LA Zoo Art Day over the weekend!


Greetings fans!

No, you didn't miss a convention appearance I did at the last minute (I would've told you that). LA Zoo Art Day was just a personal excursion with two artist friends sketching various animals in the facility. We even found our inner child both feeding the giraffes and riding the carousel. Side note: As much as I like '80s music, it seemed an odd fit to have "We Got the Beat" by The Go-Gos, and "Heaven" by Bryan Adams on a ride for kids growing up today. Perhaps they knew three thirty-somethings were coming that day. Anyways, onto the art: We did live sketching of a Gorilla, Zebra, and Giraffe, which I have attached with this email for your viewing pleasure.

Also of note is my completion of pages 4-6 of "Just Imagine, shipping 10 copies each of Damn Tourists issues 1 and 2 to Oahu to be sold at Amazing Comic Con Aloha next weekend (August 24-26) by other members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance. For this weekend, I will be representing another comic organization I'm apart of: The Comic Arts Professional Society (or C.A.P.S.) at the Power Morphicon Convention in Anaheim August 17-19. CAPS has a booth there that eight people can share in shifts. I will be taking a Noon to 3 PM shift on Saturday the 18th, and Sunday the 19th. Due to space limitations in sharing a table, I will have only one or two sets of books with me, along with paper for sketches of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (as that is what this con is celebrating, hence the Morphicon name). Before I go, I will leave you with a reminder of my remaining four shows of 2018 after Power Morphicon:

Open Arts and Music Festival Glendale - Saturday September 15th

216 N Brand Blvd (Alex Theatre) Main Artwalk will be on Brand between California and Wilson

3 PM to 10 PM


San Fernando Valley Comic Con - Sunday September 16th

11128 Balboa Blvd (Granada Pavilion) On the corner of San Fernando Mission and Balboa

10 AM to 4 PM

General Admission is $5, Kids 12 and under FREE!


Reseda Rising Artwalk and Night Market - Saturday September 29th

(Artwalk located on Sherman Way between Etiwanda and Lindley Avenues). 

5 PM to 10 PM


Santa Clarita Comic and Toy Expo - Sunday September 30th

26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd. (College of the Canyons)

10 AM to 5 PM

Admisson is $5, kids 10 and under are FREE!



Have a great week everyone!




Allen Carter

Carter Comics

Holy Podcast Batman!


Greetings fans!

Hope you all are beating down the summer heat with a baseball bat. Speaking of bats (though it's the animal and not the object), as the title of this email suggests I was on a friend's podcast last thursday evening discussing the 1966 Batman: The Movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Hosted by good friend Kinte Ferguson and featuring two other uber-caped crusader fans, we were sent the movie several days beforehand to watch so we could discuss it on the podcast later. While I watched a few episodes of the Batman TV series is reruns as a kid, I only watched parts of the film (which was going on during the run of the live action TV series). As a kid, I didn't appreciate or really understand the campy humor, and was upset that it wasn't taking itself seriously. As an adult, I feel the complete opposite, and am completely entertained by the over-the-top performances in the film-----especially the villans (Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman). I was never a Batman fan, but I always respected the character and its story. However, I always enjoyed his rogues gallery-----unfortunately my favorite bat-villain Mr. Freeze was not included in this lineup. 

In other comic related news, my next Cosmic Force Prequel "Just Imagine" keeps rolling along, but will still be completed in time for my vendor appearance at Open Arts and Music Festival Glendale on Saturday September 15th, from 3-10 pm on Brand Blvd between California and Wilson avenues. However, before that, I will be representing CAPS (Comic Arts Professional Society) at the Power Morphicon Convention next Saturday and Sunday August 18th and 19th at Anaheim Convention Center (Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-5). I will have by books and art for sale at the show's CAPS booth just like I do at my usual comic conventions, as well as doing event themed sketches (as this is a show devoted strictly to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). As a reminder, I will be winding down my convention appearances for the year at the remaining shows:

San Fernando Valley Comic Con -  Sunday September 16th from 10 am to 4 pm at Granada Pavilion

Reseda Rising Artwalk and Night Market - Saturday September 29th from 5 pm to 10 pm on Sherman Way between Etiwanda and Lindley avenues.

Santa Clarita Comic and Toy Expo - Sunday September 30th from 10 am to 5 pm at College of the Canyons.

Well, that's it for this week. For more Carter Comics news (and some personal Allen Carter news), you can tune into my FB Live Audio Broadcast Sunday evenings that I like to call "AL's AUDIO AGENDA."  Also for you online shoppers, my books are also available at the online store: In addition, customers who order physical copies of my books online can have them signed by me at any conventions or artwalks that I'm scheduled to appear at. Keep in mind, of course, that this highly depends on what area the convention is in, but I will post a reminder of this at least a month before any convention I'm doing in a particular city or state. So with that, you all have a great week and I'll see you back here in seven days!


