Mission Accomplished

The spouse unit and I managed (barely) to get the child shuffled off to the grandparents house and get ourselves on the road to Asheville just in time to make the start of the cartoonists conference. It was fantastic! (Note the UPDATE  by John Sheppard at the end of this post.) James “Doodle” Lyle served as head ringmaster for “Mad About Asheville”. John Sheppard of “Incoming” was my host.  Julie Negron of “Jenny Spouse” was also there so I got to meet her too (she’s a member of SEC & NCS! … its a cartoonist thing). In fact, here’s a pic my wife took of myself, John, and Julie at the conference.

439831285_1530000538_0Yep, that’s me next to John (who is looking off into the distance in his hero pose) and the beautiful Julie on the end (whom I am not standing next too because my wonderfully beautiful wife is taking the picture.. I’m sure you understand).

What? I’m not what you expected? Sorry friends. We all grow old. You didn’t know me back when I wore ACU’s. But enough about me… John, Julie, and myself represented the military cartoonists so to speak but the real representation was of history. Jack Davis, Nick Meglin, and Duck Edwing (you have to be a cartoonist with a name like “Duck”!) were the main attractions. From the “usual gang of idiots” who pioneered MAD Magazine back when it was actually funny … these guys are legends in the industry with Jack Davis leading the pack as possibly America’s most successful cartoonist. This man is 85 years old, has two hearing aids, is himself a veteran from the Navy, and still works. They set up a projection screen in the room so that Jack could draw (he used a pen and ink with no sketch to go by) while we watched and asked questions. Jack has done hundreds of TIME covers, illustrations, books, and you name it. He’s done it. He still does all the art for the Georgia Bull Dawgs … his alma mater. The evening prior to the conference, he and some of the gang (including John and I think Julie) went over to the VA to draw for and visit with the vets there. Jack has recently been over to see our boys in Germany where he met with the soldiers as well as their families (those who can make it) to draw for them there. Mr. Davis paused during his presentation to ask every artist in the room to take out time to support our wounded warriors in any way we could. I got a little piece of dust in my eye when he addressed that subject … made it a little hard to see him with my eyes watering like that… I also got to speak to “Duck” outside the conference room. He leaves his pens and such laying about which causes him to wonder around, occasionally, to re-gather them. It was on one such occasion that he came by where I was sitting. I was eyeing one of his pens and considering weather or not I should grab it as it was nicer than my own when he snagged it up and we spoke. He gave me a gag I’m going to use in an upcoming comic. Just a one liner really. But I did appreciate that he took the time to speak to me (a total stranger). Also, while there I got to see a presentation by Michael Jantze on the topic of narrative animation. That’s the future of comics for the web, folks! Please, if you have time (and I know you do since you’re “here”) go over toJantze Studiosand click on the demo reel and animations. Lots of great stuff there that Jantze is getting critical acclaim for. And let me tell you … that acclaim is well earned. I found him to be one of the most enlightening speakers at the conference. He is very analytical and intentional in his approach to problem solving with a head for business as well. That’s a good combo. I’ve pointed Mark Baker over to Jantze in hopes that he and I can launch off of Jantze’s concept. Stay tuned. In addition to all that I’ve just written I got to feed my inner geek teenager by listening to Andy Smith of DC, Marvel, and Image comics. When I was young and still reading comics I dreamed of being a comic book artist. I also dreamed of being a rock star and dating lots of girls. You know. The things most teenage boys dream about. Well those days are long gone for me. I certainly would never consider being a comic book artist these days. Not enough money in it for me as I am not that good. BUT Andy Smith is. He brought some of his stuff and spoke about the inner workings of comic book art. Fascinating stuff. I think I picked up that he was teaching, now, in the Asheville area. He too has a good sense of the business end of the comic world so if you know any young teenagers dreaming of being comic book artists you might point them in his direction. I imagine he teaches a mean art class. There was also a silent auction we all participated in to benefit the Milt Gross Fund & Mimi Paige Foundation. Both worth causes. I bid on some stuff from “Incoming” and got it. Following the actual conference the whole gang went out to a nice dinner then came back to the hotel to do a music jam and art swap. I don’t know how that turned out as I didn’t participate. Toward the end I became tired, grumpy, and anti-social … so my wife and I said our good-byes then headed over the mountain to our little appalachian home. In hind-sight I think I should have stayed. Oh well. Maybe one of the other artists will pop on here and let me know how that part of the event turned out. I can’t imagine that it was anything other than a BLAST! There is more to say but I’m running out of time and need to get to my day job. I’ll leave you with this, I am very blessed to have been enabled to go to such an event where I could meet and see up close some of the legends of cartooning. My thanks to John for inviting me. My congratulations to Lyle for putting on such a fantastic event. And my thanks to my lovely wife for putting up with me when I geek out. Oh, and you folks of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society? YOU ROCK!! UPDATE BY SHEP:
John Sheppard incomingcartoons.com ShepArt@aol.com 24.99.34.19 The dinner was, ahem … a little on the expensive side but very good. The music jam and art swap were a lot of fun. Jantze (The Norm) and Greg Cravens (The Buckets) brought in a little brew and shared with everyone. I wound up getting an original cartoon by Jack Cassady and Julie received a Black Canary picture done by Doodle Lyle. I guess it broke up about about midnight, although I heard that the 2 editorial cartoonists and someone else stayed there until 4AM!! It was a great fall meeting and we’re looking forward to next years already! Maybe Sergio? Anyway, I’m back in the Atlanat area and will have some good stories to tell at our Thursday SECNCS group meeting.
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