The poster for this year’s East Coast Comicon is a paean to the overlooked heart and soul of comic conventions; the comic dealers. They travel far and wide almost every weekend so we can score some rare gem for our collections. Without them, it’s not a comic con, it’s a festival or an expo or an art show. They are the legion of the long-box, the brotherhood of the back issue, retailers on a road trip.
The art came from a sketch I was working on for a back-to-school window display for a store I had in Laguna Beach, CA back in 2003. Instead, I went with a Popeye-esque character I called Dead-Beat Dad, who was seated in a worn out Lazy Boy chair with a beer can in his left hand and his right hand point his thumb backwards saying GET YER BUTTS BACK IN SCHOOL!
A few months ago, I discovered a sketch of an Ed “Big Daddy” Roth inspired school bus driver with a young girl clinging to him as he burned rubber on a short bus. I changed the bus to a van and some comics falling out the back doors and I had my poster design. It was the most fun I’ve had drawing in ages. The colors seemed obvious and I was done in short order. The T-shirt required a bit more thought in coloring. I wanted a tougher look. Colors you might see on Harley Davidson T-shirt or something a bit more fashion forward for men. I toned down the white with a bone color and made the red and yellow more earthy.
If you look to the very bottom on the right it says FOR JOE CALDWELL AND JOHN BRIGHTON. Those are two great guys who supply many of the TV and movie show cars like the Munster Mobile, Starsky & Hutch Torino, the Monkee Mobile, and a variety of Batmobiles. Joe and John are the other unsung heroes of East Coast Comicon and knew the gearhead design would be a proper tribute.
A final note; only days after the posters were printed, Jim Starlin and Mark Bagely were added to the line-up.
Magazine illustrator Danny Hellman had offered to make a mermaid on the beach covered in tattoos, reading comics. The sketches were exactly the look I was hoping for and Hellman’s style is a favorite of mine. But he got really busy with some paying gigs, and I told him I’d jump in and bang something out. Being from the area, I knew Tillie was the character associated with Asbury Park since the old amusement park days. He can still be found on T-shirts, buildings, even tattoos. So I cast him as an Alfred E. Neuman poser, just as Alfred would do every month on the cover of MAD Magazine. It was a nod to our guest Al Jaffee, and to our collective humor about what we were doing — we were taking the piss out of the comic convention industry.
And there’s a 10 foot version hanging in Convention Hall.
A lot of people are still doing a lot of good for the people at the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. The band P.O.D came to the rescue and I was asked to do this poster for the benefit. This is my first post since running Asbury Park Comicon — I’ve had a lot on my plate since that glorious day at Convention Hall back on March 29th, 2013. I’ll have a few thoughts and some photos, but first, I had to deliver this art and a whole bunch of other things needed to be dealt with to get Asbury Park Comicon 2014 rolling.
Here at the Jersey Shore, we have so many concerned friends who care for wildlife, but the future Animal Rescue Hall of Famer (if there was such a thing) is my friend Alison Evans-Fragale. It’s not enough that her day gig is being a nurse, but in her spare time, she’s rescuing beached Â seals, dolphins, and anything else that swims, crawls or flies. So when she asked me to make a poster for a fundraiser for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, I couldn’t refuse.
I drew this a few months after 9-11, for a show at the Key Club on Sunset in West Hollywood. At the time it seemed it was a given we were gonna get Bin Laden.