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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saying Good-bye to 2011! Hello 2012!

As the year draws to the close, thinking about the positive things in 2011....

I am:

Grateful for my friends and my family.

Happy to have had relatively good health for myself and most of those I love.

Blessed to have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a few little nice surprises or splurges here and there.

Fortunate to be working in a creative industry I love.

Fulfilled to be publishing books that I, myself, enjoy. And working with so many talented people.

Thrilled to see so many beautiful pieces of art come to life, and add to the archives of our human existence.

Anticipating new projects in both publishing and film that I can't wait to get started on!

So many things....

I remember the quiet moments, the times in nature, the hours writing, the spontaneous laughter, the songs I've danced to, more vividly than the pin pricks or outright slugs.

So, for all of us this coming year, I wish us an abundance of the good, and the joy, and the feeling of peace that is often indefinable... and of course...a Happy New Year!

Oh, and MUCH more dancing. :-)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eva Ink Publishing Schedule for 2012-- A Preview!

As we start gearing up for the New Year, LEI Publishing (aka Eva Ink Publishing, aka Little Eva Ink Publishing) is starting to put together our publishing wish list for 2012, and we do have some great things planned for you all.

As already announced, we'll be doing a new hardcover sketchbook on artist Joe Jusko, entitled "Joe Jusko: Maelstrom." A wonderful companion piece to last year's "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty."

In addition, we've just announce the new art book full of text and art on the amazing Nick Cardy, entitled "Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash!" And again, a perfect follow up to this year's "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War."

Other books include two new Michael Golden books, one hardcover "Dangerous Curves," and also a softcover preview book to debut at the San Diego Comic Con. "Dangerous Curves" will be a wonderful companion piece for "Michael Golden: Heroes and Villains," (which has sold out), and "Michael Golden: MORE Heroes and Villains."

On artist Mark Texeira, we are planning a 6x8 softcover sketchbook book as a companion to this year's "Mark Texeira: Nightmares and Daydreams."To be followed by another hardcover later in the year.

Note that we do not ever duplicate artwork. Each book will contain artwork not found in any other Eva Ink volume.

So much to publish! But for us at LEI, the joy of putting out hardcover and softcover books, signed editions and the sketch editions that we have become known for, is something we take great pride in bringing to you.

So, stay tuned. We have other surprises up our sleeves for 2012... All of which, I really WANT to tell you about, because I know you'll be as equally as excited as I am--on top of what we've already announced...

But all in good time.

Happy New Year Everyone!


R. Witterstaetter
Eva Ink Publishing

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing You All, a Nice SLOW Holiday Season

I'm always amazed at how smells trigger memories…

Honeysuckles makes me remember playing with a gaggle of puppies in my backyard when I was 5, Patchouli reminds me of the fragrance that my friend puts in his clothes drawer permeating everything he wears, Roses make me remember a certain perfume I use to buy my Mom, baking bread reminds me of snowy days in Connecticut. The smell of hot chocolate reminds me of my Grandmother.

In the midst of spending and wrapping and unwrapping and eating, it's the little things I think about most during the holidays… putting together a gingerbread house (it's never perfect), making cut out cookies with my nephew and niece's kids (assuming I can keep them from eating all the dough), drinking hot chocolate.

That last one, of course, doesn't have to be relegated just to the holidays. But it was something that WAS relegated to "treat" status in my youth. Something to have when we were sick. Or something to have when we were spending the night with Maw Maw.

Spending the night with Maw Maw, usually with my cousin Lisa, or our cousin Kevin if he was in town, was always an adventure-- packing a bag with pajamas and toothbrush and setting out to someplace other than our own house for the WHOLE night! A place with handmade quilts and pillows filled with feathers. And of course, after that came breakfast! One of the things we always looked forward to was breakfast in what seemed like then… and probably was… a large, and disorganized, country kitchen.

In my mind, the layout is very vivid, and despite the fact that the house was later sold, and Maw Maw is now many years gone, this version of a perhaps glamorized room still lives on in my mind: On the left, there was a pantry that led into the backyard. A little bit of a scary room with cabinets sporting metal handles, dusty jars labeled with peeling tags and an actual breadbox--the contents of which I never explored. It was the room that company usually didn't see, ya know, thus the lack of decor. I was told that Maw Maw would ring the necks of her own chickens in the backyard... (or did she use a hatchet ?), and pluck the feathers in the pantry, but I never saw this event.

The backyard--someplace we oddly never ventured--was pretty sparse, which is hard to imagine, since later on in her life, Maw Maw was an avid gardener, and her future yards were never complete without a literal field of tulips. I guess she was too busy running her cleaning business back then--Maw Maw was quiet the entrepreneur,and a good businesswoman. But still, she was not too busy to still make her own lye soap (I remember that smell too). And not too busy to have her granddaughters over to spend the night.

The center room of the kitchen boasted the sink, sometimes full of soaking cucumbers on their way to becoming pickles, or something on it's way to being canned. It was serviced by well water-- and always tasted so strange to me! And even now, if I have well water it takes me back to that moment in time. The old stove was opposite the sink, and in-between was the door on the right that led into the family dinning room.

I loved that room with it's gargantuan table reserved for adults and the print of "The Last Supper" hanging on the wall that my Dad gave to his bride's Mother on the day they married--the room where the whole family would gather on Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter… you didn't dare go anywhere but Maw Maw's. And it harked back to the time when that was the norm and things were not as splintered as they are now…

And while it has taken on a rather Norman Rockwell patina in my mind, I can still hear the mingling of voices, filed away in brain-- Daddy, Aunt Sandra, Uncle Kenneth, Uncle Arthur, Aunt Lana, Aunt Aba, my brothers, my cousins and I… and other relatives, some of which, exist now only in that vague audio record that will die with me, I suppose, since it is only how I remember it…

My favorite part of the kitchen, accented in white and red, was by far the breakfast nook. It was a cozy little area off to the left of the kitchen door, walled in on three sides, and decorated with plates of various sizes and patterns, consisting of a table and the three-sided square of benches taking up the whole nook. Such a safe little place for a child, in an otherwise big house.

