Sunday, July 31, 2011

Potter Reaches a Billion

Harry Potter  joined Toy Story 3 on the other side of the billion dollar mark this weekend. Congrats, you guys!

1 day...

Friday, July 29, 2011


Today's sketch was co-drawn by the amazing Emma Coats. She started the sketch with the bucking horse, and I added the vermin.

If you have any Cowboys and Aliens designs, let me know and I'll post them below! As always, everyone is invited to participate. If you don't have anything this week, you're welcome to contribute to our next Character Design Challenge on August 12th. The subject will be:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Long Con

Part II of II: Tricksters and Conmen

I approach Comic Con like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, working each Con to improve the experience and learn from my prior mistakes. Here's the Top 10 lessons I learned this year at the big show.

1. Swag bags can be a drag. "But Austin," you're saying to yourself, "I don't want to have to lug my favorite prop from the movie Se7en around Con all day long!"

Sure, you'll need the over-sized parcel for prints, posters, and toys, so wear it for the first day while you hunt down all your favorite collectibles. After that, ditch the son'bitch for a backpack.

2. Tag your swag. Comic Con vet Aaron Hartline knows the importance of protecting one's well-earned goodies.

3. Make friends with heroes and villains alike. You never know which side will win, and it's good to be connected.

4. Avoid Hall H. Why contend with these lines when you could be socializing with aforementioned beauties? Besides, that Tintin panel will be on Youtube before you know it!

5. Roll with a minor celebrity. My friend Sam did his first panel this year for the Regular Show, and walking the floor with him was a real treat. We must have been stopped half a dozen times for an autograph and it was a wonderful reminder of what Con is about: making some extra scratch by charging for your John Hancock.

6. Know your nerdery. You may be the BSG guru where you come from, but here you're just another fish in the pond. I was nearly decapitated when I accidentally called Teela "She-Ra".

As a side-note, it's pretty much never a good idea to call a girl the wrong name.

7. Think outside the Con. Aside from the wonderful eats around San Diego (ask a veteran Con goer for their recommendations), there's the brand new Trickster event.

Mild-mannered comic shop/art gallery/film festival by day, booze-infused rock concert by night! Trickster makes an excellent break from your Con day and the perfect start to your Con evening.

8. BYOB. Bring our own book, that is. If you follow this blog, odds are you're an artist of some sort. Since you're already drawing, why not compile those sketches into a book and hawk it at the Con? Even my "I am Captain America" cover finally got some love from my new friend, Marie!

If you don't feel like going through the trouble of printing books (or can't afford the process), you can always contribute a sketch to the Comic Con souvenir book. One of this year's themes was Dark Horse's 25th Anniversary. Being a long-time fan of Star Wars, Hellboy, and (of course) Too Much Coffee Man, I decided to raise my glass to the industry titan.

9. Shake hands and rub elbows. It's easy to get caught up in the rush to the next panel or the race to nab that last Tiki Stitch vinyl figurine and forget that you are surrounded by the coolest people on the planet! I'm not just talking about the celebrities on panels, I'm talking about comic shop owners like my hometown comic mogul, Brian Peets from the world's greatest comic store, A-1 Comics; astounding artists like the legendary Doug TenNapel; and up-and-comers like Cassia Harries and Mishi McCaig.

You can also finally meet those amazing artists whose blogs you follow. I was stoked to run into Ryan Green and Fawn, along with old-time CalArts compadre Lissa Treiman, at Trickster.

And don't be afraid to stop someone for a picture! I had a great conversation with Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta about the Cowboys and Aliens screening he'd just attended. He didn't sound very excited, but there are cowboys and aliens in the film, and they fight, so I'm seeing it anyway!

10. Earn the right to go home. For some, that means hunting down that rare Mysterio Kid Robot exclusive, for others it's all about taking home a coveted Eisner award or winning best-costume. For me, it meant finding every Waldo in the joint! Achievement unlocked.

10b. (only for folks driving North after Con) Hit Disneyland on the way back home! What better way to end your Comic Con with a visit to the other happiest place on Earth? For my brother, my Dad, and I, that meant leaving Disneyland at midnight for a six hour drive back to the bay area, but I got to ride the new Star Tours and eat at the Blue Bayou, so I'm not complaining!

Heck, you might run into someone from Con! I happened to run into the CSSSA students (see my last post)!  I guess that's why they call it the magic kingdom.

I hope this unnecessarily extensive look back at my Con/Trickster experience helps you plan out next year. There are also legitimate survival guides for the real hardcore Con-goers. When all else fails, remember the golden rule: if you lose your group, don't text, just yell, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!"

4 days...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Long Con

Part I of II: Stars, Stripes, and Animators
It's been a whirlwind week of nerdery! Rather than dump all my Comic Con pictures on you in one mega post, I thought I'd break things up into Con and pre-Con shenanigans. It all started Tuesday with the red carpet premiere of Captain America.

Marvel talent manager George Beliard (who gave me my "I am Captain America" cover job) was kind enough to invite Ronnie, Bill, Bobby, and myself to the event. Ronnie and Bill were the first Marvel/Pixar synergy artists, contributing Iron Man covers last year, and Bobby and I had Captain America covers released this month.

Ironically, I had to ask Superman for directions to will call.

The event was a sea of stars and stripes, and these stars travel in style.