Allen Carter 

Carter Comics

Just Imagine Prequel progress, LA Black Comic Con 2019, and a few thoughts on how to improve Carter Comics:

Another hot and humid week unfortunately for Los Angeles, but as always, I don't let that stop me from progressing on my creative material, it just slows me down a bit. Speaking of progress, I am officially halfway finished with my 2nd Cosmic Force prequel "Just Imagine." For this 12 page story focusing on individual members of the team (Sandra "Imagine" Winters in this case), 6 pages have been illustrated so far. Pages 4-6 have been pencilled, and just need to be inked and colored to go along with pages 1-3. While the prequels will be shorter than my parent series, they still offer some challenges much like the larger books do. For this particular story, I'm digging into Sandra's childhood, which involves illustrations of her as a 7 year old in the mid-1960s. That of course, involves alot of google images research on hairstyles, attire, and furniture of the time. Don't get me wrong, it's fun research, but research nonetheless. Despite the new challenges along with balancing work, food, sleep, and other personal commitments, I still expect to have this story finished in time for my next confirmed show September 15th: Open Arts and Music Festival in Glendale.

Also on the convention/artwalk front: A new comic convention targeting primarily black comic book creators called "Los Angeles Black Comic Convention." The event will take place on February 23rd 2019 in the Baldwin Hills area (no specific venue or table prices have been confirmed yet). I threw my name in the hat to the organizer as a potential artist vendor, so we'll see what happens in the coming months.

Lastly, with this being my eighth year doing conventions, I'm starting to both look back at how far I've come since July 2010, and what I'd like to accomplish heading ever so closer toward my tenth year doing cons two years from now. One of the main things I want to improve on is better communication with my customers/fans. It is very important that I know what you want to see from me in terms of artwork and writing, al well as just getting to know me as a person beyond Allen Carter of Carter Comics. I think I've started in that direction with these newsletters, the mailing list that you all joined, Mongoose Mondays in Motion, and my recent weekly Facebook live audio broadcasts I like to call "Al's Audio Agenda." What I need to do more of though is occasionally ask for your feedback on things like my books, Mongoose Mondays in Motion, and so forth. So while I'm not a person that asks for alot of help, in this case I need it: Whenever you get a chance, I would appreciate it if you would give me feedback on any books you purchased from me, or if you play Mongoose Mondays in Motion, just let me know what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy. This could be in the form of an email to me, a facebook message, or by posting a review on: There's no way that I can get better unless I know what my fans want, so this is all for YOU! As always, Thanks in advance, and I hope you all have a great week!


Allen Carter

Carter Comics

Just Imagine Prequel progress and Bowling:

Never thought those two things would go together, huh? Well they do in MY world!


Seriously though, I am happy to say that I got the ball rolling last week with my second 12-page Cosmic Force Prequel story "Just Imagine."  The first three pages have now been pencilled, inked, and colored. This story, like my first prequel "The Man with a Short Fuse," focuses on the early life of a single member of the Cosmic Force, taking place a full 24 hours before the "meteor shower incident" in Cosmic Force #1. While "Fuse" chronicled the rocky marriage of public defender Daniel Stafford (later code-named 'Fuse') and his then-wife, hotel manager Susan James, "Imagine" takes you back to the childhood days of former nurse Sandra Winters, who as her current codename Imagine states, had been a daydreamer since she was a child, much to the dismay of her regimented parents William and Dora, who were both doctors. Both her parents crushed her dreams of being a singer or dancer, due to those career's uncertain finances, and forced her into the medical field. Intrigued so far? Well, the rest of it should be finished by September, in time for my next confirmed show: Open Arts and Music Festival Glendale on Saturday September 15th.

As mentioned in the email headline, I also found time to hit a few pins (but mostly get gutter balls) at a local bowling alley for a friend and co-worker's birthday. It was great seeing her and other current and former co-worker's again, and the social experience more than made up for my poor bowling skills.

Well, that's about it for this week. My apologies if this newsletter is short, but that's the life of an indy creator: some weeks are busy, some not so busy. Before I go, I would like to ask those of you who purchased any issue of Damn Tourists to please post a review of the book when you get a chance at: It would really help me to get your feedback on what you like and may not like about that series, which has been my most popular at comic conventions. So stay cool during this extended heat wave here in Southern California and have a fantastic week!




Allen Carter

Carter Comics

The Kings of Soft Rock at the Hollywood Bowl!

Greetings fans!


No sooner than the triple digit heat calms down, now we get that wonderful steamy, sticking, energy-draining humidity. I thought I left this in Hawaii 13 years ago. I mention this because the weather has affected progress on my 2nd Cosmic Force Prequel project "Just Imagine." I'm still shooting for a completion month of late August, but it will be slow-going due to uncomfortable working conditions. I'm also going to be submitting "Damn Tourists" for consignment at Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica, as well as mailing copies to the Hawaii Comic Book Alliance back on Oahu to sell at Amazing Comic Con Aloha in August. While I can't be there physically due to low finances, my books can at least have a presence there, and longtime friends and family in my home state can get a first look at my work since I moved away from the islands. Lastly in Carter Comics-related news, I am confirmed as an artist vendor at the second annual Open Arts and Music Festival in Glendale on Saturday September 15th. In addition to promoting and selling my work there, I will also be conducting a 30-minute demonstration on how to draw a figure of speech.