That's where Lisa and I would have breakfast, waking to the smell of frying eggs, thick cut bacon (the only kind Maw Maw liked), toast… and our favorite: Hot Chocolate.

Maw Maw was a coffee drinker (I wasn't yet of course), and I vividly recall the way she drank it… pouring it into a saucer to cool it down, and drinking directly from that saucer. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else do it that way… but I'm sure it is probably something she saw her parents do. Just like eating cornbread in buttermilk.

As for us, we certainly didn't feel deprived. Maw Maw made the best Hot Chocolate and Cocoa. And I'm not talking about the instant ,pre-packaged stuff. Maw Maw made it from scratch. And there is nothing that tastes better than that when it is made with real milk.

Funny something so small sticks in your mind.

But I'm convinced, it's not only the list of ingredients in a mug, that makes such moments so memorable. It's the process, the slowing down… the ritual of such things.

I can't imagine how different those mornings would be in my mind if, for example, Maw Maw had quickly made instant cocoa, and then piled us into the car to go to McDonald's for breakfast instead.

I don't remember even having a McDonald's then… thank goodness… so, we sat in the breakfast nook instead. She cooked the eggs and bacon and sawmill gravy from scratch, she slowly stirred the milk for the chocolate so it wouldn't burn, Lisa and I sat in our nook, while Maw Maw asked us about our lives, told us stories about when she was a kid, and, honestly, probably nosed around a little bit to see what we knew that she might not about other goings on in the family.

But she sat with us for that leisurely time, didn't she, despite that she had a business to run, in that little breakfast nook surrounded by decorative plates and her salt and pepper collection, and she sipped her coffee out of a burgundy rimmed, porcelain, flowered saucer with a little chip somewhere on the side from years of use… and we drank our chocolate, sometimes out of hand painted Santa Claus cups, depending on the time of year.

Every once in a while she'd laugh and say "Well, Renee!" or "Well, Lisa!" feigning surprise over something we'd said, drawing out the vowels of our names, just a little for affect.

Time is a gift.

But one that we rush through much like a roll of paper towels. We always think there is going to be more. We don't use each piece of it to it's fullest. As I get older, I find that I like more and more slowing things down when I can. Taking the train instead of flying...

Finding time to TAKE the time.

I'm not sure when the "FAST became better trend" started. Maybe it's when the economy , at first slowly, started to require families in America to work one, two, three jobs, when we were encouraged to go into debt to "have," when "fast" somehow became perceived as "better." I don't know, but the "fast" has overtaken us stealthily over the last forty years.

My Mom has a collection of cookbooks from the 70's for example with titles like: "Microwave Cooking," "Meals in Minutes," "Microwave Miracles: The Short Order," not that she ever uses these-- they were required gifts in that era as surely as bell-bottoms and fondue pots--but they are also part of a time-capsule, a sign of the times when this prepackaged need for "quick" was gathering steam, I think.

It is a paradox in the extreme that the very inventions that purport to save us time, really cost us time instead.

So what to do?

It's not hard to halt the wheel. Just start by thinking of one thing we've gotten into the habit of doing the fast way, and do it the slow way one time instead.

Bake cookies from scratch; Put together your own peanut butter and jelly sandwich (it's surprisingly easy); Slice the cheese yourself and open a pack of Saltines instead of getting pre-cut, prepackaged, highly expensive snack packs; Read a book instead of waiting for the movie; Cook something in the oven instead of the microwave… and yes, make the hot chocolate the old fashioned way, stirring it slowly on the stove while you talk to…someone.

Now, don't get me wrong! I'm not saying I always practice what I preach. But I can guarantee you that the times that I have, are much more memorable than the times I haven't.

The Beef Stroganoff I've made from scratch for my friend, sticks in his mind much more than the other times I was rushed and made Hamburger Helper. My walks across New York, more memorable than taking the subway. And I've never remembered one single thing I've made in the microwave (except those eggs that exploded that time).

So…my wish for you this Holiday Season is that it should go extremely SLOW. That you perhaps smell the aromas of green bean casserole, Mincemeat and sweet potato pie (or whatever you love), made from scratch, like I smell cooking now in my Mom's kitchen as she prepares Christmas dinner…

That nothing is rushed… that one moment isn't quickly tossed aside in anticipation of the next.

In short, I wish you all, a cup of nice sllooowww....Hot Chocolate.

Old Fashiioned Hot Chocolate

Makes about 4

4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
4 tablespoons semisweet chocolate -- shaved or chopped

Put all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place pan over a medium flame; bring milk to a simmer, stirring constantly. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat when the chocolate melts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Michael Golden Originals for Sale via Eva Ink Artist Group

Artist Michael Golden is known as one of the best storytellers in the Comic Book industry, with his cover work and interiors in high demand. As such, Michael Golden was tapped by Todd McFarlane to pencil and breakdown the interiors of the top selling "Spawn #200," featuring some of Golden's first interior storytelling in many years.

Because Michael did not ink the interiors, this collection of original art serves as the only record of Michael's interior pencils and storytelling for the Issue of "Spawn #200," which also marked a spike in the series sells by 278 percent.

Michael's interiors for this issue will be sold as a set, and because of the rarity of these pages, we will not be able to send out jpegs of the complete issue because of the collectibility of this work. A few sample pages are above.

As far as the Issue 200 Breakdowns are concerned, there are a total of seventeen (17), 8.5 X 11 pages. Ten (10) are four story pages per sheet of paper; most are complete/tight breakdowns, some are roughs or double-page spreads. The other seven (7) are a single story page per sheet of paper, with some of the panels being full pencil renderings.

Today, they comprise all of Michael's work on Issue #200 of Spawn.

Again, these breakdowns are extremely rare, since of course this is the only original art that exists for this milestone issue.

