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Friday, August 5, 2022

Funky Dinner

In my roundup of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I mentioned that one of the highlights was having dinner with Funky Winkerbean cartoonist Tom Batiuk and his lovely wife. I first became acquainted with Tom around 2014 or ‘15 at the San Diego Comic-Con, where I discovered he was aware of my work and enjoyed the series. In fact, that morphed into a commission to produce a faux-comic book cover featuring characters he had created as a budding kid cartoonist that appeared in the February 14, 2016 Funky Winkerbean Sunday strip, fulfilling a lifelong dream to be a newspaper cartoonist (albeit in a one-off)! Shots of that commissioned piece are included in the attached photos.

Prior to this year’s Comic-Con, Tom reached out to me and said he had been invited as a special guest to this year’s show and asked if I’d be up for having dinner one night. He came by my table the first day of the show and we confirmed it for that evening. We ended up taking a cab up to Little Italy where we had a lovely dinner. We talked shop, about the strip business (and contracts!), old comics, the comic book industry, family, and much more. It was truly an evening I’ll remember with great fondness (regrettably, my wife couldn’t join us since there was a panel she wanted to attend). Tom has a real love of comic books as well as comic strips, having initially looked for work at Marvel and DC when he was starting out—in fact, he has commissioned a number of comic book artists (with far more greater name recognition than me!) to do similar kinds of work in his strip. Tom has always been generous in telling me that he loved the piece I did for him, as I had clearly understood what he was aiming for and that I then ran with it; he kindly mentioned that again during dinner!

When we met, I was able to tell Tom I grew up reading Funky Winkerbean in my local newspaper in New York City, the Staten Island Advance. I lost touch with it when my family moved to California since it was not carried in any of my local newspapers in California. For those who are not familiar, it's a gag strip launched in 1973 centered on the students and teachers of a high school. (By the way, Comic-Con recognized Tom’s work with an Inkpot in 1999.)

Shortly after hearing from Tom before Comic-Con, I decided to re-visit the strip and discovered that it is currently being collected in its entirety by the university press of Tom’s alma mater, Kent State. I picked up the first volume and, upon learning that the strip decades later had “time jumped” several years so that Tom could age the characters and tackle new kinds of stories, I picked up a later volume as well (as a surprise, Tom kindly also sent me another volume!). I have greatly enjoyed the strips and am still in awe of the skill to come up with fresh gags every day and the "world building" needed to keep them coming! Tom, of course, succeeds in doing so by tapping into the memories most people share of their high school years, particularly the awkwardness of trying to fit in.

Anyway, our get-together made this year’s San Diego Comic-Con especially memorable and fun.




Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Comic-Con Returns!

Click here to go straight to the photogallery.

I debuted a new table cover at the show!!

After a two year absence, the San Diego Comic-Con returned on July 21–24—and thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi, catch up, shoot the breeze and/or purchase comics. This was my best Comic-Con ever—and I don’t mean just the bottom line (which was true, even not counting the original art I sold), but in all other ways as well. I’m not sure whether the show was back in full force since it didn’t *quite* feel as frenzied and packed as in past years, but the venue and outside still felt plenty crowded. I make that observation with the usual caveat that I usually experience Comic-Con in a bubble, meaning that during exhibition hours, I'm behind my table for 95 percent of the time. That said, when I took a stroll down the marina promenade immediately behind the convention center after hours on Friday, there were huge crowds camped out so that they could get into the infamous Hall H the following day.

Speaking of bubbles, kudos to the convention organizers for requiring everyone to be fully masked and show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to attend. With people visiting from around the country and the world, they did the smart and responsible thing—especially since I consider mask wearing to be only a minor inconvenience. I’d done the Comic-Con Special Edition show in November (which served as a dry run of sorts for this show) and already have been going to restaurants, concerts and plays masked, so I don’t consider such policies onerous at all. Plenty of cosplayers often found clever ways to integrate the mask into their costumes. 

I don’t know if it was an anomaly, but I have started to notice during recent events and signings an increased interest in my trade paperbacks and more openness to new material. I’m not sure whether this is the result of pent up demand due to COVID or the result of my efforts to better promote myself, but I even ended up selling out of one of my trades—and this was after enlisting a friend who was coming down Saturday to swing by my home on Friday and bring more trades with him, as I reported at the time on Facebook. That was after realizing I was down to only a couple of those books on Friday.

Connections
As I mentioned, I enjoyed connecting and speaking with lots of folks. It’s nice to see that my work still can catch the fancy of people as they walk by and bring them over to learn more about it. People are still attracted to the “old school” classic vibe and clean lines. I'm always amazed that I occasionally barely have to do anything to "sell" my book before someone decides to buy an issue, a trade paperback or even more—and especially heartening, of course, when people return as repeat buyers, including those who first read my work from a previous year (or sometimes just the previous day), and purchase the rest of the series! A few examples:

A gentleman who had not been to Comic-Con for 10 years who told me I was one of two people he made a point of seeing at the show and said he needed every issue since #13 (I just released issue 23!).