On the non-carter comics side of the news, I had another busy weekend which actually began on Thursday night with the fantastic 40th anniversary screening of Superman the Movie. It was a surreal experience to see a movie I've watched thousands of times in the comfort of my own home, finally in a movie theater. Since the film originally was released two years before I was born, I never got the chance to view it in all its cinematic glory. It was great watching it not only with friends from work, but a packed house os Superman fans, laughing and cheering along the way. There was even an appearance by surviving producer Ilya Salkind and actor Jack O'Halloran (who played Kryptonian villain Non in the film). Friday was a return to Los Tres Hermanos to hear and see my good friends Angel and Frankie rock the bar/restaurant again with funky r&b and latin covers (The Gap Band's "Outstanding" being the stand-out), and Sunday was a last-minute viewing of a play reading I was invited to by my good artist friend Donna.


But it was really all about Saturday night. As the title of this email states, "The Kings of Soft Rock" took over Hollywood Bowl that evening (as well as Friday night) with Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and the headliner Michael McDonald, belting out their soothing, soulful, and sometimes hard-rocking classic tunes. Unlike James Taylor the month before, I wasn't alone this time, and took my mother as an early birthday present for her. As it was her first trip to the Bowl, she was initially in awe of the venue, and wasn't able to comprehend her enjoyment of the concert until the next day. The real treat of this show for me was the fact that all three artists are musically linked not just by the genre they produce, but by collaborating with one another on lyrics and vocals. Christopher Cross's 1980 hit "Ride Like the Wind" features Michael McDonald on backing vocals, which he also did here at the bowl. Then when it was McDonald's turn to take the stage, who would join him on his 1979 Doobie Brothers #1 hit "What a Fool Believes" than co-writer of the song Kenny Loggins. As for Loggins himself, he rocked the bowl as well with his own catalogue of big hits, ending of course with his two signature tunes the 1986 "Danger Zone" and the 1984 anthem "Footloose." My only regret is that Michael McDonald didn't come out a third time to sing backup on Loggins' 1982 hit "Heart to Heart."  Overall it was a fantastic show, and as you can probably tell by me noting the years these songs were released, I'm a soft rock nerd. Wanna fight about it?


So that was my end of week and weekend in a nut shell. This week I'll be continuing work on "Just Imagine," and I have a few surprises in mind when it comes to my Mongoose Mondays books. Definitely stay tuned for that. Enjoy your week!




Allen Carter

Carter Comics

WAY too hot this weekend!


I think that most, if not all of you here, have experienced the first days of blazing summer heat. Dealing with it in Las Vegas two weeks ago during the comic convention first wasn't too bad, since I was mostly in the air conditioned convention center, or my cousin's air-conditioned house down the road for the four days I was in town. However, coming back to LA and dealing with it every day is an entirely different story. The intense 113 degree temperatures I experienced in both North Hollywood and Glendale on Friday set an unbearable tone for the weekend. As such, I didn't get much work done on my next Cosmic Force prequel "Just Imagine," outside of fixing up my first three comic pages to be Photoshop coloring ready. It was more about escaping the oven that was my apartment in the San Fernando Valley, and into a cool theater to watch 3 films between late friday night and sunday afternoon: Friday night was Incredibles 2 down the street at Laemmle Noho 7, Saturday afternoon was Ant-Man and the Wasp at Arclight Santa Monica (unfortunately, the coolest place there was not the Pier, or the theater, it was the sandwich shop a few blocks away who had their AC on FULL BLAST), and Sunday afternoon was the Mister Rogers documentary "Won't you be my Neighbor?".  All three films were excellent despite suffering residual effects from the outside heat, mostly fatigue. I used the rest of the time in front of two fans and a weak AC unit at home catching up on Netflix shows "Glow Season 2" "Luke Cage Season 2," and CW shows put on Netflix after their current seasons ended: "Supergirl Season 3 " and "The Flash Season 4," the latter of which I finished. Flash was much better this season, with a more refreshing, threatening, non-speedster villain. The other three shows I'm only a few episodes in and don't have a strong opinion on yet.

So that's all for this week. I will close with my anticipation for the 40th anniversary screening of Superman the Movie, playing at Alex Theatre near my job this thursday night at 7:30.  Have a great week everyone and try to stay cool!