This is only a small portion of the Golden originals we have for sale.

For more information, contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com


Friday, December 9, 2011

"Joe Jusko: Maelstrom" Available for Ordering-- New Sketchbook in a series from Eva Ink Publising!

Hey Everyone-- The much anticipated second Joe Jusko Sketchbook from Eva Ink Publishing is in the current/upcoming Diamond Catalogue, and is available for ordering either via Diamond or via Eva Ink Publishing (www.evainkartistgroup.com)

"Joe Jusko: Maelstrom" is a lush 48 page, full color book, and showcases works by Jusko not featured in any other sketchbook or artbook! A great follow up to last year's book "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty."

Jusko is undoubtedly one of the best known Fantasy, Pin-Up and Comic Artists in the world today. His career has spanned over 30 years, starting with the sale of his very first cover for Heavy Metal Magazine in 1977 at the age of 17. Since graduating that year from NYC's High School of Art & Design, Joe has worked for almost every major comic book publisher, producing hundreds of images for both covers and interiors.

His work has appeared on paperback book covers, calendars, posters, t-shirts, toy packaging and innumerable trading cards, most memorably the multi award winning 1992 Marvel Masterpieces Trading Cards. The popularity of that set has been credited with initiating the painted trading card boom of the 1990's, and led to his groundbreaking 1995 Art of Edgar Rice Burroughs trading cards. Those 125 paintings have made him the most prolific Burroughs artist ever, producing art based on almost every major book by the famed author. He is currently the cover artist for the "John Carter of Mars" series.

In addition to his work at Marvel over the years, Joe has produced art for many other companies and characters, including DC Comics, Crusade Comics, Innovation Comics, Harris Comics, Wildstorm Comics, Top Cow Productions and Byron Preiss Visuals, to name just a few. He has produced storyboards for ad agencies and advertising campaigns for such notable clients as the World Wrestling Federation, where he designed the art for the 1991-1992 Royal Rumbles and Wrestlemania VII.

His recent work includes monthly painted covers for Dynamite Comics' adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' WARLORD OF MARS, covers for VAMPIRELLA and a 4 issue WOLVERINE/HERCULES minis series as well as numerous independent publishers. His 2005 fully painted graphic novel based on Lara Croft, the heroine from the Tomb Raider video game series, won a Certificate of Merit from the prestigious Society of Illustrators, into which he was inducted in 2007. His hardcover "Art of Joe Jusko" book was released by Desperado Publishing in May, 2009 to rave reviews, and "Savage Beauty" his first in a series of hardcover sketchbooks from EvaInk Productions was released as of November 2010. He's currently developing a graphic storytelling property with Steve Niles' (author of "30 Days of Night").

His work has earned him myriad awards and honors, including two "Favorite Painter" Wizard Fan Awards, multiple trading card awards, a Golden Lion Award from the Burroughs Bibliophiles (previous recipients include Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo) and a Chesley Award nomination for best cover in 2001.

Joe's original paintings are held in collections worldwide, a fact that never ceases to amaze and humble him.

This new sketchbook on this prolific painter, "Joe Jusko: Maelstrom" is available in two editions:

Signed Edition: $39.99


Sketch Edition: $124.99



The print run is limited to 1,000 copies.

Contact us at: evaink@aol.com for more details. Payments are accepted via paypal or via credit card when ordering directly from Eva Ink.

For more information, feel free to drop us a line. And if you don't own "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty" yet, ask about acquiring both books, and receive a 10% discount via the Eva Ink store.


Renee Witterstaetter




Thursday, December 8, 2011

EVA INK PUBLISHING Books! Make Great Stocking Stuffers (and much better than a lump of coal!)

Hey Everyone! I know a book may be a bit big to put in a stocking, but that special comic lover or art aficionado on your Christmas or Chanukah list will love one of our art books from Eva Ink Publishing anyway!

Why spend all that time fishin', when you already know what they like? :-)

Now, while supplies last throughout 2012, Eva Ink Publishing will be offering all of our retrospectives and sketchbooks on ebay at a special prices.

We're talking about:

"Michael Golden: MORE Heroes and Villains"
"Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty"
"Mark Texeira: Nightmares and Daydreams,"
"The Naked Fat Rave Portfolio"
"The Art of Mark Texeira" Deluxe Slipcase (Published by Vanguard)
"Nick Cardy: The Artist at War"
"Steve Scott Sketches!"

And More!

All of the books will be offered continuously until they sell out like the first Michael Golden sketchbook did this last year, then I'll relist the ones that are still in stock, so be sure to add me to your favorites list.

Yeah... maybe they just deserve a lump of coal. But hey, it IS the holiday season afterall. :-) (And then they tend to have birthday's once a year too, ya know.)

So, snag one now--for someone you love...including yourself!!

Happy Holidays!

--Renee Witterstaetter

Eva Ink Publishing
Eva Ink Artist Group

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Malta Comic Con Interview with Michael Golden

Continuing our adventures at the Malta Comic Con, here is the recent interview posted on the one and only, Michael Golden!

WC: Did you always want to become a comic artist?

MG: Where I grew up, in the American West, that was not a job that even came on my radar. I grew up on a ranch, in the middle of nowhere. The nearest city was hours away. The day consisted, at an early age, of getting up with sun, doing chores, and going to bed with the sun. It was a working ranch. My first experience with comic books were TinTin comics that my mother would buy for me from time to time when we went into town. Something about that stuck in my brain, I suppose, and I drew like a lot of kids draw. Most just don't stick with it. Later as a teen, travelling around the US on my own, I made ends meet by painting murals on vans, etc. Again, I never thought in terms of being a comic book artist. It never dawned on me. Until one day some friends of mine suggested that it might be a career path for me, and offered to buy a ticket for me to go to New York. I went. And within a few days had landed my first jobs in the business.

WC: How would you describe your style?

