Monday, October 17, 2011

NY comic con part one: overview of the con, part 1

      San Diego may have their annual Comic Con but here in New York City, the New York Comic Con is the East coasts’ gift to geeks everywhere. You’ll find everything you’re ever looking for to fulfill your inner geek from the comics and games to Japanese anime. 

       This year will be the second year the New York Comic Con and New York Anime Festival will be merged into one giant convention. For several years prior, NYC had tried its best to bring anime conventions to the NY ‘Otaku’ community but with the current state of the economy, anime related conventions eventually began to fade. NYAF had been going strong for the past few years until the recession hit in 2008 and several anime production companies went bankrupt.

     There wasn’t a lot of anime being produced anymore but luckily one company, Funimation INC, was able to buy the rights to nearly every anime title available. So when 2009s NYAF came about, Funimation and Bandai entertainment were pretty much the only company’s represented at the con. That year, a lot of fans re-named the con the ‘Funimation con’ as nearly every panel, screening and autograph session came from Funimations’s company. Funimation deserves a huge thank you as if it wasn’t for them, anime would’ve been much less accessible and there might not have even been a convention.

     While the NYAF was struggling with its funds, the NYCC was feeling a similar feeling. In 2010, both the NYCC and NYAF decided it would be mutually beneficial to combine forces and have one giant convention. Their hopes were that people would be more inclined to come to the cons, if they paid one price for two cons and their assumptions were correct. This merger was such a success that it was decided to continue this partnership again the 2011 season. This powerhouse merger will hopefully bring more newcomers to discover the world of anime and comics.

       This years' double con ran from October 13th through the 16th at its usual home at the Jacob Javitz center. The NYCC decided to expand the con to utilize the entire building, which was a necessity as this was the first time ever the conventions were completely sold out of all tickets from weekend passes to daily passes. The convention itself was separated into different sections at the Javitz Center.

     The southernmost part of the Javitz center is where you found the various toy and gaming companies like Hasbro, Square-Enix and Capcom. Every company had an interactive booth where fans could read and play with various merchandise. Company representatives and volunteers were on hand to help promote upcoming products and answer any questions the fans had.

     The middle section was where you could find comic book merchandise and various book publishing companies selling their stock. Publishers like Tor, Penguin and Disney Publishing had a lot of authors there giving away free autographed copies of their books. This is a great way for fans to meet their favorite authors, all while the authors are able to get major feedback from fans on their work. The next area, right next door to the publishing company area, held the main part of the dealer room along with more video game demos. Here you could buy everything from comic books and games to clothes. The northernmost part of the Javitz center was reserved for a special kid’s only section where kids were kept entertained by ‘Battle Bots’ type of game play.

    Across from the kids only area was the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. If you weren’t a true fan of the D&D no worries, there were plenty of training sessions aimed at bringing in newbie’s to help expand their fan base. All the way past the D&D area was the celebrity autograph section where for a nominal fee of $0 to $20, you could have obtained an autograph (No, not a picture and an autograph, just an autograph) of certain featured celebrity like the cast of the Conan the Barbarian remake, Mark Hamil and Eliza Dushku. The Javitz center also made use of all its other floors by using the basement rooms for various panels and anime screenings and using the topmost floor as the NYAF base of operations and anime art dealer room.

     As much as I’m grateful for the NYCC to allow the NYAF to have the entire top floor of the Javitz center, I’m very disappointed in the setup for it. The NYAF section, minus the actual anime panels and screenings, were very limited. There was barely anything upstairs except about four rows of anime art dealers when compared to the entire main floor of the Javitz center being devoted to comic books and games. Hopefully a better compromise can be found next year when the NYCC and NYAF team up yet again during the weekend of October 11th through 14th 2012!

Author’s Note:
  With so much going on, it was hard to depict everything that was occurring in this one article; so I have broken up all my information from this weekend’s conventions into several smaller articles. Hope you enjoy all of them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My interview w/ Effgy’s David Rankin 10/16/11

The 2011 New York Comic Con and Anime Festival was a one of a kind, momentous occasion for all to enjoy. Personally, out of every event there I enjoyed the artist alley the most as you get to see the original designs of some of the most talented people in the business. One such artist is Dave Rankin artist and owner of the fabulous Effigy skate shop in Philadelphia, PA. I got the chance to see Dave’s art, buy a piece and interview him all about his special artistic talent and what he brings with him to the convention.

 1) Can you tell us a little about your self and your paintings? (I.e. –
where you’re from, what do you do,
where your business is based out of, how long have you been in business
there, etc)

I grew up in New England, mostly in a little town in Maine called Blue
Hill. I moved to Philadelphia to go to college, and have more or less
been in this area for the better half of my life. I have been an
illustrator for many years and am doing science fiction and fantasy book
covers. Effigy has been in business for a little over a year and a half.
I am working my very hard to get national exposure and to be in not one,
but hundreds of skate shops across the country.

