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Here Comes Boston!

I look forward to seeing my East Coast friends and fans in Boston this coming weekend. This Boston Comic Con (see “Appearances” on this site for details) is the makeup show for the one that was cancelled because of the bombing.

Despite the show being cancelled I got to meet a lot of great fans that weekend (the show was cancelled as my plane was touching down at Boston’s Logan Airport). Boston really showed me its big, tough, beautiful heart.

This is going to be a great show and my only New England convention appearance this year; so, come one, come all!

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Comic-Con 2013

I was on more panels and did more signings than I usually do at Comic-Con.

I participated in the Abrams ComicArts panel promoting Legends of the Blues and other new Abrams books, then joined the Abrams ComicArts “Music and Comics” panel. They both went well, especially the music panel. On that one my editor Charlie Kochman was the emcee; David Lasky (Eisner Award winning artist for his graphic novel on the Carter family) and I had a very lively and entertaining discussion.

Speaking of the Eisners, Charlie invited me to dine at the Abrams table. The awards were wonderful. Presenters Jonathan Ross and Neil Gaiman were especially entertaining. I was very happy when the Abrams ComicArts book The Carter Family – Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky picked up an Eisner. I’d love to earn an Eisner. My work has contributed to the winning of both Eisners and Harveys, but those awards were never for me directly.

I was also included on the Robert Williams panel. Robert is one of my oldest friends, so I was happy to be asked to help celebrate his life and career. Robert got to tell a few of his great stories, including the one about his being in the middle of a gun battle between Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and the Hell’s Angels. A good time was had by all!

I did a signing just about every day at the Abrams booth. It was interesting to watch my blues book gain momentum day by day, with each day the book doing better than the previous day as word spread about my cool little volume.

The signing at Mondo of my King Kong print was phenomenal, as elaborated upon two posts ago. Wow! Thanks, Stout & Kong fans!

I believe I did about six video interviews (watch for them on YouTube!) and about three audio interviews while I was at Comic-Con.

I attended the Baby Tattoo party and enjoyed their traditional serving of late night scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns. I can’t stand American breakfasts in the morning — but for some reason I love having that kind of food at night. I had a fascinating conversation with my friends Olivia and her hubby Joel about the present state of Playboy and that magazine’s future.

My son Andy turned me on to an amazing little eatery not far from my hotel: Carnitas Snack Shack (2632 University Avenue) where I had the best carnitas tacos and the most delicious steak sandwich ever. I went back again the following evening with my Gal Friday Kris and her hubby Danny for another steak sandwich — it was that good!

I picked up a lot of new art books from my old friend (and Stout collector) Stuart Ng, as well as two great new Mark Schultz books and one grand Brom book from my publisher, Flesk Publications. After perusing those books, I am totally inspired! I also nabbed what I consider to be Gris Grimly‘s masterpiece, his new illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

My own sales (especially of books) were terrific. Surprise, surprise — Sunday turned out to be a huge sales day for books.

I saw lots of old friends throughout Comic-Con week: pros, fans and family; that always makes me happy.

I finally made it to the Dead Dog Party (I usually head back home before it begins), thrown after the convention by my long time pal Bob Chapman of Graphitti Designs. I had a great chat there on how to improve the Eisner Awards ceremony with Sergio Aragonés and Denis Kitchen. Then it was back on the road to my home in Pasadena.

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New Stout Sketchbooks Available!

I debuted two new sketchbooks at Comic-Con International this last week.

The first (pictured above) is William Stout 50 Convention Sketches Volume 19. I can scarcely believe I’ve produced that many in the series! I’ll have to do something very special for Volume 20.

But Volume 19 is special on its own. It includes new drawings and rarely seen images from the Stout archives. Subject matter includes barbarians, ERB characters, dinosaurs, comic art, animation designs, blues portraits, and the first two drawings for my ten plate Peter Pan portfolio.

Limited to 950 copies, each signed and numbered by Yours Truly, this baby is ready for Priority shipping. Like the others, it’s just $15 plus shipping.

The second book (cover shown above) is William Stout Monsters Sketchbook Volume 4.

This Monster Kid Hall of Famer has lovingly crafted another thrilling volume with favorite monsters from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Once again, I’ve included a section of my own designs for page and screen in the back of the book. That section displays a couple of my early designs for Hunter (you’d know this successful movie by its final release name: Predator).

Limited to 950 copies, each signed and numbered (don’t hesitate; Volumes 1 and 2 are sold out); Priority shipping. Also just $15 (plus shipping).

You can order both books from the William Stout Bazaar on this site. Shipping is just six bucks per order, no matter how many books you buy. What a deal!

I hand-colored the original cover art for each book and thought you would like to see the two pieces in their color versions. Here they are:

They’re for sale, BTW. Each piece is framed. The 50 Convention Sketches cover sells for $6000 (plus shipping); the Monsters cover is priced at $6500 (plus shipping). Contact me if you’re interested; time payments available.

More about Comic-Con tomorrow!

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Comic-Con International is over — Whew!

I’d like to discuss what happened this last week in a couple of parts. Here’s Part One; it all concerns King Kong.

If you’ve been following this Journal/blog, you’ll recall I was commissioned by Mondo Tees to design and illustrate a new poster for the 1933 King Kong. They make high quality silk screen prints on very luxurious heavy paper of new imagery for old classic films.

The print debuted at the convention on Thursday at 2:00 PM, when I began signing them.

As I was signing, my Gal Friday Kris asked me, “Have you seen the line?”

“What line?”

“The line for your prints.”

I looked up and there was this huge line that seemingly materialized out of nowhere. Mondo had sent out a Twitter blast to their followers on the floor and it did the trick. They were selling faster than I could sign them.