MG: That's a hard thing to describe. If an artist is good, and doesn't just mimic some other artist that came before him, there should be something unique and un-definable about his work that makes him stand out. For me, when I first started, I was asked a lot to imitate Kirby on projects. That didn't last long-maybe a year. I didn't like trying to "do" someone else's style. I feel that over the years, I've developed something uniquely my own that is identifiable as mine. And I'm still evolving. Be still and get stagnant. And by the way, I don't really consider myself an artist so much as I do a storyteller.

WC: Over the year's you've worked on various characters and have drawn countless comic book covers ranging from Spawn, Nightwing, Micronauts, Spiderman, Iron Man and Hulk. Which characters or series did you enjoy working on the most and why?

MG: I'm asked that a lot, but honestly I have no favourites. If the check didn't bounce, I liked the job. We work in a commercial art industry and that is what hangs up a lot of artists in the industry. They forget that they are working for clients, who have specific needs, and want things delivered a certain way. This is not about the artist's ego. It's about doing THE JOB.

WC: Apart from being a comic artist, you are also a writer and have been involved in editing and art direction with the big Publishing houses. How do these jobs differ and do you have any particular preference?

MG: They differ a great deal. As an editor at DC Comics and Senior Art Director at Marvel, I found that I was not involved in the creative process as much as I would like to have been. If given free reign, I would done both of those jobs differently. That being said, it did give me the opportunity to sit on the other side of the desk and learn that end of the business. Never say never. I might do it again.

WC: You have also been involved with a number of movie productions. What can you tell us about this experience?

MG: Once again, this is a job, albeit a different job than drawing a comic book. You are still working with a story and a client and the specific needs of that client. Just a different medium. I really prefer working on my own ideas and on animation projects, on which I have more a say and freedom. And I hope to be doing more of that in the future. I have also just heard recently that the project I co-created with writer Larry Hama, Bucky O'Hare, will be made into an animated feature soon.

WC: You've worked on countless of comic covers, do you normally have complete freedom with regards to the content and how challenging is it?

MG: Yes. I am fortunate that I am considered one of those creators in the industry who is also a designer. Most editors know that if they give me the assignment, I'm going to give them a layout and finished cover that has a certain level of professionalism. One thing I don't like is for an editor to say "Okay, give me an iconic cover," and that's it. I do like covers to be story specific. To me, the cover should draw in the reader. Make them want to pick up that comic and buy it. You have a lot of competition on the shelves. You must present the face on the product and make it great.

WC: One of your closest collaborators is Renee Witterstaetter the brains behind Eva Ink. What can you tell us about your past and future collaborations?

MG: Renee has been my editor on numerous projects at Marvel, Topps Comics and beyond. I know I can trust her judgement in putting together a story and in her ability as an editor. She also recognizes good talent, obviously (laughs). We have co-created many properties together, including the comic series "Spartan X," and future projects through Eva Ink Publishing. Www.evainkartistgroup.com

WC: You are currently involved in a series of 1-2 days story telling workshops. Can you tell us more on this? How important are these and similar workshops for aspiring comic creators?

MG: I have been giving the one hour course at numerous conventions around the world this past year or so, including stops in Gijon, Spain, China and all stops in the US. The longer classes are in development. These classes are designed for anyone interested in storyteller. Period. No matter if it is for comics, movies, animation, games...the rules of storytelling are the same.

WC: This is going to be your first appearance at the Malta Comic Convention. When did you hear about this, and what attracted you to it?

MG: I am a great lover of history, especially military history, and Malta of course has a history that rivals any place else in the world, being in such a strategic position, and coveted by all sides. I'm talking the Knights of St. John to World War II and everything else before, after and in between. So, I have known of Malta my whole life. On the convention, I did not hear about it until last year, when Renee attended the show and she told me what an amazing place and event she'd just experienced. I also saw her pictures, and when the opportunity came to attend this year, we couldn't pass it up.

WC: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

MG: Oh sure. My own creator owned properties are currently in development. I am also working on a few projects for IDW and DC Comics. And I am the regular cover artist on "Spawn" right now as well, among much more. I have a new sketchbook out entitled "MORE Heroes and Villains," which will be available at the convention, as well as prints and other books.

WC: Would you like to add anything else?

MG: Thanks for the invite. And if any of you are interested, you can join my facebook page, and also join the Eva Ink Artist Group page. Just google it, and you will find it, and thus receive all the news and updates you'll ever need.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Malta Comic Con Interview with Renee Witterstaetter

Back with my friends at the Malta Comic Con! The Original Post appears here:




WC: You're not just a creator. You're also a publisher, editor, writer, agent and producer! For someone who is as ambitious as you, what do you think, are the characteristics needed to break and work into such an industry?

Renee: I think blind luck. Luck has a lot to do with any endeavour. But I know I'm over simplifying things when I say that. You do need luck. But you also need to believe in yourself and being willing to move forward with some sort of blind faith. I don't know if you are familiar with the Tarot Deck. I've studied many for the art. And the "Fool" card most often than not shows a blindfolded man, stepping off the edge of a cliff. You may think that the card is a bad omen, but it's not. What it really represents is stepping forward with that "blind faith." I never once think to myself that something is impossible. I come up with an idea, and my first thought is "Okay, how can I make this happen." When I'm at the top of my game and true to myself, often times, it does happen. It's not a skill. It's something in all of us. I guess if I'm saying anything is that the main skill you need is to condition yourself to take chances and practice being unafraid. When a door opens, walk through it. You don't know what will happen. But guess what, if you "don't," then "nothing will."

WC: Some feel the comic industry is male-dominated but when it comes to noticeable females in the industry your name stands out. How hard was it to establish yourself in the industry?

RW: That's a good question, and of course the industry is much different now in so many ways than when I started, and there are so many more opportunities. Frankly, when I landed my first job at DC Comics around 1987, there were not many women in the field, as you say. But I think one of the things that helped me the most was that I was completely oblivious to that fact. Didn't event think about it. I grew up a tomboy, did more fishing than dancing, learned to shoot a gun when I was 10, etc. etc. so stepping into a "man's world," or being intimidated by that was not something that even crossed my mind as a concern. I found out what the job was, and said "Hey, I can do that."

