Category: Con Report

Heroes and My Fortune Cookie

Heroes Con is one of the best conventions that you’ll find anywhere. It has just the right mix of professional artists, publishers, dealers, media celebrities and fans.

I love the show, because there’s something for everyone. In fact, for the last four years we’ve scheduled our family vacation so that we can attend the show. This year will be no different.

Another great thing about the show is that I get to meet up with friends that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Some of them are professionals and some are fans, but those lines blur when we’re hanging out.

Of course, another benefit of attending the show is that I always get a few new pieces for my SZ Gallery. With literally dozens of artists showing up, the anticipation is half the fun. Well, let’s hope it’s just half the fun…

…Yesterday I had lunch with John Beatty and John Higashi. We went to a Chinese buffet and my fortune cookie said: “It is sometimes better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”

Well, that surely didn’t sound good. Still, despite the fortune cookie, I’m expecting to have a blast at the show. If you’re in the area, swing by and join in the fun. And if you can’t make it, don’t worry, you can expect a full report when I return!

AC Comics @ FX

If you’re planning to attend the FX show in Orlando next month [January 28th -30th], in between getting autographs from movie and tv stars and sketches from comic artists; you may just want to try and get yourself one of the exclusive toys and collectibles available only at the FX Show!

My buddy, “Wild” Bill Black, publisher of AC Comics will debut three limited edition versions of a new line of action figure toys based on Bill‘s Femforce and major AC characters. These toys are 8 inches tall with full articulation, created in the Mega style of the 1970’s, and will actually wear a costume made of cloth which is applied over the plastic figure. The figures, produced by Cast-A-Way Toys, are planned for early 2005 release but the limited figures [Fighting Yank, Black Terror and Miss Masque] will be available ONLY at the FX show.

Bill‘s a great guy. If you make it to the FX show, please be sure and swing by Bill‘s AC booth and tell him, “Hi.” He won’t pressure you to buy anything, but after you meet him, I’ll bet you may walk away with something… and it may even be one of his new action figures!

Cavalcade of Comics

Yesterday my wife and I drove up to Jacksonville to spend the day at the Cavalcade of Comics 2nd Annual Bennefit to fight Tourette’s Syndrome. Comic’s legend Don Perlin and his wife spearhead the event and this year looked to be even bigger and better.

The show had been moved to an elementary school because it had grown so large. Outside a children’s chorus was starting to line up, there were games for kids, people in costume, and the artists were setting up.

We headed into the artist’s room and the first person that we saw was Don Perlin. Don came over and thanked us for coming and for posting info about the benefit here at the ZONE. How cool is that?

Doralaya and I were checking out the art that was up for auction, and we ran into Robert Smith. Robert‘s an old buddy (and one of the guest artists) and he said that he wanted to do a Cobra piece for my gallery. Cool! The con hadn’t even officially started and things were already going great!

Jason Sobel was set up with Alex Saviuk, Bob Layton and Don Perlin. I met Jason at last year’s event and he did a Judge Dredd piece for me so I’ve kept an eye on his work. The sketches Jason was turning out yesterday were leaps and bounds ahead of last year. Keep an eye out for this guy!

Alex Saviuk is not only a great guy but also a very talented artist. Before he was even seated he had a list of eight or ten sketch requests. Bob Layton‘s list was swamped as well. Since I didn’t have a Stallone from either Alex or Bob, I asked if they’d put me on their lists. They agreed.

Doralya and I went back to check out more of the auction art. My prediction was that the Kubert “Sgt. Rock” would get the highest amount, but the piece with the most buzz was the Neal Adams’ Batman and Robin piece?! My favorites were a Wrightson pencil sketch called The Reaper and a print by Lee Ames called The Magician.

Doralya bought several raffle tickets then it was lunch outside with music from a middle school jazz band. As we settled down with some Mexican food we watched a karate presentation and several Jedi sword battles.
; ) The food was good and the jazz was even better.

When we went back into the artist’s room we hooked up with some fans and spent time sharing art and stories. Robert Smith came over and gave me my Cobra sketch!

Bob Layton‘s wife came over and asked if I would mind if Bob did my Stallone piece at home.

Bob was getting tons of requests and it’s take longer to draw Sly (for the first time) than Iron Man or Spider-Man for the 1,000th time. By doing my piece at home more fans would get a piece of art and the benefit would raise more money.

How could I argue? I told her that would be no problem.

I’m just excited to be getting a Stallone piece from Bob!

Robert Smith taught a wonderful session with little kids who want to be artists. While that was running I had a chance to speak with Ed Hall and thank him again for the Stallone piece he did for me last year. Ed was sitting with Dana Sumers [Politcal Cartoonist for the Orlando Sentinal] and Tom Armstrong [Marvin]. I asked Dana if he’d like to do a Stallone piece for my gallery. Tom said he’d give it a shot. I thanked him and headed back to catch the rest of Robert‘s sketch session.

After the session I headed over to put in my donation for my Bob Layton piece. Alex said that he’d also like to do my piece at home so I kicked in that donation as well.After a bit of visiting I headed back to get my Stallone piece from Dana Sumers. Dana said that after five or six false starts he came up with one that worked. I agreed with him; it does work! Dana said that Tom Armstrong also did a Sly drawing. As Tom was signing it for me, he added a little Marvin peeking over Sly. How cool is that?

The show was starting to wind down.

It’d been a great day. We made our way around and said our good-byes (and although it looks like Alex is begging us not to go, that’s just an illusion).

Then it was back on the road home.

Hopefully, the benefit made even more money than last year. It seemed to be better attended. I know that everyone I talked to had a super time and are planning to attend again next year.

I know, I’ll be there!

Cavalcade of Comics Benefit

On Saturday, October 9th, the 2nd annual Cavalcade of Comics‘ benefit to support the Tourette Syndrome Association will be held in Jacksonville, Florida.

I had a blast last year and am looking forward to more fun this time around.

Dick Giordano (DC Comics), Bob Layton (Marvel, Acclaim & Future Comics), Don Perlin (Marvel & Acclaim Comics), Alex Saviuk (Marvel), Howard Perlin (artist, caricatures & storyboards), Tom Armstrong (creator & artist, MARVIN), Don Edwing (MAD Magazine) , Ed Hall (political cartoonist), Robert Smith, Jr. (political cartoonist and caricatures) and Jason Sobol (comics artist & writer) are just a few of the artists who will be on hand sketching for fans.

