This September I get to have a great back-to-back convention experience as I travel first to Baltimore for the terrific-bordering-on-legendary Baltimore Comic Con from Sept 2-4. Baltimore has the rep among creators as one of the biggest comic-centered shows in the country, and it never fails to be a great place to meet enthusiastic, informed and supportive comic readers. Then I jump on a plane to dash back to the west coast for Portland’s burgeoning Rose City Comic Con on Sept 10-11. Now in it’s fifth year, Rose City has had solid growth under sure leadership from day one.
For Baltimore’s art book, the theme this year is the Archie gang. And as a contributing guest I couldn’t resist the chance to draw Archie attempting to impress Mercy and Molly at the beach with his “Hey, ladies, I found your dox” act.
At Rose City, it will be a special year for me as several of Trekker’s biggest boosters are planing to meet at the show, which means I’m guaranteed to be chatting with some of my all-time favorite folks at our own little Trekker mini-con! Two of the fine people I’m looking forward to spending some time visiting with are Ruth and Darrin Sutherland, who do the excellent Trekker Talk podcast. Above is a fun piece Darrin commissioned featuring the two of them as “trekkers” themselves in Mercy’s world.
Every show I attend– big, small or in the middle, I always come away inspired and energized to find more readers– kindred spirits, actually– who have discovered and embraced Mercy’s adventures. Knowing you are making that sort of direct connection is the best part of a storyteller’s job.
Hope to see you at a show down the road!
A while back I wrote a fond tribute to Jonny Quest, and to the two artists who shaped that series- Doug Wildey and Alex Toth. “Jonny” is revered by lovers of globe-trotting action and adventure stories, and Wildey and Toth are equally revered by artists who wish to master the craft of visual storytelling. Future Quest does justice to all of the above. Written by Jeff Parker and drawn primarily by Evan Shaner, they get everything “right” by Quest standards. The characters are note-perfect both in the writing and the art, and the interactions as well as the action are right in the dashing, breezy style of the original, beloved cartoons. Here’s one of my pages, in its step-by-step stages of production, to illustrate the point: Besides returning Jonny, Hadji, Race, Bandit and the rest to us, Future Quest also brings into the tale several other of the great Hanna Barbara characters– Space Ghost is there, The Herculoids as well, and I even got to do a double-page spread with Birdman, fighting those legendary, crazy robot spiders no less! The book is terrific fun for the creators, and I know that has to come across to readers as well. You can’t go wrong with this new title– colorful stories with dash and a great knowledge of and fondness for the source material, and gorgeous art by Shaner and co. It was great fun to be involved with the tale a bit. Now: back to Mercy and her own colorful adventures!
From next Thursday, April 7 through Sunday the 10th, Seattle will be overtaken by its first-ever four-day Emerald City Comic Con. From it’s humble beginnings, ECCC has grown into one of the premier conventions in the country. Periscope Studio and I have both been there from those earliest days, and we are excited to return to the grandest Comic fest in the Pacific Northwest. Naturally, I will be there along with Scuf, who is the official mascot of the Trekker Empire, to meet you all, signs books, do sketches and share the latest developments in Mercy’s ongoing story. You’ll find me at the huge Periscope booth, #1214: Along with original sketches, I’ll have books, prints and a few special Trekker tidbits on hand. Emerald City has always been a terrific, well-run show and a great treat for fans and professional alike. It’s a great way to kick off the convention season.
Continuing to rummage around in my comic book past, I inescapably come eventually to DC’s “The Flash” as both a deep childhood love and also as a deep influence on my comic book sensibilities. As written by Gardner Fox and John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantio with inks by the inestimable Murphy Anderson along with Frank Giacoa, “The Flash” was a sleek, smart, classy comic, thinly disguised as a superhero book, but at it’s heart, the Flash was all Science, and Science Fiction. Both Fox and Broome came from the era of pulps and early sci fi, and in Flash they let those concepts fly high.Time travel, alien worlds, parallel universes– all of that gave Flash Comics its particular heady brew. And it certainly helped to fuel my own passionate interest in Sci fi. Check out Infantino’s elegant futuristic cityscape in the cover image above. If that reminds you more that slightly of some of the architecture of Trekker’s New Gelaph, it’s no accident or coincidence.On top of that, Infantino generously shared some great comics drawing tips for constructing figures and conveying movement and action. You can imagine the sort of doors this opened in my budding-artist’s mind.Any “vintage” Infantion panel was a study in elegant composition, balance and restraint. And at the same time, there was always fluid motion.On top of that was the array of bizar villians Flash was put up against– Weather Master, Mirror Master, Captain Cold, the Reverse Flash.. and each of them built with a strong science-basis to their powers, and requiring a science-based solution to defeat.But then, Barry was a “police scientist”, after all. And unlike many other heroes, who solved their problems merely by being able to hit harder than their opponent, The Flash used his wits and his sharp mind to gain the upper hand. He was a real “thinking fan’s” superhero.
It wasn’t for nothing that when my own children were small, and I was introducing them to classic comics, the one I started them off with was The Flash. That, as much as anything probably indicates both the affection and the respect that I hold for my dog-eared and well-worn copies. Thanks for everything, Barry!
With The Volstock Payoff reaching it’s conclusion, it’s time for our trip to Chapeltown. To prepare for that journey, I had to build a world and setting that hit the right notes. Above is a glimpse of some of that design work. Over on the Patreon site I’ve posted all the images I’ve come up with to set the table for this next story, and some notes on just why and how this next tale will be so pivotal for Mercy. If you want all the inside scoop on what’s ahead, I hope you’ll consider becoming a Patreon backer. The more of you who can support Trekker this way, the better I am able to produce the new stories. It’s a simple numbers game.
The design work is always one of the most fun steps in crafting a new story– everything is potential and promise. You are experimenting, free associating images, searching for a feeling and look that will match the tone of the tale you are telling. I try to approach it with a playful attitude. It helps to keeps me “loose”, and tends to lead to the most joyful discoveries.
I’m so excited for this next step in Mercy’s story. While we start off in the familiar streets of New Gelaph, before long, the trail leads us elsewhere. The scale will expand, stakes will rise, and Mercy’s journey of self-discovery will become richer, more intense and more explosive than ever. So strap on your shooting irons and get ready for a dust-up when Chapeltown hits the website starting next week!