San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Artist Roundup

SDCC 2014: GeekMom Artist Roundup. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.
SDCC 2014: GeekMom Artist Roundup. Image credit: Ariane Coffin.

Sure, the star-studded panels of San Diego Comic-Con get a lot of press, but my favorite part of SDCC is shopping the Artists’ Alley, Web Comics, and Small Press sections. The endless rows are filled with so much creativity, it is staggering and humbling. Artist after artist were present with their portfolios and prints for sale, most at very reasonable rates, all extremely different in style. You can find everything from superheroes to sexy elves, cute animals to steampunk cityscapes. I bought quite a few prints—fewer than I would have liked, more than I had room for! Because I couldn’t buy it all, I did the next best thing and compiled a list of my favorite artists I found at SDCC 2014 to share with you (in no particular order). Enjoy!

Chris Appalhans

Image credit: Chris Appelhans, used with permission.
Image credit: Chris Appelhans, used with permission.

Chris Appelhans makes such wonderful pieces that capture sweet, quiet moments. It’s never too busy or too loud; the focus is on just the right thing. I usually prefer obnoxiously colorful art, but I’m in love with the peaceful stillness of Chris’ paintings.

Kazu Kibuishi

Jellyfish Canyon. Image credit: Kazu Kibuishi
Jellyfish Canyon. Image credit: Kazu Kibuishi, used with permission.

Kazu Kibuishi is the writer and illustrator of the best-selling YA graphic novel Amulet. We had purchased the first book of the series at last year’s SDCC and returned this year to purchase the next four. The story gets dark and scary at times, but that doesn’t seem to deter our 4-year-old. We’ve read our way through three of them already since the weekend, as a read-aloud at bedtime. The art of Amulet is beautiful, dark, and epic, and Kibuishi’s other illustrations reflect that style as well.

Cari Corene

Umbrella Totoro and Secret of Kells Pangur Ban. Image credit: Cari Corene.
Umbrella Totoro and Angry Pangur Ban in a Puddle. Image credit: Cari Corene, used with permission.

Cari Corene does watercolors inspired by geek pop-culture icons such as Totoro, Pokemon, and My Little Pony. Her Etsy shop not only offers her art as prints, but also as zipper pouches, messenger bags, charms, and scarfs. Beautiful and practical!

Armand Baltazar

The Collidescape Chronicles. Image credit: Armand Baltazar, used with permission.
The Collidescape Chronicles. Image credit: Armand Baltazar, used with permission.

Armand Baltazar is a formally-trained artist who has worked at many of the major animation film studios like DreamWorks, Disney, and Pixar. As you can see from the example above, his art reflects a geeky twist on a more classical painting style. It’s detailed and exquisite.

Eunjung June Kim

Image credit: Eunjung June Kim
Image credit: Eunjung June Kim, used with permission.

Eunjung June Kim‘s art is so cute, I want it all over my walls! Out of all of her prints, I purchased the one above because I love the colors. Don’t get me wrong; the subject matter is great too, but the color palette is the reason I couldn’t put it down. Such a happy contrast!

Pascal Campion

Image credit: Pascal Campion
Image credit: Pascal Campion, used with permission.

Pascal Campion is probably the most prolific artist I’ve met. Some artists had many copies of a few pieces, Pascal had boxes and boxes full of prints and I could hardly find any repeats. In 2006, he began the habit of starting off every day drawing a “Sketch of the Day,” which now totals nearly 3,000 sketches! He is a father of three and many of his pieces are inspired by his family life. He seems to perfectly capture the greatest moments of parenthood.

Chris Ayers

Content Kitty. Image credit: Chris Ayers, used with permission.
Content Kitty. Image credit: Chris Ayers, used with permission.

Chris Ayers was a successful artist working in the film industry when he was diagnosed with leukemia. To help motivate himself through his battle against cancer, he started a sketchbook, drawing one animal per day for one year. The sketchbook resulted into a book, The Daily Zoo. The image of the Content Kitty featured here is one of my favorites. My husband and I purchased it at SDCC last year, framed it, and hung it in our daughter’s room. It still makes me smile every time I see it. I love the bright contrasting colors and, of course, the attitude! Such contentment, indeed.

Chris Uminga

TMNT. Image credit: Chris Uminga, used with permission.
TMNT. Image credit: Chris Uminga, used with permission.

Here’s another Chris, the third one on this list. I swear I didn’t pick these artists based on name alone! Chris Uminga is a recurring favorite of mine. I bought a piece from him last year and started following him on Instagram, so by the time I got to SDCC this year, I already knew what piece I wanted to buy from him… this Ninja Turtles print, of course!

