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.
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At one point at dinner with them, I laughed so hard I though shrimp would shoot out of my nostrils.

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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.
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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.

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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.

Happy Birthday John van Hamersveld

Happy Birthday to my friend and mentor John van Hamersveld. While I have no great love for my years in Los Angeles (2000 to 2004), my time spent with John was something I will always be grateful for. In a town full of social climbers and fame addicted narcissistic idiots, John was a man of great wisdom and talent, a man who exuded a love of art and creativity.
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There are few I can credit with actually changing my thinking, but John did that, though not through argument or constant rants, but by posing questions, almost as if talking to himself, sometimes just loud enough for me to hear. His subtle engagement about the politics of the time, the war, whole horrible state of the country chipped away at my A-political stance. I hadn’t voted in over a decade, but ever since I’ve moved back to New Jersey, I never missed an election.
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I worked closely with John to restore images from his incredible career to print posters from a large format giclee printer I had in my studio in North Hollywood. He’d created some of the most iconic images of the 60’s and 70’s; album covers such as The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street”, Kiss “Hotter Than Hell”, Beach Boys “Wild Honey”, Blondie “Eat To The Beat”, posters for The Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Cream, and possibly the greatest poster of all time: The Endless Summer.
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We spent long hours together in my studio, and he told me stories about meeting the Beatles, photographing the Stones, hanging out with Dylan, and the death of Rick Griffin. But the best stories were about art, about creating images. I’d always felt schizophrenic in my desire to explore a variety of styles. But when I looked at John’s body of work, I realized it was quite healthy to go off in different directions and not repeat one’s self. I also learned to be okay with my dyslexia, John said it was our advantage to see things differently.
screen-shot-2013-09-01-at-93055-amSo thank you John, for the time we spent, for your profound influence on my thinking. And a very happy birthday.
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Here Comes The Boom! After The Storm

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A lot of people are still doing a lot of good for the people at the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. The band P.O.D came to the rescue and I was asked to do this poster for the benefit. This is my first post since running Asbury Park Comicon — I’ve had a lot on my plate since that glorious day at Convention Hall back on March 29th, 2013. I’ll have a few thoughts and some photos, but first, I had to deliver this art and a whole bunch of other things needed to be dealt with to get Asbury Park Comicon 2014 rolling.

Do It For The Sea Creatures

marine_mamals2Here at the Jersey Shore, we have so many concerned friends who care for wildlife, but the future Animal Rescue Hall of Famer (if there was such a thing) is my friend Alison Evans-Fragale. It’s not enough that her day gig is being a nurse, but in her spare time, she’s rescuing beached  seals, dolphins, and anything else that swims, crawls or flies. So when she asked me to make a poster for a fundraiser for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, I couldn’t refuse.

Who’s The Boss? Springsteen at Judie’s Birthday Bash

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A fantastic night with so many friends, great performances by Holmes, Bad Karma, and The Ribeye Brother’s ( made up mostly of former members of Monster Magnet) made it a rip roaring night of rock. And to top it off, the pride of the Garden State himself, Bruce Springsteen joined us to wish Judie a happy birthday at  the Asbury Lanes. Pay no attention to that nonsense on MTV, this is the real Jersey Shore.

A New Comic Project

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I’d hoped to have had this one ready for MoCCA Fest in April, but we changed the name and well, you know how it is. Or do you? Inspiration comes and goes. Ideas seem great, then days later they don’t. Characters take time to develope  — I found some notes for this story, and only one out of the original five names or characters survived.

Also, I’m collaborating on this with my wife, Judie this time. It’s based on a concept she had many years ago. It made us laugh back then and we began noticing things and phrases that would go into here story. A few years ago, I was looking for an animated project to work on, so I started conceptualizing her story ( some of it was posted here about two years ago). A lot of it is based on our days in New Brunswick , NJ where we met.

So here’s the cover. One things for certain — this is a lot easier than those damned Rat Bastard pages. Well, not easier, just simpler. After all, none of this is actually easy.

The New Brunswick Of My Memories

The Internet conflicts with my memories, insofar as I’m now able to take a virtual walk through the city of New Brunswick, thanks to the innovative folks at Google. But the New Brunswick I left in September of 2000, is to some extent gone. Many of the stores, bars,eateries, buildings, people and culture have disappeared. Many parts of town are unrecognizable, due to expansion of the hospital and related medical facilities. At some point, the city seems cut in half, with nothing but bland, clean offices and parking decks, separating one neighborhood from another. One thing on the Google Street View that matches my memory is New Brunswick always seemed overcast.

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For me, in the 90’s, New Brunswick was the “funnest” place on Earth. It had great quirky record, comics and video shops, every possible kind of food, clubs, bars, and an amazingly talented and thriving underground music scene. Had New Brunswick been anywhere else in America other than 45 minutes west of NYC, it would’ve gotten as much attention as Seattle. I used to call New Brunswick “the town where the parents went away for the weekend and never came home.” We were free to do whatever we wanted, for as long as we could stand it. Continue reading “The New Brunswick Of My Memories”