Allen Carter

Carter Comics

What's new with Carter Comics in 2018:

Yes, we're already three months into the year, and some of the new projects and techniques that I wanted to try out with Carter Comics are currently in progress. Others have yet to be used.........but they will be. Here's a quick list of what's new and what's kind-of-new at the ol' C.C. headquarters:

Cosmic Force #6: "Aftermath Part Two."  Following the completion of Damn Tourist #4 last February,  and the reminders of convention fans who purchased my previous 5 issues of the science-fiction/suspense series, this sixth issue will be finally finished at the end of April. Unfortunately, that won't be in time for my biggest show of the year Wondercon, but it will be ready for my May shows East LA C.A.P.E. and Comic Con Revolution. The reason for the delay was the same as for Damn Tourists #4: moving, personal issues, and two freelance projects. It will all be worth it though, as the ending of "Aftermath Part Two" will feature the biggest cliffhanger yet since our five meteor shower spectators-turned superhuman fugitives had their lives turned upside down by the five mysterious light sources: The individuals behind their two-year disappearance, strange abilities, and even stranger appearance, finally reveal themselves! 

Just Imagine: A Cosmic Force Prequel: The second of the five 12-page single character stories that I will be developing, this book will chronicle the early years of Sandra "Imagine" Winters' life, from demanding parents, to having a career forced onto her, all leading up to the final twenty four hours of her old existence before the "meteor shower incident" changed all that. This one should be completed by the end of April or early May.

Mongoose Mondays in Motion:  A much more interactive version of my three-year social media illustration game series, I am now recording my figure of speech sketches in time-lapse format, and they are completed in pencil only before they are uploaded to Facebook, twitter, and Instagram. Not only can fans try to name the figure of speech being displayed, but they can watch the creation of the drawing as well. I started this new version in February.

Damn Tourists #5: (No Story Title Yet)  I'm currently brainstorming possible names for the title of this issue, but the more important thing is that I know where I want to take my clueless travelers next: Florida. Driving in from the west coast after being chased out of Las Vegas, Nevada due to their unexpected good luck with casino games that drained the city's finances dry, our unknowingly obnoxious foursome enter the sunshine state and encounter theme parks, the everglades, the miami club scene, and finally, spring breakers in Ft. lauderdale. I'm shooting to have this one completed by the end of the year, or at the latest, in time for Wondercon 2019.

Exhibiting at more out-of-state comic book conventions:  I have done only one convention as an exhibitor back in June 2014: Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. That needs to change, and soon. So, this June, I will be taking a short birthday vacation to Seattle. While I will primarily be there to relax and sightsee in a city that I've always wanted to visit for the last eight years, I will also be checking out the downtown convention center and surrounding areas, getting familiar with them, as the wildly successful Emerald City Comic Convention takes place at that site every March. And I may possibly try to exhibit at another out of state show this September in nearby Portland Oregon: Rose City Comic Con.

So, that's about it for all the Carter Comics happenings. I'm making it my mission this year to be very choosy when it comes to tabling at cons and art festivals, so I can have more time to complete new material, and at the same time, focus on shows that I either have been successful at previously, or new shows that I have a good feeling about. Check back here around late springtime for a report on how it pans out so far. Until then!

Carter Comics looking back at 2017 and looking ahead to 2018

Hello everyone!

The fact that I haven't had time to write here since the beginning of the year should definitely indicate just how busy my 2017 was. Now, I'm back here writing with just a week and a half left in the year. I guess now's a great time to look at how the last 12 months went for Carter Comics. I'll cover the good, the bad, and the just plain weird.