Jackie Huang

Ice & Fire. Image credit: Jackie Huang, used with permission.
Ice & Fire. Image credit: Jackie Huang, used with permission.

Jackie Huang does beautiful illustrations, but even more amazing things with paper. Her originals will set you back a bit, but she has fantastic pop-up cards on for sale on Etsy. I’m flabbergasted by the details of her paper constructions. How can anyone do that? Incredible!

How about you, readers? If you have attended SDCC this year—or any other con for that matter—and found great new art and artists, please do tell!

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Batman is 75 and Cars Turn Into Monsters!

Image copyright DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day and a special, “Happy Birthday!” to Batman, who is 75 this week. This week, we’ll take a look at Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years, the finale of the Batman: Year Zero saga, plus cars that become monsters, a new zombie book from DC, and Archie #656, which introduces Veronica’s fashion designer cousin who happens to need a wheelchair.

And if you’ve ever wanted to make a comic, we have a Tumblr just for you.

Dakster Sullivan — Monster Motors #1 written by Brian Lynch and art by Nick Roche, Leonard O’Grady, and Tom B. Long

Monster Motors \ Image: IDW Publishing
Monster Motors \ Image: IDW Publishing

What do you get when you mix Pixar’s Cars, the story of Dracula, and Frankenstein? Monster Motors of course.

Victor Franke is a new college graduate who makes the mistake of buying a Transylvania junkyard off eBay. Victor intends on turning the junkyard into a car repair shop, but his dreams are fraught with nightmares when Cadillacula comes to suck the gas and life out of all the cars.

Victor is determined to not let this freak of motor nature destroy his new life and builds his own monster motor to stop Cadillacula. Guess what he calls his creation? Frankenride!

At the risk of spoiling anything for you, I’m going to stop here. Let’s just say I’m excited to see how the rest of the monster world is portrayed and who takes Frankenride’s side and who joins up with Cadillacula.

I hesitate to recommend this title for anyone under the age of 8 years old, as the subject matter might freak out younger children.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Kelly Knox — The Comics Survival Kit from Gail Simone

If you’ve ever wanted to be a professional in the comic book industry, the Comics Survival Kit should be your first and best resource for getting started. Created by veteran writer Gail Simone, the Tumblr is designed to give advice from other pros with quick, short tips.

Gail Simone
Gail Simone Spotlight at SDCC 2009. Photo by Loren Javier, Licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

In the Kit you’ll find tips for writers and artists alike, from how to get your book stocked in stores to what editors look for in artist portfolios. Upcoming plans for the site include:

I will be adding a couple mini-tips articles from all over the industry ever couple days. I have, with permission, used some great stuff I have found on the web, but the vast majority of mini-lessons will be new, from colorists, retailers, writers, artists, editors, and lots more. People like Greg Pak, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jim Zub, Adam Hughes, Pia Guerra, some of the best people in the industry.

Follow Comics Survival Kit to get some of the best comic book advice out there, and maybe you’ll see yourself on GeekMom’s Comic Book Corner someday!

Corrina Lawson  — Batman: A Celebration of 75 years, various writers and artists  

This thick hardcover featuring a cover illustration by Jim Lee is the best of DC’s 75th Anniversary books so far.  Superman’s book was fine, Lois Lane’s celebration left something to be desired, but this one works in every way. It hits all eras of Batman, from the pulp beginnings to the trippy era of the 1960s and then onto the glory days of Batman stories, beginning in the 1970s with Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams. I was pleased with all the creators that are represented.

Writers include Mike Barr, Steve Englehart, Archie Goodwin, Dennis O’Neil, John Broome, Edmond Hamilton, Bill Finger, Various, Scott Snyder, Paul Dini, Chuck Dixon, Greg Rucka, and Doug Moench. I was particular happy to see the highly underrated Moench in this volume.  No Alan Brennert but I’ll give them a pass on that, as the stories in this collection are uniformly excellent.

Then there’s the art. This 1970s diehard Adams fangirl is disappointed that Jim Lee gets the cover, but given Lee is recognized as the best Batman artist of the present day, I can’t complain. Also included is art by the late, great Marshall Rogers who did far too little Batman work, and, of course, Bill Finger, who is widely believed to deserve at least half of the credit for creating Batman that goes instead in full to Bob Kane. Other artists are Greg Capullo, J.H. Williams, III, Jim Aparo, Alan Davis, Michael Golden, Frank Miller, Alex Toth, Carmine Infantino, Dick Sprang, and Bob Kane, truly an all-star lineup.

