Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fan Expo Canada 2011

Another Fan Expo Canada has come and gone. I had been looking forward to it all summer so I'm glad it came but it's also a sign that summer is coming to an end and that sort of sucks. But anyways, the organization this year was so much better than last. There were a few hiccups on the first day and with the photos but what con won't have at least a few things when you're dealing with so many people, some of whom can be the cause of the problems (seriously, it's your choice to stand in line at 10:30 for something that doesn't open until 2:00, giving the organizers crap about having to wait in line until 2 just doesn't help things). But here are some of the highlights of my visit to Fan Expo Canada.

In terms of photos, I didn't really take too many, that's more my brother's thing. But there are a few I tweeted along the way and they can be found on yfrog.

We got in shortly after 2:00 and I made a beeline to Jeff Smith's table. I had originally hoped to pick up a TPB or something small to get signed but when I saw the 20th Anniversary Bone box set I couldn't resist. Then it was mainly just wandering around, picking up a mini-painting and a copy of "F**k You, Box" from Katie Cook and prints from Christopher Uminga, and getting an idea of the layout of the Expo. It definitely felt more roomy but the best part was the sizable food court areas (and the "Premium lounge" for those of us with the Premium tickets). It was actually at the food court that I got the chance to meet Alex Zalben. And of course I went to the sketching duel between Shane Davis, Mark Brooks, and Clay Moore which was great (all the sketching duels were great, though the "Women in Comics" one was my favourite).

Friday was a bit busier for me. After signing up for a commission from Jill Thompson I went to the Tony Daniel/Marko Djurdjevic sketching duel where I won a Tony Daniel sketch. Then I headed back to talk to Jill while she worked away. Then there was the Tony Moore/Billl Sienkiewicz duel where they drew a zombie-Hulk. It wasn't my suggestion but it was funny because I had told people before the Expo that I would have liked a zombie-Hulk commission from Moore. Unfortunately I didn't win because the final pieces were awesome. And then there was the "Women in Comics" sketching duel (which I like to think I helped "sponsor" by donating some bristol board to some of the artists) where I won a "Penny from Inspector Gadget" sketch from Katie. And somewhere in there I think I picked up my commission from Caanan (Hulk/Spidey) and signed up for She-Hulk drawing from Ryan Stegman.

My main mission for Saturday was Eliza Dushku. I got in line right away and she showed up shortly after the show opened. She was incredibly nice and interactive with her fans (at least what I saw/experienced). So I was able to make it to the Steve Epting/Alex Maleev duel where I won the Dr Doom drawing in my Twitter photos (though it doesn't do it justice). There's a story about how I won but I won't go into that. But I was starting to make a name for myself with the organizers of the duels as this was my third win of the Expo (neither Brent or I had won in all the duels we had attended the last two years). The Eliza photo op was a bit of a mess with the Tom Felton line going on at the same time but again, she was incredibly nice. Then another sketching duel (Dale Eaglesham, Dale Keown, and Jimmy Cheung drawing Wolverine) where I didn't win. But Brent made a friend in the Lee Majors line and in ended up being Kelly Sue DeConnick. I had hoped to meet up with a friend who was dressed as "Death" (from Neil Gaiman's "Sandman") but unfortunately it didn't happen (part of that may have been due to the fact that I couldn't get any sort of signal on my iPhone for most of the day, it was a pretty common complaint that we could see a signal but couldn't do anything).

I figured Sunday was going to be pretty quiet for me and for the most part it was, though the floor seemed pretty busy for at least the afternoon. Of course I went to yet another sketching duel. Yeah, I'm a sucker for those. I think it's too bad that other cons don't do them (yet again this year some artists didn't really know what to expect when they signed up for them) but I also realize not all artists are gung ho for fitting them into their schedule and taking time away from their paid commissions. Brent and I got to talk to Kelly Sue and Matt Fraction for a bit and I picked up a few more prints (from Tony Moore and Caanan in particular).

We had made a few friends who came up from New York and were now stranded in Toronto so we tried our best to suggest things to do or make sure they could at least make it back to their hotels (one was left stranded by their Toronto based friend at the Expo). I hope they've all made their way home safely by now.

So overall, yeah, I had a blast. I'm pretty sure I'm missing a bunch of stuff from this post. It all seems so chaotic and a blur now. Maybe I should take more pictures to help me remember everything.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I finally finished reading "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything" a few days back, I had been reading it off and on for quite a while now. I won't go into a full review but I do think it's an important book to read. The times are changing whether some people like it or not and it's important to understand what's working and what isn't. I don't agree with everything in the book, some of their opinions and conclusions just don't work for me or seem to overlook things I'm curious about, but that's just my opinion.

The stuff in this book is more directly related to my job than my interest in comics (and the comics industry) but I think there are also parts that are important for everyone, including the comic industry, to learn from. The web is just one game changer and with every new technology things are changing. Trying to stick to old business models just isn't going to work in the long run.

I don't really have the business mind to see exactly where things are going, I think anyone who does say they are certain about how things will be in the future is deluded or trying to sell you something (or both). But I do know things are and will be changing. Okay, maybe I'm a little deluded too but at least I'm not trying to sell you something.

