GRASP 2015 Recap

So the first GRASP con is in the history books. Now that I’ve had a chance to recover from the drive and lack of sleep it’s time to take a look back at the weekend.

First of all, traffic on I-94 sucks. There’s construction all throughout Indiana that turns a relatively easy drive into a hard one. Our car is in need of work so I got a rental Chevy Impala. That baby had lots of trunk room, moves like a cat and rides like a couch floating down the highway.

My companion for the trip to Grand Rapids. Me likee!
My companion for the trip to Grand Rapids. Me likee!

After getting the “full breakfast” included with the room at the Best Western I was disappointed that the only thing worth eating was scrambled eggs that may or may not have been army surplus, brown & serve sausages and juice. Everything else was heavy carb heavy sugar including a self serve waffle iron. They didn’t even have bacon! Full breakfast my eye!

The C Rations breakfast at the Best Western.
The C Rations breakfast at the Best Western.

After breakfast I got to the venue with no delays and beat the 9am deadline when they start charging $5 for parking. The Deltaplex is the building equivalent of a nondescript white van. On the inside it looks like a bomb shelter. The Deltaplex is also the home of The Grand Rapids Drive, of the NBA’s D-League.

The Deltaplex exterior. Go Drive!
The Deltaplex exterior. Go Drive!

Saturday started slowly with my first customer attempting to buy a $3 button with a fifty. Come on lady, do I look like a currency exchange? It was cold as a meat locker and stupid me forgot to bring a sweater. Combine cold and a lack of business and by noon I’m struggling to stay awake. At one point I go to the parking lot just so I can warm my hands on the hood of the car. After my warmup I got a second wind and even did a sketch for one of my neighbors of his character for his book. Sunday was even more sparsely attended but I was prepared after seeing Saturday’s turnout.

The bottom line is this was the first year for this show and it takes a while for any comic show to get established.  I didn’t make a lot of sales but on the positive side I sold more comic books than ever before! The Ninja Bunny debut book was the best seller and garnered a lot of attention. I also got to talk to a lot of people that actually read small press comics and networked with some really cool creators. I would probably do this show again.

Would it kill you to print simple ID tags like these for your artists Wizard World?
Would it kill you to print simple ID tags like these for your artists Wizard World?

GRASP Con is this week

The first of three conventions I plan on doing this year is happening this Saturday & Sunday the 27-28th in Grand Rapids Michigan and it’s called GRASP Comic Expo. GRASP stands for Grand Rapids Alternative Small Press.

This is the Inaugural show for the organizers of this event but they have had success with their fall show the Grand Rapids Comic Con. Their booths were very affordable and since it is not a juried show they were kind enough to accept my money and rent me a booth without any approval process.

Since this is their first show I’m going in with no expectations. Whatever happens it’s all good and I’m just going to enjoy being a part of the show. I’ve had some good experiences with Michigan shows so far so hopefully the trend continues.

Finding a Good Comic Book Printer

Summer is here and for me that means Comic Con season. Since I hate driving in bad weather the warmer months are the only time of year we do shows. That and I’m starting to totally rethink the whole concept of comic shows as a way to gain recognition, but that’s another story.

If you’re going to do cons then you will be needing actual books to sell to potential readers. It sounds simple but as you know printing costs are expensive so what I like to do is small print runs so I won’t have a lot of  back stock in case the book is a slow seller. It’s been a trial and error process to find a printer that accommodates small indie comic makers and our limited budgets.

At a recent show I bought someone’s book that was printed by Comix Well Spring and it looked pretty nice so I decided to give them a try. I have to say that they did not disappoint.

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The books come standard with a cardstock cover which feels very substantial. The interior pages are also a decent thickness and the images almost look like books printed using the offset process which is more expensive and usually require a higher print minimum. The colors are true to the pdf original, unlike when I use Ka-Blam printing who’s process makes the images darker. And turnaround time was crazy fast unlike Ka-Blam who makes sure to take every bit of a month to get your books to you unless you pay them an extra fee. I got my books in just under two weeks. Needless to say, I’ve found my printer. IMG_3821

55?

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Why does everybody speed to wherever they’re going? I’m sure many of these people are heading to jobs that they hate or family they can’t stand but boy are they in a hurry to get there!

The other day I was driving south on I-57. I’m not a leadfoot anymore so I try to stay in the middle lane and go a few miles over the limit but not so fast that I can’t adjust down if a state trooper is spotted. This particular day was a Saturday afternoon and traffic seemed a bit more aggressive than usual so I moved to the right lane so all the NASCAR wannabees could get past me. This woman got right in my ass. Keep in mind that I’m going 70 mph in a 55 zone in the right lane. It was clear she was giving me the kind of tailgate that’s meant to intimidate me into driving faster. Sorry missy, if 70 in the slow lane ain’t fast enough for ya then take your ass around. Which she did and while doing so shot me the nastiest glare one human being could give another. Like I’m the asshole!

Am I?

Superheroes Exist!

Seattle is cool for a lot of reasons. One of those is that they have real live superheroes patrolling their streets. The most famous of these is Phoenix Jones.

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Phoenix Jones (real name Benjamin Fodor) goes on nightly patrols much like Daredevil does in Hell’s Kitchen in the Marvel comics. Jones originally was a solo crime fighter but over time he’s added several others to his entourage including his wife who adopted the persona Purple Reign.

