Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hey Gang! This is Kinda Cool...

Billy Penn and the raiders of comic art

FSU alumnus takes on teaching and comic books

Florida State University graduate Billy Penn likes to think of himself as an adventurer. For nine months of the year, he teaches elementary art, but the rest of his year is devoted to discovering where his imagination can take him.

"I'm still obsessing over Indiana Jones," Penn said. "I still feel like I'm Professor Jones, August through June-and then I get to be the Indy they make movies about. And that was always the plan."


I don’t read Green Lantern, so of course I put the ring on the wrong finger.

— Billy Penn Founder, Graphic Cereals comics

In the past month, Penn has printed two comic books. In mid-March, Penn released the mature title VooDoo Chyl, while last week saw the release of the all-ages book Bacon and Eggs. These two comics are the second and third release from Penn's Graphic Cereals imprint.

VooDoo Chyl ($3) tracks a Vietnam-era super solider with a resemblance to Jimi Hendrix. Humorous and violent, the comic revels in absurdity. (One example: a bored assassin with a day job as a children's entertainer.)

The more recent Bacon and Eggs ($4) is a collection of three short stories co-penned by Penn and his wife. The stories follow a pig and chicken as they attempt to solve small mysteries on their farm.

"I gave [my wife] my sketchbook and said this is what we got," Penn said.

After seeing a sketch of the duo, Betsy Penn coined them F.B.I., the Farm and Barnyard Investigators. The farm animals tackle familiar concepts, such as "A Needle in a Haystack" and "A Fox in the Hen House."

Penn said Bacon and Eggs' genesis was that of a children's book, but after the project became derailed, he turned it into a comic.

A lifelong comic fan, Penn's earliest memories of the medium is their use to placate. As a child, his mother used comics to keep him from complaining while she grocery shopped.

"From third to fifth grade, that's how mothers get their kids to shut up," Penn said.

One of those trips yielded one of Penn's most vivid comic memories. He recalled the cover of a G.I. Joe comic where a character was parachuting while firing a gun at an oncoming plane.

"I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen, but I don't think I read it," he said. "From there, it was X-Men and Spider-Man."

He realized he wanted to be a comic book artist after seeing a writer and artist tour, and thought the industry was filled with superstars.

"In middle school, I thought, 'I can draw Spider-Man really well. I don't even need to go to high school,' " Penn said.

As an artist, Penn's career has been a series of small successes and near-misses. In the early 2000s, Penn took part in Comic Book Idol 2, an event put on by the popular comic book website Comic Book Resources. In the contest, amateur artists competed in a five-week-long competition modeled after American Idol. Penn made his way to the top 10, but flubbed; while drawing a Green Lantern story, he placed the character's ring on the wrong finger. While this might not be sacrilege to a general public, it didn't endear him to the comic crowd.

"I don't read Green Lantern, so of course I put the ring on the wrong finger," he said. "I made all kinds of little errors."

His time with Comic Book Idol, however, lead to a backup feature in Savage Dragon, his first published work, and paved the way for subsequent projects with Platinum Studios.

Penn has one book to his name. In 2008, Platinum Studios released Hot Shot and Might Girl, which Penn drew. He said he's completed a second book, Meet the Haunteds, but that the economic downturn has prevented its publication.

Perhaps one of his favorite creations, Penn is staunchly attached to Flash Trotter, a globetrotting photographer in the vein of Indiana Jones.

As the first comic Penn printed, Flash Trotter remains the story he'd like to tell; one where the lead character can jump genres.

As the school year starts to come to a close, Penn is considering his next project. Perhaps it'll be another Flash Trotter book. He has the second and third issues ready to go and three months to decide. If only Indiana Jones could be so lucky.

Both of Penn's comics are available at Cosmic Cat Comics, 625A Industrial Drive in Railroad Square.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pin-up Layout

Business Card Art

So here's what I came up with. It's a little more complicated than other business cards and hopefully people will have a hard time throwing it away.

I had 16 of these bad boys made up for MegaCon 2011. I didn't give out a single one,


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thoughts on Business Cards....

It's very rare that anyone asks my for a business card. So rare in fact, that I've never bothered to print any. If it's someone I want to work with, I'll usually jot down some contact information on whatever scrap of paper is lying around.

After my art lecture/teaching gig in Thomasville last month, someone asked about a potential comicbook gig that sounded really promising.

And then he asked me for a business card.

I felt like such an amateur. I need a business card if I want to be seen as some kind of pro.

Somebody posted this years ago on the Gaijin Studios message boards and it recently resurfaced in my brain. It's funny I could even find it on YouTube. All I remembered was that this guy had an awesome business card. So I typed in "awesome business card" and it was the first hit. Now the guy comes across a little sleazy and douchey but I do think he had some good points. The business card I have from the old "9-5" is a snoozer.

Friday, April 1, 2011