The next morning, it was on to the California State Summer School of the Arts with Erik Benson and Emma Coats to teach high schoolers a little something about animation. Erik, Emma and I all share the same CSSSA to CalArts to Pixar path, so we can  definitely appreciate someone like Martha Baxton (below), who has been working to guide young animators into the industry since the Eisner era!

Another stalwart member of the CalArts staff is the cafeteria guy. Ten years since I first strolled through the lunch line and this guy is still working the kitchen! And I still don't trust his taco bar...

Being back at my alma mater to teach exactly a decade after being a CSSSA  student myself was trippy  because I was hit with two flavors of flashback. Like a scoop of CSSSA on a CalArts cone. It's especially weird when artifacts of my CalArts tenure are sprinkled throughout the department, like Pat McHale's poster for our Senior year Producer's Show.

I can't wait to see what comes of this new generation. After personally critiquing all of their sketchbooks, it looks to me like the future of the animation industry is in good hands!

After CSSSA, it was onto San Diego for the main event! But before rampaging into the convention center, I paid a quick visit to my grandparents in Vista to show them the Captain America cover I was bringing to the Con. My grandpa, a fellow artist, was more than happy to accept a copy!

My grandma's casserole was as tasty as ever, though I'm not sure she's as interested in comic art as grandpa.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's instalment of the Long Con where Cap and I will invade Hall H (because we know the H stands for Hydra).

Monday, July 18, 2011

I am Captain America

Several months ago, Marvel invited me and fellow Pixarian Bobby Rubio to contribute art to a series of variant covers called I am Captain America. The series depicts Cap as ordinary citizens of all walks of life, reflecting the hero in all of us. My assignment was the "little league Cap", which was just fine by me because it doesn't get much more American than Baseball. The issue is a variant cover of New Mutants #27, which is on shelves now!

The variant's a bit rare (1 in 25 of New Mutants #27 will be the I am Captain America variant), so you may want to call your local comic store ahead of time to make sure they're packing the heat. Here's a look at the progression from sketchbook to final cover:

Below is an alternate concept I pitched to Marvel's talent relations manager, George Beliard (Cap as the coach, rather than a player), and an alternate pose, with a bit more of an aggressive stance.

This being my first professional comics job, I was curious to see how my friends would react. So I decided to film their responses in a series I call Comic Reactions.

My friends Jay and Tim are usually more into games than comics, but I think they really dug my cover!

Sometimes one's art can only be appreciated by fellow artists.

Being a professional comic artist means you're a VIP wherever you go.

I was curious to see the response of my target audience: the chilluns.

I drove up to Sacramento to visit my hometown comic shop, A-1 Comics, with my dad. A bit of a trek just for a comic, but I think you'll agree that my dad's reaction was worth it!

It slowly donned on me that perhaps this was a cover only a mother could love.

Can't wait to see the reactions of other professional comic artists at Comic Con and Trickster! Stay tuned!

13 days...

Friday, July 15, 2011


Carmaggedon, the most dreaded of all least in LA.

If you have any Rejected Transformers designs, let me know and I'll post them below! As always, everyone is invited to participate. If you don't have anything this week, you're welcome to contribute to our next Character Design Challenge on July 29th. The subject will be:


0 days! Deathly Hallows Part 2 Premieres!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Guest Checks

The waiters at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe (Pixar's local greasy spoon) have started a blog called Guest Checks that features nothing but receipt art. I'm a huge fan of this idea, since I like to doodle on receipts for the waiter (okay, usually for the waitress) and I always imagine the work just gets thrown away.

Here's a guest check from the animator who told me about the blog, Aaron Hartline:

And another by friend and fellow Dandy, Everett Downing:

Now if only someone would create a blog for coasters and napkins...

4 days...

Friday, July 08, 2011

Austin Translation Sketchbook

That's right, this blog is becoming a book! Just in case you wanted to pay for what you're doing for free right now. These are the proofs hot off the presses from Edition One Books, who printed my friend Dani's book, Round Robin. I'll be doing a limited run of 200 copies, available exclusively at Trickster.

For those of you who haven't heard about it, Trickster is an art gallery and retail space specializing in creator-owned wares including small run and limited edition books, fine art prints, toys, clothing, etc. 

As you can see, Trickster is located directly across the street from Comic Con at the SD Wine and Culinary Center, and will be open late into the night after the Con has closed. So you can finally have a drink with that Leia in the gold bikini that you lost in the Hall H crowd.

Other Trickster exclusives include the official Trickster compendium (cover by the incomparable Mike Mignola):

The book features art from professional animators, comic artists, and illustrators, all contributing their take on the "trickster" theme. I examined the hoax-trickster in my piece, "The Boy Who Cried Nessy".

Finally, making it's debut at Trickster will be the loooong-awaited Afterworks 3 (cover by the astounding Lou Romano).

Which will feature my short story, Terrordactyl:

Afterworks 3 will be hitting comic stores everywhere in August, but the Trickster and Austin Translation books will be limited run Trickster event exclusives, so make sure to swing by San Diego and pick up your copy!

I'll be there Friday and Saturday, but Trickster is open Tuesday July 19th to Sunday July 24th. So stop by and say howdy!

Addendum Saturday July 9th, 2011:

My friend Jeff posted this on facebook, and I just had to share.

Todd insisted on sharing a booth, and who am I to say no to the creator of Spawn?