SIX DEGREES OF COMIC CON | Photos: MATT ROSCETTI
A trip to Mecca fell in my lap. Well, my Mecca, anyway: San Diego Comic-Con. The original! The comic book convention that defines the term Comic Con!
Three weeks before the con, my friend Steve Flack (vitamin-steve.blogspot.com) asked if I wanted to go with him, as he had an extra ticket. Well, comic books are my life, so I couldn’t say no to that. Plus, attending the con would give me the chance to spread the word about the work A. David Lewis (Some New Kind of Slaughter, The Lone and Level Sands) and I are doing on our graphic novel Brave Play.
I arrived in San Diego on Tuesday (July 20) around noon. My dear friend Asa Keefe lives in the beautiful city that is the annual host to Comic-Con International, which took place on July 21-24 this year. (I can't thank Asa enough for letting me crash on his couch and going out of his way to bring me to the convention center every day!)
Asa picked me up at the airport and we went to the famous California fast food staple, the In-N-Out Burger. I got me a Double-Double, and it was without a doubt the best fast food burger I ever ate (note the stress on fast food).
The first night in San Diego, we went a BBQ at a friend of Asa's place. Mike, the party's host, was also putting up some artists that were going to Comic-Con, including rock and roll poster artist Brian Ewing (brianewing.com). Brian's powerful and iconic work is collected in a book published by Dark Horse Comics titled Don't Hold Your Breath: Nothing New From Brian Ewing.
This talented artist was at the con in conjunction with the crew from Royal Flush Magazine, to which Brian contributes art. Royal Flush is, without a doubt, one of the best magazines being put out today; I only wish they put out issues more frequently. At the con, Brian introduced me to Josh Bernstien, Flush's editor and also a School of Visual Arts alumni like myself. Josh is a very talented cartoonist, and his enthusiasm for art and music shines through in Royal Flush. The most recent issue includes some fascinating articles about the friendship between comics legend Jack Kirby and music giant Frank Zappa, as well as an interview with the one and only Playboy Magazine godfather, Hugh Hefner. The interview explores Hef's past as a cartoonist, as well as his efforts to champion comics and art throughout Playboy's 55 year history.
Thanks to Asa, Mike, and Brian, I got introduced to comic cover artist Dave Johnson ("100 Bullets") and Dan Panosian ("X-Factor: Forever"). Dave and Dan are the founders of the Official Drink and Draw Social Club. As artists, we spend much of our time alone in our studios. Dave and Dan encourage meet-ups where artists can just jam and draw together. Image Comics has published two volumes of art that have come from these gatherings, and the art had always inspired me. It was an honor to spend a night with these guys and go nuts in my sketchbook alongside them.
To explain the way that the "six degrees of separation" phenomenon works at Comic-Con, I'll back track for a moment.
There is a great geek-rock band called Kirby Krackle (Kirbykrackle.com). Kirby Krackle is the name of an art technique utilized heavily by Jack Kirby, and the band adopted the name. They make fantastic rock music, and their lyrical themes include comic books, video games and all things geek. They just realeased their second album, E is for Everyone. I first became aware of the band at New York Comic Con 2009. I have a tattoo of the Incredible Hulk with Kirby art and Kirby Krackle in it, so I made sure to show them. I traded them my book, Growing Up Comic, for a copy of their fist self-titled CD. I'm glad I did, because I now love this band. In fact, I've been waiting for a band like Kirby Krackle my entire life.
I visited band members Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos at their booth, and I bought the new record and a T-shirt. They remembered me and gave me wonderful praise about the book. I was flattered that they had remembered.
I was wearing my Kirby Krackle T-shirt as I made my way to the Drink and Draw event that I previously mentioned. Suddenly, a man pulled me aside on a street corner. He pointed to my shirt. "I know those guys, and I know the artist of the shirt." This man was the artist himself: Darick Robertson (The Boys and Conan).
I had met Darick seven years ago at a convention in Philidephia. We shared beers while hanging out in the Marvel Comics hotel suite, mixing it up with other industry professionals. I was just a kid then, just out of college with stars in my eyes. To me, hanging with comics industry greats was the same as hanging out with rock stars.