Now that the print has gone public, I can return to showing you the process of its creation. I’m going to repeat my first entries on this for those who missed it, then continue on.

Recently, I received a commission from Mondo, an Austin, Texas-based company ( For those of you out there who are not familiar with Mondo, they came up with a great idea. Mondo commissions their favorite contemporary artists to create new movie posters for old, classic films (and some popular current ones, as well). For example, Drew Struzan painted a new poster for the 1931 Frankenstein.

The posters are serigraphs (limited edition silkscreen prints). As this non-Twitter guy understands it, you have to be on Twitter to be able to purchase a Mondo poster at the time of release. The moment the poster goes on sale, a Twitter blast is sent out to all of the Mondo followers. Typically, their print run sells out in about ten minutes. The prints have an extremely healthy secondary market; many folks buy multiples as investments.

I was commissioned to create a new poster for my favorite movie of all time (and the first movie I ever saw): King Kong.

I thought you might like to follow the process of creating this poster from beginning to end.

Posted above are the thumbnail sketches I drew in my sketchbook, trying to come up with an idea and a design. I chose one of them and began to sketch it up full size (slightly larger than its final printed size of 36″ x 24″). Here’s that beginning (3H and HB pencils on extra heavyweight cold press illustration board):

Here, I’m developing the pencils. I refine them with my 3H pencil (a 3H gives me a fairly hard, light line), getting a little darker as needed. If I need to go even darker, I switch to my HB pencil. Note that in the previous drawing I had made Kong‘s right leg too short, so I’ve lengthened it here (In studying Kong, I’ve found that he has very short legs in proportion to his massive body).

Seeing that I had inadvertently chosen one of the most difficult angles of which to draw Kong’s head, my pal, fellow artist and regular Journal contributor Rick Catizone just sent me a series of freeze-frame head shots of Kong taken from his DVD.

I had already done something similar. I began my first sketches of Kong’s head using a little cast I’ve got of Mighty Joe Young‘s head. That was OK for the rough, but I soon discovered many differences between Kong and Joe. I got out my Kong blu-ray (I don’t recommend the blu-ray version of King Kong, BTW; it looks like the first half of the film was shot in a sandstorm. Two things blu-ray does not do well: mist and smoke. It granulates both. For this same reason, the Island of Lost Souls blu-ray looks awful compared to the laser disc version) and went through it, shot-by-shot, looking for head poses similar to my drawing, then corrected my drawing accordingly. Now that I’ve got Rick’s pics, I’ll compare them to my drawing and see if anything needs adjusting (knowing, too, that the features of Kong’s head change throughout the movie depending upon which figure Willis O’Brien was using in each shot. Then, there’s that giant head they constructed which bears little resemblance to the stop motion figures’ heads).

I’m comfortable with obscuring part of “KING”, as “KONG” is so associated with “KING KONG” that I think any of my potential audience will get the “KING” part because they’ll see the associated “KONG” and put two and two together. It’s all part of my making my audience a participant in the picture. Plus, I wanted to have the K, N and G of “KING” and “KONG” directly on top of each other. The problem with that is the funky spacing (there’s too much room around the “I” compared with the tiny spacing between the other letters) of the “I” in “KING”. I solved this problem by overlapping the Tyrannosaurus rex head over most of the “I”, giving the viewer something interesting to look at while obscuring the “I” (as I pointed out, also making the viewer a participant, as the viewer has to figure out that’s an “I”). My theory is that if you have a big T. rex head to look at, you won’t mind the odd spacing.

Also note that I tipped the “KING” back in perspective to lead the viewer’s eyes into the picture. I have also designed the picture so that the main composition of the Kong/T.rex tableau is triangular. Then, I set it against a big “U” design (the negative space behind Kong). The triangular design psychologically suggests stability and triumph. The “U” leaves a psychological impression of sadness or depression with the bottom of the “U” graphically pushing down. The overall effect, psychologically, of this triangular shape placed on top of a “U” is Triumph over Adversity.

So, here it is all inked. A famous director told me that if I colored it, he would purchase it.

So I hand colored it with watercolor and Prismacolor pencils:

After I finished inking the piece, I noticed something about the T. Rex —- his head seemed too small. So, I fixed its black and white version in PhotoShop

…and then colored it in PhotoShop (see image at top of this entry).

The hand-colored version sold six hours before the opening of the show (I didn’t sell it to the film director) — I hadn’t even put it up on my booth wall yet. The silk screen prints sold like hotcakes, too.


Next: More Convention Tales!

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Comic Con International

Bill entertains a few friends...

Comic Con International, the biggest comics convention in the world, is nearly here! I’ll be setting up today.

I’ll have all kinds of cool new stuff on display and for sale (like my blues book, Legends of the Blues, of course, and my two new sketchbooks: Monsters Sketchbook – Volume Four and William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 19). Be sure to come by my big double booth (in the same spot as usual; in your guide or program book I’m either listed under “W” for William Stout, Inc. or “S” for Stout. Ya never know.).

Here’s my outside-my-booth signing and panel schedule:
Thursday, July 18
10:00 – 11:00 AM – Flesk Publications Panel (32 AB)
11:00 – Abrams booth (1216) signing
2:00 – 3:00 PM – Mondo debut and signing of my King Kong poster serigraph
4:30 – 5:30 PM – Abrams ComicArts panel (Room 4)
8:00 PM – Famous Monsters/Frazetta party/celebration

Friday, July 19
2:00 – 3:00 PM – Abrams Music & Comics panel (32 AB)
3:30 PM – Abrams booth (1216) signing

Saturday, July 20
2:00 PM – Abrams booth (1216) signing
7:00 – 8:00 PM – Life & Times of Robert Williams panel

I look forward to seeing all of you, old friends and new!