There will be an auction of original rare comic and cartoon art, live music, entertainment, raffles, door prizes, and many other exciting events. Heck, Big John Beatty may even be there sketching and kickin things up a notch! Click HERE for full details.

And if you can make it, be sure and look me up. I’ll be the guy in the StalloneZone shirt looking to score more art for my Stallone Gallery!

Tampa Con Report

On Saturday, August 7th my son Mike, John Beatty and I loaded into my “Jack Carter XG350” and headed to Tim Gordon’s Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention. We try to make it to at least 2 of the three shows Tim puts on each year because they’re just_ that _much_ fun. And this show was no exception.

We decided that we’d get a good buffet breakfast before the show opened. As we sat down with our plates, in walked Alex Saviuk who was also in search of some morning nourishment. Alex usually attends Tim‘s Tampa shows and it’s always nice to see him. We finished eating and headed over to the convention. The doors hadn’t opened, but there was a huge line waiting. No doubt, the word is getting out about how much fun Tim‘s cons are.

Ethan Van Scriver was already set up. Ethan is one of the DC comics most popular artists and always shows up for Tim‘s conventions. The doors hadn’t even opened and Ethan was already working on sketches for fans. The guy is ALWAYS busy. John Higashi “turned me on” to Ethan‘s art a couple of years ago so that’s ANOTHER thing I owe to Johnny Star-Warz.

Alex Saviuk was set up. Next to Alex was Mark and Stephanie Heike from AC comics. Although I never get to spend much time with ’em, the Heikes always have something funny to say. Behind the Heikes was Miguel Insignares with a nice “Dawn of the Dead” trailer running on a loop next to the cool DOTD poster. That’s Tim Gordon and Miguel in the pic to the left… looking like they just stepped off the set of “Dawn of the Dead!”

Marc Maculay, an actor who has appeared in “Monster,” “The Punisher,” “Bad Boys” and many other movies was ready for the fans. Some small press artists were set up to our left. Mitch Hyman, creater of the ever-popular Bubba the Redneck Werewolf, Jesse “Cadre” Hansen, Michael “The Ciderview Project” and Austin Janowsky were all having a blast. Dick “Cracked” Kulpa was set up at his usual spot just as you entered the convention room.

Yeah baby, things were looking good.

When the doors opened, the convention room quickly filled. The room is really huge and so even though there were hundreds [and hundreds] of people coming in, there was never that claustrophobic feeling that some convention rooms produce.

Several fans came up to John for autographs or sketches. John has really been doing some cool sketches lately and the fans are definitely digging the tones and colors that he adds to them. I got pictures of some of them, but missed out on a few… one was a really nice Cap that John did for a fan’s Captain America themebook.

I had a chance to talk briefly with Randy Martin. Randy collects Edward Scissorhands. In fact it was Randy‘s Scissorhands sketches that inspired me to start my Stallone sketch theme. Randy‘s one of the good guys and so it was cool touching base with him.

Miguel Insignares remembered me from Atlanta Con and said that he still wanted to do a Stallone piece for my gallery when he gets some time. That’d be sweet. Miguel has been attached to some really cool projects and you just know that there’s more to come!

Marc Maculay [pictured above with Mike and me] noticed my StalloneZone t-shirt and asked me about it. We ended up having a nice conversation about movies, education, etc. Marc‘s been acting professionally for over twenty years and did it without having to relocate to New York or LA. It was ironic that he played a scene in “Monster” with Charlize Theron that Beatty had been telling me about just a week earlier. John had watched the movie and it really impresed him. The next day he was telling me about this particular scene and sure enough the actor involved was Marc! Now how often do we get to meet actors who’ve impressed us?
The costume contest was a hoot!

There were two divisions… kids and adults. The three kids that entered all won some convention cash and had a fun time. Then came the adults… I never quite know what to make of costumers at conventions. Sometimes they are so good, they look professional… but other times…

There were several outstanding costumes. I thought that Catwoman would take first or second, Wolverine would get whichever spot Catwoman missed and third place would go to… well, one of the others. I was so surprised when the guy who came in first won, that I didn’t even get a picture of him! At any rate, everyone enjoyed the costume contest… and I mean everyone. Even the artists stopped drawing to watch the action.

Then all too quickly it was time to go. The con ended at 4:00 and we still had to drive back to Daytona. We made sure to tell Tim what a great time we had and hit the road.

Tim‘s next show is November 14th.

As I’ve said, all of Tim‘s shows are great, but this one is going to be really special. NOEL NEILL [Paramount Movie Star, Popular Pin-Up for WWII GIs, and best known as Superman’s Girl – Lois Lane] will be a guest! Ethan Van Scriver, Jim Fren, and Rob Granito have also already agreed to appear!

Who knows, maybe we’ll see YOU there as well!

Heroes Con 2004 Report

Shelton Drum‘s Heroes Con 2004 was a blast.  I arrived at the Westin, [truly one of the finest and most reasonably priced hotels anywhere thanks to the Heroes Con rate] at 10:30AM on Friday. The show opened at 11 and I was anxious to get in.


As we were unloading the car I saw Cully Hamner and Casey Jones who were also getting ready to head over.

Big John Beatty was able to get me a guest pass since I was helping him with his art and thanks to Shelton, my son, Mike and I were able to get right in. John‘s table was next to tables occupied by Craig Hamilton, Neil Vokes, Michael Avon Oeming, Arron Lopestri and Andy Smith. We were in good company.


Mike and I took a quick trip around the con to get our bearings and ran into several fans including Steven Lee [who was wearing a StalloneZone t-shirt! Thanks Steven!], James Howell, Hal, Robert Jewell, Kwan, The ComicDude and others. I saw that Tony Harris was setting up and took him a StalloneZone shirt since I ran out before he completed my sketch at AtlantaCon. Gus Vasquez told me that he’d have my Stallone piece on Saturday.

