I´m back home now for almost a week. Still the trip to Tempe and San Diego keeps my mind busy all the time. So much great stuff that I´ve seen there and great people I met.
But let´s start from the beginning.
Saturday, 16th of July: Basically this first day was about travelling to Phoenix. Had to go via London, so it was an 15 hours trip all in all. Once in Phoenix and then Tempe, I was surprised how hot it really was there. Around 40 degrees celsius. Man… I´ve never been to a place that hot. So my tactic was clear: To move from one air conditioned place to the other. Finally I reached my hotel, which I found quite nice.
Sunday, 17th of July: On this day, I had a “day off”, so I decided to visit a baseball game. The Arizona Diamondbacks played the Los Angeles Dodgers in their home stadium, the Chase Field. I just saw one professional baseball game before, years ago in Oakland. It was a lot of fun at that time, so I thought I´ll do it again. And this one was even better! The home team won by 4 -1 and they scored two homeruns. The crowd was excited, and I had my first great experience of the trip.
After the game I went downtown for some sightseeing and finally ended up in a cinema watching the Green Lantern movie, two weeks before it came out in Germany. Was a fun movie, no doubt! Great visual effects.
I also took some pictures inside the cinema building. Just the entrance hall and some movie posters. Anyway, I was followed then by an employee of the cinema to the restroom, just to tell me, that for safety reason I were not allowed to take picures inside the cinema building, and I had to immediately delete them. Lol! Never heard of anything like that before. For the rest of my trip I kept asking people, if I was allowed to take pictures, because of that experience. And guess what… it was never a problem afterwards. Not in Todd McFarlane´s studio, nor at the Comic Con or even the highly secured airports. But it was in the cinema in Phoenix. How funny…
Here´s another pic of downtown Phoenix at night.
Monday, 18th of July: The big day finally was there! That day I visited Todd McFarlane´s studio. I was invited to be there at 11 am, so I was. Quite a few people from the studio were right there to welcome me. Especially Carmen and Joe took very good care of me the whole day. Thank you very much again!!
Then Todd arrived and we had a first short chat, before Joe took me for an amazing studio tour. First he showed me how they´re planning and prototyping their action figures and statues. I even saw the first line of prototypes for the new Walking Dead action figures coming out soon. Cool little creapy things. Supposed to be a lot of fun!
Here are some pics from the studio.
Later on I was introduced to almost all the guys working in the studio. All of them were very nice, congratulated me to my win and explained me their field of work at the McFarlane studios. I even saw a few pages of the upcoming Spawn issue, that were still worked on. Very cool.
Then I had the chance to talk to writer Jon Goff for almost an hour. That was also an amazing experience, for he told me about how he came to work for Todd McFarlane, and I got an insight into his current project Blood Red Dragon, which was supposed to be officially introduced three days later at Comic Con.
Then we had lunch all together in the meeting room with pizza, root beer and some other stuff. There I had another chance to talk to Todd and to even show him my Counselor promo issue, which I produced especially for this occasion.
After lunch it was time for the main event of the day. I had the chance to spend about 5 hours with Todd in his office. He was in the process to do a final review over the Blood Red Dragon pages, before they went into print for Comic Con. It was very cool to just watch and listen and just experience the process, when a new comic book is made ready for release. Jon Goff and a few other members of the staff were there in the beginning, too, discussing final points, while Todd added some additional inks to the art of Blood Red Dragon.
Later on it was just Todd and me in his office, and he explained to me almost all the steps and thoughts and why he was doing what he was doing in terms of adding some more inks to the art. It was extremly interesting to learn about his working process, and I learned a lot during these few hours.
He even took almost an hour reviewing my portfolio and giving me a lot of very valuable feedback and criticism and tips for my work. To underline his thoughts, he used a few amazing examples, such as showing me pencils of Greg Capullo for the upcoming issue of Haunt or the pencils of Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, David Finch and his own for the Spawn 200 covers. It was so cool to see all this art and what Todd did with them in terms of inking.
So here´s Todd at work.
The day ended with an invitation for dinner by Joe from the studio. It was all in all one of the most amazing days of my life. Thanks to all you guys from the studio!!!
Tuesday, 19th of July: Travel day to San Diego. Not much more than sightseeing and getting accustomed to the place. During my stay in San Diego I stayed at a friends place. We shared a flat 10 years back in Germany during my time at university. Brandi was exchange student then, and we didn´t see for ten years. So one more highlight of my stay in San Diego!
Wednesday, 20th of July: The first day of Comic Con! But before I was able to collect my badge and step into the halls of the Convention Center, it was time for some more sightseeing.
The area around the San Diego Bay is really amazing. I took an extended walk and also visited a retired aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, which now functions as a museum.
