MEGACON - SATURDAY ARTIST ALLEY
By Todd H. Latoski & David T. Allen
Artist alley saw plenty of traffic on Saturday, as fans and attendees browsed through the numerous creators' tables. ComicRelated was there and once again talked with more of these creators about their work and what inspires them to create.
Coming all the way from North Carolina is Jesse Thomas, comics illustrator and sometimes writer. Thomas began drawing comics back in 1983, at a time when he claims he was way too young to be drawing. At that time, the only comics he had seen were the ones that came with He-Man figures, and so he copied them as best he could. In the late 80s, he returned to drawing and kept doing it all the way through high school and art school. It wasn't until after he became a Guns ';n Roses fan that he realized the idea of "selling out" became very distasteful, so rather than seeking work with the major companies, Thomas decided to go the independent route. After considerable time deciding what to do, he settled on the idea of doing a series of self-contained stories rather than following one particular character for 300 or so issues. Thus was born Night Craft, an anthology of stories.
The title came from the old "USA Up All Night" tag, which meant little more than movies you watched on the USA Network when you were awake all night. Since Night Craft is a craft, and he usually works on it at night, Thomas went with it. Thomas both writes and draws the book. He has two issues printed so far. The other book Thomas offers is Kiss Me Deadly, a two-issue mini-series, which came about following a web-comic on which he had been working. The writers of Kiss Me Deadly liked Thomas' art and asked him to draw the series, so he took the chance. Thomas describes Kiss Me Deadly as "very violent" and "very ';R' rated." It's not the "nice, virginal Charlie's Angels that I normally draw," Thomas laughed. "This is all about prostitutes and murderers all over the place." The third issue of Night Craft is pretty much settled and will feature a story called, "Attack of the Babysitter," which Thomas describes as a sheep-in-wolf's-clothing type of story. Despite the title, Thomas promises it will be safe for children. After that, there will be another story titled "Zombie High School." This is Thomas' first time at MegaCon, and his first thought on arriving was, "it's big!" For more information on Thomas' work, you can check him out at www.jesse7800.blogspot.com or www.jesse7800.deviantart.com.
Local creator, Brian Canfield Mitchell, offers some very detailed art for fans of every genre and medium through RoughCanvas Graphite Illustrations. Mitchell's love for art stems from the idea of doing things that he can't find anywhere else. "It's about creating things that don't already exist," he said. "Doing things that other creators have not yet come up with, or things that I wish existed in real life that I can visually create for myself and for other people." The name of his business comes from the fact that he usually draws on the backside of canvas (the "rough" side of the canvas), and he uses pencil (hence the "graphite"). Mitchell's artwork is mostly centered on the human body, with headshots as well as full figures, and ranges anywhere between just a standard portrait and the more fantasy and erotic. At the convention, Mitchell is offering a lot of fan art, which is one of his best sellers. He does have some celebrity art, but the comic book and video game characters are what Mitchell finds the MegaCon attendees really like to see. Some of the other art, such as role playing/fantasy/sci-fi art, doesn't necessarily sell as well at MegaCon, so he tries to stick with the themes the fans really like.
This is Mitchell's sixth year, and although he gets a lot of requests for commissions, he generally does not take too many at a time, because each commission will take up to three weeks to complete. Mitchell admits he was pretty skeptical about the new, larger set-up at MegaCon this year, but the feedback he is hearing from all the attendees is how great it is. Mitchell says he finds it a bit odd to have two different halls separated with openings on either side, rather than one large opening in the middle. He says in some ways, it feels the artist alley is completely separated from the other hall. "But," he adds, "we have the star-signing area over on our side, which makes for a huge draw of fans!" When asked what he has to offer to fans, Mitchell says that when people come to his booth, once they stop laughing after seeing some of his more risque pieces of art, they usually stop and look through all of his work, just because he has caught their attention. Often he gets asked for things they don't see readily on the table, and chances are, Mitchell has it in that vein. If they don't see something they like, Mitchell offers them the opportunity to e-mail him, and he works with fans. That is what usually starts a commission. Some of his best selling prints are the ones that fans have come up with for specific commissions that he would never have dreamed of. Mitchell's work can be seen, and commissions can be requested, at www.roughcanvas.com.