I then made my way to Jason Pearson‘s table. Only two other people were ahead of me so I felt pretty confident that I’d get a sketch if Jason didn’t mind drawing Stallone. Jason was running late, but luckily “The Big Man” had his portable dvd player and entertained us with a history channel dvd on comics. Jason arrived and when it was my turn I asked him about doing a Stallone piece. Jason said that he wasn’t real good at likenesses, but I explained that I wanted HIS take on Sly. He said he’d give it a try and that I should bring back my reference material at the end of the day since he wanted to work on it in his hotel room. Cool!

Next was Michael Avon Oeming‘s table. I picked up his sketchbook [a bargain at five bucks]. Michael had already turned out a couple of cool sketches and I asked if I could get on his list. He said that he wasn’t real good at likenesses [where had I heard that before?] and I told him that I wanted HIS take on Sly. He looked at my portfolio of Stallone sketches and said he’d like to give “Nighthawks” a shot and that I should check back in an hour or so.

Then it was back to Beatty‘s table where he was working on a Punisher commission. Craig Hamilton had arrived with his lovely lady,and he was sketching. Craig‘s amazing. Not only is he a super talented artist, but he puts a lot of thought into his work. For each of his convention sketches Craig draws roughs and really thinks about the character. Not just what the character looks like or what kind of costume he/she wears, but how they would sit or stand and what kind of attitude they would project. I loved hearing Craig talk to fans and having the opportunity to watch him sketch all weekend. Craig has a broad knowledge and appreciation for all types of art. You just know I had to ask to get on his list! Craig said that he’d like to draw Sly from “Oscar” since he has a real affinity for the time period [and he really liked the movie]!

As Friday was winding down I picked up my sketch from Michael Avon Oeming who did a great job [and I think that it does look like Sly] and dropped off my reference material for Jason Pearson.

Several of us, actually about 20, had decided to walk over to Uno’s for dinner. My wife and two sons, Big Beatty, James Howell, Steven Lee, Robert Jewell, Gary McGee, Jason WalkerGary and Big Beatty… and believe it or not Gary was wilder. It was about 10:30 when we finished up with dinner so it was back to the hotel for a little visiting and then to the room for some sleep. and others made the trip. Because our group was so large it took a while for them to get us in and even then we were split into two groups. And of course my group was the rowdy one thanks to

As the con was gettting ready to open on Saturday I found myself in line for some breakfast at the concession stand with Michael Avon Oeming. He said that he met several StalloneZone fans on Friday [they saw him working on the Sly sketch]. Michael offered to buy me breakfast! I thanked him, and instead offered to buy his breakfast! As it ended up, we both bought our own eats, but what a cool guy. I’d heard good things about Michael and he lived up to his rep of being “one of the good guys.”

I spent Saturday alternating between Beatty‘s table and walking around the show to talk to fans and pros. I was able to spend a bit of time with or at least say hi to Kelsey Shannon [Beatty‘s son!], Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, Jeff Parker, Adam Hughes and Allison Sohn, Phil Noto, Tony Harris, Eric Powell, Casey Jones, Tommy Lee Edwards and so many others.

Gus Vasquez was able to get me my sketch before he had to fly out to the set of Sin City! He gave me two characters [Rocky nailing Clubber Lang] and it was definitely worth the wait

Neil Vokes and I had fun conversations about movies [horror flicks, re-makes, B-movies], comics, and more. Neil is a cool guy and I had a blast hanging with him. Neil’s project The Wicked West has the tagline “What would happen if Josey Wales rode into Salem’s Lot”… it’s a great concept and the art is right on. It’s going to rock! In the meantime you might want to check out Neil’s Parliment of Justice [with Michael Avon Oeming] or Black Forest. It was also cool to see Neil‘s apppreciation for other artists. Neil keeps a sketchbook and was excited when Eric Powell contributed a killer piece! [Michael Oeming also keeps a Lord of the Rings sketchbook from other artists!]

I checked in with Jason Pearson. He had sketched out my Stallone piece and had decided to do Rocky hitting the meat. It was looking great. The big beefy Rocky punching the beef! LOL!

Dinner Saturday night was at Fuel for some pizza or subs. This time it was Beatty, James Howell, Steven Lee, Hal and others. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and spent an hour or so in the lobby talking with fans and pros. Then a bunch of us headed up to James and Hal‘s room to look at their portfolios and latest acquisitions.

On Sunday Jason had my Stallone piece ready. Several people came up to me and told me it was done and looked great. When I picked it up I saw that they were right. Jason Pearson is such a talented guy.

Craig Hamilton was not going to be able to get to my piece before the end of the show. He offered to do a take home piece but part of the joy of Craig‘s work is watching his process so I decided to wait… I may be able to up to DragonCon later this year.

As you can see from this picture Craig and Big Beatty hit it off pretty well!

I had been by Tommy Lee Edwards‘ table. He was doing some really cool sketches and I hoped that I’d be able to get on his list. Luckily he could fit me in. Tommy and I talked about which character he would do… he wasn’t sure and so I suggested Jack Carter if he couldn’t decide on one. I went back to Beatty’s table and told him I had the hook-up with Tommy.

Beatty was stoked. He’s a big Tommy Lee fan and so we walked over. It turns out that Tommy likes Beatty‘s work as well. We all talked for a bit and then Tommy said I should check back in a little while. When I did, I found that Tommy had started to do Deke from “Nighthawks” but then remembered that I suggested Jack Carter and so he changed it to Carter. Man, I can’t tell you how much I love this piece. The energy and colors and… just look at it! Beautiful!

The auction was a lot of fun. So many artists donated work to help support the con. Some of the highlights included Phil Noto‘s painting of “The Bride” from “Kill Bill,” Brian Stelfreeze‘s painting of Mary Jane, Mike Wieringo‘s huge Fantastic Four piece, Craig Hamilton‘s Fairey [done in crayon — you’d have to see it to belive how nice it was!], Alison Sohn‘s Harliquinn, and many others.

Believe it or not Big Beatty was even recruited to serve as one of the auctioneers with Tim Townsend!

As you can probably tell, if you’ve read this far, it was another great show.  We make Heroes Con part of our annua; family vacation — it’s that much fun. If you haven’t ever attended you should give it some thought. Next year Heroes will be on June 24-26, 2005.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

AtlantaCon 2004 Report

Last week Mike [my oldest son], John Beatty [my oldest buddy] and I drove up for AtlantaCon 2004. The con didn’t officially start until Saturday, but we decided to go up on Friday so we would be fresh in the morning when things kicked off.