My background in college was journalism, and my first job after college was doing the public relations and guest relations for a convention called The Dallas Fantasy Faire. From there, a door opened to that job at DC Comics, then Marvel, then Topps, then to film production, to being an artist agent and publisher. That's what I mean by watching for the doors. One thing leads to another.

And I also found that my journalistic background aided me as a comic book editor, and conversely, the stints as a comic book editor aided me in my film production career. The tasks of organizing story elements were very much the same.

WC: You've worked as a colourist on hundreds of comics featuring classic characters such as Captain America and Superman. Do you still like colouring? Would you consider doing it again?

RW: I love colouring, although I sort of just fell into it. When I was an assistant editor at Marvel, the pay was pretty low for having to live in New York City. Around 18K, and all the assistants on staff were encouraged to do freelance. I got a set of Dr. Martin's dyes and started colouring away. My friend, Spidey editor Jim Salicrup threw a lot of work my way, and I also wrote a lot of letter columns for $50 a shot for editors like Bobbie Chase. At that time, I think my friend Marie Javins and I were called to colour a lot of stories, some overnight. I remember many nights when I'd work at the office 9-5, then go home and colour from 5pm to 7 am before going to work again. You did what you had to do.

We coloured by hand. Now colouring is done digitally. I have not started digitally colouring. I've just been too busy with my writing, editing, publishing, producing, etc.

I did however, colour my recent children's book, "Kerry and the Scary Things." It's meant to have a crayon like look, so hand colouring worked well with that. I'll have some of these for sale at the convention. I first started colouring it while in Malta last year in fact.

WC: As a story boarder you've worked on famous movies such as Rush Hour II and Drunken Master II. What is it that made you venture into such an aspect of the entertainment industry?

RW: I wasn't a story boarder. I've worked production on numerous movies, commercials and music videos such as "Rush Hour 2," "Red Dragon," "To Ease the Lose," and music videos for Madonna, Seal, Usher, etc. My various jobs have included Inventory Coordinator, Production Assistant, First Team, Production Coordinator... whatever the job called for at any given time. Working on a crew, it's funny, it's like a little living entity, and teaming ant colony that comes together for 3 to 6 months, working for a common goal, and then disperses when it's over. If you are part of a good colony, you really feel a sense of sadness when a production is over.

WC: You're an avid Blogger and Facebook user. Do you think that social media communication is an asset for someone like yourself? Why?

RW: Sure! I have reconnected with so many friends via facebook. And I find that I use it a great deal for my press releases and business announcements. Being a blogger, I get to post about my work of course, but also about events or issues that are important to me. You have to monitor yourself. You can't be on it all the time and let it take over your life. I see people doing that, and I don't want to be one of them. Everything in moderation, right? But if used correctly it is a valuable tool. It's a great way to get the word out and express yourself as well. And also a great way for clients to contact me about convention appearances for both myself and the artists I work with. (hint). My public page is under "Eva Renee Witterstaetter," and our company page is "Eva Ink Artist Group." For those who want to follow my blog, it's at Blogspot under "WitterstaetterWrites." I had a column in a lot of the comics I edited called "Witterstaetter's Witticisms," but since I'm not always that witty, I decided to change the name for the blog. (laughs)

WC: You've recently made a new breakthrough in your life by writing a children's book; 'Kerry and the Scary Things'. What prompted you to work on such a project?

RW: I have three new children's books in the pipeline now! On "Kerry and the Scary Things," the original story and concept was created years ago, with character designs by artist Keith Wilson. The idea of a little boy that loved monsters and puts together a monster fighting back pack in case he ever finds any... was a story we've wanted to tell for a long time. We were lucky enough to make it happen last year. I plan to write more. In fact, "Kerry and the Dreadful Dragon," which was also plotted all those years ago, is now in development.

WC: Your company 'Eva Ink' has various branches and must keep you very busy throughout the year. What is your biggest satisfaction related to 'Eva Ink'?

RW: Doing projects I love, such as my recent book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War." This is a story of one man's journey through World War 2 as told through sketches he did while in the war. Very powerful. It meant a lot to me to get this book out for Nick. I'll also have this book at the Malta show.

So, to answer your question, what I love about having my own company is working on whatever project I want to. Nobody can say, "Eh, nobody wants to read a comic on dinosaurs," as someone actually did when I pitched the idea of buying the Jurassic Park rights many years ago, before another smart company, Topps under the leadership of Jim Salicrup, did indeed buy the rights. (I moved to Topps and was an editor there later on those books!)

WC: One of your closest friends and collaborators is creator Michael Golden. What can you tell us about your past and future collaborations?

RW: Michael is amazing. A true genius in the comics field and in any creative field. He is an amazing storyteller, designer, artist, you name it. And a nice guy. We co-created the comic series "Spartan X" together and are working on some joint stories and book right now for this next year. I have nothing admiration for Michael's creative abilities. Which is obvious since when I was at Marvel and Topps, I hired him for any projects as he could possibly do.

WC: This is the second time you're attending the Malta Comic Convention. What attracted you to this convention? What makes it different to the other conventions you visit throughout the year?

RW: The first time I attended, last year, I wanted to come because I'd never been there before. I like seeing new places. I also love ancient sites, and Malta has sites that are 5,000 BC. That's truly amazing. So in addition to just meeting new fans and having new experiences, seeing Malta itself was a big factor. Now, for my second trip, what made me want to come back was just the warmth and generosity of the people that I met last year, who really made me feel at home. I'm glad to have the opportunity to take part in the event again and see it grow.

WC: What projects do you have in the pipeline and what can you tell us about them?

