Friday, April 3, 2015

KaraokeFanboy Podcast Episode 6

I watched the first season of The Walking Dead, and stumbled into the second half of this last season, so in the latest episode of KaraokeFanboy Podcast, my brother Kyle, a fan from the beginning, defends the show's long-standing (and long-winded) themes.

Then, I interview Serene Dominic, my favorite local musician, and at the end I introduce him to the recently world-trending Llama Drama that went down right here in Arizona!  Of course, his insight about making, recording, performing, and promoting music is priceless -- but, I mentioned Llama Drama, too.

Thanks for listening!  More to come!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thank You, Southwest Maker Fest and Phoenix Film Festival!

I exhibited at two great events this weekend, and I hope to return to both of them next year: the Southwest Maker Fest in downtown Mesa, and the Phoenix Film Festival's Geek Day.

I made the mistake of dubbing the Southwest Maker Fest an "art show," but it's really so much more.  Mesa's Main Street was lined with local innovators -- some of them were artists, but others were scientists, entrepreneurs . . . basically, all folks in the business of making, hence the event's name.  I was honored to be among them, with Batman, to boot!  If you swung by the table for one of the seventy sketches I cranked out that day, or if you picked up a comic, thank you, and see you next year!

The Phoenix Film Festival did a great job kicking off the local con season (starting in April with the Tucson Art Press Expo) with Geek Day, and fellow self-publishers the Janimal (with me on the red carpet, above) and T.R.I.B.E. Comics joined me in promoting our wares.  I'm especially grateful to actor Maiz Lucero (pictured below) for swinging by with his friends for caricatures -- thanks for keeping me busy, guys!

I mentioned TAPE -- I'll be there next month, with other events and projects soon to come, including this year's Free Comic Book Day story, spanning the entire state!  For more immediate updates, find and friend Speed Cameron on Facebook.  He's much faster at posting things than I am.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Amazing Arizona Comics 2015 Quarter 1 Order Form!

Remember those old book orders you'd get in school, printed on terrible newsprint?  To paraphrase comedian Gary Gulman, you'd order your books in the fall, and get them your senior year in high school.  Well, I hope my turnaround is a little faster than that . . .

Because I'm offering an order form for this first quarter of Amazing Arizona Comics!  It's been a busy 2015, and if you'd like to purchase the four issues that have come out so far, here's one easy way to do it!  (This order form is only for all four issues at once.)

You have two options: all issues with black and white interior for $8, or all issues in color (sans Amazing Arizona Comics Quarterly #2, available currently only with b&w interior) for $10.  That's over 40 pages of story, featuring Arizona news and history, spanning from the splendor of Route 66, to as current as last month's Super Bowl!

Just select your option in the drop-down menu, and, remember, shipping is included!  While supplies last!

Amazing Arizona Comics 2015 Q1

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When Exposing Myself Isn't Enough -- This Artist's Thoughts!

This article on AdWeek got me thinking today.

Basically, Showtime solicited a bunch of artists to join a contest to generate art for an upcoming boxing match.  One artist declined with a snarky letter that essentially emphasized that a big time network like Showtime, putting on a big time event like a boxing match in a big time city like Las Vegas should actually pay an artist to do the work, rather than benefit from free submissions to a contest.

The article made me think.  As an artist, if Showtime asked me to contribute to their contest, I'd probably flip out at the chance.  I'd undoubtedly spend many hours working up my submission, perhaps even asking others to help, all for a chance to fly to Vegas, see a fight, and look at people looking at my work.  That sounds awesome!  But would it be worth it?

After soul searching, my answer is no.  I want to be paid for my work.

Let me preface these next statements with this truth: At the end of last year, I was fired from the full time job that fulfilled my education and ten years of career-building in California.  My comics and cartooning work had been a hobby until that day, but ever since I've tried to spin it into an income.  With the help of driving a cab (which is, no sarcasm, a lot more fun than you might think), I've been pulling it off.  But every time I sit at the drawing board, and every time I print a new issue (four this year, so far), and every time I pay for a convention table, that's time and money I could put toward my rent, my utilities, and my love of Little Debbie snack treats.  My art can cost me my livelihood as much as I want it to maintain it.

So, perhaps you're not in that position.  You have a day job and art is an after hours/weekend pursuit.  I totally get that.  But that pursuit is still costing you.

If I remember my high school economics class, opportunity cost is the money you could be making when you're not.  If you take a day off of work, where you would've made, say, $100, to exhibit at a comic con where you made $75, the choice cost you $25.

