Archive for September, 2009

Dragon Con, Part Two

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

As related in my last entry, Peter Beagle, the author of The Last Unicorn, had the table next to mine. In attendance at his booth was the beautiful artist Rebecca, who had painted some of Peter’s book covers. If Rebecca comes west, I’d love to use this elfin lass as a model for some of my fantasy pictures.

Peter wrote the screenplay to Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” animated feature, so we both had plenty of Ralph stories to swap.

I had breakfast one morning with the fine actor Bruce Boxleitner (from Tron). We first met at Danton Burroughs (ERB’s grandson) memorial service. We had a good time swapping show biz stories and I was able to introduce him to Terry Gilliam.

This was the first year in a long time that I wasn’t a participant in the Iron Artist competition. I was told attendance at the event had dropped severely this year. I’d like to attribute that to the lack of my presence (I had been consciously building the event over the years with surprise dramatics and costumes, etc.) but it’s more likely, I think, that people just didn’t want to get up that early (it started at 9AM this year instead of 10AM) after a long, hard partying Saturday night.

I saw my good friend Benno Rothschild, an important art collector who helps to organize a special display of art owned by southern collectors each year at Dragon*Con. Although I’d love to contribute to Benno’s exhibition (man, they show some great stuff!), I have real difficulty traveling with good-sized framed pieces of original art nowadays.

Benno and I (and a few other friends & family; “Hi!” to Dan Brereton! “Hi!” Amanda! And “Hi!” to those two sweet collectors of my work that Benno invited) usually have barbecue one night together during Dragon*Con. Before this year’s dinner, Benno took me to a great music shop, Decatur CD, where I loaded up on stuff I couldn’t find in L.A. Awesome shop! They’re on the net at www.decaturcd.com.

I’ve been in love for years with an Atlanta icon, Susie the Floozie. This red-headed temptress has a heart as big as her….well, let me just say her heart is HUGE! We’ve been friends ever since my first Dragon*Con, way back in prehistoric times. Susie is one of the kindest most loving and thoughtful people I know. She always brings The Mahar with her to my table for at least one of the show days of Dragon*Con. The Mahar is a Sudan plated lizard. He is ancient, already well beyond his 18 year life span. I think it’s because of all the loving he gets from sweet Susie.

Disney Duck man Don Rosa came by. He was forlorn because he didn’t have any hot peppers to present to me this year (Don grows lots of different kinds of these spicy devils). That’s OK; it was just nice to see and chat with Kentucky Don.

I was seated a few feet from Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner at this year’s banquet (mucho thanks to Peter and Kathleen David for my ticket). Leonard was honored with Dragon*Con’s highest award, the Julie (named after DC comic book editor and early sci-fi fanzine publisher Julius Schwartz). After a brilliant introduction by Peter David, Mr. Nimoy gave an acceptance speech that was both funny and powerfully moving.

Later that evening, Peter and Kathleen continued their tradition of hosting their themed Dragon*Con post-banquet party. This year’s was Elvis themed, with bartenders and food preparers dressed like different incarnations of The King. Always fun!

While waiting for the David party to begin, I ran into a fan of mine who is a photographer (whose card I seem to have lost. Please contact me if you read this! I’d love to get copies of your photos!). He shared his most excellent imported beers with me and them shot some pics of Yours Truly that turned out incredible. We had a great time discussing art and I happily gave him loads of tips on how to handle his career and the art biz (most of which he was smart enough to have already implemented).

Speaking of…I was part of a Dragon*Con panel entitled “The Art of Illustration.” It was moderated by bagpipe player extraordinaire, author-illustrator Janny Wurtz. What I thought would be a panel discussing art became, to my delight, a much-needed panel discussing the business of art, how to negotiate contracts and how to avoid the pitfalls of the art biz. The response from the audience was fantastic! I’m still getting positive e-mails as a result of what we discussed.

I saw my friend Lamar Waldron and we discussed the status of his trying to connect me with Gore Vidal (I want to show Mr. Vidal my story, “Filipino Massacre,” which he inspired).

So, all in all, as usual, I had a high old time at Dragon*Con. I hope to be invited again, soon, so that I can return to Atlanta and all of my friends and surrogate family there.

