Feb 26, 2012

Amazon Is Pro-Amazon, Not Pro-Author

Jim C Hines is a published author who offers a cautionary tale about publishing books through Amazon. He publishes several e-book titles with Amazon, and recently discovered that Amazon reserves the right to re-price his books at will, and pay him royalties on the lower rate, not the original, agreed-upon rate, regardless of whether he has agreed to this change or not.

Amazon has declined to respond to his questions about the matter.

This is something traditional publishers would never do, but as Hines concludes, " I am telling you to go in with your eyes open, and to understand that despite what the cheerleaders might suggest, Amazon is not pro-author. They’re pro-Amazon."

A cautionary tale about the power Amazon has over books, and the way they are created, consumed and sold.

The Dangers of Texting

I like to re-post this video every so often, because it is such an important subject. Do yourself a favor and take the ten minutes to watch it. It might save your life.

I don't text very often, mostly because I like my communication the old fashioned way: in person. Lots of people do text, though, very often while they're driving.

Do you do this? If so, watch this short documentary about how a simple text message behind the wheel can end your life. People who have lost loved ones, or who have taken someone's life because of texting, tell their stories in this ten minute video.

There is no text that's worth dying for, as these people found out the hardest way possible. The next time you (or your friend) are tempted to text while driving, remember this video. Keep your eyes on the road and remember how much you could lose.

Update: a Blackberry phone outage that affected texters world wide was linked to a dramatic drop in traffic accidents. When people couldn't text in their cars, they paid more attention to their driving. Imagine that!  LINK

Feb 23, 2012

Japanese Tsunami: Before and After

The Atlantic magazine has a stunning gallery of pictures of the devastation wrought by the Tsunami last year, and the remarkable job the Japanese have done in cleaning up the mess.

Clicking on each picture gives you a present-day look from the exact same spot. 

Fascinating and riveting.

Feb 22, 2012

Found Slides Sneak Peek

This is an advance look at the forthcoming graphic novel Found Slides, A Life Remembered. In post production I will be adding shading and final details to give the art work more depth. The first installment will be ready to be published in a few weeks.

Feb 20, 2012

MegaCon 2012

Megacon 2012 has concluded, and this is my report on the biggest comic con in Florida. There are lots of pictures and art-related links to check out, as well as an full schedule of events in the coming year you may want to check out.

To see a schedule of upcoming conventions, click HERE.

The artist links are after the pictures. There were a lot of insanely talented artists at MegaCon this year.

Below right: part of the Megacon vendor area. Megacon was much bigger this year, with a lot more vendors, celebrities and artists.

One of the biggest draws of Megacon are, of course, the costumes. Megacon is obviously not as big as Dragoncon, but is like a smaller-scale Dragoncon. New pictures added!

Here are some pictures taken by a 501st Legion member, Pirate Girl, from Saturday. Thanks Pirate Girl!

Here are my shots from Sunday, the day I was there

Other interesting sites to be seen at this year's Megacon

Above: The Ghostbusters ambulance (a 1975 Cadillac model; the one in the film was a 1959 model) and a Blues Brothers Bluesmobile. The one in the film was a 1974 Dodge Monaco; this one is a Ford Crown Victoria

Below: The 501st Legion had a huge area this year, filled with a recreated Star Wars set, an array of costumes, props and helmets, all built by members, as well as a Shoot-The-Trooper game that raised a lot of money for charity. I pulled a few hours of table duty, and stayed behind to help with breaking down the displays.

Left: a replica battle droid. Below: a recreation of the Mos Eisley spaceport set

Always a popular draw at cons is the Lego area, with fantastic sets created with Legos. There are moving trails that encircle the sets, which have many pop culture references.

A Back To The Future flying Delorean

A Roy Lichtenstein painting created in nothing but Legos

A Ghostbusters scene rendered in Lego

Below: scenes from the R2 Builders area:

After Megancon closes, and the visitors leave, vendors and convention participants begin furiously taking down their displays. Forklifts zip around importantly, collecting huge rolls of carpeting, chairs are gathered onto rolling carts, display racks and props are disassembled and put away, and a small armada of robots roll through the chaos toward the rear loading dock doors. Below, the Ghostbusters ambulance and the Bluesmobile drive out of the convention hall. Another MegaCon has ended.