"But, Russ, the joy of exhibiting at that con was priceless!"  Believe me, I agree, but I've also grown to understand that time has an opportunity cost value, as well.  The time you spent drawing those comics and prints for the con could've been spent watching House of Cards, or taking a nap, or with your family.  The joy of This Comics Life will cost you time spent on other joys, plain and simple, for better or worse.

So, when you say the money isn't important, I beg to differ, because it gives value to the time you spent making that thing, even if it's just breaking even on expenses.  Maybe even that's not important to you, either . . . but considering the cost, it's probably important to your wife.

Art from the cover of my Minicomics Day Special, drawn on 3/14/2015.

At the very least, it's important to me, now more than ever, because when you say your time making and promoting comics has no value, there's no reason mine has any value, either.  Every time you say you're doing art for free, you're assigning art a baseline value of zero, and multiplying anything by zero still makes zero.  If Pepsi decided to give away cola for free forever, would Coca-Cola ever make money again?

Coincidentally, this week's Phoenix New Times cover article asks the art community to "grow up."  When you read their ten-point call to arms, two points challenge Phoenix museums to hire someone, another challenges ASU to connect artists to jobs, and another asks politicians stop cutting the Arizona Commission of the Arts' budget.  The message is clear: an active art community doesn't give their time and talent away.  They work.

Consider the article that spawned these thoughts in the first place.  Showtime knows artists will clamor for a chance for the global exposure a boxing match will offer, and their contest assumes that exposure (and a flight to Vegas, natch) is enough.  But Showtime really isn't to blame; the artists are.  If no one entered the contest, Showtime would have to pay an artist, either one already in their stable or a freelancer.  Either way, when they pay for it, the time spent making the art has value.

While I'm essentially unemployed, I've decided to do just that: spend my time making art.  That time needs to have at least the value I'd earn back at a "real job."  Ah, see how quickly that derogatory term comes in the context of the artist's lifestyle?  When you treat it like a real job, with a measurable cost, you might catch Showtime's attention.  Or Marvel Comics' attention.  Or, if none of that is important to you, the attention of more potential readers.  If that isn't important to you, then you're just drawing, quite literally, for nothing.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Turtles, Toys, and Other Places to Find KaraokeFanboy Online

I've been putting out a lot of content lately, per my new year's resolution to myself, and I want to make sure you're finding it online!

First of all, I've started a new vlog (that's video + blog = vlog, people!) called Comics I've Made, Comics I've Read, all about (wait for it) the comics I've made, and the comics I've read.  I'm two episodes deep, with a new episode sure to come before St. Patrick's Day.  Check out the latest:

Secondly, I'm really milking my interview with Kevin Eastman from the Amazing Arizona Comic Con (wouldn't you?) -- so you can read excerpts and inspirations over on Nerdvana, posted every Saturday in March to celebrate this month's Mini-Comics Day.

Finally, I have a new series that started today called I Forgot I Lost You, about toys and collectibles I've redisovered around Arizona.  You can find that on Pholx, which, in my opinion, transcends blog to straight-up online zine.

Everything is intentionally short and sweet, in the hopes that you'll check it out and enjoy.  I mean, a two minute video here, a few paragraphs there . . . and if you're reading this, you probably like what I like, so you'll dig it!  I swear!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thank You, Melrose District!

If you're visiting the blog for the first time because you picked up a comic, sketch, or mini-brochure at the 7th Avenue Street Fair last weekend, welcome!  Tabling in the Melrose District was a blast, and it was a pleasure sketching and selling comics for folks passing through.  Here are a few sketches I did -- of my original characters, to boot!  Thanks for requesting them!

Dust Devil, Sonny Gunold (The Sun City Gunslinger), June Monsoon
If you scroll down, you'll find podcasts, sketches from other events, and all sorts of goodies about Amazing Arizona Comics, my comic book series about superheroes in Arizona.  If you'd like to swing by for a sketch sometime in the future, here's this month's calendar of events.  

And remember, you can always read Amazing Arizona Comics Online for semi-daily webcomics -- in color!  The story continues!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

KaraokeFanboy Podcast, Episode 5

In the latest episode of the KaraokeFanboy Podcast, I wrap up the interview I shared with Kevin Eastman, conclude the conversation I had with the organizers of the monthly Simpsons Trivia Night here in Phoenix, and share a few poems from my Words in the Alley February feature. Enjoy!