I could ramble on and on about all this stuff, last weekend a friend and I talked about it for hours (less about the company side though and more about the regular workers) but I don't think that would be to anyone's benefit (I'm guessing only one or two people will get this far in the rambling).

As an aside, I'm a little disappointed that I'm not seeing the unknown people trying to organize panels at Fan Expo. I think creating a panel with something unique could be good advertising for the webcomic/self publishing crowd. There are a few panels by people who have been successful at getting their own stuff out there ("Killing Shakespeare") or are people who have had at least some level of mainstream success (Ty Templeton, Cameron Stewart,...) but I'd actually like a more discussion-based panel with people who haven't yet. The last two years have had that (some with the people above before they were successful) but I just don't see it this year. Perhaps I'm missing something, perhaps there's just no demand for it (why talk to someone who hasn't made it when you can go to a panel to listen to someone who has), or maybe everyone's just too busy to do something like that. Either way, I'm just not seeing it. So I'll probably be spending much of my time at the sketching duels.

Friday, August 19, 2011


A couple weeks back (or whenever it came out) I decided to pick up Fear Itself #5 just because I wanted to see the Hulk and Thing versus Thor fight. Okay, and maybe I just wanted to read a single comic again, it's been a while. But after reading it I was pretty disappointed. The book just didn't seem to have much substance to it, either in that fight or the other stuff going on. And after thinking about it for a while I think one of the problems was what I felt was ineffective use of space.

I think too many panels were too large. I know I sound like your typical "in my day" comic fan but you look back at some of the artistic masters from the past they use small panels to display action and on one page you got a whole sequence and that made it feel intense. Here you have a full page only showing a small part of a sequence. It looks pretty but to me, it's boring to read and doesn't really engage me as a reader.

One thing I've taken from my webcomics is to make every page count and get in as much as possible. Partly it's the typical webcomic updating (one page at a time so you want that page to count) and partly it's that when I tried the large panel after large panel people spent less time and were less engaged in reading it. And that's how I felt here. With large panel after large panel I just breezed through it. Not to mention that when you do try to keep the panel size down it's more jarring when you do go to the larger one, a trick you can use to shock the reader. Large panel after large panel just becomes boring.

This also makes me think of the iPod/iPad stuff. People talk about how when they read comics on them and go panel from panel it can adjust the size of the panel to fit the screen (enlarging small panels). I think that's wrong. Now you could say that artists have to compensate for it and make sure their panels fit well but I think it takes away some of the storytelling control the creators have. If you really want your comic to be viewable on the iPad in that way then perhaps you have to find some balance. To be honest, I have too many thoughts going on in my head and I could ramble about this one forever but I don't want to take over this rambling with another, I just wanted to put it out there.

Now I'm just an amateur webcomic guy so obviously I know less about making comics than your average (or pretty much any) professional. And this is all just my opinion, others are free (and apparently do) disagree. But it's how I feel.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hosting Part 2

I sort of knew going in that the hardest part of setting up hosting my own comic wasn't going to be on the technological side (though technology and I don't always see eye to eye, partly due to my own stupidity at times), it was going to be what comes after. Promotion.

I've never really gone too far out of my way to promote my webcomics. I mention them here and there (often in a derogatory way, which is a big problem) but I don't really sell it. There's a lot going on but it mostly boils down to a lack of confidence. It took me a while just to post something on DrunkDuck and then I let the community aspect of that site bring in a few readers (some stayed, most didn't). With my own hosting, the community thing just isn't the same. I can link to my comic or site when I comment on other people's sites (even that feels awkward to me) and I can try to talk about it a bit more (on here or with friends) but I just haven't been able to put out a full on blitz.

Maybe one day I'll get over it. On the plus side, I'm not looking to make a career out of it or anything but it would be nice to have some readers to make the work worthwhile. And for now, I do have my DrunkDuck readers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I've thought about it, I've talked about it, and now I've finally got off my butt and did it. With all the issues going on with DrunkDuck I felt I had to do something with my webcomics and I felt moving over to another site might be a temporary solution but eventually I'd still be relying on someone else hosting. I'll still use DrunkDuck as a mirror though.

After some internal debating about domains I decided to finally set up darrellferguson.com for hosting. So I've started with the Bluenoser. I haven't been able to figure out how to post more than one page per day with ComicPress so it's quite a few pages behind where I am on DrunkDuck but I'll be posting a page per day on there until I get caught up, then it'll be Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I do plan on customizing the look and making it more pleasant to the eye at some point as well.

Eventually I plan on getting Divine Leap up there as well though I plan on doing that as one bulk thing.

Monday, August 01, 2011


I doodle from time to time but I very rarely sit down just to sketch stuff. Even when I do I tend to not be that loose with it and I hardly ever post it or let anyone see it. So I was thinking that I've been concentrating on drawing Bluenoser stuff so much that I needed a break. So I decided to do some quick and loose and out there sketches (or as loose/out there as I get).