So, WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention center was wonderful (except for parking, but that’s what I get for going down there at 11 AM). I could only be there on Saturday, but on Saturday I found more new and fascinating comic book makers and artists than I’ve found elsewhere (ahem, CCSD) in the past five years.
Moira Hahn had one of the most beautiful art books I saw at WonderCon. Excellent reproduction of her excellent art, which is visually pleasing and mentally stimulating (great stuff!). She calls her work nouveau ukiyo-e, combining contemporary culture and things going on in her personal life with the look of 19th century Japanese woodblock prints. They are very colorful, beautifully composed, and charming choices of subject matter in watercolors. Her book, “Apparitions,” is fully of fantastic magical animals in which each image tells its own story. The book was inspired by Moira moving to a new house where the previous owner had been feeding birds with numerous birdfeeders. Moira wanted to continue this tradition, and the birdfeeders attracted numerous birds, that, unfortunately attracted numerous feral cats, the ensuing horrific urban nature bird and cat conflict was the impetus for this lovely art book. Moira studied art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, CalArts, CCA (California College of the Arts), she received a Masters in art from California State Fullerton to teach. She also had a five year apprenticeship with a traditional Japanese artist named Masami Teraoka in Los Angeles before he retired to Hawaii. Moria has tabled at Comic-Con San Diego, and this is her third year at WonderCon, which she said was fantastic.
Christopher Wanzie‘s work deals with transhumanistic technologies, and how human beings are going to deal with emerging technologies. He is especially interested in how it’s going to affect us specifically from a spiritual standpoint, and so incorporates arcane religious images and positive messages and mantras in his work. It is abstract graphic design mixed with photography becoming a hybrid product. He has been drawing since he was a kid. He’s been creating this work for the past seven years, but only in the last four has he been pursuing it as a business. He is self-taught. His top three influences are Gustav Moreau’s proto-surrealism, the bio-metric images in H.R. Gieger’s work, and the mechanical and anatomical images in Leonardo da Vinci’s manuscripts and sketchbooks. WonderCon is Christopher’s first convention as an exhibitor; he is usually in gallery shows and art exhibitions.
Hillary Bauman, creator of Cirrus: The Red Storm, which is a hand-painted graphic novel, now up to two issues. She also had a couple of clay models from the Cirrus comic book on display. The other book she was promoting at WonderCon was Gallelai (sp?), a teaser issue, of a “Casablanca in space,” she said. Cirrus is painted in gouache, and Gallelai is created digitally. She is self-publishing through IndyPlanet.com. Hillary has been making comics for a few years; she has been a painter for many years. She does a lot of scenic painting for theater companies. She went into comics because it’s a happy medium between everything she does. She’s self-taught, and works with theater companies in Los Angeles. Like Tanya Bjork and Jordon Montsell, WonderCon is her second convention as an exhibitor; Long Beach Comic con was her first exhibiting experience.
Cartwright Comics are written by James Cartwright and illustrated by Pelligre (Rocky Mountain Fire Lizard) and Mike Ratliff (Hamsters), whom he found online through message boards. He’s never met them in person, but the art turned out fantastic. James chose Pelligre for Rocky Mountain Fire Lizard because he (Pelligre) is from Colorado so the landscapes are especially apt and lovely. Mike Ratliff illustrated the story of two hamsters attempting to escape their nine-year old mistress and the art is adorable. James has been writing comics since he was in college, where he started his own comics magazine, but has been busier with it over the last four or five years. WonderCon is the first big convention he’s tabled at. You can buy Rocky Mountain Fire Lizard and Hamsters at IndyPlanet.com.
