I'm not a comics guy. As a kid I watched cartoons, snuck out my room to watch Ren & Stimpy with my older brother, picked up a comic book here and there, drew some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, played Pokemon on Game Boy but never paid much attention to the comic world. One time as a child my parents tasked me with marking the studs while building a house by drawing the X-Men X on the floor with a red sharpie to highlight my brief obsession with X-Men there for a few days of my youth... That was the extent of that obsession, no Star Wars, no Star Trek, no star nothin. Go ahead and try to make your own comic book.... Takes a lot of time, talent, and patience to create these worlds through ink and articulate them in a way that is universally understood. The comic world is much like eating general tso's chicken by using lightly salted HEB rippled potato chips as your spoon. It doesnt completely make sense but you know you wanna try it and when you do your body is overcome with a joy that you never knew existed. How has something this awesome existed in such close proximity without me ever knowing? With every bite you become inundated by the deliciousness until you're about halfway through your combination dish and begin to feel revolted by your actions. It tastes so good but now you have overindulged and that delight you felt 20 minutes ago has turned to disgust. You're now forcing every bite EVEN THOUGH in the back of your mind you know damn well that this will make for a great lunch tomorrow afternoon once the film of fried grease has been thoroughly washed off your cheeks by the new Egyptian cotton pillow cases your aunt gifted you on your recent birthday. What Im saying is I'll indulge but never jump in the deep end of the pool. That's not my world
The Heroes Convention couldnt be any further off my radar.. That is until a friend invited me to travel with him and another artist from NY to Charlotte for what I was told (at the con) was the top tier comic book convention in the world and set up a display booth slingin our wares. There was no hesitation before Yes blurted through my thumb tips, This will check 2 boxes on the bucket list - First is visit Charlotte - Second is attend a huge convention that isn't selling firearms or pushing pornography. Through an un-timely series of events both artist whom I would be traveling to Charlotte with couldn't make the trip .. The price of the booth is non-refundable .. Somehow this has become a solo mission to a comic book convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thats about 700 miles of driving, 10-11 hours. Problem is that I had no intent on selling any artwork, I was in it for the journey. If needed I could create artwork there.. Now I have over 12 ft' of space to fill with zero pop culture references in any of my work.. Its Wednesday night, I should try n leave by early morning.. having no time to waste I got to work prepping for the weekend
9 medium sized canvas' and a bunch of small framed works before getting a couple hours rest. Come Thursday morning Im on the road by 9am..
How lazy was the politician who named this town...
10 hours of driving later there's a beacon of sleep in the form of a blue sign reading 'Last Rest Stop before Charlotte' .. This will be my bedroom for the night. Fun fact to keep in mind during these next few blog posts is Im sleeping in the back of a Buick Encore every night.
It's about 7:30am on Friday when I arrive at the convention center and navigate into the loading dock after getting artist alley passes. Once in the loading dock it became clear I forgot something very important.. Here's a convention tip for any would-be booth operators or someone who intends to spend a lot of money at the convention, BRING SOMETHING WITH WHEELS. A wagon .. a pull along cart .. steal a shopping cart! Anything with wheels will save you a ton of time. The loading dock was front right of the convention center and my booth was back left. Tried bribing a couple of the employees and other booth operators to loan me their carts but had zero luck. After more then a handful of trips back and forth and some organizing, my booth was set up and the ship has officially set sail lets see what the hell a comic convention is all about!
Convention center is massive! Hundreds of vendors
Another convention tip: Plan your booth setup accordingly!
I didnt have the opportunity to photograph any of the other booth setups due to being the only employee of this traveling art show (luckily now positioned right next to the Mens bathroom). However, some of the artist went above and beyond in their display and it looked phenomenal. For future vendors remember the front of your table is a display space, the sides of the tables are display spaces, shelving/display grates on your table allow for more work to be displayed vertically, AND UTILIZE THE SPACE BEHIND YOU! Everything from banners with your name, website, and social media handle to a print display that stands 15 ft' tall with full illumination coming from the bottom creating what felt like a cathedral of comic characters.
With what little I had .. which was pretty much just egg crates .. this was my setup
With my booth set up there's nothing left to do except sit back, engage the attendees, and let the venture begin .. .. .. .. Turns out Friday isnt a go-to Con day and there were very few people in attendance. Some braved the 75 degree weather and clear blue skies in full costume
My section of the floor became a hot spot for those in bulk costumes who have overheated on the floor. The A/C's were positioned overhead, bathrooms to the right and the concession stand to the left, with a booth full of sweaty adults in costume, this is prime convention real estate. As my new damp friends and I chatted one woman dressed as a giant butterfly with full illuminating wings told me "Last year the line to get in was out the door! This year it was barely to the steps" .. So with a lack of people enthusiastic about spending their hard earned dollars this Friday afternoon-evening I occupied myself in other ways once challenging people to imaginary sword duels lost its steam by drawing and painting on whatever I could round up..
Neighbor Hector told me about a Drink and Draw being held next door in the Westin once doors close up here at the convention center. With no plans this evening except finding a decent place to sleep I took a short trip to the car to refill my Gatorade bottles (with vodka) and then head over to the Drink, Drink, Drink, and Draw
Once I arrived and paid my respects to the bartender the task at hand was find a place to sit. This kind of felt like being the new kid at a school except this school lets you drink vodka from a Gatorade bottle and craft IPA's get brought to your arts and crafts table all while the scent of the devils lettuce lingers through the stuffy air. Eventually I found a seat and got acquainted with the fellow artists.
For $1 you were given the option to draw on a sketch card. The $1 and your drawing would be donated to the auction where they would eventually be sold off and all profits go to benefit the Michael J. Foxx Foundation.
Playing off the theme from the canvas earlier this was my quick sketch..
Armed with nothing but a couple different color sharpies and postal stickers I gave these slaps away or traded others for their creations
My bottle had run dry. Laying face up on the table were some slaps leftover to give out tomorrow at the booth. Each drawing (except 2 or 3) were all based or inspired by the people at the Drink n Draw. Whether they knew it or not. Take a close look at the drawing on the bottom row, two in from the right, of the mustache and top hat wearing fella, this sticker comes into play later Sunday in part 3 of this blog post.......