Later that day I finally met my San Diego contact Ted (photo below), who was the representative of the Stan Lee Foundation. From him I finally received my badge and were able to take my firsts steps into the exhibit hall of the San Diego Comic Con!
Thursday, 21st of July: The first full day at Comic Con. After I got myself an overview on Wednesday evening, I was really able to take off on Thursday. First thing I did, was to check out the portfolio review area, to learn about the process and to sign up for portfolio reviews. I managed to get myself on the list for Dark Horse Comics, but had to wait almost til the end of the day for my slot. So I had enough time to had an extended walk through the exhibit hall.
Also Thursday was the day to receive my award from Todd McFarlane and Stan Lee! Therefore a member of Talenthouse showed up. Frederik, also German, but living in the US. He was actually the one who called me the day I won the creative invite to tell me about the good news. It was great to finally meet him.
So first thing we did, was to leave the Convention Center and walk a couple of blocks to a small event, where Stan Lee was supposed to be. I was already being introduced to Stan Lee the evening before, when he suddenly showed up in the hotel lobby, where I collected my badge. Ted introduced us, which was already very cool.
Anyway, as we finally arrived at the place, where Stan Lee was supposed to be, it turned out, that it was an event where Chris Evans (Captain America) honored American soldiers for their services for their country. It was very cool, because it was a small, rather private event. Of course I took pictures
Then we finally walked over to the Hilton Hotel, right next to the Convention Center, where the Blood Red Dragon panel with Todd McFarlane, Stan Lee, Yoshiki and Jon Goff was supposed to take place. Around that event I should also receive my award.
So we were invited backstage, which alone was very cool. Then short before the panel was supposed to start, we had a small kind of ceremony there, where Todd and Stan handed me my award. Because everything was very hectic there, the whole thing lasted maybe a minute or two, but still it was so very cool. I have no pics at this point of the whole thing, but Frederik recorded it and it should be available soon on Talenthouse.com. Stay tuned! I will tell you anyway
After that I had the chance to watch a little bit of the Blood Red Dragon panel. Very cool and funny and everything. Search on Youtube for it. As far as I know, you will find most of the panel recorded there.
Rest of the day was mostly exhibit hall and portfolio review area. I had a great portfolio review with Randy Stradley (VP Publishing) from Dark Horse. First I didn´t realize, that he was also the one, who wrote the GHOST short story, from which I drew the sample pages for my portfolio. It was very cool to show him my pencils for his story. He seemed to like my stuff and gave me good feedback. He even took the Counselor promo issue and said, he wanted to show it around at Dark Horse, because “we might not do a lot superheroes, but this one looks like one, Dark Horse might publish”. So who knows. Keep fingers crossed.
Friday, 22nd of July – Sunday 24th of July: Those three days of the Comic Con were mostly around visiting panels, walking through the exhibit hall and waiting for my slots in the portfolio review area. I saw some amazing panels with people like Dave Finch, Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola, Marc Silvestri, Frank Miller or Robert Kirkman. I even saw Jim Lee and Adam Hughes draw live. Amazing, really!
Another huge highlight were the portfolio reviews, which I had. I didn´t walk home with a big job though. So for all those who thought the win of the creative invite was a kind of “free ticket” into the comic industry… It surely was not. I was able to do a lot of very cool things and meet amazing people, but it was not as if I was introduced to all the big publishers and everyone wanted to have my Counselor character. No, I had to sign up and line up for portfolio reviews like everyone else there. No fast track, no special treatment. I won´t complain anyhow, because I didn´t expect it anyhow different. I hoped, yes… but didn´t expect it. So in the end I had a few very valuable and partly great reviews, but for example Marvel and DC… I was not even able to talk to them, because of their portfolio review process, where you were supposed to hand copies of your portfolio in at their booth, and they would tell you the next day, if you were shortlisted or not. Well, I wasn´t.
Ah, almost forgot… I also saw the Captain America movie on Sunday. Now as I write this, it is still about 2.5 weeks to go in Germany until the movie hits our cinemas. But without spoiling, I can already tell, that it´s awesome. I liked it very much! Go, see it!
I will not post all the pictures from these days here, but you can find more than 160 pics from my trip anyway in my San Diego Comic Con Facebook album.
Still, a few highlights I need to show you
Monday, 25th of July: Traveling home to Germany again. It was an amazing experience. A Once in a Lifetime one. I hope I can have more of those in the future. If I wasn´t completely into this whole comic thing before… now I am
So what will last from the whole thing apart from all the great memories and the things I´ve learned? As you know, my goal was to try and get a job in the industry. As I said before, I didn´t get a big one as at Marvel, DC or Image. But I can tell you that much: Among the portfolio reviews I had there, there was one really really good one. And it seems as if The Counselor might become a professional comic after all. But that is all I can tell you right now. So stay tuned for more.
What a cliffhanger at the end, eh?