Wizard World Chicago

Wizard Chicago is less than a week away and it feels like I just got back from San Diego.

Wait, I just did.

But no complaints here 'cause I seriously love con season. I love seeing the fans, the creators, and the exhibitors. I love the costumes. I love the lines (well, not really, but I deal with them). I love the evenings of drinking and shoptalk. I love it all. And boy do I miss it when it's all said and done.

So if you're in the Rosemont, IL area between August 4-6, make sure to stop by the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, head back to Artist Alley, and check out tables 3037 and 3038. I'll be there with felow Element X-ers, pimping our wares and having a great time.

Hope to see you there!



SDCC Souvenir Book

Each year the folks at Comic‑Con give each attendee a free trade paperback-sized commemorative souvenir book. This year's theme focused on a number of anniversaries in the fanboy world.

Dick Tracy and the Universal Monsters' turned 75th, Captain America and Archie are 65, Flash and Gumby are 50, and Star Trek is 40.

And not to be forgotten, Space Ghost is also celebrating his 40th Anniversary.

Before Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, Space Ghost was my first real exposure to a superhero. As a kid, I would watch the cartoons every morning before heading off to school. And with the perspective that comes with age, I've come to realize that Space Ghost was one of the major turning points in my appreciation for all things comics and animation.

So I wanted to thank the people at SDCC for giving me the priviledge of contributing to the '06 souvenir book with a pinup (click here to see the color version and here for the black and white version) and an article about Space Ghost and what he means to me. I know Space Ghost is considered as an old school character by some but for those of us that grew up watching his animated adventures, it's nice to see the recognition of his 40th anniversary.



SDCC Animated Panels

During my time at San Diego Comic Con, I had the opportunity to check out a few panels. Most of them were for my own edification since I've been trying to find out more about the animation industry. So I spent some time at a Nickelodeon panel along with a "How to Pitch an Animated Show" panel. But I also had the chance to check out two other animatation-related panels.

Afro Samurai - Featuring the RZA, this panel discussed the upcoming anime mini-series from Gonzo and set to air on Spike TV. The history behind this anime is inspiring, considering that the creator's work was spotted by accident and has since evolved into a full-blown multi-media monster. They also showed the trailer which looked kick ass. Lotsa movement and top shelf animation. Samuel Jackson does the voice work for the main character. And with the RZA handling the music, you know it's gonna rock.

You can check out the trailer here.

The Batman/Teen Titans - This panel discussed the third season for The Batman and also showed some preview footage of things to come. The big change? Robin joins Batman and Batgirl in their crusade against crime. The panel also debuted the Teen Tians: Trouble in Toyko direct-to-DVD movie. I'm not the biggest Teen Titans fan but I've found myself watching the cartoon every once and awhile on Cartoon Network. I'm a much bigger fan of the animation than the storytelling. But the movie was definitely entertaining, occasionally laugh out loud funny, and much better than sitting in a hotel room with only 4-5 cable channels. The villain (Brushogun) was pretty cool.

Hellboy: Sword of Storms - I missed this one (I was too busy hustling potential publishers) but you can actually watch it online right here (as long as you have a DIVX video player; if not you can always download it). I just finished watching the 58-minute panel and the animation for the upcoming Hellboy movie looks awesome. According to the panel, the first movie premieries later this year on Cartoon Network and will then be released on DVD in February of '07. Until then, I'll be checking out the Hellboy blog and the official site for updates.



SDCC Goodies

A list of everything I bought at the con:

Tim Biskup's "The Jackson 500 Volume 2" - I have volume one already and over the last few months, I've become a huge fan of Biskup's work. I had to stop myself from buying everything at the table.

Javier Guzman's "Amalgamation" sketchbook - I fly all the way to San Diego and meet Javier Guzman, fellow Chicagoan and alumni of Lane Tech High School. Javier's style is awesome and I can't wait to hang with the man in our wonderful Windy City.

Dave Johnson's Full-color 2006 sketchbook - Released by Boom! Studios and coming in at $10, Johnson's second sketchbook benefits from the joys of color. Lots of sketches and finished pieces demonstrating Johnson's killer talent. And after speaking with Joe Casey, member of Man of Action, creators of Ben 10, the cartoon was greenlit for a fourth season. So we get to see even more of Johnson's designs in the future, which is always a good thing.

Ragnar's "Kings of the Road" and "Vernaculis" - Kings of the Road is " A cartoonumentary of a life on the road." It's a great-looking and well-packaged look at the folks Ragnar met during his cross-country travels. Highly recommended. Vernaculis is the follow-up to Ragnar's first artbook, Chromaphile. More awesome artwork...and less money in my pocket. But no complaints.

The Shadow - The first in a new series of trade paperback reprints of the original pulp novels. This one features two complete Shadow stories: "Crime, Insured' and 'The Golden Vulture." I'm a sucker for pulp fiction so this one was right up my alley.