Actually it was good that we went up on Friday since the con organizers set up a pre-show sketch session. For a $25 donation [which went to Jeff Jones] you could mingle with the artists who were doing really nice head sketches and more. Artists sketching included Phil Noto, Mike Kaluata, Adam Hughes, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Georges Jeanty, and many others. I’ve got to make special mention of a cool sketch “combo.” Georges did a nice head shot of “Captain America looking up into the distance” for one of the fans. Later the same fan returned. Adam Hughes had added a headshot of Bucky looking up in the same direction as Cap with the caption, “Uh, Cap… what are we looking at?” That just cracked me [and everyone else at the table] up.

Mike was making the rounds getting Hellboy sketches while I sat at a table with Big Beatty and Phil Noto who were both sketching. As the sun went down Phil moved to a better light source and his seat was taken by a rotating crew which included Kelsey Shannon, James Howell and others. The table got kind of rowdy as people came up asking Big Beatty for sketches and he determined whether or not it was for a “fetish collection.” It was really cool talking movies and comics and “stuff” with everyone at the table or passing by. A guy named “Little John” was gettting sketches and said that he checks out The StalloneZone and ZONE on a regular basis. How cool is that?

The session was supposed to end at 10:00 but went on until 11:00. The artists were really giving the fans their money’s worth. Special thanks to the Gaijin folks who didn’t even get to sit and eat a proper dinner before they were swamped by fans wanting sketches!

The next morning Mike, Beatty, and I met James Howell at the Waffle House for a hearty breakfast. Then it was off to the con! As we were walking in we saw John Higashi and Steven Lee arriving. Higashi was sporting his StalloneZone shirt!

Beatty and I went up to get our passes. Adam Hughes was there to get his as well. The guy giving out the passes asked Adam if he was an artist! Adam patiently said he was and proceeded to spell his name. No passes. The guy looked in a couple of different places. Still no passes. As Adam looked around for someone he knew [or at least knew him] I asked if the passes might be under Gaijin Studio. Adam asked the man and sure enough, they were. Adam then asked if there was a pass for Allison. Nope, but the man quickly made her one. Beatty and I picked up our passes and followed Adam into the show.

The artists were starting to set up. Most dealers were ready to go and fans were lined up waiting to get in. After a bit of looking Beatty found his table. Mike and I decided to check the place out. My goal was to get Stallone pieces from Jason Pearson, Tony Harris, and Brian Stelfreeze. Anything else would be gravy. A quick circuit of the con and I was able to learn that Jason Pearson had to cancel, Brian Bolland was running a few hours late [due to a flight problem], and other artists were just rolling in. A line was starting to form for Brian Bolland. I got in along with John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell and a few others.

I saw Tony Harris starting to set up the Jolly Roger display. The guys said they’d hold my spot so I could go down. There was already one guy in line and knowing that Tony is very slow I decided to take them up on their offer. I was there at #2. [Last year at Heroes I just missed getting my first Harris sketch — I was next on the list when Tony had to stop sketching so he could get ready for the charity painting session — and I didn’t want to face the same thing again.] Steven Lee was behind me. Things were looking good for both of us. When it was my turn to make a request I told Tony I wanted a Stallone piece. He remembered me from last year. Tony said he’d give it a shot.

Then it was over to the Gaijin booth. The whole gang was there Adam and Allison, Cully, Karl, Brian and Kelsey [who was wearing his StalloneZone shirt!]. Phil Noto was sketching there as well. Several fans were oogling a Brian Stelfreeze painting which was a beaut! I asked Brian if he had started a list and he hadn’t. I was first! When I told Brian I wanted him to do a Stallone piece he called out to Cully [who was sitting further down the way], “Hey Cully! I’m being called up to the big leagues!” LOL! Brian said he wanted to give Jack Carter a shot! Cool by me, as that would have been my choice for him as well.

As I walked the convention I met up with fans that I usually only get to “talk” to via e-mail like Terry webmaster of ComicArt Community, Benno, Rich DeDominicis, Ken Danker of Monster Collectables and Scott Blacksher.

Scott Blacksher has a really cool “Astro-Zombies” Theme. We’ve exchanged a few e-mails over the past year. Scott came by the table and commissioned Beatty to do him an Astro-Zombie sketch.

I could tell that Beatty wasn’t feeling well [too much junk food on the ride up is our guess] but before the sketch was done, I thought that he’d recovered. John didn’t think so. He told Scott that he was sorry that the sketch wasn’t better and he could have it for free.

Scott was really surprised and said the sketch was fine, but Beatty refused to take any money and even said he’d try to come up with a better piece sometime in the future. Scott thanked Beatty and said that he had an autographed copy of “Mark of the Astro-Zombies” that Beatty could have. Big John passed the tape on to me since he knows that I’ve been wanting to see the movie and I’ll get to it before he ever does!

Finally Brian Bolland arrived! By this time Brian had a huge line of people waiting. With almost no time to even catch his breath, Brian began to take time with each fan. Some only wanted a chance to thank Brian for the wonderful work that he’s produced [and continues to produce]. Others were hoping for a sketch or even an opportunity to buy one of his prelims. When it was my time with Brian, I thanked him for providing me with many hours of pleasure, asked if he would autograph a book for a friend and pose for a picture with me. Brian was gracious and modest. He was a true pleasure to meet and I hope that he enjoyed meeting his fans as much as they enjoyed meeting him!

It was cool catching up with some artists that I hadn’t seen in a while. Dan Bereton and his lovely lady were there leading the celebration of the tenth anniversary of The Nocturnals. Eddie Powell and his wife had some really cool Goon t-shirts [James Howell got the last 2XL before me!], sketchbooks, and more. Gus Vasquez was there and promised to have my Stallone commission ready at Heroes. Gus said he’d do it that weekend, but I want him to take the time he’d like to do it “up right.”

Speaking of doing it up right, Sanford Greene has been turning out some great stuff lately. Sanford was sketching away, but did take some time to show us the latest book he’s putting together. It’s got a really hip look and should be a lot of fun once he gets it rolling. LeSean was also doing some work that really kicks butt. Hmmm… perhaps I’ll get them in the Stallone Gallery at some point. Andy Lee was there… and Jason Walker too!