This is a great book to introduce someone to Batman or for to a long-time fan who wants to revisit their favorite stories.

Age recommendation: All ages, but watch those more recent stories.

Batman #33 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Mike Plascencia

The long running Zero Year arc concludes this issue with Batman’s final confrontation with the Riddler and with Lucius Fox and Jim Gordon helping to save Gotham. This hasn’t been my favorite storyline, as it contains fantastical elements that strain my suspension of disbelief, but it all looks amazing, thanks to the art team.

But what I want to talk about are the last few pages, which feature a flashback of Bruce Wayne confessing that, when he was a teenager, he tried to get his mind-wiped via electronic shock treatment because he couldn’t stand the pain of his life. Bruce tells Alfred that he must be Batman or risk not being able to handle his life at all. The last few pages show Alfred flashing forward to what Bruce’s life might have been without Batman and concludes with Alfred telling potential love interests that Bruce is “already taken,” meaning by Gotham or Batman.

I feel like Scott Snyder and I need to sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about who Batman really is, because his view of Batman seems to be as a mentally unbalanced person who has to dress up like a Bat and fight crime to stay sane. Whereas I’m far more of the Denny O’Neil version of Batman: The driven but sane Guardian of Gotham who fights crime because someone needs to bring justice to a broken system and prevent another child from being orphaned like he was.

And these two versions of Batman aren’t the same. At all. Snyder has some evidence on his side, like the version of Batman written by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns, but I’ll just point to the movie Batman Begins, which is clearly of the “Gotham’s Guardian” version.

Age recommendation: 10+

Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Scott Hampton

This is more sick and twisted fun than it has any right to be for a zombie story. To talk about the plot would give away some of the best parts but, essentially, there’s a zombie, he eats brains, and he’s kinda trying to do the right thing. It’s very violent and gory, as befits a zombie comic, but I also laughed at a couple of spots. Hampton has some great zombie facial expressions. If you like zombies or like Palmiotti/Gray, then you need to buy this comic.

Age recommendation: Teen+

Archie #656 by Dan Parent, story and pencils, and Rich Koslowski, inks

“Here Comes Harper” is the introduction of Veronica’s cousin, a fun-loving fashion designer who is also confined to a wheelchair. At first, I was worried the story would be sacrificed to the message (though it is a good one), but after a few pages of explanation about who Harper is and why she’s visiting, we movie into typical Archie territory with Harper and the whole gang attending a party and then slapstick and fun ensue.

Age recommendation: All ages.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