I met some truly talented artists at Megacon, much better than myself, which just makes me want to work harder to improve my skills. Check out their websites for some inspiration and a look at different styles of work. Remember, art is not created in a vacuum; creativity requires exposure to other artists. Click on the artist names to take you to their sites.

I am in the process of adding more artists; check back soon!

Below Left: Hazzard Ink
Katie Hazzard (known as Hazzard to her friends) paints pin-up art on cast off airplane parts. Her playfully naughty pin-up art adorns aircraft cargo doors, instrument and body panels, even windows. Katie is a huge fan of the art of the pin-up, and when I spoke to her at Megacon she told me it was her very first con. She has a niche I have never seen before at cons, and I think she will do very well in the con scene. Her site is well laid out and has a large gallery of her work. Check it out!

Below Right: Locoduck Studios
Locoduck is run by Michael Duron, who currently works as a caricature artist at Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando. His work is cartoony and whimsical, fun to look at. Besides doing caricatures and whimsical illustration, he produces comic books, cards, clothing and other items.

Below Left: Danielle Soloud: Danielle is another woman who likes to produce pin-up art. Her blog has a lot of examples of her work, as well as a few pictures of what her work looks like as it's being created. 

Below Right: Coallus (Michael Banks): Michael's work has a dreamy, surreal look to them, the main characteristic being huge, bubble eyes on all of his illustrations. His work, according to his website, is fueled by sugar and caffeine.

Below: Love and Capes: L&C is a web comic that you can read on their site, and is decribed by its creator: Abby and Mark are a typical couple. At least, that's what Abby thinks. Unknown to her, her boyfriend is not just an accountant, but also the super-powered crime-fighter, the Crusader. And, tonight, Mark's going to let her in on the secret. Love and Capes is a heroically super romantic comedy situation comedy in comic book form from Thom Zahler.

Feb 18, 2012

The Empire Invades the Forum

The 501st Legion invaded the Tampa Bay Times Forum on February 16, 2011 for Star Wars Night, taking over the custom Zamboni and the the ice rink, commandeered by Darth Maul, as well as hanging with the lovely Lightning Ladies. R2-D2 himself flew halfway across the galaxy to be here. Scan through the pictures to find a special treat for visitors to this blog: a video of the Legion's appearance at the Forum, complete with soundtrack!

I organized this event for the Legion, working with the staff at the Forum. As usual, the people we met at the Forum were enthusiastic, easy going and fun to hang out with. Special thanks goes out to Chris, Mathias, Courtney and Zack, our Forum handlers, for being such fun and gracious hosts. 

Darth Maul hit the ice, and was covered by another photographer on this event. Once I get permission to post some of his photos here I will do so. Incidentally, Dan, the Darth Maul, is one of a handful of George Lucas-approved Mauls, who have undergone training and a certification process to appear at high profile events such as this one. Our Darth Maul drove all the way from the east coast to join us for this troop. Click on all pictures for a larger view.

Visitors to the hockey game gather in the courtyard to take pictures of 501st Legion members before the game begins

What visit to the Forum would be complete without meeting the lovely Lightning ladies?

Heading toward the Zambonis for the first intermission

Ready to commandeer a Zomboni to enforce the will of the Empire

The Tesla coil as seen from  directly below, in the back stage area

On the custom Zamboni, getting ready to hit the ice during intermission

And, as promised, an exclusive video created by myself for this fantastic troop. This video is for personal, not commercial use only, and is only intended for visitors and staff of the Forum (as well as the faithful followers of this blog). Please do not burn copies and distribute. Enjoy!

Members cool down in the staging area before heading back out again

Getting stopped for pictures back stage on our way to the VIP area

Posing for pictures during second intermission. The Forum crowd was fun, cooperative and enthusiastic!

In the VIP lounge area, before the troop ends