I decided I would head over and see if Brian Stelfreeze had finished my Jack Carter commission. As I got closer to the Gaijin table, a couple of fans who know I collect Stallone pieces mentioned that they’d seen what Brian had done for me and that it totally kicked uh, butt. When I got there Brian was talking to another fan but I could see the completed piece! Man!! Brian had nailed it. His Jack Carter was one bad mofo. Going back to Brian‘s analogy of being called up to the “big leagues” — well, if that’s the case then Brian hit a grand slam the first time at bat. I couldn’t thank him enough for the piece. I did give him a StalloneZone t-shirt though.

I also gave shirts to Cully and Adam since they had completed Stallone sketches before I had the shirts and I didn’t want them to be left out. The cool thing is that some fans and pros are wearing the shirts to conventions [and not just to mow the grass]. At this point I’m totally out of shirts and I unfortunately ran out before getting one to Tony Harris [I thought we had put a couple back… but they got away].

Speaking of Tony Harris, I decided to check and see if he had finished my commission since Saturday was winding down. I was surprised to find that Tony hadn’t even finished the first sketch yet. Well… at least I was number 2 and Tony was confident that he’d be able to finish before we pulled out on Sunday at noon.

Rob Prior was set up doing some air brush paintings. Rob is quite an interesting guy. He’s worked in a number of artistic capactities in the comic and film industry. His most recent work has been on the Buffy, Angel, and Firefly TV shows. I’d heard that Rob was in the process of directing a movie called Shadowwalkers from a story that he’d created. Rob was nice enough to share the story and progress on getting the film made. If everything comes to pass we’re going to be in for a very cool couple of hours. The story is ripe for a multitude of venues from other movies to games to a tv series… but Rob is just concentrating on THIS movie now. Rob Prior‘s a guy to keep an eye on and I wish him continued success.

As the show was winding down Kelsey and I were laughing about the hacki-sack game that he got into at MegaCon. Before you could say hacki- Kelsey, Mike and Big Beatty started up a game. Soon Brian was involved… then Cully… and things were rockin’. I don’t know if watching Beatty keep missing with his kicks or Mike‘s doublekicks had us laughing more. The game was called when the janitors were ready to turn off the ligjhts. [At least it seemed that late!]

John Higashi, Steven Lee, James Howell, Jason Walker, Big Beatty, Mike, and I [along with another six or eight people] decided to have dinner at Road House. The meal lasted literally for over two hours as we all laughed and told “war stories” of conventions and art collecting. After everyone had ordered and some of us had even started to get our food the waitress came back to tell John Higashi that they were out of baked potatoes.

John was pretty disappointed, but not as disappointed as Big Beatty when he was told they were out of club sandwiches! Higashi opted for the onions [don’t ask]. Anyway… John‘s picking at his steak mumbling that he would have really liked his potatoe when the waitress brings out baked patatoes to others! Finally she comes back by [John‘s finished his steak by now] and she says, “Oh, we’ve got potatoes now.” John [looking sad] says, “No, that’s ok… I’m finished now.” “But sir, would you like your onions brought out?” John hung his head even lower and said, “No thanks. I’m finished.”

Now you might think that a man who was sad about not getting 1/3 of his meal would not be the target of teasing. But if you do think that way, then you don’t know Big Beatty. Beatty started in with riffs about Higashi being the infamous Johnny StarWarz [‘dat’s right StarWarz with a “Z”] and we were all off to the races. Before too long we had Johnny‘s “gang sign” [making a “J” and a “W” with the fingers on each hand], Johnny pimping out his rental car, making deals for commissions and then his homies bringing up “da cash,” Johnny wearing a Death Star medalian for his bling… and on and on and on.

When we finally left the restaurant it was after 10:30… and we were beat. So it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep… The next morning Mike and I headed back to the Waffle House where we crossed paths with John Higashi, James Howell and Steven Lee. Then on to the convention.

Beatty and I were hanging at his table talking to the folks from Cute Girl Demographics who had the next table. Kelsey came by and hung out for a while. Ya just gotta love Kelsey [even if he did spill coffee on Mike]! After a bit I decided to go down and check on Tony Harris‘ progress. It’s always a good feeling to hear someone tell you how cool your piece is before you get to see it and that’s exactly what happened as I approached Tony‘s table.

Tony had really created a beautiful piece. This is the same guy who told me he had problems with doing a likeness! Man, his Stallone is dead on. Tony always turns out a great sketch and this one was exceptional. Big Beatty thinks it’s the best in my collection. And getting any compliment from Beatty is as rare as Higashi getting a baked potato at Road House.

I couldn’t belive my luck. I was able to get both Brian Stelfreeze and Tony Harris to do Stallone pieces for me… and they both nailed him. Life is good!

As much as I wanted to stay, I knew that we needed to head back to Daytona since we all had work or school the next day. [And in my case I had both since I’m a middle school administrator.] We made a final pass of the convention floor and said our good byes.

We’d had a great time… and are already counting the days untl Heroes!

MegaCon 2004 Report

When I said I’d be gone for a few days, I had no idea it would be over a week before I got back to updating the ZONE.

MegaCon was a great show. Big Beatty was sharing a table with Casey Jones [who does some of the best con sketches around]. Bob McLeod was just around the corner. I hadn’t seen Bob in probably 15 years… but boy, did the memories come flooding back. Bob, Beatty and I talked about all of the conventions we used to travel to, as well as the poker and pool we used to play. Bob sketched almost nonstop the entire show. The fans love them some Bob McLeod. And rightly so.

I ran into fellow fans and art collectors John “Johnny StarWars” Higashi [who wore his StalloneZone t-shirt] and James “The James” Howell. They were planing their strategies for the show. These are two of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Before the weekend was over John Higashi was one of the seven people from the entire show to win an opportunity to purchase a sketch from Walt Simonson. [And what a sweet one it turned out to be.] I hope to get to spend more time with them in Atlanta.