THE GOOD: Simply put, Carter Comics took everything to a whole new level this year. From the convention appearances to sales made to number of books sold to new artist contacts I met, I can clearly see an improvement on promoting and selling my work in 2017 compared with last year. Highlights of the year include an unexpected success at the new small Earth Realm Comic Con at Align Gallery in Highland Park,  breaking my all-time sales records at Wondercon Anaheim, then breaking it again at San Jose's Silicon Valley Comic Con, my first Free Comic Book Day at a legendary Culver City comic shop, and absolutely killing it in attracting crowds and making sales at both Glendale and Reseda outdoor artwalks. At the Earth Realm show in late winter, myself and a handful or artists set up shop in a tiny art gallery for three days braving heavy rains, a presidential inauguration, and a march protesting said inauguration.  These three adversities not only brought us closer together than we already were (figuratively and literally), but it eventually attracted the few people who braved the elements and other events to come see us. One man in particular, who was a family member of a 13-year old artist prodigy vending with us, purchased art and books from nearly every exhibitor at the show. The result for overcoming all those odds: 15 items sold and a $160 profit after paying just a $25 table fee for a three-day event. In the spring, my fourth appearance as a small press vendor saw me debut the often-delayed but finally completed 4th issue of Damn Tourists (completed at the end of February), and in addition, start a "buy issue 1 get issue 2" free deal with my Damn Tourists series. While the crowds in the small press area weren't nearly as consistently crowded as artist alley, the attendees that did wander into our area ate up both my 2 for 1 deal and Damn Tourists in general, purchasing full sets of the book series and selling out of issue 2. A few even purchased a full-set of my Cosmic Force series (five issues), and a few of my Mongoose Mondays books. The result of this new sales strategy: 42 books sold with a $217 profit, up from my last showing there in 2014 when sold 22 books and made a $122 profit. As mentioned previously, my very first showing at Silicon Valley Comic Con was even better. Here I sold out of issues 2,3, and 4 of Damn Tourists, and even picked up a custom print and t-shirt from my talented table neighbor. Also, thanks to a good friend of mine who I saw for the first time in five years, my all-time convention sales record was broken in just a month after Wondercon with 46 books sold and a $224 profit. In the late spring, I got to participate in my very first Free Comic Book Day, which is an event that takes place at multiple comic shops in California. I set up shop with some other artist friends of mine at the Comic Bug in Culver City. Despite car-trouble to and from the event, and nearby thunderstorms threatening our outdoor event, the show went very well. While I sold some books, the highlight of the show was getting to do free sketches for comic fans of all ages.  Finally, going into fall, were two shows that absolutely took me by surprise: Glendale Open Arts and Music Festival, and Reseda Rising Artwalk and Night Market. For the Glendale show, I had done a smaller 2-hour version of this outdoor art event the year prior on a Friday night on a sparsely populated side street, but this year's show could not have been more different: An 8-hour Saturday outdoor event which closed off a major Glendale Street anchored with numerous restaurants and shops. 8-ft tables with canopies and lights for the evening hours totaled just $15 each for vendors, but I qualified for an artist grant from the show promoter and wound up with a free table. The happy result was a show that drew in alot of attendees right off the street and in front of my table, and with lots of money to spend. I ended the night with 35 books sold and a $208 profit----the most that I had ever made at a one-day show. Reseda Artwalk sales were only less than Glendale because I sold most of my inventory at Glendale, and was unable to restock for the Reseda show that took place the very next week. That of course, meant that I sold out of whatever books I had left (Damn Tourists again), with a show tally of 22 books sold and a $136 profit, up from last year's show where I sold 9 books and made a $75 profit. Vendor spaces for both shows were $50 by the way.

THE BAD: Yes, like the old sitcom theme suggests, you have to take it with the good. You can only get better when you recognize your failures, and mine were at the following shows (four of which I made no sales at): The Hive Art Gallery show and Zinefest in downtown LA, which really didn't turn out to be the right fit for me, as attendees were not there looking for comics (or at least my comics), Comic Invasion at the City of Commerce Public Library was more of an interactive panel event then a proper comic convention, with the few attendees frequenting the panels more than the vendor hall. Also the hard-to-find location resulted in low attendance. The final San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention of 2017, a show I had done previously three times a year since 2014, unfortunately had a less-than-stellar December due mostly to the extensive wildfires in Santa Clarita, Sylmar, The 405 freeway/Sepulveda Pass, and of course Ventura. The diehards that did come by were mostly bin-diving for great deals on old comics. Announcing the hourly raffles was fun though. Stan Lee's LA Comic Con at the Los Angeles Convention Center (which I called "Stan Lee's Lookie-Loo Comic Con in response to a facebook post about how the show went for vendors), took a huge step back from the improvement it made in 2016 by in my opinion adding too many celebrities that commanded most of the attention and money of the attendees (After Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was announced, the fate of Artist Alley sales was sealed). Last year, which was the first year of the show's name change from Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo, showed alot of promise with a large Artist Alley far away from the celebrity stage, and some attendees that were willing to take a chance on new art and comics. That show in 2016 resulted in 16 books sold and a $136 profit. This show unfortunately drew a different type of crowd mainly there for brand name products, which resulted in the same number of books sold, but with a $90 profit (though I did get interviewed for a dailymotion video podcast, and got to spin the Price Is Right wheel, which was featured at the show).

THE JUST PLAIN WEIRD: Yeah, these shows were just random: PartyPunx at The Airliner Bar in Lincoln Heights combines a smaller version of a local artwalk via the Bar's back patio outside, with live local bands inside. It was an interesting collaboration, though I wasn't entirely sure how many bar patrons would be purchasing art or books after spending money on drinks. We got decent crowds and sales (vendor spaces were free), but the difficult part of the show was the hours: 9 PM - 2AM. Luckily I had some vendor friends helping me load my car in the wee hours of the morning after the show was over. A Geranium Festival and Artwalk? Yep, that happened in Monterey Park following the Commerce Comic Invasion show. With just a $15 table fee it wasn't much of a financial gamble, but the customer base was.........interesting. An older Japanese crowd (many of them speaking only Japanese) came by my table, but my lack of bilingual skills prevented any kind of conversation. I wound up with a few sales from other vendors which made up for it, but yeah, this show was just a little weird. Finally, while Comic Con Palm Springs was a decent three day show (being able to save on a hotel by staying at a friend's place helped, along with alot of last minute buyers), but this one interaction with a customer classifies it in the "weird" category:  A guy in his mid-20s came by my table, looked at my single pieces of comic book artwork, and said to me: "I don't get it."  I explained to him that they were comic book panels, but he still responded by scratching his head. I haven't had quite that kind of reaction to my work before or since.