RW: So many.... a new Joe Jusko sketchbook to follow up his book from last year, "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty," a new Mark Texeira sketchbook, a new Michael Golden sketchbook, a new Nick Cardy book, new children's books, some limited edition giclees, and also two new additions to the DVD series on creators to go with the ones already done on Golden, Jusko, Bill Sienkiewcz, Matt Wagner and George Perez. I'll also be promoting Michael's intellectual projects for animation etc.

WC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

RW: Thanks so much for the great questions. And again, look for me on facebook and follow my blog. That's the best way to keep updated on Eva Ink Artist Group and Eva Ink Publishing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nothing Says It Like a Parody! --Huffor, Ramos, Triano come to bat

I love a good parody! I guess that's why I had such fun when I was the editor of "What The?!" at Marvel Comics for all those years. Sadly, we never were able to tackle any political issues very much or anything too controversial for that matter. But hey, we had a blast.

Other sources are not hobbled in that way. Be sure to check out www.The-Gutters.com, as they explore issues in our industry, including the Digital revolution, storylines and even points when comics overlap politics.

Below are a few choice pieces arranged via Eva Ink Artist Group (www.evainkartistgroup.com), featuring some of our talented guys.

Here we feature pencils and inks by artists: Matt Triano, Wes Huffor and Rodney Ramos.

Gosh, they make me wish I was still editing a humor anthology! Good job guys.

And, I believe, if you want to order prints of any of these pieces, they can be found on their website as well.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Everything IS Bigger in Texas! Wizard Austin Starts This Weekend-- Golden Art Class on Saturday!

Austin-- Yeah, we already know everything is bigger in Texas, and this weekend's Wizard World Austin show is no exception, featuring some spectacular guests including the amazing talents of Michael Golden, Mark Texeira and Rodney Ramos.

As an added bonus, in conjunction with Wizard, writer and artist Michael Golden will also be conducting his exclusive class "Storytelling with Michael Golden," on Saturday at 11. Don't miss this chance to hear how to incorporate the basics of a great story into your work, no matter if that work is in the fields of animation, comics or film. The basics are the name.

Mr. Golden is renowned for his storytelling, and is the co-creator of Rogue, Bucky O'Hare, Spartan X and much more, as well as serving as an editor at DC Comics and Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics. You've got questions about stories? Ask him here.

Fine Art Illustrator Mark Texeira will also be appearing at Wizard Austin, for his first time. Bringing with him a selection of prints, books and original art. Mark will also being sketching at the convention, as well as signing his comics. Be sure to ask about his watercolor originals a well.

Known for his stunning work on Ghost Rider, MoonKnight, Black Panther, Wolverine and much more, don't' miss this opportunity to meet Mark in person.

Artist and inker Rodney Ramos has recently been added to the convention! Rodney has been a professional comic book artist for over 15 years. He has Penciled and inked work for Marvel , DC Comics, Marvel UK, Valiant , Acclaim and various other companies. He has worked on such titles as "Batman," "Green Lantern," "Wonder Woman, "52 , "Countdown," "X-men," "Spiderman," "Ironman" and the Critically acclaimed "Transmetropolitan."

Rodney will have many originals for sale at the show, and will also be signing and doing commissions.

Along with these talented artists, writer Renee Witterstaetter of Eva Ink Artist Group will have copies of her newest books "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," "Kerry and the Scary Things," "Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira," and "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty," as well as the comic book series she co-created with Michael Golden, "Spartan X," available for signing.

With other guests such as Keith Wilson, Kerry Gammill,Arthur Suydam, Greg Horn, Tommy Castillo, Wes Huffor, George Perez…. at the convention, it hardly seems like three days is BIG enough, Texas or not! So don't miss a minute!

For more information on the show, visit: www.wizardworld.com

For more information on the artists above contact: www.evainkartistgroup.com

(Above: Featured works by Renee Witterstaetter, "Transmetropolitan" cover in a issue featuring Rodney Ramos, Mark Texeira Sketchbook Cover, Michael Golden photo and Nomad cover line-art.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rick Steves Tips for Bargaining in European Markets-- Can be Applied at Home!

Hi Ya'll!

I personally love Rick Steves comments on traveling abroad and often reference his books on places to see and things to do in any given city, with the focus of getting more bang for your buck.

One of the things I love to do is visit flea markets and thrift shops around the world and bartering for that unique piece as a souvenir. I like doing that better than buying something that says "Paris," and it's made in "Taiwan." (I'll go to Taiwan too someday, I hope, and when I do, I won't be looking for something that says "Made in Timbuktu.")

And I've found some amazing things, from a leather jacket for $10 in Amsterdam, to another leather jacket in Belgium for $20, to a Stieff, rare, stuffed elephant on the banks of the Seine for $20.

Let me explain the plethora of leather jackets. I seem to have this habit of misreading the weather, and ending up places sans proper attire. I guess because I have so much to pack, the jacket is the last thing I think of? I don't know.... :-) But never fear. It's also an excuse to head to the nearest bargain hunters street and find something neat to take home. And...

It's just fun! I'd do it anyway!

Reading over Rick's comments, it also struck me that you can apply these same techniques to flea markets, garage sales, and antique fairs here at home in the US as well.

I'm lucky enough to live in NYC, and I have my pick of amazing places to frequent.

But I'm sure you do too. Check your local listings, find the Canton Flea Market of your region, and give it a whirl.

Why not?!

And then...Let me know about your great finds!

Happy Bargaining!


(Above, on the beach in Gijon, Spain, with one of the leather jacket finds from the Amsterdam flea market.)

"Top Tips for Bargaining at Europe's Markets"
by Rick Steves

At Europe's lively open-air markets and bazaars, bargaining for merchandise is the accepted and expected method of setting a price. Whether you are looking for door knockers or hand-knitted sweaters, seize the chance to bargain like a native. It's the only way to find a compromise between the wishful thinking of the seller and the souvenir lust of the tourist.