Salem: Queen of Thorns - I was aware of this book because one of my favorite artists, Mike Hawthorne, is handling the art chores. But I had a chance to meet the writers at San Diego and they were pretty cool guys. They were debuting the preview issue and I was more than happy to purchase a copy. They also hooked me up with a Salem t-shirt. Sweet.

Rose and Isabel Volumes 1 and 2 - Written and drawn by one of my favorite creators, Ted Mathot, Rose and Isabel is "a story of two sisters who join the American Civil War to save their three brothers." I read both volumes on the flight home and believe me, it's a lot more than that. Surprises abound and the artwork is freakin' amazing. Thanks for the all the hard work, Ted!

Best of Draw! Vol. 1 - Lots of great, in-depth interviews with creators in comics and animation. Among industry pros such as Phil Hester, Klaus Janson, Bret Blevins, and Jerry Ordway, volume one of the "Best of" also features an interview with my hero, Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky.

Comic Book Artist #11/Alex Toth - With his passing in the foreground of my mind, I've been trying to find out as much as possible about the late/great Alex Toth. This issue of Comic Book Artist was dedicated to the comics and animation legend and discussed his impact in those industries. It featured a breakdown of Toth's carreer, an autobiographical essay, interviews with creators that he inspired, and a checklist of his work.


San Diego in the Rearview

It's over.

San Diego Comic Con is over.

First and foremost, Scorched Earth did not make it as a finalist in the Comic Book Challenge. But that's not a completely bad thing. I had the chance to pitch the project to comics pro Marc Silvestri and super-producer Gale Anne Hurd, both of which were nothing but flattering. The contest should open other opportunities that will help Scorched Earth get to the masses in the near future. So big thanks to all the friends and family that gave their support. It was very much appreciated.

That being said, this was my first year out there and it was a pretty cool experience. Travel complications aside, the con was...OK. Having been to Wizard Chicago for the last five years as an attendee or an exhibitor, I've seen what a "big" convention is like. San Diego is huge, about 3-4 times bigger than Wizard Chicago. It has more exhibitors from the comics/film/television/video game worlds than other cons. And there are more exclusives and con variants than you can shake a stick at.

I guess once your primary goal when attending a con is to network with industry folks and try to get your books picked up by a publisher, having all those fancy exhibitors all over the con floor doesn't mean much. The con becomes more of a networking opportunity than a fan event. But nonetheless, it was cool to see the celebrities and non-comic people out and about among the fanboys and fangirls.

I took a few pictures and bought a few items so I'll post it all little by little. Not only do I have a big move coming up before the end of the month, Wizard Chicago is also right around the corner. So you can imagine that things are a little hectic at casa de Bernie. But once Wizard has come and gone, I'll be able to get back onto the drawing board and post more doodles.



The Comic Book Challenge...and Bernie!

Hey all,

Platinum Studios and NBC's San Diego affiliate partnered to create a contest called the Comic Book Challenge. The Challenge was an open call for creators to submit their projects in the hopes that it would be chosen for review by a panel of "celebrity" judges including Marc Silvestri, Gale Anne Hurd, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, a staff correspondent for People, an editorial director for The Hollywood Reporter, and...Ving Rhames!

The judges' bios can be seen here.

Well...they picked one of my projects as a semi-finalist!

The project is called Scorched Earth. I'm the writer on the book and fellow Element X-er Tim Irwin is the artist.

You can check out a preview image of Scorched Earth here.

The last week has been crazy because I've had to read a lot of paperwork and get ready for the pitch. Along with 49 other creators, I get two minutes to knock the judges' socks off. So you can imagine how paranoid/nervous/excited I am, espcially since San Diego is only a few days away.

If I'm fortunate enough to make it as one of three finalists, I get to do the pitch on television and then it goes into online voting to determine the grand prize winner. Details on the three projects will be available for review online and voting will be open to the public from July 21 till noon July 24th right here.

If I make it that far, and you seriously like Scorched Earth, check out the site and vote. Tim and I would definitely appreciate it.





Here's a little peak at my main shelf-o-stuff, protected by an animated Batman figure and Hellboy. The small yet powerful wooden shelf has been with me for a number of years and holds most of my educational/research books, trades, graphic novels, and inspirational artbooks.

And random baseball bat. You know, for protection. From ninjas. And stray cats.

Once I move into my new apartment, I'll finally be able to take the rest of the books out of my parents' basement (I promise mom!) and add it to the collection.

I'll probably need a bigger shelf.



Podcast Premier

I popped my podcast cherry last week on Around Comics. Here's the episode summary:

"Comics on TV. The premier of Blade inspired the panel to discuss comic book adaptations on television. Can Blade survive past the movies? What does it take to make a compelling show that's based on a b-list comic character? The Flash, The Incredible Hulk, Witchblade and others are discussed as we welcome Mike Oliveri, Bernie Gonzalez, and Matt Sommer to the roundtable."

You can check out the episode at the Around Comics website here and direct download it here (right click over the link then "Save Target As").

If you're not digging on podcasts, you should definitely check 'em out. Most of them are free to download, can be played on your computer or I-Pod/MP3 player, and they're great to listen to in the background as you work.