PLANS FOR 2018: So, what does this mean for Carter Comics next year?  For one thing, being extremely picky when it comes to exhibiting at new shows (especially the smaller ones). No more appearing at the same show that occurs more than once a year. Instead, I will pick the time of year that I will be vending at that show. Also, look for a new book release schedule. Currently, I try to release one new book a year to debut at Wondercon, historically my biggest show of the year. Now, I want to increase that by releasing two new books a year, with the second book debuting at a fall show such as Bakersfield, or if I decide to give Stan Lee's LA Comic Con one more try. So for 2018, expect issue 6 of Cosmic Force at Wondercon, and my second Cosmic Force Prequel "Just Imagine," at the end of the summer ready for Bakersfield or LA Comic Con. Lastly (but not leastly. Yes, I'm making up a word),  I will be working on new monthly Mongoose Monday games via flash animations. Those will be done the 1st of the month starting in February. In the meantime, I will be taking a much-deserved rest from both my day job, conventions, and social media. So, thank you all who have supported me through likes, comments, social-media lurking and then telling me later in person that you've followed me and my work. No matter the method, it all means alot to me.

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018!

Allen Carter
Carter Comics

New year, New schedule, New approach.

Happy 2017 everyone!

I know that I haven't written anything here in quite some time, but I needed to get my priorities in order both my professional and personal life---which will be the focus of this blog. So, the weekly schedule I started with this back in late 2014 will now be a monthly one.

2016 was an incredibly busy year for me, both at my day job and at Carter Comics. A total of sixteen conventions (which would have been seventeen if my poor health hadn't caused me to cancel one appearance), a full year of Mongoose Mondays, comic page work on Damn Tourists issue 4, completion of my third freelance project Slade Minister, and a fourth freelance project that was later terminated. For 2017 I'm going to reduce the number of conventions I exhibit at, focusing more on the quality of the show, rather than the quantity of shows that I do. So far I'm booked for six shows between January and April: The brand new three-day show Earth Realm Comic Con in Highland Park, Pasadena Comic and Toy Show, the two-day event Tulare Sci-Fi Con, The Hive Art Gallery Bazaar in Downtown LA, and two three-day extravaganzas at Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, and my biggest show of the year: Wondercon in Anaheim. I will also be completing my fourth issue of my satire comic book series "Damn Tourists" at the end of February, resuming work on Cosmic Force #6 in March, ordering alternate covers for my Damn Tourists #1 and Mongoose Monday titles, creating new Mongoose Monday Facebook games featuring literal band name illustrations, and streamlining the look of my Carter Comics brand using a signature orange color for T-Shirts, table covers, business cards, and more.

That is alot to do just in the first four months of the year to be sure, but I'm just gonna take things one at a time unlike last year. There will be plenty of time to rest between projects as to not "burn myself out" as I've done many times before.  Well, that's it for this month. Come back here in February to read about the results of my first show and new merchandise. Best wishes to all of you for a great 2017 and I'll see you later!


Winding down Carter Comics Convention tour 2016

Hello everyone! For those of you who followed this once weekly blog, you may wonder why that schedule has changed since I last wrote here back in May.  Well simply put, I've been busy. A lot of my time has been divided between my full-time day job, two freelance art jobs, Mongoose Monday illustration games, my own comic projects, and of course, exhibiting at Comic Conventions.

From Long Beach Comic Expo in February, to Long Beach Comic Con last weekend, and all the smaller shows in between, 2016 has been a very "con-heavy" year thus far. However, despite the sheer number of shows I've appeared at this year, the attendance and sales have been lower. Salesand attendance wise, my best shows were Reseda Artwalk and Night Market back in June, Glendale Open Arts and Music Festival, Highland Park Comic Con, and Long Beach Comic Con. My just-okay or worst shows this year were Baldwin Park Comic Expo, LA Derby Dolls Comic Con, Buy Indie Comics Day, San Fernando Valley Comic Con, Long Beach Comic Expo, and Comic Invasion, where for the first time in my six years of exhibiting, I never made a single sale. There are a number of different reasons as to why my worst shows were so bad: Low attendee turnout, unenthusiastic crowds, not enough promotion, cons scheduling too many side activities (like panels) that keep attendees out of the main exhibit floor, and sometimes just bad timing. I'm also honest enough to admit that perhaps my skills as a salesperson were poor during these bad shows. On the other hand, there are a number of different reasons for my best shows: High attendee turnout, enthusiastic crowds, no competing events on the same days, and most importantly: Good communication between show promoters and residents of the town they're throwing the event in, in terms of what they want out of a comic convention. This of course, ensures that potential convention attendees will be treated to things that they like and want at the shows, instead of being told what to like and want.

