Can A Comic Creator Run A Comic Convention?

Okay — some time has passed since   I launched the Asbury Park Comicon. And at some point I’ll write more about what went into making it a reality. I could say it was a lot of work or it was hard, but there’s no way to measure that, and hard compared to what? We’d just come off of Hurricane Sandy — I think what the victims of the storm were going through was hard, what we went through was a challenge.

But with everything that life, nature, and city politics put in our way, we did reach May 30th, 2013 and the fans showed up. As did the talent. It was a glorious, if not frantic day. Friends from as far back as high school visited to wish me well (brought together through the magic of social media), as well as family, neighbors, old employees from my screen printing days, and the comics community.

We invited some great guests, some who’ve turned into friends. I especially had a great time with Ren & Stimpy co-creator Bob Camp and punk artist John Holmstom.
At one point at dinner with them, I laughed so hard I though shrimp would shoot out of my nostrils.

Other than that, the day was a blur with interviews, autographs, a costume contest judged by my neighborhood celebs Bryan Johnson, Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen of AMC-TV’s Comic Book Men, and Brian O’Halloran of the film Clerk’s.

Oh, yeah — and here’s MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee a week after turning 95 with me on the Asbury Park boardwalk. When I originally invited him 6 months earlier, he said, “Cliff, I’ll be there if I’m still alive.” To which I replied, “Me too, Al.” And a month later I was hit by a car. So never kid about that shit.

And it was Judie’s birthday and someone made her a special gluten free cake!

I have a lot more to say about this event, with Allen Bellman, Danny Fingeroth, Herb Trimpe, Evan Dorkin Sarah Dyer, Jim Salicrup, and will ad to this soon.

Mini Documentary By Ogilvy

The mega monstrous international ad agency Ogilvy and Mather is putting together a series of mini docs about creativity and the people who have no other choice but to create over at Create or Else.

Director David Urbano and his crew did a great job, and I got to collaborate with them by doing the first pass of the animation for the final sequence where some of my characters begin to harass me for not paying attention to them. I haven’t done any animation in a few years, and I’d forgotten how labor intensive it is. I believe it took me three days for a few seconds of video.

Rat Bastard Speed Painting

A quick one one of Rat Bastard
A quick one one of Rat Bastard

That’s what they call it these days, right? A speed painting? A color study, a comp, a preliminary drawing or painting, an idea. This is done with Photoshop — no pencils, no paint, no paper or board. “No muss, no fuss” as the commercial used to say. There’s about seven layers in this Photoshop image, so the shadows are on one layer, the background is on another, etc. It’s sheer play.

Rat Bastard Drawings

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on Roscoe and his cohort on a consistent basis. In my old life as Rat Bastard illustrator C.J. Huja, I had a certain naive idea of what Roscoe and the inhabitants of his world should look like. They looked like whatever came out of my pencil — there was no real development. A few sketches and there was Roscoe.Most characters were never more than one or two sketches before they were finalized. I had no real understanding or training in character development.

When Imagine Entertainment optioned Rat Bastard for a TV show on UPN in 2000, I saw other artists’ interpretations of my characters. Being in awe of those who worked in animation, I was impressed when they took Roscoe’s ears, and move him to the side of this head, much like The Secret of N.I.M.H. or some of the Disney characters. They made him more realistic, his ears being more like the way a rat’s ears actually sit on its head.

After the option expired and Imagine’s efforts pointed elsewhere, I continued to study the character designs of Roscoe. He looked very much like he could be a character from “Batman The Animated Series”and I tried to incorporate the look into my own new, improved version of Roscoe. He was more angled, more animation friendly in some way. But the more I tried to force his ears to the sides of his head, the more I felt something was missing.


At some point, I started drawing my original design, with a more exacting animation friendly line work, but kept the playfulness. After all, Roscoe was the sum total of all my cartoon experiences as well as comic book inspiration — Mort Drucker, Looney Tunes, Terry Toons, Don Martin, Al Davis, and many others. I wanted an element of shear goofiness. I wanted Roscoe’s eyes to be uneven, his posture unheroic, and his ears to sit on the top of his head like Mickey Mouse. I’d always loved the notion of Big Daddy Roth’s “Mickey Rat” and Roscoe was my Mickey Rat. A gun-toting rodent, the anti-Mickey.


Rat Bastard Animated Short

Here’s as good’a place as any to post this. Batman director Kevin Altieri did an amazing job on this. Check out John DiMaggio (voice of Bender on Futurama) at the beginning and very end. He was replaced by Greg Proops (not sure why). EG Daily (of zillions of cartoons like Power Puff Girls and Rug Rats, and Pee Wee’s girlfriend Dotty in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) voice’s Roscoe’s ex-girlfriend.

I could go into what I liked and what I wouldn’t have put in, but it’s a short — it was eye-candy to show the suits at UPN back in 2000.