You might remember that I sponsor a Cartoonist Club at the high school where I teach. One of the things we have started doing every year is the Clash of Champions tournament (originally modeled on Sam Hiti’s awesome Fist-a-cuffs site). Different students create 16 teams of combatants who are matched up and voted on during each week’s club meeting. Before each vote, however, teams can show pages of “smack talk” comics they created the week before to show why their team should win. This leads to crazy amounts of artistic competition and during last year’s competition the finished collection of their work totaled a whopping 650 pages!
My only contribution to that book is drawing these intro pages for each of the eight rounds. This offers me a chance to draw all of the student’s awesome characters. Our theme for this year’s book was “crime noir”, and that was definitely a fun style to draw in. If you want to follow along with the Club’s work, check out their Facebook page!
Some of you might remember the fantasy story that my Cartoonist Club and I created that featured all of us as characters in the story. Well, we’re starting a new story this year, and this time the theme is steampunk. So this is my character for the story, the honorable Thelonius Grey. I’m looking forward to finally getting to draw a steampunk story, as it’s something I always wanted to try. I’ll definitely post the pages here once they’re done.
For the second year in a row, the kids in my afterschool Cartoonist Club have run a Fist-A-Cuffs competition, based upon the awesome original one run by Sam Hiti. Each of us created a warrior (or group of warriors) and were matched up against one another each week, with the winner determined by the Club’s votes. To make our case on why our character should win, everyone was allowed to create visual “smack talk” to try to get their character more votes.
My character this year, Meatstorm, was one that I created for the original Fist-A-Cuffs before it stopped. I was glad to finally put him to use. For the first round, I was matched up with a trio of undead characters created by Ariel in the club…
Meatstorm lost that first battle, but luckily it was a double-elimination tournament, so he wasn’t out of it yet.
Next up he had to face a sorceress (created by Felicia)…
Luckily, Meatstorm was victorious that week. But up next he had to face a character (created by Marylin) that could manipulate anything mechanical:
Meatstorm was able to get enough votes to win again and advanced further into the tournament, only to face a trio of nuclear-powered warriors from an apocalyptic future (created by Kristen)…
Unfortunately, this is where the tournament ended for Meatstorm (maybe I should have shown more detail on how he would win). But it was actually a relief, because it gave me more time to handle scanning and presenting the other artwork from the club.
This tournament was a lot of fun. Even though the comics were quickly made, it really showed the students what they were capable of. In fact, the combination of healthy competition and a weekly deadline really drove them to produce A LOT of work. Several kids produced 20+ pages of smack talk each week. We just wrapped up the whole tournament and it looks like we collectively created almost 300 pages of artwork (which we’ll soon be publishing in its own book)! Not bad, huh?
This year’s HurleyCon was the best single convention day we have ever had. The good people of Missouri definitely turned out, and we were busy the whole time. The new Random Ink #4 (with a free sketch) was very popular, and for the first time we sold out of a book at a show! We had so many commission requests, we had to finish some at home… we’ll be sure to post them here as we get them done.
My Cartoonist Club from the high school also had a great time. They sold a bunch of copies of their anthology and did many caricatures for convention-goers. Hopefully this is the start of a yearly tradition for them. Thanks again to the Hurley brothers for donating table space for them to set up!
And thanks to any of YOU that showed up and made it such a great day. It’s awesome that our “home” convention is such an enjoyable one. Next up… Planet Comicon in Kansas City at the end of March. Hope to see you there!
It’s that time of the year again… time for our local comic book convention here in Joplin. As you can see from past years, HurleyCon is always a great show, with tons of super-talented creators coming to town and FREE admission! This will be our fourth time exhibiting there, and we always have an awesome time.
This year we will once again have two tables of stuff for you to check out. We will be premiering our new Random Ink #4, which we’ve been previewing here for you, and we’ll have some new large prints and bookmarks. In fact, we’re doing a HurleyCon exclusive this year… everyone that buys a copy of Random Ink #4 gets a free sketch in the back of the book. We will only be doing this at HurleyCon, so that’s even more incentive for you to make it out!
Another thing that makes this year special is that my Cartoonist Club from Joplin High School will also have a table there. The students will be selling the first two issues of their anthology, Scribbled Stories, and doing sketches for people. They are super excited about being there this year, and it will be great to see them make some fans!
So, if you live anywhere near the Joplin area, you have a ton of reasons to check out the con… next Saturday, February 19. Hope to see you there!
My afterschool Cartoon Studio group completed its second anthology last month. We expanded from 28 to 40 pages this year, and from four students contributing to nine! These highschoolers are really starting to do some nice work.
Just like last year, we continued the fantasy story that features all of us in a pretty goofy adventure as characters that each person designed for themselves. Drawing this kept me pretty busy for a couple weeks there! I had to figure out a way introduce eight new characters in five pages. I’m sure we’ll continue this story next year…
I recently found this video of Doug TenNapel speaking at the Art Institute Inland Empire to a group of incoming freshmen art students. He covers a surprising amount of ground in this talk, including artists’ obligation to the truth, how to stay inspired, and his writing method. If you’re a fan of Doug’s (like me) or want to learn more about creating comics, you should definitely check it out!
One of the most exciting things that happened for me as a teacher this year was the cartoon studio I ran after school. I had a club like this at the middle school I used to teach at, but this was my first year running one with high school kids. It was great to see what they came up with all year as we completed various challenges and jam comics together. The main project, though, was the first issue of our anthology that we just printed up. We’re calling it Scribbled Stories, and the kids were pretty jazzed to see their short comics printed up in it. The cover was a jam creature… I did the layout and one arm, and each student drew a head, leg, or whatever. The background features one panel from each student’s story in the book.
Towards the end of the year, the students challenged me to make a comic for the book that featured all of us as characters in a fantasy story. So here is what we came up with. Each kid decided what their character would be like and what they would do in the story. My coffee addiction became a big part of the story, as you’ll see.
This is just a beginning… I think every year the story will continue with returning characters and some new ones from that year’s cartoon studio. I’m looking forward to getting even more kids in print next time. It’s a great feeling to watch them flip through their first comic ever…