Bargaining can be fun if you learn how to haggle. Among many good markets to practice your skills are Amsterdam's Waterlooplein, London's Portobello Market, Paris' Puces St. Ouen, Madrid's El Rastro, and Tangier's Souk. Caution: Pickpockets enjoy flea markets as much as you do—wear your money belt.

When browsing, first determine if bargaining is appropriate. It's bad shopping etiquette to "make an offer" for a tweed hat in a London department store. It's foolish not to at a Greek outdoor market. In Venice, walk away from knock-off goods; the sellers and even the buyers are subject to fines.

To learn if a price is fixed, show some interest in an item, but say, "It's just too much money." You've put the merchant in a position to make the first offer. If he comes down even two percent, there's nothing sacred about the price tag. Haggle away.

Snoop around and find out what locals pay. Prices can vary drastically among vendors at the same flea market. If prices aren't posted, assume there's a double price standard: one for locals and one for you. I remember thinking I did well in Madrid's flea market, until I learned my Spanish friend bought the same shirt for 30 percent less.

To avoid a bad case of buyer's remorse, decide what an item is worth to you before beginning to haggle. Many tourists think that if they can cut a price by 50 percent they are doing great. So the merchant quadruples his prices, and the tourist happily pays double the fair value. The best way to deal with crazy price tags is to ignore them. In determining the item's value to you, consider the hassles involved in packing it or shipping it home. (If a merchant ships an item home for you, remember to have a picture taken of yourself with the item and merchant; it will help you get the item replaced in case it arrives in pieces.)

When you're interested in an item, look indifferent. As soon as the merchant perceives the "I gotta have that!" in you, you'll never get the best price. He assumes Americans have the money to buy what they really want. Your job is to determine the merchant's lowest price. Many merchants will settle for a small profit rather than lose the sale entirely. Promise yourself that no matter how exciting the price becomes, you won't buy. Work the cost down to rock bottom, and then walk away. That last price the vendor hollers out as you turn the corner is likely the best price you'll get.

Work as a team with your spouse or a friend. While you bargain, your companion can act the part of naysayer, threatening to squash the deal entirely. This trick can work to bring the price down faster.

Study ahead, especially if you want to buy something more substantial like a leather coat or a big-ticket item like a Turkish carpet. Istanbul has very good leather coats for a fraction of the US cost. Before my trip I talked to some leather-coat sellers and was much better prepared to confidently pick out a good coat in Istanbul's bazaar.

Obey the rules. Don't hurry. Bargaining is rarely rushed. Show you are serious by taking the time to talk with the shopkeeper. Dealing directly with the owner can lower the price (no sales commission).

If you are truly ready to buy, show the merchant your money. Physically hold out the amount you are offering to pay for whatever you are bickering over. The seller will be tempted to just grab your money and say, "OK."

Prices can drop at the end of the day, when merchants are starting to pack up. Swoop in at closing time to snap up the real deals.

If the price is too much, move on. Never worry about having taken too much of the merchant's time. Vendors are experts at making the tourist feel guilty for not buying. It's all part of the game. Most merchants, by local standards, are financially well-off.

It's true that you might find the same souvenirs in a large department store, with a firm price. But where's the fun in that? Store shopping can be quicker and easier—but it's never as memorable.

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

Here's the original link to the Steves article: http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/how-to-bargain-at-europe-markets.html?id=9385331&source=91&value=2011-10-24+00%3A00%3A00&u=F443465D01&nl_cs=9121187%3A%3A7597281%3A%3A9385331%3A%3A

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here's the Scoop: Edelman Photo Makes Front Page News

One of my old Marvel Editorial cohorts, Daryl Edelman, just had one of his photos used as a sign of the times. This one may go down in history, Daryl. A picture does say a thousand words... and more. Classic!

WonderCon Taps Michael Golden as Official Guest for 2012

This just in. Artist and comics creator Michael Golden has been asked by WonderCon to be an official guest at the 2012 show. It will mark Michael's first time appearing at WonderCon. More details to follow. He is very happy to accept this honor. And hope to see some of you at the show!

(Above: Batman Sketch by Michael Golden. Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter traversing the Great Wall of China, circa 2009.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We'll Take Manhattan! Eva Ink Line-up at New York Comic Con!

New York Comic Con starts today in Manhattan at the Javits Center on the West Side, and Eva Ink Artist Group will have a bevy of talented artists and writers on hand to sign and sketch to your heart's content.

Just another reason to love the Big Apple, is the opportunity this show provides to watch some of the top names in the illustration business and sequential art at work in an amazing multi-media venue.

With Eva Ink Artist Group will be writer/artist Michael Golden at F-10, writer, publisher and agent Renee Witterstaetter at F-9, fine art painter and illustrator Mark Texeira at F-8, artist Steve Scott at F-7, aritst Rodney Ramos at F-6 and writer Ric Meyers at the Media Blaster's booth on the show floor.

All the talent will have books and prints for sale, and the artists will be sketching on site.

To get on the sketch list in advance of your arrival, contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com, or come by her table at the show. And check out the Eva Ink Artist Group website at: www.evainkartistgroup.com

For more information on the NYCC, go to: www.newyorkcomiccon.com

See you at the NYCC!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Michael Golden Interview by Comics Syndicate

Hi Ya'll--

Here's a new interview with artist Michael Golden, now on YouTube.

I say "new" but by the presence of the ubiquitous pony tail, it's probably about 1 year old. I'd say from Wizard Chicago in 2010, probably.

Nevertheless, as the Golden One says, his viewpoint has not changed since then. He's a pretty constant fella. :-)


Here's the link:


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: "You've Got to Find What You Love"

Listening to the news tonight about the passing of the Einstein of our era, Steve Jobs, I heard excerpts of this speech. Very interesting. Give it a read.

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living up to Being "Most Asturian" -- Recent Award Ceremony in Aviles, Spain

The award consists of a ceramic Ladybug…about 3 x 2.5… made in China, smiling a mischievous smile, and I'm told, bought in the dollar store down the street.

But to me, it's priceless.

Simple because of whom it was presented by and what it represents.