Michael Lark sketched away all weekend long. I picked up two pieces from Michael. It was funny because when I expained my Stallone theme to him, I said, “So you can draw any Stallone character you want.” Michael said, “Great I know who I want to do.” I said that I would check back with him in a bit and as I started to walk away asked, “Who are you going to draw?” “Mickey,” Michael said with a smile. “Uh, you are going to draw Rocky and Mickey, right?” Michael laughed and said, “Oh, I see. When you said a Stallone character, you meant a character that Stallone played, not just any character from his movies.” Whew! Had we not cleared that up, I would have come back to find a very nice drawing of Mickey! As it turned out Michael did a scene from Rocky with Mickey, Rocky, and his cut man… you know the scene… “Cut me, Mick!” Michael was selling a really nice sketchbook as well, so I picked up one for me and another for a friend.

James O’Barr was there. I had initially hoped to get a Stallone sketch from him. That didn’t work out, but I did get James to autograph my copy of The Crow trade paperback. Maybe I’ll get the chance at another show.

Koi Phan was sketching away. I’ve been a fan of Koi’s since I first saw his sketches popping up on the internet. I went over and introdced myself. Koi not only remembered my name but said, “You’re the reason I came to MegaCon!” I had written him a couple of months ago asking if he was coming to MegaCon. I told him a bit about the show and that I hoped he could make it. He had no plans to, but decided to check it out on my suggestion. And that he remembered my name. How cool is that? I picked up a Stallone sketch for myself and a Batman for my oldest son’s collection. Koi does great work. Check out his site and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Walt Simonson came stopped by the table and I was able to get him to re-autograph my Alien and Manhunter trade paperbacks. He had first autographed them over 20 years ago! Walt is a really cool guy. He has an Elric series coming out later this year and the advance art looked awesome. A Stallone by Walt would be sweet…

Kelsey Shannon came by the table. Kelsey is flat out the man. Some kids were playing hack-sack near the table. I jokingly asked Kelsey if he wanted to join in and he replied, “I do know how to play.” That’s all I needed to hear and I had Kelsey in the game in no time at all. The funny thing is… Kelsey really knew how to play! Add THAT to his list of accomplishments… amazing artist, able to eat a block of cheese in an hour, and competitive hacki-sacker. Kelsey did a drop dead gorgeous Sly sketch for me. Big Beatty is going to ink it on blue-line so I’ll be able to retain the original pencils.

I ran into Cully Hamner on the way to the restroom. We had some small talk and he said he would be up for another Stallone. It’s going to be hard to top his first one, but I hope that he tries either at Atlanta or Heroes con later this year. Cully went to the restroom to get a stain off his shirt. As we were walking out of the restroom, I told him about “Shout” wipes. They’ll get out almost any stain and I try to always keep some at work. Cully said he’d check into them. Cully said, “Hey thanks for the tip.” He immediately followed that up with, “I guess I shouldn’t say that as we’re leaving the restroom!”

The Gaijin crew were busy all weekend. It was cool to meet Alison and to see Adam again. Since I got my Adam Hughes sketch, I haven’t tried for another, hoping that some lucky soul will be able to get his/her first… but I have to tell you, seeing the beautiful work that Adam does, I’m always tempted to get in line! Cully, and Kelsey and Brian and Karl were also very busy. I hope to get Brian to do a Stallone for me at Atlanta or Heroes this year. That would kick butt. Kelsey wore his StalloneZone shirt while he was sketching… talk about cool! Also, Gaijin had advance materials on The Ride on display. This book looks to be a winner. Tell your comic dealer to order you one or you may get left out.

Alex Saviuk stopped by the table for a few minutes and we talked about the life of a freelancer. He had me laughing because freelancers face the situation of not enough work or too much work due at the same time. Never a happy medium.

Phil Noto came by the table and when Big Beatty asked him how he was doing Phil said, “Great. I sold EVERYTHING.” This was on Saturday… with another day still to go! Phil and I discussed a Stallone sketch and Phil said he could have it to me on Sunday. We talked about either something from Nighthawks, which Phil really likes, or an “old school” Rocky. Phil decided to go with Deke DaSilva from Nighthawks and it is a beaut. I still hope to get a Rocky and Adrian from him in the future.

Wild Bill Black was there. Bill and I did a few circuits of the convention during the 3 days we were there. Bill presented me with the latest issue of FemForce [124] which features a backup story by Nick Northy and Jeff Austin. And one of the “stars” of the stroy… Detective Zablo! I’ll post more about that later this week. Mark and Stephanie Heike were there. Each time I passed them I’d trade them some cinnamon hard candy for some sour candy. Billy “The Playa from the Himalaya” Marimon was there. Rik Levins showed up. And it was great seeing both of them.

Tim Townsend made an appearance to drop off flyers for his Tim-O-Palooza. Tim hosts a party each year during the weekend of MegaCon. Tim had never met Bob McLeod and so I walked over with him. Bob had made some really nice comments about Tim‘s work the day before and so it was really cool to see two pros who appreciate each other’s work get a chance to meet for the first time. Beatty and I had intended to make it to Tim‘s party — we had the invite – – but after a trolly ride from hell at the end of a long day, we decided against the journey. Maybe next year…

Meanwhile back a John‘s table, he was sketching away. John had brought his markers and colors and was giving the fans more than their money’s worth! He did the best con sketches I have ever seen him turn out and he was diggin it. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the fans in Atlanta and Charlotte this year!

The capper to the show was dinner with Big Beatty and Brad Vancata. Then it was back home to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done that long weekend. I’m almost caught up. I should be completely caught up in time to leave for AtlantaCon next month! [Actually, by the end of the week I should have scans of all of my sketches posted!]

MegaCon Bound

I’m going to be gone for a few days. My best buddy and partner in nonsense, John Beatty and I are heading to Orlando for MegaCon.

MegaCon is a huge 3 day convention of comic artists and movie/tv celebrities. I’m usually not someone to line up for autographs but it will be cool to see the cast from the original Lost in Space. And I gotta admit that I wouldn’t mind talking to Brian “Cobra” Thompson or Glen “Demoition Man” Shadix for a minute or two.

The real fun will be meeting up with artists and getting a few new Stallone commissions. I’ve met most of the guest artists before, but the one guy that I haven’t met and hope to get a Sly drawing from is James “The Crow” O’Barr.

At any rate, if you’re in driving distance of Orlando, come on by. Big Beatty will be set up at a table sketching and I’ll be somewhere at the show. Just look for the big guy with the StalloneZone shirt!