A boy from Mexico about 12 or 13 years old who came over, picked up my book and said shyly and tentatively in broken English, “You’re work is GREAT!” and immediately purchased two trade paperbacks. That was the extent of our conversation.

A French gentleman from L.A. (he had settled here about 10 years ago, pictured at right), who was very excited to see me—apparently, he was disappointed that he was unable to see me at a signing earlier in the month at the Comic Bug comics store in Manhattan Beach, CA. He was not aware that I was scheduled to be at Comic-Con and stumbled across my booth by pure happenstance! We had a great conversation talking about French comics like Ric Hochet and Michel Vaillant, a car racing series, that he was thrilled to hear was a point of inspiration and reference for my next story.

I spoke at length as well with another gentlemen who bought some books about the great Jack Benny radio show (see, it’s not always about comics!).

It really struck me what a great mixture I have of both new readers and ongoing—I even had a guy come up to tell me that he had already reached his purchased budget at Comic-Con but said he wanted to come by and tell me that he had picked up several early volumes and found them “fun as hell”! He promised he’d start next year in the Small Press.

Anyway, it felt pretty busy throughout the show. It’s funny how certain things can go in waves—for example, on Sunday, within the span of a couple hours, I had several people run up to my booth to buy my “Death at Comicon” issue based on the banner at my booth and the issue’s concept. Of course, this is a perennial seller, but it was funny how I had this spike in sales on this one issue within a specific time span on one day. Just goes to show ya!

Lonnie Milsap
I also met and caught up with several fellow comics colleagues. I have to say, particularly since the pandemic, social media (particularly Facebook) has been a godsend in both meeting and keeping in touch with people during the pandemic. Though social media has its toxic side, I have found that as long as you find a community of like-minded people and stay in your lane, it is a great way to interact with people. It’s always a highlight to finally meet people you’ve only met online.

At the risk of omission, the sundry creators, industry folks and social media friends I saw and talked with included Tom Batiuk (and his lovely wife Cathy), Bobby Breed, Steve Bryant, Barry Gregory, Jenni Gregory, Jackie Estrada, Enrica Jang (my booth neighbor this year and in 2019!), Benton Jew and his SO, Deeana Iselgrud, Tom Mason, Scott McCloud, Lonnie Milsap (who I’ve known for years but only just discovered attended and worked at UCLA the same years as me!!), Bill Morrison, Rik Offenberger, Don Nguyen, David Olbrich, Joe Pi, and Christie Shinn. There were a few I hoped to see but missed—it was difficult to get away to visit the floor, particularly with Artist’s Alley on the complete opposite side of the hall.

Original Art

I’ve sold pieces of original art over the years, but on Preview Night, I had three people express interest in three different pieces! One minor hiccup occurred, however, when one of the buyers, a gentleman from Spain who discovered my work a few years ago, came by to purchase the piece he originally earmarked. Before we finalized the sale, he thumbed through my portfolio and stopped at a piece someone else said he was considering purchasing. 

Noting that he had not seen it before, now he couldn’t decide on which piece to purchase. I mentioned to him how someone else was thinking of buying it—he sweetly indicated that he’d be willing to have me ask the other person if they were still interested, but I told him I didn’t want to keep him from getting the piece if he was ready now. I half-joked how difficult it used to be part with my original art (it really isn’t anymore)—he promised he’d give the art a good home and take good care of it lol! I posted about the sale on social media—and about 5 minutes later, the other person commented that he knew he should have purchased it lol. (I know the other person and knew he’d understand—he was indeed very generous in congratulating the other person.)

Comic-Con After Hours

I’ve never been a schmoozer or one for after hours parties—aside from my innate shyness, I also need to be on the floor the next morning relatively early to set up for the day’s show, so dinner is usually with my immediately family and buddies.

This year, however, I had the fortune to have Thursday dinner with Funky Winkerbean cartoonist Tom Batiuk and his wife, Cathy (more on that in a future post). Tom was a special guest at the show. On Sunday, I had a post-Comic-Con dinner before departing for L.A. with longtime industry friend Barry Gregory of Gallant Comics. We go way back to the 1990s, when he—along with his wife Jenni and my now-wife—were invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Montreal for a signing! We’ve been friends many years—indeed, I asked Barry to serve as my moderator/”wing man” during my Spotlight panel at Comic-Con in 2018 (where I was a featured guest and received the Inkpot Award). Barry is also my printer via Ka-Blam.

In my report about last November’s Special Edition Comic-Con, I mentioned that my wife and I had our first dinner together during the show in nearly two decades. This is due in large part to my late hours at the show and my wife handling the kids. With the kids older now (in fact, my daughter could not make it), we were able to have a grown up dinner together twice—once at a seafood place and another at a somewhat upscale Russian restaurant that I’ve actually eaten at about three times before!