There is another side to doing too many conventions, regardless of their quality: Not enough time to finish new material. Although I'm still building my fanbase and can currently get away with not releasing a new issue of my larger projects like Cosmic Force and Damn Tourists (this is where the quickly-produced Mongoose Monday books come in handy), there are a lot of the same convention attendees that go to many different shows throughout a year, and even if they don't stop by your table to view your work, they still see you. Should those same attendees pass by my table and not see anything new, that doesn't say a lot of good things about how quickly I can produce a new comic. I recently ran into a fan who only likes and buys my Cosmic Force series at Long Beach Comic Con. He's purchased all five issues and has been waiting for issue number 6 for almost two years. While I understand his persistent asking, and I'm happy that he does still ask (which makes him very loyal of course), between everything else on my plate, I haven't been able to fulfill that request unfortunately.  As fun as doing cons can be, they can be addictive to an exhibitor: Too many can take a toll on you physically, and the sheer number of new conventions popping up nowadays can be extremely enticing. Case in point: Due to me being way behind schedule on both Damn Tourists issue 4 and Cosmic Force issue 6 (both were supposed to be finished in time for Long Beach Comic Con last week), I decided to end my convention tour for the year after Comikaze Expo in late October. Then I get news on cheap tables at Palm Springs Comic Con in November.  As much as I try to say 'enough for now,'  that convention enchantress keeps pulling me back in.

So will I do that show? Who knows. I don't even know yet. But what I do know is that I won't be doing any other 'out of the blue' show between my next three cons: Santa Clarita Valley Comic Con next weekend, Mystic Dragon Indie Book Festival in City of Industry on October 22nd, and Comikaze Expo the weekend before Halloween (Friday October 28th to Sunday October 30th).

Of course, that could all change, if that "con enchantress" has anything to say about it.

LA Metro Expo line to Santa Monica: History is Made!

Well, as the media said time and time again, rail finally returned to Santa Monica Friday, May 20th, at 12 PM PST for the first time since 1953, when the red streetcars were discontinued. This time, it's a sleek new light rail line called the Expo line (its name coming from the boulevard it parallels, exposition boulevard to be exact) that has just opened a 6.6 mile extension from Culver City (where the original terminus was) all the way to Downtown Santa Monica, just four short walkable blocks to the Santa Monica Pier and the pacific ocean. While LA Metro has opened several rail and bus lines previously (The Noho to Pasadena Express and the Azusa Gold Line extension most recently), This Expo Line extension to Santa Monica is widely recognized as a 'game changer' in LA public transit. People who normally commute by car and look down at public transportation were getting just as excited about the new line as longtime transit riders. I of course, had to experience this new way of traveling to Santa Monica without a car for myself.

What did I think of the extension in general? It's a huge step forward in getting non-metro riders interested in trying out rail service. Thousands of people already frequent downtown Santa Monica and the adjacent Pier, along with the other thousands that either commute or live in the area, and the Expo Line is a great alternative to sitting in traffic. Granted, the line isn't the fastest with the two end portions in Downtown LA and Downtown Santa Monica running in the middle of the street, causing slowdowns at stoplights, but it serves its main purpose of giving commuters another way to reach an already bustling community.  Aside from the line's new terminus, there are some other station areas that our worth exploring: The Westwood/Rancho Park station comes to mind. It's barely a half-mile from Pico Blvd, where the Westfield Mall and a nice arrangement of shops/eateries are located. I personally liked a new pub I found called "Gulp," which has a great selection of beers and burgers. For future explorations, I'll be using this line mostly to rollerblade at the Venice Beach to Will Rogers State Beach bike path without having to pay $10 for parking, but I'll also be trying out new areas by other stations such as Westwood/Rancho Park, and Expo/Bundy. This line extension was a long time coming, and it's only the beginning, with the Crenshaw Line being the next new rail line set to open in 2019. This line (with the help of and elevated airport terminal tram), will finally connect Metro rail to one of the nations busiest airports. Combine that with the building of the purple line extension to Westwood and UCLA, and the long-awaited Sepulveda Pass/405 freeway rail project, and Los Angeles stands a good chance of transforming its "car-culture" stigma.

