With Wondercon having moved to Anaheim, the Big Wow convention in San Jose has become the yearly watering hole for comic geeks and cosplayers all throughout California’s Bay Area, and I love it. The convention this year was amazing, with guests like Stan Lee, Brian Azzarello, Edward Risso, Tony Daniel, Adam Hughes, J. Scott Campbell, Humberto Ramos, Neal Adams, Thomas Jane, and many, many others. Even with all the guests and the massive turnout of attendees, this convention still held the atmosphere of home-town comics show, which was refreshing for me after a year at Emerald City ComicCon, Wondercon Anaheim, and Comic-Con San Diego. As always, I scavenged the artist alley for artist to show to the readers of Bleeding Cool that I found interesting and new.
Easily my new favorite artist is Ramon Marcus Villalobos from Stockton, California. I found his booth in the back reaches of the artist alley, stashed away unceremoniously between two others, selling prints of his amazing work for only five dollars a piece, along with an brilliant original Batman piece. Ramon’s style hits a bullseye somewhere between Rapheal Grampa and Frank Quietly, with flat, precise colors which utilize minimal shading to create a very bold, graphic style that I’m positive will stamp his name in the up-and-coming list of comic artists. He’s already started getting work, having done the cover for the StocktonCon booklet this year, and having helped work on a cover for Marvel’s Strange Tales. He rumered having a comic that he’s self published, but only had one copy to show of it. The comic looked amazing, and I can’t wait for a second printing so I can own my own copy. I personally can’t get enough of this guy’s work, and you should all check him out at http://ramonvillalobos.deviantart.com/?rnrd=3628.
Action Lab entertainment is the name of a publisher that you’re all going to be hearing a lot of in the coming years. Having already been nominated for two Eisner Awards for their comic Princeless (written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by Mia Goodwin), one of the nominations being for best single issue in contention for the snow issue of Daredevil by Waid, which was hailed as one of the best comics ever written. Princeless also gained five nominations for the 2012 Glyph Awards, and received world wide recognition as being a stand-up childrens story about a princess who decides to rescue herself. Amongst their own self-created comics, they’ve secured licenses to the NFL, and a few others that I’m not allowed to talk about, but that I can assure you are just as big a deal if not more so. Action Lab Entertainment was founded in 2010 by Shawn Pryor, Dave Dwonch and Shawn Gabborin with their first book being Back in the Day (written by Dwonch, and illustrated by Logan). Within the wide range of children-friendly to adult-themed books that Action Lab Entertainment publishes, there are some of the most interesting and inspired stories that I’ve read in a long time, such as the limited series Double Jumpers, about a group of programers that accidentally change place with characters in a MMO that they’re all addicted too, and Globworld, Action Lab’s first digital-only title. Check out their whole line up at http://www.actionlabcomics.com.
Sam Garland is a recent graduate from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, having run the school’s bi-annual student collaborative comic anthology Figments for two years, and having successfully turned it into a motion comic available in Apple’s App store, a literal first-of-its-kind creation for any art school in America (Figments is free on any apple device). Now, having graduated, he’s turned his attention to working on his own projects, such as the upcoming Father Robot, a comic that is set to premier this summer at ComicCon San Diego. Sam is one of the most inspired “Robot Artists” that I’ve seen out on the market, adding his own style and creativity to his characters, which distinctively stand out in a sea of transformer-type illustrations. If you’re at ComicCon this year, make sure to check out Sam Garland’s booth, and pick up a copy of Father Robot, or you can check out his work at http://www.samgarlandillustrations.com.