Tampa Con & More

I’m looking forward to this weekend. Big John Beatty and I will be motoring down to Tampa for Tim Gordon’s Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention. Big Beatty is a guest but before I get to that…Saturday night Beatty and I are going to attend a little get together put on by Randy Martin. Randy is an avid art collector whose theme happens to be Edward Scissorshands. How cool is that? John Higashi will be there with his Star Wars theme [which includes are from just about anyone who is ANYONE. How many collections do you know that feature Drew Struzan originals [note the “s” as in many]? John Dell and other artists will be attending as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

The next day is Tampa Con. John is a guest [which makes me a guest of a guest, I suppose]. Other real guests include MARTY NODELL [creator of the original GREEN LANTERN], ETHAN VAN SCIVER [X-Men], ALEX SAVIUK [Spider-Man], JIM FERN [Scion, Wolverine], AUSTIN JANOWSKY [Superman], DICK KULPA [artist and publisher of CRACKED], MARK and STEPHANIE HEIKE and others.

If you happen to be in the area, stop in and say, “Hi.” I’ll be the guy in the StalloneZone shirt angeling for more Stallone sketches!

J-Ville Trip Report

Last Saturday, John Higashi, John Beatty and I drove up to Jacksonville, Florida to attend a benefit for the Tourette Syndrome Association sponsored by Big City Comics. Several comics pros were to be on hand signing autographs and sketching. There were a lot of other activities scheduled and John Higashi had his eye on a couple of pieces in the art auction.

The drive up was great. John H. was at the wheel, Beatty was in the back seat doggin’ John H’s amazing collection, and I got to ride shotgun, laughing at all of the nonsense. We made it up in record time, or maybe time just flew by because we were laughing so much.

When we arrived things were just getting set up. A couple of tables had been set up inside, so we joined Don Perlin (Marvel Comics), Duck Edwing (MAD Magazine), Ed Hall (political cartoonist), and Jason Sobel (Fuzzy Dice Studios). Robert Smith was out in the crowd set up to do caricatures.

John H. wanted to speak to Mr. Perlin about a Star Wars commission, but told me that I should try to commission him up for a Stallone sketch first. Unfortunately for both of us, Mr. Perlin had a line already. But sitting directly in front of me was Ed Hall. I really enjoy his work and so I approached him about doing a Stallone piece. He agreed and the result was really cool. I’ll post it with next weekend’s update. Ed was amazing in that he was able to draw so many caricatures of famous people without any reference.

Seeing that I had popped for a piece, John H. approached Duck for a Spy vs Spy commission. John asked for a panel gag and offered four times the going rate for a sketch. Duck agreed and then to our surprise said, “You know I’m the writer for the strip, not the artist, right?” To John‘s credit, he said, “that’s cool” and went ahead with the commission. Duck drew him a funny seven panel Spy vs Spy strip. John then kicked in an extra $20 toward the charity so Duck came back and drew him a large executioner!

The crowd was constant throughout the day. “Soft Spike” jokes were flying from everyone. Big Beatty did some really nice sketches. He started off with a nice Captain America and Deathlock. He also did cool sketches of Iron Man, Green Goblin, and others!

Jason Sobol was sitting in front of me with his portfolio and a great sense of humor [especially when I called him Josh a couple of times]. At any rate, he didn’t soft spike me [you’d had to have been there] and drew me a cool Sly as a young Judge Dredd. I’ll post that this weekend.

As the show wound down it was time for the auction. John H. had his eye on two pieces, the Kubert “Sgt. Rock” and a Beetle Bailey Sunday page. It came down to the wire between John and another guy for the Kubert piece, but I’m happy to say that John won! Man, the Sgt. Rock is even more impressive in person. It could be the cornerstone of ANY collection! [John also won the Beetle Bailey page!]

I was happy that I had been able to get two new sketches for my Stallone theme, and John H. had won the two pieces in the auction that he was after… but we weren’t done yet. After a short discussion, we approached Mr. Perlin about doing commissions for us. He agreed! So in two weeks John and I plan to drive back up to J-ville and pick up our Don Perlin originals! [We’d go next weekend but John H. will be in Baltimore getting even more art!]

All in all it was a great little event that raised a fair amount of money for a very good cause. I hope that they’re able to put it on again next year. If they do and you live within driving distance, you should plan to attend… you’ll get to meet some really nice people, possibly pick up a sketch or original art and maybe, just maybe, find out what it means to be soft spiked!

One Day Show at Jacksonville’s Big City Comics is Coming!

If you live within driving distance of Jacksonville, Florida, you may want to take a trip this coming Saturday. Big City Comics! [10131 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, Florida, phone 904-268-9006] is hosting a fundraiser from 11am – 5pm to benefit the Tourette Syndrome Association. Musical entertainment, door prizes, and many other exciting events are planned.

Don Perlin (Marvel Comics and Acclaim Comics, artist), Duck Edwing (MAD Magazine, artist and writer), Ed Hall (political cartoonist), Robert Smith Jr. (cartoonist and caricaturist) are going to be on hand signing autographs and sketching. There’s going to be an auction of rare, original comic art featuring characters such as SupermanPopeye, Beetle Bailey, and many others, all drawn by their respective artists.

It looks to be a fun time. I’m planning to attend. Where else can I get Sylvester Stallone sketches and help out a good cause at the same time?