ESPN just did a piece on him, Phoenix Rising that is definitely worth the watch.

 

No CAKE for you!

This was the first year that I applied for a table at CAKE, the only comic show in the Chicago area that showcases indie comic creators. I was fully expecting to be denied because there are so many deserving cartoonists in this city. Turns out I was right . Sort of.

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Today I received the notification email and it turns out I’m on the waiting list. Which is a victory of sorts I guess, at least they didn’t say no. The email did say that they received 579 applications and it is a small show. They do not mention if I’m #10 on the list or #499 because it’s their policy to not reveal your waiting list ranking or how you were graded by their jury.

So basically I’m going forward as if it’s not happening.

Goodbye Dr. Andrew

Back in 2010 I injured my back  while working a job that involved a lot of heavy lifting. You never appreciate being able to move freely until you can’t get out of bed without intense pain. When I was finally able to walk, it was time to find a doctor.  A client of Janet’s suggested a chiropractor, which terrified me because I imagined some guy bending me in half like Bane did Batman in The Dark Knight Rises  and cracking my back like he would his knuckles. But he assured  me that this doctor was a gentle chiropractor and his name was Andrew Pasminski.

He was absolutely right, Dr. Andrew as I referred to him had a gentle touch, but always managed to find the problem area. My sore spot was the sacrum, that he would gently work it back into place and occasionally give the neck or spine a crack when needed. Andrew was not only good at his job but  he would gladly answer any question you might have without being rude or condescending.  As time wore on we developed a rapport  where we would greet each other, often with a hug and talk about not just my back but everything.  We even opened up about things in our personal lives. Our dog Barney had severe separation anxiety.  Andrew had no problem with us bringing Barney along for the visit.

Yesterday we found out Dr. Andrew passed away. We knew he had been ill for the past few months but the staff did not let on as to the severity. They just said that he had somehow injured his back and had planned to return eventually. I suspected something was wrong but was in denial. He’ll be okay. He’ll be back soon and we’ll be talking politics, sports or about the latest crazy thing one of our dogs had done. He’ll work his magic on my back, then lay his forehead on the back of my head as I lie face down in the cradle getting acupuncture and say, “See you next time buddy”.

I remember saying to Andrew, “It’s really hard to find a good doctor. It took me all these years to find you.”

He replied, “Lorenzo, it took me all these years to find you“.

 

Popcorn Junkie

Lately I’ve become addicted to Trader Joe’s Chicago Style Popcorn Mix. It’s the closest thing to Garrett’s cheese & caramel popcorn mix and it’s only $3 a bag. Garrett’s Popcorn has been around since 1949 and every since they opened Chicagoans have been standing in line to but their awesome popcorn. Another company has filed a lawsuit against Garrett’s over the use of the term “Chicago Mix” but everybody knows that Garrett’s is the best no matter what they call it.

Part of me feels bad as I’m chowing down on bag after bag of the TJ’s stuff because Janet is allergic to popcorn. So now I try to eat it when she’s not around. Which makes me a secret popcorn eater. God help me.

TJpopcorn

Be Happy

I was a little late discovering this song since I listen mostly to music in my collection that I have amassed since the 70’s. I’ve become that old fart that plays his music from back in the day and wonders what kind of crap the kids are listening to (autotune for instance).

Since I stumbled across “Happy” by Pharrell Williams I just can’t get enough of it. Go ahead you cynics roll your eyes and make a snarky comment, I don’t care. There’s something about the song that touches me so deeply that I can hardly explain it. It’s my belief that life at it’s core is inherently simple and we as humans make it more difficult to make ourselves seem smarter. Be nice to others, share, love, be happy. Sounds pretty good. But somehow us humans come along and fuck that up.

When you get right down to it it’s happiness we are all after. It shouldn’t come from money, success or at the expense of others but from within. If you’re a miserable fucker before you get rich when you get rich you’ll just be a miserable fucker with money. The people in the video are a cross section of America, just walking or dancing down the street. They could be on their way to work, at work  or just out kickin’ it. There are celebrity cameos but hey, they’re just people too.

In an interview Pharrell said writing this song was just a “halfcourt shot”. It’ll probably be the biggest swish of his career. The best things start simple.

Repo Man Turns 30

Back in 1984 I was waiting tables at The Medici in Hyde Park. One day Marsha, a fellow member of the waitstaff came to me and said, I saw this movie the other day and there was a line in it that reminded me of you. Working at the Med seems like a lifetime ago for me for many reasons, but I did get to check out that movie and have been in love with Repo Man ever since.

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Made on a small budget Executive produced by Mike Nesmith formerly of the Monkees and directed by Alex Cox, Repo Man is a Quirky indie film about a punker named Otto who falls into a job as a repo man. Along the way we are introduced to Otto’s criminal friends, his mentor Bud, government agents chasing a car with dead ETs in the trunk and lots more craziness. The soundtrack is a who’s who of mid 80’s punk royalty and was a huge hit even before the movie came out. The movie has attained cult status and is filled with lines that I constantly quote to this day.

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The Criterion Collection has issued a blu-ray edition of Repo Man that came out last year.  I just bought a copy off Ebay and for me it brings back  memories from that era that was the best of times & the worst of times. It comes with a booklet filled with lots of little known facts about the film. The disc contains deleted scenes and commentary as well as interviews with actors and Iggy Pop who did the theme song. Thanks Marsha, for turning me on to this satirical masterpiece.

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