very little of it will ever be rare, because there is an awareness to the aspect of what people will pay for it on the secondary market, and companies don't want to lose any of that income.

Hell, even YouTube is seeing a proliferation of this sort of thing. There are people, both men and women, creating "content" and portraying characters/personalities that are riding this whole geek wave until it goes out of style. I see fantastic original work go unnoticed in lieu of some really terrible popular stuff. 

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. I appreciate it all, I do, but I also lived through the first video game collapse, as well as through the score of years where identifying as a geek or nerd got you picked on or beat up, at the very least made fun of. Sometimes, I miss those bygone endless summers when days like today, were just a pipe dream.

I used to love retreating into my comics and books, exploring worlds in games both on table top and on consoles, and comic shops were the social hubs that kept us connected to each other and to the hobbies and character stories we loved.

Meh, I can feel myself getting older. I like it. I see change in how I look at life. Thankfully most of it is still for the positive. But as a working artist at comic cons, I wonder what the next ten years hold for us all.

Maybe some of it is because I'm seeing a lot of the same stuff over and over again, whether it's comics or cosplay, or artwork to movies. I just can't shake this feeling that another slump is almost upon us. When it happens, shows will shrink or shut down, fandoms will either evolve or go dormant for a while, and the creators and supporters that still love the stuff because it's in their DNA, will keep it all alive.

I never think that's a bad thing. Maybe some of it is because I flip through my old D&D Monster Manual a bit too often, lingering over the very simple artwork, placing my mind back in a day when you could not go to TeeFury or ThinkGeek or anything like that and have access to literally millions of incarnations of artwork and items of things you loved as movies.

Again, I am a realist as much as I am a dreamer. I for instance love that Funko's ReAction line is honoring the original concepts for the line of toys that had been worked on for the Dark Crystal, and now I was able to go to ToysRUs and pick up Jen and the Landstrider set for just a bit over $20. That move came out in the 80's, and a company no doubt filled with fans of that movie, understood that it had garnered a following and now they've set a new collection in motion for us to buy and collect. Things like that? Amazing and wonderful. 

Speaking of pop culture, I did get a nice surprise from a follower of mine that sent me a cool addition for my studio space in the making. Check it out...
That's an old school bit of memory lane there huh? And it works like a charm!
He felt bad because he could not support me on Patreon, so he got me this kick ass radio. A big shout out and thanks to Jacob Martinez for this. Seriously man, I appreciate it! It's going on my desk when the studio is done!

Till next time, keep aiming for your dreams, never let anything stop you, be kind to your fellow beings, and support the artists you love!
Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Podcaster, Writer, Toy Collector, and Animal Rights Activist

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A public service announcement of new Doritos flavor like announcement levels!

Yeah, that's right. I'm setting up shop, on the corner of 822.

Gonna flex, show my might, gonna bring legit art to roll on you.
I'm going to lay down some mad rhymes, on this funky fresh update.

And then disappear like Nixon's eighteen minutes of incriminating tape.

You want art, you want to see a mad visual flow?

Then 822 is the booth you want at the KCCC show.

I'll make you react to the abstract, and massage your eyes.

With colors so delicious, you'd think I painted with french fries.

I'm no rapper, yeah, I'll admit it, and shout it out loud.

But I'm a funny talkative artist, who stands out in the crowd.

See you all at KCCC!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Podcaster, Writer, Toy Collector, and Animal Rights Activist