Hello Parker, Bye Buddy & More

  • Jeff Parker, creator of Interman [which you really ought to consider picking up], has written up his Heroes Con Report. StalloneZone is mentioned… Even if you don’t like comics. I’ll bet you’d get a kick out of his Con Reports.
  • LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter)Matthew McConaughey is in talks to star in “Tishomingo Blues,” an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard best seller that will mark Don Cheadle directorial debute. Although I haven’t read the book, I do like the work of McConaughey, Leonard, and Cheadle.
  • LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Cable news channel MSNBC on Monday fired Michael Savage after the controversial talk show host wished AIDS on a caller whom he dismissed as “one of the sodomites.” And I’ll bet Savage was surprised.
  • LOS ANGELESBuddy Ebsen best known for his roles in “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Barnaby Jones,” has died. He was 95. Harry Knowles has written a nice tribute over at Ain’t It Cool News. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.
  • LOS ANGELES (Reuters)Police and prosecutors met in Colorado on Monday to discuss filing sexual assault charges against Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant as his lawyers said he was innocent and accused the local sheriff of “bias.” It’s pretty strange that the DA and sherrif are not on the same page with this one.
  • LONDON (Reuters)British police investigating how a young sky diver plunged 13,000 feet to his death revealed on Monday his parachute cords had been deliberately severed. That sounds sounds like something out of a tv mystery… but what a scary thought when you really consider it.
  • SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean man angry with his daughter’s Web surfing faced possible charges on Monday after he threw a computer monitor out of his 12th-floor apartment, hitting a four-year-old girl below on the head, police said. I would think that he would face more than “POSSIBLE” charges.
  • MONTPELLIER, France (AFP) – A shopper in southern France literally named his own price when he visited several supermarkets near here. According to police, the 22-year-old suspect fabricated barcode labels on his home computer, and by using them to replace the originals was able to acquire goods for a fraction of their real prices. I wonder how that system works out in jail?
  • HELLAM, Pa. – House hunters and footwear fanatics, take note: A three-bedroom, two bath house that happens to be shaped like a giant shoe is up for sale. I’ll be some old lady buys it — she’ll have some many children she won’t know what to do.
  • EAST DUBLIN, Ga. – There was bobbin’ for pigs feet and hubcap hurling. Grown men competed against each other by belly-flopping into a mud pit. This year’s Redneck Games at Buckeye Park in East Dublin drew thousands of spectators. As stupid as it sounds, I’ll bet everyone had a lot of fun!
  • ROSWELL, N.M. – The sports editor of the Roswell Daily Record has been fired for fabricating part of a news story about a golf tournament in which he quoted a fictional character from the movie “Caddyshack.” And I’ll bet the editor was surprised.

AtlantaCon 2003 Report, Part 3

Phil Hester does really cool sketches.

This is one of Mike‘s favorites. Phil does a tough looking Batman!

Dave Cook of Splatter Comix was not only doing free sketches… 

…but giving away cake as well! His enthusiasm is contagious! Check out his site and tell him I sent ya!

We met up with Tim Flanagan at AtlantaCon.

Tim’s a super nice guy who’s more than willing to sketch away! I’ll bet we’ll see him again at future shows!

Jacen Burrows was drawing some really cool sketches.

Mike just had to get one from Jacen [and so did I]! Take a look at his art and I’ll bet you want one too!

AtlantaCon 2003 Report

AtlantaCon was this past weekend and my son [Mike] and I had a blast! It was my goal to try and get sketches from Adam Hughes, Cully Hamner, Dan Brereton, Phil Noto and whoever else the budget would allow.

The con was scheduled to open at 1PM on Friday and we wanted to be there by 11:30 so that we wouldn’t be rushed. We got to our hotel before 9AM and I was surprised to find out that we could go ahead and check in. As we were checking in, Dan Brereton walked up and began to check in as well. He looked a bit tired so we decided to wait until the con to say, “Hello.” As the elevator doors were closing to take us up to our room, Mike Kaluta came on board. He is always so friendly.

We decided to eat some breakfast before heading over to the convention center. Dan Brereton had the same idea, but since he was with a couple of friends we didn’t want to bother him. After breakfast, Mike and I headed over to the convention center. There were already other people there and the con wasn’t scheduled to open for another hour and a half!

I was talking to a couple of guys also hoping to get a sketch from Adam Hughes when I heard someone yelling, “Craig Zablo, you lied!” I looked up to see John Higashi coming down the escalator. “You said, you wouldn’t be here until Saturday!” John continued yelling. John is such a fun guy to be around. He collects Star Wars art and his collection is one of the best I’ve ever seen. He has art by almost everyone. Who else do you know that has several pieces from Drew Struzan? John came down and showed us all where the line would start so we could pick up our con passes, and then entertained us with pieces from his collection until it was time for him to go in. John had a lifetime membership to the show, which meant that he would be allowed in to the dealer’s room an hour before everyone else.

Once the lifetime members were allowed to enter, the regular paid attendees lined up at the door. Mike and I were fourth and fifth in line and so I felt my odds of an Adam Hughes sketch were pretty good. Cully Hamner had already put me on his list [thanks to an e-mail from Big Beatty — thanks, bro!] so Adam would be my first stop when the gates opened. From where we were standing, we could see the line for Adam was already nine deep and growing… The crowd was allowed to enter and I ended up 13th in line for an Adam Hughes sketch. When I spoke to Adam about what I wanted [a drawing of Sylvester Stallone], he seemed to like the idea. I left him a book for reference and hustled over to see Cully.

Cully remembered me and we discussed what I wanted. I thought that Cully would do a very cool Jack Carter. Cully hadn’t seen the movie but I had reference. I explained that Carter was a Vegas enforcer, a low level mobster. Cully looked at the pictures and said, “nice suits, right?” Yep. Cully said to check back later in the day.

Mike was already walking around checking things out. I caught up with him and we walked the convention center. Dan Brereton was setting up and I spoke to him about a commission. He said that he would definitely be interested. We agreed to hook up later in the show to work out the details. The first day wasn’t even half over and I had basically set up three commissions. I was loving life.

We walked around and spoke with Mike Kaluta, Andy Lee, Phil Hester, Jacen Burrows, Jason Alexander, Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, Shane Glines, Dean Motter, Bo Hampton, Alex Saviuk, and many others.

Jason Alexander‘s art is really cool. I spoke to him about a commission and he agreed to do a Rambo for my sketchbook. It turned out awesome. Watching Andy Lee paint was amazing. I spoke to him about a commission. We agreed on a Rambo. It also turned out great. i decided to check on the progress of Adam and Cully. Cully asked if it would be ok if he gave me the Jack Carter drawing in the morning which, of course, was no problem. Adam was still working on his first drawing. Gulp!

Saturday was the busiest day of the show. Kent Williams showed up [he shares a studio with Jason Alexander]. I told John Higashi that Kent was there [he wasn’t listed on the guest list] and John commissioned a really cool Star Wars piece! Mike spent the afternoon in a HeroClick‘s tournament. I walked around talking to more artist’s. Cully finished my Jack Carter piece. Whoa! I couldn’t be more thrilled with it! Adam said that he would have my piece for me on Sunday. Yes!

Believe it or not, the day was going to get even better…

[I’ll post the rest of my con report soon. Scans of my commissions and pictures from the con will also be posted soon.]