All-Star Western #33
Aquaman #33
Batman #33
Batman ’66 #13
Batman And Robin #33
Batman Beyond Universe #12
Batman Black And White Vol. 4 HC
Batman Eternal #16
Catwoman #33
Dead Boy Detectives #7
Detective Comics #27 (Special Edition)
Flash #33
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #15
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two #8
Justice League Dark #33
Justice League Of America’s Vibe Vol. 1 Breach TP
New 52 Futures End #12
Red Lanterns #33
Secret Origins #4
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #1
Superman #33
Superman Action Comics Vol. 3 At The End Of Days TP
Superman Action Comics Vol. 4 Hybrid HC
Swamp Thing By Brian K. Vaughan Vol. 2 TP
Trinity Of Sin Pandora #13
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #7
Unwritten Vol. 9 The Unwritten Fables TP
Wonder Woman #33
100th Anniversary Special Avengers #1
All-New Doop #4 (Of 5)
All-New Invaders #8
All-New Ultimates #5
Amazing Spider-Man #4 New Series GeekMom Recommended
Avengers Vol. 5 Adapt Or Die HC (Premiere Edition)
Captain America Vol. 2 Castaway In Dimension Z Book 2 TP
Daredevil #6 GeekMom Recommended
Deadpool #32
Deadpool Dracula’s Gauntlet #3 (Of 7)
Deadpool Vol. 5 Wedding Of Deadpool TP
Deadpool Vs X-Force #2 (Of 4)
Disney Kingdoms Seekers Of The Weird HC
Fantastic Four Epic Collection Vol. 20 Into The Timestream TP
George Romero’s Empire Of The Dead Act One TP
Guardians Of The Galaxy By Abnett And Lanning The Complete Collection Vol. 1 TP
Hulk #4 New Series
Loki Agent Of Asgard #2 New Series
Marvel Previews #132 (August 2014 For Products On-Sale October 2014)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #28 Kid Friendly
Mighty Avengers #12
Original Sin #5.2
Original Sins #4 (Of 5)
Storm #1 New Series
Thunderbolts Vol. 4 No Mercy TP
War Of Kings TP (New Printing)
Wolverine #8
Wolverine And The X-Men #6
Wolverine By Jason Aaron The Complete Collection Vol. 3 TP
Wolverine Origin II HC
Wolverine Vol. 1 Three Months To Die TP
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #14
Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night #2 (Of 4)
Memory Collectors HC
Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist’s Edition HC
Monster Motors #1 New Kid Friendly Series
My Little Pony Friends Forever #7 Kid Friendly
Popeye Classics #24 Kid Friendly
Ragnarok #1
Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s The City On The Edge Of Forever The Original Teleplay #2 (Of 5)
Super Secret Crisis War Johnny Bravo #1 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Heroes Collection Oversized HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #13 Kid Friendly GeekMom Recommended
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles In Time #2 (Of 4)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Utrom Empire TP
Transformers Classics Vol. 7 TP
Transformers Vs G.I. JOE #1
Transformers Windblade #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Wild Blue Yonder #5 (Of 6)
Winterworld #2 New Series
X-Files Season 10 #14 Trigger Sensitive 
Axe Cop The American Choppers #3 (Of 3) Final Issue
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #5
Conan The Avenger #4 New Series
Dragon Girl And Monkey King The Art Of Katsuya Terada HC
Dream Thief Escape #2 (Of 4)
Elfquest The Final Quest #4 New Series
Gantz Vol. 32 TP
Goon Occasion Of Revenge #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Groo Vs Conan #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Halo Escalation #8
Mass Effect Foundation #13
MPD-Psycho Vol. 11 TP
Sakai Project Artists Celebrate Thirty Years Of Usagi Yojimbo HC
Star Wars Legacy II #17
Star Wars The Lucas Draft HC
Star Wars The Lucas Draft TP
Tomb Raider #6

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback

Get Ready For Geek-Inspired Couture In The Her Universe Fashion Show at SDCC

Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein in a Darth Vader inspired look, photo credit Kelsey Edwards Photography

If you love TARDIS gowns and gender-bending Loki cosplay, you’re going to love to see what Her Universe brings to San Diego Comic-Con. If you like to design those things, you’re going to want to participate. Her Universe will be presenting a “geek couture” fashion show and design competition, and the grand prize is your own fashion collection for Hot Topic.

This isn’t a cosplay competition. It’s a fashion design contest. They can be couture-style or ready-to-wear. (See below for a few sample idea sketches.) And you don’t have to be a professional to enter–call it your own at-home, geeked-up version of Project Runway. (You’ll have to furnish your own Tim Gunn telling you to, “Make it work!”) Two grand prize winners will get that chance to co-design a collection for Hot Topic with Her Universe’s founder Ashley Eckstein.

For those who just want to see the results, The Her Universe Fashion Show will be held July 24th during SDCC at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel (near the San Diego Convention Center where Comic-Con is held). Entry will be first come-first served and admission is free with a San Diego Comic-Con 2014 badge.

“Fangirls are already using the halls of San Diego Comic-Con International as their runway to showcase custom fashions. We wanted to give these designers a bigger stage to share their talent and also provide an educational experience in the fashion industry,” said Eckstein.

Only 30 people will be chosen to show their designs at SDCC, so get to work! The deadline is April 4. Enter at You can also watch Eckstein rocking a handcrafted leather ensemble designed by Doug Dunnam in this video:

Bumblee-inspired look, credit Her Universe
A frock to make even Captain Kirk jealous, credit Her Universe
Lookin’ like Loki, credit Her Universe
Try to look a little livelier than Lori’s Ghost, credit Her Universe
TARDIS dress not actually bigger on the inside, credit Her Universe


Teen Comics Workshop at SDCC

My sixteen-year-old daughter was keen to attend a manga-drawing workshop at SDCC. We arrived at the appointed room nearly an hour early, having been unable to get into the Jim Henson panel I had hoped to see. Our disappointment quickly turned to delight when we discovered that the panel before the manga one was a Teen Comics Workshop featuring several author/illustrators both Jane and I love.

As if getting to hear Gene Luen Yang, Dave Roman, Vera Brosgol, and Thien Pham speak about their work isn’t awesome enough, this happened to be an art workshop, in which these incredibly talented artists were showcasing their tools and techniques before our eyes.

