At Comic-Con San Diego, a number of events are geared toward amateur artists, filmmakers, and writers who are trying to break into the mainstream.
The annual portfolio review is one example of this. Every year comic publishers, movie and TV studios, and video game companies send their editors and recruiters to evaluate the portfolios of aspiring artists and illustrators, all of whom line up early for the opportunity to get feedback from real industry professionals. It’s always interesting to pass through this area of the convention center, just to get peek at some of the amazing drawings that the waiting reviewees are preparing to show.
The portfolio review area also happens to be a very comfortable place to sit down and catch your breath, especially on the last day of the conference, when many of the seats in waiting area are empty. The man in this drawing was waiting a couple seats away from me, thumbing through his portfolio and holding it at an angle that allowed me to steal a glimpse of his work. His sketches included Black, white, Asian and Native American superheroes of all genders, including women whose proportions were more in keeping with real-life female bodies than has been customary in comic art. I was feeling a bit too shy to ask his name, but I’d really like to see his work again.
Costume Illustrator Phillip Boutte, Jr., San Diego Comic-Con.
This is the second time I’ve had to pleasure of seeing Phillip Boutte on the annual costume illustrators panel. The costume and production designers and illustrators exemplify what’s possible when artists refuse to abandon the idea that their passion can be their life’s work.
Since completing his degree in 2006 (at Cal State University-Long Beach), Boutte has worked as costume illustrator or concept artist on more than 25 major motion pictures.
This is a drawing of Stanford Carpenter as he appeared on the Heroes/Creators panel at the Comic Arts Conference, SDCC 2013. Dr. Carpenter is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Comics Studies, a cultural anthropologist, and a comic creator.
Insights for Independent Creators was a panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2013. It was hosted by the man in this drawing, comics and screenwriter Brandon Easton. The panel included Black indie comics creators Dale Wilson, Todd Harris, Dani Dixon, Larry Welch, Andre Owens, and Robert Roach. DeWayne Copeland was the moderator. As host, Easton was witty, candid, and a little sarcastic; but he was also inspiring. Easton and his panelists emphasized the potential of new digital production technologies to diversify the range of stories being told in all forms of media. The creator of the popular independent comic Shadowlaw, Easton is the embodiment of this trend.
Starbucks, South Shore Center, Alameda, CA.
I think different cultures have their rules and mores. I’d say the mores of the black community didn’t all come natural to me–I was terrible at basketball, but I had to play because it was the official neighborhood sport. I was an awful dancer, but at a black party there is one person who will be ridiculed more than the guy who can’t dance–the guy who doesn’t dance at all. That last point is key. The thing I came to love about my community was that they didn’t expect you to be a master, but they expected you to try, to fight–sometimes literally. If you saw ten dudes banking your homeboy, you had to help–not because you were Bruce Lee, but because that was your man, and you were expected to take the fall with him. Winning wasn’t the point.
–From “John McWhorter on Black Nerds” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Atlantic Monthly, November 24, 2008)