After dinner with my wife on Friday evening, after she returned to our room, I decided to stroll down the promenade on the marina side of the convention center, from my hotel on the north side of the venue to the Hilton on the far south side—my purpose was to pop in on the Eisner Awards, where I arrived in time to witness, among others, Larry Hama, Howard Chaykin, and Alex Nino get inducted in to the Eisner Hall of Fame. Nino was on hand to receive the award in person and spoke emotionally about growing up in the provinces in the Philippines and of the many Filipino artists who paved the way for him, like Nestor Redondo.  I also saw them announce the nominees of the Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which included the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, where I had done a signing earlier in the month!

Anyway, it was a fun time and energizing as always—not even that flat tire I experienced on the way home dampened my enjoyment and memories!

Links to some key posts on Facebook during the show:

Click here to go straight to the photogallery.
















Andrew Pepoy




Dave Olbrich and Jackie Estrada



Saturday, July 16, 2022

See You at Comic-Con!

The show's now not far off! Come by and visit me at Booth K1/Small Press, where I'll have the newest issue of Rob Hanes Adventures (#23), button pins, a new bookmark, back issues, trade paperbacks, and more. 

Below are promotional graphics, including maps of where to find me, and other promotional images of friends who'll be there. See the full press release.


Floor detail:





Small Press Detail:


Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS) Promotional Image:


CAPS Exhibitors List

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Signing at Comic Bug, Manhattan Beach

Though I'll be shifting gears now to focus on the San Diego Comic-Con that starts next week, before I do so I want to say I had a great time today the Comic Bug's Manhattan Beach, CA store. The staff (Eddie, Anthony and Gerald) were great company and were fantastic hopes.

The store's customers were terrific—though they obviously already are comics readers, I nevertheless was appreciative and impressed over how open and receptive they were to checking out a new comic book series and, in many cases, giving it a try. (I also met customers who were already familiar with my work). I wish it was always this easy! I enjoyed meeting and chatting with everyone who stopped by to chat and were willing to suffer through my pitch lol. I truly had an enjoyable time!

It's been years since I've done a signing and I hope to do more in times to come...especially after such a positive experience.











Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Rob Hanes Adventures Returns to San Diego Comic-Con

Look for WCG Comics and the Long Running Indie Series in the Small Press Area


For Immediate Release

Following a two-year pandemic hiatus, San Diego Comic-Con returns in a big way July 21–24 and WCG Comics publisher and writer-artist Randy Reynaldo will exhibit to help celebrate! The Comic-Con Inkpot Award recipient will be at Booth K-1 in the Small Press, debuting issue 23 of his long-running indie action-adventure comic-book series, Rob Hanes Adventures, along with his full catalog of back issues and trade paperback collections.

Rob Hanes Adventures has been a presence at the show since the introduction of the Small Press area in 1994 and remains one of the longest running indie series. Begun as a zine in 1991, the series re-launched in 2000 as a full-size comic book. In addition to the 23 issues to date, four trade paperback collections have been released. In 2018, Reynaldo was a featured guest at Comic-Con and honored with an Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comic Arts.

During the two-year hiatus, Reynaldo has released new issues and participated in the interim Comic-Con’s@Home shows and Comic-Con “Special Edition” held over last year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Other recent and upcoming coverage of the series includes a comprehensive two-hour interview that looks back at the series and Reynaldo’s career on the “Blockhead: Cartoonists Talk Comics” podcast by Geoff Grogan; and an upcoming appearance by Reynaldo as the featured guest at an online meeting of the Comic Arts Workshop. hosted by Ramon Gil, scheduled for July 28.

In the latest issue, Rob is hired by a beautiful heiress and her husband to provide security on a cargo ship and encounters a band of modern day pirates on the high seas who are led by a notorious international crime lord and alluring female privateer. Preview art from the issue is available here and below.

About the Series

Rob Hanes Adventures is an action-adventure series about a globetrotting private eye and troubleshooter from Justice International who travels the world on assignment, facing adventure, intrigue and romance at every turn. Over the years, in addition to traditional high adventure, the series has embracedLook for WCG Comics and the Long Running Indie Series in the Small Press Area other genres like sports and romance stories, often with humor. Every story is self-contained, making it easy for readers to jump in with any issue.

Inspired by classic adventure comic strips like Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates and Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer but set in the modern day—with dashes of light-hearted humor reminiscent of Will Eisner's Spirit—readers and fans have praised Rob Hanes Adventures for capturing the spirit of the classic adventure strip and updating it for the modern day. The late R.C. Harvey lauded the series as “one of the industry’s quietest treasures.”

For more information, visit the WCG Comics website. Randy can also be found on social media on Twitter (@randywcgcomics), Instagram (@randywcg) and Facebook (facebook.com/rhadventures).

See below and here for additional photos from this issue.