Jordon Monsell makes silhouettes. Really, seriously, I am not making this up. He will even cut out a portrait while you wait for $20. I would like to now take this opportunity to publicly retroactively apologize to Jordon for standing at his booth with my mouth hanging open in AWE of what he does. And he does it with surgical scissors! Gah! Okay, down fangirl, down. As you can tell, I was seriously impressed by this. He card reads “The artform may be dying, but I’m very much alive.” Jordan is one of the six practicing silhouette makers in California. Three years ago, he learned the art from his mother, who is self-taught and has been making silhouettes for over 30 years. She is one of the two practicing silhouette makers in New England. Jordan filled me in on the history of silhouette: they were most popular in the Victorian era and were a less expensive alternative to having an oil portrait done. The rise of photography was the decline of silhouette making, alas, but technology does that. Scissors are the traditional tool for silhouette making (I was amazed by the control and detail he gets with scissors. Yes, they are swanky scissors, but still…) Jordon’s background and education are in theater, but he picked up a paintbrush before he picked up a pair of scissors. His mother is portrait painter as well as silhouette maker, and travels all over the country and Canada to ply her art, so it runs in the family because Jordan does special events and commissions as well. I asked if he was ever going to do a narrative wordless series of silhouettes, a sort of silhouette comic, but he said he hadn’t considered it. Too bad because that would rule so hard. Jordan uses silhouette paper (very thin; black on one side, white on the other) and spray adhesive to adhere them to the cardstock backing. Like Tanya Bjork and Hillary Bauman, WonderCon is Jordon’s second convention as an exhibitor; Long Beach Comic Con in 2013 was his first exhibiting experience. Jordan is silhouette making at the Renaissance Faire in Irwindale until May 18 and for those of you who attend Comikaze, Jordan will also be exhibiting there this year. Jordan has an illustration website well worth a visit as well.
I spoke to Ron Bassilian the writer of Inferno Los Angeles, which is an updating in comic book form of Dante’s Inferno. The mouth of hell is in Westwood, and the underworld is full of LA characters, like movie producers and their ilk. Y’know, all the jerks one wants to see in hell without actually having to go to hell to see them here. Or something. The book was published in 2013, the project started in 2008, and really took off with a successful Kickstarter in 2010. Inferno Los Angeles is a beautiful hardcover Ron and the artist, Jim Wheelock, are self-publishing, printing it though Tri Vision in Los Angeles, who also print for IDW. Jim found Ron on Craigslist.com. WonderCon is the second convention for Inferno Los Angeles, the first was the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, where the book sold very well.
Shing Yin Khor is a comic artist and sculptor. Most of her work is about a crypto-zoological institute that studies them. Her background is in theater scenic design. This is her fifth year of doing conventions. WonderCon was going great for her. She said things are busier when there are several issues of a comic on the table for sale. Every year it gets better.
Tanya Bjork has been making comics since 2003 and it was a guest spot in a printed webcomic anthology edited by comics artist Robert Tritthardt. Tanya has studied art, but is mostly self-taught. As far back as she can remember, she’s written stories so she could illustrate them (and bind some of them together with yarn). She remembers making a story about a fairy and using lots of glitter for the fairy dust and magic. She said it took her a while to twig that if she shifted her emphasis to comics, she could do more stories with pictures. So she’s been gradually ramping up and is working on her first long-form project. She’s doing small print runs, working with a local printer, SGX, who sponsored Artists’ Alley at the Long Beach Comic last year, and they’ve been fantastic to work with. Tanya’s top three artistic influences are Edward Gorey, Ross Campbell, and Becky Cloonan. Like Hillary Bauman and Jordon Montsell, WonderCon is Tanya’s second convention; her first was at the Long Beach Comic-Con last September. Her comic formerly known as Runaway, but now called Havenhurst, was conceived on 24-hour Comic Day last October. She liked the idea she came up with so much that she finished it and expanded it into the two issues (so far) she had on her table. The story is about a runaway and her magical familiar hiding out in the human world. Tanya also did a t-shirt collaboration with a clothing designer named Kambriel. And a lovely t-shirt it was, alas, it was also the last known t-shirt of its kind in existence or something.
Tuna Bora had two books at WonderCon: a sketchbook mostly of pen and ink work from two years ago and an illustration book of the past year in various media. She had prints of both books and a few independent prints on her table. Tuna graduated from Otis College of Art and Design and has been working in many different fields for the past five years. She works for feature and TV animation, as well as print advertising and music videos to name a few other things she’s done. This is Tuna’s second WonderCon, she also did APE last year, and every year she is at CTM (Creative Talent Network) show in Burbank.
Here are links to the individual posts (posting over the next few days):