My paintings have very similar themes. They all seem to center around
finding that greater force in yourself to give you strength. Maybe it
says something about myself and how I want to connect with others.

2) Do you consider yourself to be classically trained artist, as in you
went to school to learn your craft or
are you more of a natural born talent? Or a mixture of both perhaps?

My friends from high school and those that remember me from back then
have always commented about my artistic ability. In truth, while I may
have had some sensibility towards art, my work was really bad. I mean, I
thought it was great, but when I got to art school I realized that what
I had been doing was really, really, REALLY bad and just plain silly. It
forced me to look at myself and to try harder than ever to become better.

3) Your company seems to be a great place for those who want to give
their skateboard decks some
originality and style. Can you tell us about your business, Effigy
Skateboards and where you came up w/
the name?

I love skateboards, and grew up loving the art on them. I have always
had a streak to own my own business that is based on my art, and a skate
company was a completely natural fit. Now the challenge is to make it a
successful, art-based company while keeping true to art and skateboarding.
I came about the name in a somewhat random yet planned way. I had
designed the backwards "e" logo and was looking in the dictionary for
words that I liked. When I came across the word "effigy", it popped out
at me. Effigy is the name of a song from the band, Clutch. They are one
of my favorite bands and I would include them in my list of
inspirations. Anyway, I really liked the definition of the word. It was
simple and had a meaning that I was drawn to, so it stuck.

4) Do you do decks for skateboards only or both snowboard and skateboards?
Right now only skateboards, and street/short boards at that. I have
requests for long boards and snowboards and will add them if it seems right.

5) Your artwork is absolutely beautiful and very different from a lot of
other artists I’ve seen. I personally
like the fine details as each painting seems to tell its own story along
with the ‘warm’ colors used in
each piece. I noticed you use a lot of brown, yellow, red and blue in
each painting making your artwork
seem more ‘Earth-toned’. Is there a reason behind using these particular

Thank you so much! I am just drawn to that palette. My work was actually
much more subdued and brown for many years, until I pushed myself to add
more color. I find I can keep my mood and atmosphere with brighter
colors, but still want to keep everything "earthy" so to speak. It's
really about the idea and how it strikes someone.

6) What types of paint do you normally use? (Oil, acrylic, etc?) And how
do your paintings get that shiny
look to them?

I start with acrylics to lay down quick color and block things in. I
then switch to oils for the bulk of the painting, working in layers.
About 75% of the way towards completion, I pour epoxy resin over the
piece, then spread it around until it covers a good portion, not being
too careful and to let "accidents" happen. once the resin is dry, I
finish the painting, again in oils and working between glazes and opaque
color, brushes and palette knives.

7) What other artists have influence you and why?

In my early years I was hugely influenced by Kent Williams and John J.
Muth, specifically the Meltdown graphic novel; Frank Miller's Ronin,
Bill Sienkiewicz's Elektra Assassin, and Dave McKean's Arkhum Asylum, as
well as Greg Spalenka, NC Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Matt Mahurin. These
artists and illustrators really spoke to me in style and mood.

Music is a huge influence on me and the following are very dear to me:
Clutch, Tool, Isis, PJ Harvey, Quicksand, The Toadies, Bowie, 16
Horsepower, Johnny Cash, Iceburn and just about anything with weird

For movies I would say Road Warrior and Bladerunner rank at the top,
with Amelie and David Lynch's Firewalk With Me as well.

8) I notice your paintings seem focus on one single being and what that
being is doing at that moment?
I.e. – In the painting I bought from you, there are arrows heading
straight for a female warrior and she’s
apparently stopping them from stabbing her by holding up one of her
hands and almost commanding
them to stop.

I really like to focus on simple, powerful imagery and compositions.
Single figures seem to put the viewer into that space, imagining
themselves stopping those arrows.

9) Outside of painting, what are your other interests?
'50's cars! I love them with a passion and dream about the day I can own
another. there is nothing like a chopped leadsled in my eyes. I had a
1954 Chevy Belair for years. I had to sell it and it has taken me
several years to be able to go to carshows without falling into
depression. I love World War 2 planes as well and also wish to own a P47
Thunderbolt one day.

Skateboarding is probably one of my greatest challenges and ambitions. I
don't wish to be the best, but I do love it as much as painting. I look
at professional skaters in wonder at what they can accomplish with
agility and daring. It is beyond amazing.

I also just love to be with my family. My wife and children are very
important to me. Trying to accomplish all of my dreams is how I can be
the best teacher to them.

10) What advice would you give to someone who, like you, has a love of
art, but is just starting out in
the art scene?

Look at yourself through your art and try to make it the best it can
possibly be. Chase after your dream because you only fail when you stop