I haven’t really named the work accompanying this entry (other than a generic “The Vampire”). Any suggestions?StoutVampireLoRez

Dragon*Con, Part One

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Last Thursday I flew to Atlanta for Dragon*Con. I used my flight time to do the final proofreading of my new book, Dinosaur Discoveries (it’s coming out from Flesk Publications this December in both adult and kids versions).

Atlanta’s Dragon*Con takes place each Labor Day weekend and is the biggest convention in the South. It draws about 35,000 fans and takes over four major downtown hotels. It is unique amongst other large conventions in that it celebrates writers (over artists). That’s because there is still a strong literary tradition in the South, the South being one of the last places in the country where people still READ! It’s also one of the last places in the United States where people still have manners. I love it there.

Atlanta has the largest gay population of any big city in the South and, actually, one of the biggest gay populations of any American city. So, not surprisingly, beautiful and elaborate costumes are a very popular tradition at Dragon*Con.

Dragon*Con is one of the best run conventions in the country. Pat and Sherry Henry do an amazing job of making the organization of this huge show look effortless. I know that to do so requires an enormous amount of work. Their staff is absolutely first rate; friendly, cheerful, knowledgeable and great at their individual jobs.

I used to come as a guest to Dragon*Con about every three years. Then, I won a contest they have called the Iron Artist. I returned the following year to defend my crown. And then the next year…and the next. Through repeatedly winning the Iron Artist competition I happily became a Dragon*Con “regular” and met lots of people there, many of whom have become some of my closest friends.

Their guest list is always amazing. I had a nice surprise on Friday morning when I looked up from breakfast and saw director Terry Gilliam. I hadn’t seen Terry since Harvey Kurtzman had us both over for dinner in Harvey’s daughter’s SoHo loft/apartment. Terry lit up upon seeing me. We had a great chat and catch-up over breakfast (the following morning, too). It was a great way to start the show. Terry was there to promote his new movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The film stars Heath Ledger (who died during its filming), as well as Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Jude Law and Tom Waits. Depp and Law play different transformations of Ledger’s character. I’m sure it will be amazing!

And congratulations (and commiserations) to Terry’s stunning daughter Amy on becoming a full-fledged producer with this show. Just remember, Amy: although it’s hard to get into the film business, it’s even harder to get out.

My first night (Thursday) in Atlanta I happened to run into the Conrad family, my favorite Dragon*Con family. They are true art lovers and share my passion for protecting wildlife and the environment. And Rick Conrad loves dinosaurs. Best of all, though, they’re some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I always look forward to seeing them and learning of their current endeavors and passions, as well as what their kids (“kids?” — they’re all pretty much grown up now. I feel lucky to have known them since they were kids) are doing.

I usually stay at the Marriott but this year Dragon*Con booked me into the Hilton. I have to say that the service at the Hilton was first rate — truly superb. They were excellent at anticipating my needs. I’d be very happy to continue staying there at future Dragon*Cons.

One of the secret kicks I get at Dragon*Con is seeing my art everywhere….and I mean, literally, EVERYWHERE! That’s because I designed the Dragon*Con lettering and logo image. The Dragon*Con staff never fails to come up with new variations on my logo each year. I’ve even got an award that has my logo beautifully executed in mother of pearl!

Upon arriving at my regular tables in the Dealers Room I was sad to learn the artist (and my friend) Rowena wouldn’t be joining me this year but was happy to discover her table space next to me was going to be occupied by Peter Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, whom I met at this year’s Mega-Con….

More to follow…

Dragon*Con!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Sorry about the long gap between blogs. This is a short one, just to remind my fans in the South I’ll be at Dragon*Con this weekend. I’ll be bringing a small stack of Deluxe and Trade mural books to sell. The Deluxe edition is nearly sold out! Woo hoo! I’ll also try to fit some original art in my luggage, too, and hope the TSA doesn’t destroy it. My publisher promised to FedEx me a dummy of our new dinosaur book, so that I can preview it at Dragon*Con. It looks stunning. I can’t believe how chock full of new pictures it is!

OK; gotta pack. See You Soon!