Dave Roman shows the tools he used to draw Astronaut Academy

When we came in, the panelists seemed to be wrapping up a discussion of the penciling stage—I caught something about Bristol board—and moving on to inks. Gene Yang said he’s a convert to Japanese brush pens and wondered where they’d been all his life. Dave Roman told the crowd of riveted kids and teens about how his wife, Smile author/illustrator and brand-new Eisner Award winner Raina Telgemeier, convinced him to try inking with a brush instead of a pen—perhaps because he had a habit of shattering pen nibs and “sending tiny metal shards flying,” Dave said.

To his surprise, he discovered that he much prefers inking with a brush; he likes the range of thicknesses, and the look reminds him of Bill Watterson and other artists he admires.

Dave Roman’s slide demonstrating brush inking

At this point, the panelists decided to skim past the “how to get published” section of their talk because they wanted to get the audience drawing. There commenced a very lively and laughter-filled comics-creation tutorial. Vera Brosgol—whose recent graphic novel, Anya’s Ghost, knocked my socks off—took up her pen and sat ready to sketch, awaiting direction from the eager young audience members. The panelists explained that we would start by creating a character, and they asked the kids to name three physical attributes for this person or creature. The only one I remember is “fast”—I had hopped up to grab paper and pencil from a table in the front of the room, and (perhaps because I was wearing a Smile t-shirt in honor of Raina’s Eisner win) other people in the audience thought I was an official helper and waved me over to deliver drawing supplies to new arrivals. This left a gap in my panel notes but was a ton of fun.

Vera, having received her three physical characteristics from the crowd, produced this delightful character sketch.

Even her hair is fast!

Next in the spotlight was Dave Roman, who took three more suggestions from the crowd (horns was one).

Those are some mighty fine horns

Now it was the audience’s turn to draw. The panelists instructed the kids (and several eager adults, I noticed) to put the characters into a situation filled with trouble—danger, a tight spot, a bad turn of events. The room grew busy; hands flew over paper. Thien Pham worked on his own mini-comic featuring our two characters, a scenario that got a big laugh from the crowd.

So much fun to see Thien’s take on the characters

The artists encouraged kids in the audience to come forward and share their drawings with the room. You can barely make out the charming pencil sketch of one young boy under Thien’s drawing. The kids’ sketches were delightful, with calamities ranging from head-eating dragons to fierce clashes between the fast-haired girl and her ox-horned nemesis, Franq.

Next, the panelists encouraged the audience to draw a page two—a solution to the problem they’d created on page one. Again, kids, teens, and even some grownups came forward to share their masterpieces with the rest of us. I loved the air of excitement and possibility; these four talented artists spoke to the kids as equals, exhorting them to take chances, be inventive, and have fun. It was a wonderfully inspiring and informative experience. My daughter and I wound up being glad the Henson panel (which I’m sure was terrific) was too full to hold us. Jane stuck around for the manga panel, and as for me? I left the Teen Comics Workshop kind of itching to try out one of those cool Japanese brush pens myself.

Gearing Up for San Diego Comic-Con

I read something scary on Twitter the other day: words so alarming they actually made me gasp.

Only six weeks until SDCC!

Six weeks until San Diego Comic-Con?! It hardly seems possible! And yet it’s true. Actually, since that tweet was several days ago, there are less than six weeks until the biggest event of my family’s summer: Comic-Con begins on Thursday, July 21.

Time for this con-crazy mother to get her ducks in a row. This will be my fourth time attending SDCC, which is the biggest and most crowded comics convention in the United States. Every year, I’ve shared photos, stories, and panel recaps at my blog. This year, to pile extra fun on top of the Mountain of Fun that is SDCC, I’ll be writing about my con experiences here at GeekMom. I’m super-excited to be here!

As the con countdown commences, I’m keeping a sharp eye on the Comic-Con website for panel and event announcements. This year my husband (a comic book writer and editor) and I are bringing our three oldest kids, so we have a lot of planning to do. Some of my favorite things about comics conventions are the writer and artist discussion panels—I love to hear other creative folks talk about their work. Last year’s panels were amazing, especially the kids’ graphic novels discussion, the epic fantasy panel, and Michael Scott’s interview with Rick Riordan.

It was also pretty exciting when the actor who played Young Benjamin Linus popped up in the audience at the LOST Encyclopedia panel.

Of course the very best part of any comics convention is gawking at the fabulous costumes.

I hear a couple of other GeekMoms will be in attendance, so we’ll have to have a geek meet for sure. If you’re going too, leave a comment and let us know!