Jason Flowers is a comic book artist and creator out of Atlanta. Flowers got into comics at a young age and remembers reading He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Flowers said he was in day care a lot as a child, and there was another boy in the same day care who used to bring in lots of comics, including X-Men books, and after that, it was over. Jim Lee's X-Men #1 that came out was the most amazing thing in his entire life as an 8-year old. From that moment on, Flowers started making his own little comic books and has been obsessed ever since. He created his first comic book when he was 15 years old, which he actually set up and sold at a local convention in Atlanta. In the past two years, he has been fortunate enough to complete a graphic novel through Arcana Studios, called Ripped, which is a time-traveling book that he drew and inked. He also did a short story in Arcana's horror anthology called Velvet Rope. After that, he worked on a short book called Emory Falls, which Flowers says he will probably bring back in a few years.
Currently, Flowers is working on a graphic novel with writer, Bobby Nash, called Bloody Olde Englund, which is about a small town Sheriff in the mountains of Georgia who is out to stop a group of werewolves that are simply trying to take back their land. It will be a 66-page graphic novel done fully in black and white with gray tones and spot reds on certain scenes where the action or violence is. Flowers describes the book as "our take on doing a horror movie as close as possible as we could in a comic book format." This is Flowers fourth appearance at MegaCon, who is pleased to see how much bigger the show is this year, with so much more space, which allows people more room to walk around. Flowers loves MegaCon, and he loves Orlando, so he's glad to be back. Fans can find Flowers on facebook at www.facebook.com/jasonflowersart or at www.jasonflowersart.blogspot.com.
Knightshift Entertainment is an independent publisher appearing at MegaCon, and ComicRelated sat down with owner Randy Taylor to talk about his books. Knightshift Entertainment produces a book called Assassin's Guild, which is a science fiction/action-adventure story set in the future with a cyber-punk type of genre. Five issues of the series have been published to date, and Knightshift has just released a trade paperback collecting all five issues. Taylor is currently looking for an artist to begin the second story arc, which will be four issues. The next story arc is a prison break story, and it also starts setting up more of the main villain and his back-story. He is also planning to do short origin issues for each of the main characters, so there will be five books in that. Knightshift has also just released its first anthology, titled Knightshift Showcase, each issue of which will offer different stories from various genres to see what people like or are interested in.
If one story in particular gets a tremendous amount of positive feedback, then obviously they will release more of that. The first issue has a story by Taylor called "Power Punks," which he describes as a funny sidekicks story, a horror story called "Uncle Tom's Cabin," written and drawn by Joe Fauvel, as well as other stories. Taylor is also the owner of a comic creator website called ICCW Network (www.iccwnetwork.com), which allows creators to come together and help each other out. The Network releases an anthology called Rampage, which is just stories from a lot of different members from the site. The first issue was a huge volume of eleven stories, the second issue has just come out with four stories, and they are currently working on the third issue. In May, ICCW Network will be sponsoring DoDeca-Con in Columbia, Missouri, which will be a small two-day show for local fans and creators. Special guests already signed up include Jai Nix, Dennis Hopeless, and Kyle Strahm. More information can be found at www.dodecacon.iccwnetwork.com.
With only one day left of the convention, ComicRelated will return on Sunday to catch a final few artists and writers and see what they have to offer!
Todd H. Latoski/Writer
Todd was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but moved to Florida back in the late 1980s. Todd grew up reading comics and have always been a fanboy. Working in the legal field by day and writing his heart out at night (with three published comic stories to date, and one more in the works),Todd has been doing MegaCon coverage for several years and looks forward to doing so for many years go come.
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