This past weekend was the Big Apple Con in New York City, and I was in attendance creating another giant chalk art mural for the show. This time I was asked to recreate the cover of a Wizard Publication from 2003. The cover art was by both Joe Quesada and Jim Lee, and since these were the co-guests-of-honor at the convention it made perfect sense, so I set to work trying to do justice to the incredible art of these well known illustrators.
It was a rainy and dreary weekend, but things trudged on at Pier 94 on the West Side where the convention was held. I was immediately faced with my first obstacle upon arriving when I discovered the floor in my intended art space was tiled. Were not talking 5 foot smooth marble tiles, but 7 inch square stucco tiles with raised grout between them. This wasn’t going to work. After some scrambling and searching through the convention hall I found a spot back in artist alley that had potential. I set to work with a push broom, and 30 minutes later had cleaned a small area of an unbelievable amount of dirt, grit, old soot-black tape and god knows what else. It made for quite the impressive little pile of gunk.
This was my first time actually creating at a spot in artist alley, and I have to say I absolutely loved the company. These guys and gals are my favorite part of the show, and I was in ridiculously good company. Just across the aisle was Greg Horn whose booth had a never-ending crowd. Greg is always a major draw in artist alley and is about as nice as they come. I had the pleasure of recreating some of Greg’s Marvel Skrull portraits back in the summer of 2008 at Wizard World Chicago, and have always enjoyed catching up with him at shows ever since. Also in attendance in the alley was Brad Guigar whose Evil Inc. webcomic should be on every one’s reading list. With more knowledge about the world and business of comics than any man should be allowed to have by law, Brad’s blog is a fantastic read, and his tweets are always entertaining. I ran into Brad right at the beginning of the show and we caught up while on line at the registration booth.
Once my spot was as clean as it could be, and after some delays in getting barriers set up around the space, I finally got to work assembling the artwork and getting ready to color. All of this added up to me starting over 2 hours later than I had intended. Add on the fact that I was working with a new paper stock (a long and not pleasant story between me and the paper company) and that it was taking longer than usual to get the chalk to do what I wanted it to on this new surface, and it made for a stressful start to the weekend.
My girlfriend Mary came with me as my assistant, and thanks to her comforting presence I was able to move past these barriers, focus and get the job done. She has gotten very good at answering questions and talking to people viewing the artwork while I work, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through the weekend without her. If you see her at my next show, please be exceptionally nice to her, boy does she deserve it.
Friday night was dinner with my good friend Peter where we energetically discussed the interesting turn of events caused by Wizard announcing next years Big Apple Con dates are the same weekend as the New York City Comic Con dates. In fact, this led to a large amount of debate over the entire weekend amongst the artists I talked to. Most were upset about being made to choose between shows and even a poll on Brad Guigar’s site was running at about 95% thinking this was a bad idea on Wizard’s part.
Saturday was a long, long day, but I was able to finish Spider-Man and most of Batman, and the energy from the crowd and their enthusiasm for the art kept me going. Saturday night was the Wizard party where I was lucky enough to sit in on Joe Madureira’s presentation for his upcoming video game Darksiders. His art in the game is nothing short of amazing, and I was glad I finally got to meet him as I am a huge fan. This meeting may lead to a future project where I get to recreate one of his illustrations at a convention too, which I have been wanting to do for years, so good luck seemed to be on my side Saturday.
Sunday I made the mistake of walking to the show in the rain, and found that I had to wait over an hour for my wet pants to dry before I could sit on the paper and begin my final work. During this time I ran into Rob Demarest of Ghost Hunters International. This was before the show opened, so we talked for nearly 15 minutes about things paranormal (a big hobby of mine) and convention experiences in general. Out of everyone I met that weekend, Rob was by far the most down to earth, easiest-to-talk-to one of the bunch, and I was glad I got the chance to talk shop with him. He was also nice enough to give me a tee shirt so now I guess I owe him one. Thanks Rob!
As I neared completion of the mural around 2:30 PM, a man with a video camera got down on all fours and almost dived into my art slapping his hand down on the paper next to me as I colored. He waived his video camera wildly around taking footage of my art. I warned him not to smudge the chalk, and he backed off the paper, but proceeded to fly around my art, top to bottom, lifting his video camera high and low shooting from all angles at an insane pace. Finally he moved off into the crowd, camera held high, and Mary and myself could only exchange bemused glances.
It was only a little while later that I learned the man was Deep Blue Sea/Punisher/Hung actor Thomas Jane. I proceeded to laugh myself silly. That was AWESOME and I wouldn’t have recognized him if my life depended on it. Guess he liked the art, I’ll have to keep an eye on the internet to see if that video pops up.
My thanks to everyone for another great, and interesting weekend. This was my last show until 2010, and I am really looking forward to catching up on a few things over my winter convention break. I plan on posting more often this winter, and put up a lot more of my own illustrations and digital paintings during this time. Maybe I’ll even have some original art to sell come the 2010 show season.