Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking back at 2013, and ahead....

A few more days and we're off to a whole new year!

That means another year's worth of experiences, new challenges to undertake, new goals to conquer....

For me specifically, it means continuing to pursue new opportunities for teaching my comics classes, as well as pursuing further venues in which to explore my art.

It's going to mean more comics, too. In the end, I like creating in various mediums, and I do mean to pursue more painting and gallery shows. But really, I want to continue in creating new comics, and further my skills in telling stories. Entertaining stories with strong visual identity, but also honing in on what makes storytelling in comics so appealing to me as an artist.

A large part of this past year involved putting a lot of work into organizing three comic conventions! In the end, the events were all worthwhile endeavors, but there's no way I want to spend 2014 as involved in organizing events on that scale. In between all the heavy lifting of putting on these shows, I managed to squeeze in various comics works and drawing assignments. Those moments seemed liked finding a heavenly oasis while marching through a large landscape of unending tasks.

As a co-founder and Creative Director of the Latino Comics Expo, we put on two shows this year. One in June at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, and another in Long Beach at the Museum of Latin American Art.

In between those two shows, I managed to work on the San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Expo, in my capacity as a Director of the Nuvein Foundation.

I've been on the Board of the Nuvein Foundation for some years now, and was the instigator of our first Comic Book Expo a few years ago. This past Summer though I informed my friends at Nuvein that I'd be retiring from the Board following the latest SGV Comics Expo so I could focus more on getting back to creating artwork and pushing to take the Latino Comics Expo to further heights.

One of the biggest projects I was working on in between all the conventions (and that includes the ones I appeared at that I wasn't involved with as an organizer) was putting together my first trade-paperback collection, the LOS COMEX CODEX. An anthology of 5 of my comics that are now officially 'out-of-print'.

Another anthology I published recently was COMICS!, a full-color collection featuring my 12 one-page Poster Comics. Three of those comics were actually created this year, the others dating back from December 2011.

I contributed a cover to a recent issue of DITKOMANIA, the zine devoted to the career of comic book legend Steve Ditko.

Wearing my writer hat, I also contributed to HEY KIDS, COMICS!, an anthology featuring essays by a variety of creative professionals about their early childhood memories of comics.

I did a pinup for THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE HUMAN FLY, as well as doing the production design for the book. As a childhood fan of the Fly, it was a real joy to have worked on this book.

Another project that gave me a tremendous amount of pride to be associated with was LATINOS AND NARRATIVE MEDIA, a new scholarly work by Frederick Aldama. I was asked to write the forward to the book, which led to me also providing the cover. And it turns out that I'm also one of the subjects of the book, in an essay entitled 'Javier Hernandez's El Muerto as an Allegory of Chicano Identity'. No one was more surprised than I to find out about that!

I even managed to squeeze in a pinup for new friend of mine, Nathaniel Osollo. He asked me to contribute to an online edition of a new story of his series DARK MOUSE (which you can read here).
In light of my earlier lamentation of being too involved with organizing events this year, as I wrote this post it dawned on me that perhaps there was plenty of time to produce new work! Well, let's suppose 2014 will see even more work, because my plan is to focus on putting one one Latino Comics Expo next year, so that can only lead to more hours available for creating.

In between all of these events and publications, my comics workshops and classes kept me gainfully employed. It's always a rewarding experience working with new groups of students and seeing them create their own works. I also kept busy with numerous signings and appearances at other comics conventions and art events, so it really is a non-stop lifestyle, this 'art' thing.

Creatively, whether producing a convention or creating new artwork, the important thing for me is to leave a mark. Express myself in various ways to connect to people, to share ideas, to celebrate the imagination. Met lots of people, solidified some new friendships, made partnerships with other like-minded folks and organizations.... Basically just lived the life I had this year.

Just last month I debuted the first of a new series of comics I've entitled '4 Pagers'. Literally 4 page comic shorts. The inaugural one, DAWN OF THE DINOSAURIO, can be read here. The next one due in January features a trio of characters who've been living in various sketchooks of mine over the last several years. A superhero team operating in the 1970s.

Appropriately, the era in which I grew up in and fueled my imagination from so many sources (comics, television, music, toys, movies, etc) will provide me with my first story in the New Year. The past keeps me in the present, the future began so many years ago.....