Almost immediately, Darick recognized me. It didn't take much to jog his memory; he still had a clear vision of that night. He was going into dinner and didn't have time to talk, but he told me to find him this weekend and say hello.
If it weren't for Asa, Mike, and Brian inviting me to the Drink and Draw, if it weren't for my having bought a Kirby Krackle T-shirt to support my new friends and deciding to put it on right away, meeting Darick again would have never happened! But that was just Thursday night -- only the beginning.
By Sunday, the common conversation was: "Did you hear about the eye-stabbing in Hall H?" As the day rolled on, we the con-goers were all entertained as the rumors spread. No one was sure what really happened, and sketchbooks were filled with dramatic re-imaginings of the event by some of the most talented creative minds in the business. I did one myself, which I will post on my website (daydreamcomics.com).
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and smartphones, news of events, announcements and secret appearances spread like wild fire. Crowds rushed from one end of the convention hall to the other, hoping to get a sneak peak at their favorite celebraties (like Sylvester Stallone, who was promoting The Expendables) or trying to score free tickets to a special viewing of Micheal Cera’s new movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Fans lined up for hours in front of the now notorious Hall H in order to see the panel featuring the movie's star Cera and the graphic novel’s creator Bryan Lee O’Malley. Publisher Oni Press released Book Six of Scott Pilgrim that weekend as well.
Jim Lee (X-Men, All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder) used Twitter to announce the locations of drawings he hide among the Convention Center and downtown San Diego. On Saturday night, Jim Lee announced a hidden drawing could be found in the luxurious expanse of the Hyatt Hotel. I watched as a fan got the tweet and immediately went nuts looking for the drawing. He was so excited to hold a unique piece of art by one of the comics industry's biggest talents in his hands. He showed me the drawing once he found it, too; it was an awesome rendering of DC Comics' The Joker. That fan became the proud owner of the one-of-a-kind drawing, all thanks to Twitter and his 4G apple iPhone.
Attendees camped out over night just to get into the Tron panel featuring actors Jeff Bridges, Garret Hedlund and Olivia Wilde, as well as director Joe Kosinski. People seemed really excited for this movie. Scoring a ticket into the Tron Arcade was a coveted con-goer prize.
I’m still barely recovering from what was days of walking through ridiculous crowds, running around coordinating with friends, showing people my work on Growing Up Comic and Brave Play, handing out postcards promoting Braveplay.com. I meet many of my artistic heroes. Many of which I call friends after many years of convention going. I was shocked when the extremely talented Darick Robertson (the Boys, Conan) remembered meeting me seven years ago in Philadelphia. Darick was very excited to announce that his comic book the Boys written by Garth Ennis will be adapted to film by Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Anchor Man) and that they will be talking to the actor that Darick based the visuals of the lead character upon Simon Peg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) first about the role.
I attended one of Darick’s art seminars in which he spoke about using body effective body language in your cartooning. He did a fantastic Wolverine as an example of the thought process. I’ll post the drawing that I did while following along with the artist as he explained his thought process when I get that scanned.
I meet a personal hero of mine from childhood in Rob Leifeld (Cable & Deadpool, X-Force) and sat in on a drawing seminar with him too. I just had to see him talk. He’s a largely critiqued artist among the comic fan community but I’ll never forget the fact that he inspired me to draw comics when I was 13 years old. I had a chance to tell him so and give him a copy of my book Growing Up Comic, a story about that very subject of childhood inspiration. The book features my twin brother Jon Roscetti, a talent artist too (Experiment333.com, The Venture Brothers). Rob was excited to show the book to his wife whom apparently is a triplet herself.
I stood in line for the Jim Lee drawing panel … but I did not get in. The crowd was huge!
I picked out a few of my favorite photos; check out the slideshow at the top of this post.
Matt Roscetti does the artwork for Brave Play, a graphic novel about an alternate supernatural history of the 1948 World Series.
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