Two weeks ago in Spain, surrounded by people I have come to think of as wonderful friends, at the closing of the Jornadas of Comics in Aviles, I was presented with the "Most Asturian Award," at the closing ceremonies.

It's a Gala event!

Every year at the Aviles Festival--which I've been attending now for five straight years-- the organizing committee takes about $20 and goes to that aforementioned bodaga to buy roughly 12 items that are all the same, and that will serve as the "Oscars," for the closing ceremony.

Seeing what the silly, cute, whimsical statuettes will be each year is half the fun. The other half is hearing the categories! Which are whimsical themselves!


They include:

"The Coolest Guest"--which often goes to the person who works the hardest with the most glee.

"The Guest Who Traveled the Furthest"--Self Explanatory

"The George Perez Award"-- For the guest that embodies the spirit of the show the most. Named after George on his first visit to Aviles years ago.

"Coolest Companion of an invited Guest"-- Which goes to one of the fantastic wives or husbands or significant others there with an invited guest--and we've had some great ones over the years!

"The Night Owl Award"-- The Guest who leaves the bar last every night. And yes, we've had some great ones of those too. I remember the year Steve Dillion and Joe Jusko were both vying for the honor and the competition was fierce! The battle now legendary.

"The Ron Garney Award"-- For the best looking guest. Named after Ron on his visit to Aviles. I think he left an impression!


There are more, but you get the point! It's all in great fun.

And of course my award this year, "The Most Asturian Award."

Now, you may ask, what does this mean?

Asturias is the region of Spain which has existed since before the Middle Ages. The autonomous community is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by Castile and León to the south, by Galicia to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay to the north. The area have been coveted by the Celts, the Moors, the Romans....and many others. Later after being assimilated into Spain, Asturias itself played a large part in the colonization of the Americas. It's sister city is St. Augustine, Florida.

You can read about the unique history of this land here:


The culture is amazing, and heavily Celtic influenced, as mentioned above. A type of kilt is the national costume, along with a unique type of three prong wooden shoe and bagpipes. (I always love hearing the sound of bagpipes in the morning across the town square.)

The national drink: A type of cider from the numerous apple orchards in the area, that must be aerated by pouring it from a height into a very thin, specifically shaped glass. They say you break many before you get the pour just right! The taste can best be described as "zingy." The glass is passed around and everyone drinks from the same vessel. After drinking most of the contents, it is customary to splash a little out onto the ground, as a way to clean the glass of any lees for the next pouring. (I love this tradition of sharing cider. So gregarious.)

Asturian cheeses, especially Cabrales, are also famous throughout Spain and beyond; Asturias is often called "the land of cheeses" (el país de los quesos) due to the product's diversity and quality in this region.

The traditional country houses on the rolling green hills are on stilts, and totally unusual in their design.

The local jewelry is made from a jet black stone that is often carved into fists, which ward off evil. (You can't buy one of these for yourself. It must be given to you.) The pottery is black too.

And the national dish is Fabada-- Oh man! Simmered white beans with shoulder of pork (lacón), black sausage (morcilla), and spicy sausage (chorizo). I LOVE it!

So you see, after all this time, I've learned a thing or two about Austrias and my two favorite cities there: Gijon and Aviles. That much is obvious...

But why me as "Most Austrian?"

When I see those cured ham hocks hanging from the ceilings, I have NO idea the best direction to carve them, or how thin for the optimum taste, and I certainly have NOT mastered the all important pouring of the cider.

I'd like to think-- which I guess is probably the case-- that my dear friends in Aviles gave me the award because, well, I simply love the place so much.

From the moment I first heard of Aviles from artist Rodney Ramos, and I venture there with artist Michael Golden for the first time five years ago, I was at ease, and felt at home.

It was second nature to hang out in the square, sipping coffee, as the artists draw for the people around them, and we joke and laugh and looked at artwork, surround by building with hundreds of years of stories to tell... Lunches and dinners are also communal events, lasting sometimes three hours each, as you really get to know the people you are with. (I've never seen anyone pick up a cel phone during a meal, and that is so refreshing.)

When not eating or sketching or talking, the ancient part of Aviles is a charming old city, with cobblestone streets and a lush central park that is wonderful for a jog or a walk.

In short, I am hooked on the place.

And I've always encouraged others to come.

Some have: Bill Stout, Herb Trimpe, Joe Jusko, Ken Lopez, Ric Meyers, Tim Burguard… I love to share this amazing place with people I like, and introduce them to the wonderful folks that run and work at the Aviles Festival-- Jorge, Angel, Jose Manuel, German, Diego, Irma, Roccio, Carmen… the whole crew--You won't meet a more dedicated group of folks.

In fact, Jorge started this show when he was just 16, going to the local government and convincing them that what Aviles really needed was a festival to celebrate comics.

He's been making it happen ever since.

Along with some other great festivals in the area, Aviles has been instrumental in drawing attention to the region, it's customs and what it has to offer.

I tried to help in some small part.

Along with videographer Robin Dale, we documented much of the spirit of the city and festival in a documentary we produced several years ago. And now even more has been added to the Aviles story by the addition of the Neimeyer Center for the arts that opened this year, and which is attracting talent and performances from all over the world.

(Our fear is that it may get too big here! But things must grow. And when you love something, you are happy for it to thrive.)

So, in short, I don't know why I got this little Ladybug (which is more than the sum of her parts). But I'm happy to have it. I'm not going to question it too much. Except to say "Thank you" to my friends for the...acceptance…

I'll try to live up to it.

As she sits on my shelf overlooking my attempt to make a Fabada kit I bought two weeks ago, throwing in the three types of local sausage and meat and reveling in the wonderful smells, the one thing running through my mind is: How in the world am I going to master that cider pouring before next year!!

Time to break some glasses...


(In photos above, with my fellow recipients (alot of ladies won this year!), and guests at the Festival in Aviles, Spain. Photos by Pepe Caldelas.)