Here is an outstanding example from Rick's amazing array of handmade Monster/Dino/Skeletal Victorian cards. As he said in the comments to the prev. post, he was dealin' all weekend!! Got a magnificent response, which was lovely to see. As were the cards! (Note customer's credit card in hand--I caught this as it was goin' out the door!)
There are two guys who run the marketing company that handles the Con's promotion; they come around every year with a couple of themed sketchbooks. Last year they had me do the lady books--Red Sonja and Black Cat. I remembered being really happy with these, but didn't get any pix...they brought the books around again this year and I was glad to grab a snap. And this year one of them asked me to do a Hellboy, which I did--and it KILLED. Baby Hellboy being held by a WWII era army officer asking for a clean diaper. I did it in color. I took photos of it. And the photos are nowhere to be found. DAM-MIT. The guy loved it so much he took it over to Mignola, who said he loved it (or at least so I was told). Woulda' been nice to hear THAT in person.
I asked Joe what he dug. He said he wasn't that into superheroes...(my kinda guy!), but he'd been watching a lot of Ingmar Bergman lately...how about a Seventh Seal shout out? He really cracked up when I showed him this. Spent his last $10 for FUME, so I owed him something good.
Tuns out Donny (last name Cates) is a Dark Horse writer. He and pal/partner Elliot expressed admiration for my work, and they thought that if maybe one day something in the future might come up...? I said sounds good--call me!
Speaking of men of rarefied tastes...Ronnie Ashlock, caught facing the crowds with great courage and composure. He looked happier come dinner time that night, at our annual TAG Reunion chow-down. I did a semi-funny sketch of him in knightly garb, but danged if that photo didn't vanish with my Hellboys...no clue how they could've evaporated like that....
Of the commissions, weirdest was from a promo team sent out on behalf of a musical stage production looking to get some comic book illustrators to do little spot sketches of their show. They had handouts for reference. The story was quite something: Mt. St. Helen's erupts, releasing a giant lizard whose blood infects a young man who, in turn, becomes half-lizard. His nemesis is a ukelele-playing enchantress...while he whittles on the cello. I'm not making this up. They loved the sketch and doubled my "fee." Nice!
And yeah: pet sketches. I will let this one speak for itself. Dudes, Tom Moon got to stand next to me and hear the (very nice, very well-meaning and generously-motivated) commissioner map out what he wanted...11" x 14", color, 5 or so images of same dog...and when I said that was gonna cost $40, he baulked--! But that wasn't the half of it...it was more of the specific directions and strictures...however uneven the final piece, I think Tom will agree I earned that double Jackson!
This was a gag involving a German Shepherd and a joke from "The Office." I added Dwight to flesh it out even more. Alex seemed happy. $40 well spent!
BUT, monetarily, I didn't do quite as well as last year. I put this down to my underwhelming presentation, and lack of a following for FUME (remember, last year I only had prints and sketchbooks--no comic). With my belated prep for this shindig (inexcusable at this level, I know), it was all I could do to get some product on the table. Needed to spend more time thinking about what could get passers-by hooked in and curious...must do better next year--WHEN WE'RE ALL THERE!
BTW, Rick did a great job at this--his presentation was well thought-out, even down to the black posterboard he used to cover the table's surface--it showed his cards off to striking --and effective!--effect. And of course, the doggie-gate mini-grid display wall was genius (we think he should call his publishing imprint "Doggie Gate Press").
That said, it WAS incredibly gratifying to have the positive response I did get for FUME. Those who stopped and looked often dug it (one notable exception: Rick's pal Royden, maker of "Rust," who showed a most TenNappel'ian disinterest in discussing anyone's work but his own--good to know!). Got lots more folk signed up for the mailing list. Also, for the first time ever we (Rick and I both) had buyers of the Monsters n' Dames charity book come by and BUY STUFF. Normally they only stop by to get an autograph (a flattering experience but one that becomes stress-inducing when you're trying to finish a drawing and people are waiting).
All in all, exhausting and elevating. Adding colored markers into the mix made for some rocky times, and I probably spent too much time with my head down working for too long on drawings that weren't paying enough, but...meh, that's where the challenge is.
Oh, one other glaring shortcoming on my part: when potential FUME customers would ask, "So, what's yer comic about?" I could only stammer idiotically. This continued all weekend (Rick got me out of this jam lots of times--thanks Rick!). Before flying up for ECCC I'd thrown a wild stab in the dark for some celebrity endorsements to put on the back cover (Eric Shannower came thru--thanks, Eric! Ranjo sent...an emoticon). Didn't have the time to get them on this edition, but the one person I didn't know well who I'd asked was Eric Haven, the creator of the "Bed Man" strip that everyone here got such a kick out of (and who was a super-sweetheart when I met him at last year's APE Con). Much to my surprise he said yes. And in one of those great cosmic timing moments, he emailed his write-up as Rick and I were literally tearing down our booth and dragging our carcases out of the Convention Center. It was the perfect tonic to that twilight mood that hits when you're doing a load-out, soused in that post-Con half-elation, half-despair. Here's what he wrote:
FUME is fun! Marty Davis knows his way around a brush pen. Bookish youngsters, lumpen outer space aliens and self-loathing rabbits all come alive in this collection of tales which shift easily between adolescent angst and the existential dread of adulthood. Fun... and unsettling."...Adolescent angst and the existential dread of adulthood." That's it!