Transit Fridays

In my continuing quest to support public transportation in Los Angeles, I've decided to extend my use of LA Metro beyond the weekends. For the last three weeks, I have taken one day out of my workweek to leave my car at home and let someone else do the driving. While I have regularly used Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and ridesharing to explore LA on the weekends, I recently started using the new express bus that runs between North Hollywood and Pasadena. Called the 501 express, it was put into service back on March 1st in order to connect three Metro rapid transit lines: The red line subway and orange line busway in North Hollywood, and the Gold Line light rail in Pasadena, serving the cities of North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena via some surface streets and the 134 freeway carpool lane. Since one of the few stops is in Glendale where I currently work, this express line was feasible for me to use. There are sacrifices to make of course: The express bus' North Hollywood Red Line Station terminus is a one-mile, forty minute walk from my apartment, which requires that I leave an hour earlier for work than I usually would when I drive, and the Glendale stop is a twenty minute walk to my office, but those sacrifices are easy to make for once a week, a day I like to call "Transit Fridays." I chose Friday to do this transportation experiment because I don't work late that day, which would definitely require me to drive. So far it's been a very relaxing change of pace in my work commute routine, where I can relax on the way to work, and access my building quicker without having to cross through the parking garage first. On the way home, I can stop by a great burger joint to grab dinner, as the bus drops me back off at the North Hollywood Station and I use Lankershim blvd to walk home from there. The main reason for this transit experiment: Los Angeles Metro is using this express bus to gauge passenger interest in a possible bus rapid transit or rail line between North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, should the current line be successful. While most of the buses initially picked up no more than five passengers the first few times I used the route, the number of passengers nearly doubled the next week. I can only hope that this line does become popular enough to warrant a mass-transit line (rail or bus rapid transit) that serves these very same communities. If or when that happens, I'll be commuting to work via public transit more than just on Fridays.

2016: The Year of the Mongoose

Happy New Year everyone! For those of you who didn't see my facebook post detailing the changes to how and what I promote from Carter Comics, I wanted to use my first blog of the year to elaborate on that announcement: As the headline suggests, 2016 will be all about The Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose!

Months of creative burnout from writing, illustrating, and promoting three comic titles (FOS Mongoose, Damn Tourists, and Cosmic Force), combined with the increasing popularity of my Mongoose Mondays illustration games on facebook drove me to this decision. As much as I enjoy all three of my comic titles,  I need to start focusing on one title that can be the flagship of Carter Comics, and the FOS Mongoose fits that bill perfectly: Simple and fun to create, a growing audience on social media, and a character that can be or do anything.

To begin this creative shift, I will be doing some retooling of the Mongoose Monday games (which started up again last month). The game illustration categories will be broken up by the number of Mondays in a given month: The first week will be a Figure-Of-Speech illustration, with a theater background drawn, the second week will be a Pop Song illustration with a youtube player shell background, the third week will be a movie illustration with a multiplex theater background, and week four will be a tv show illustration with a flat-screen tv background. For months with five Mondays in them, I will be doing a special "Mongoose Mondays Mix" which will contain all four categories in one illustration that must be named (these categories will be different from the previous four given in a particular month). I will also be celebrating the third birthday of the FOS Mongoose, and the third anniversary of Mongoose Mondays in mid-February during my first show of the year at Long Beach Comic Expo on Saturday February 20th to Sunday the 21st.  Also, expect a Mongoose Mondays figure-of-speech illustration book to debut at the show, featuring 16 pages of illustration games that readers can name. In addition, I will have a new vertical banner and table cloth featuring my flagship character to further hammer down my message.

So that's what you can expect from Carter Comics in 2016. Hopefully I won't be burned out enough to do another one of these blogs, but I can't make any promises. In any case, stay tuned to this site during the month for more of my thoughts on movies, comics, transportation, and other topics!

Brave New World Comics Indie Bazaar: What a way to end 2015!

It's been awhile since my last blog here (mostly due to me being backed up with art and comic projects, my day job, and the thanksgiving holiday), but I'm back to talk  little bit about the event that marks the end of my comic convention/podcast/comic shop signing circuit for the year 2015. Brave New World Comics, a small comic shop in Santa Clarita with a large loyal following, worked in conjunction with Barbra and Bryan Dillon of Fanboy Comics (comic vendor friends of mine who also had a table there) to make this indie-creator friendly event a reality. I must mention first that in between Comikaze Expo and this comic shop event, I did have a vendor appearance at the fall edition of the San Fernando Valley Comic Con, however that show was very lackluster in both sales and customer engagement. This small comic shop event in Southern California's Antelope Valley was the complete opposite, and this great experience actually began long before the event started:

Earlier in the day Saturday, I spent the afternoon in Valencia with my friends Chazlynne and Nathan Bishop, who I had not seen in six years-----Chazlynne. specifically, I had went to elementary school with back in Hawaii. We went to lunch, and had alot of time to talk about what we're all up to now, and old times growing up in the 50th state. As the comic shop show start time got closer (the show hours were from 6-9 pm), I realized that I would also be meeting up with two other Valencia and Santa Clarita friends who were planning to stop by the shop to see me. Upon setting up my display in the shop ( the first time I had ever been to Brave New World Comics mind you), I instantly loved the intimacy of the small shop, which featured seven independent artists between their downstairs floor and upstairs loft. I wasn't even done setting up when a new fan of mine that i had met at San Fernando Valley Comic Con, came by with his friend to see my work and buy my books. Charles Winters, who since the valley convention, has been sharing alot of my artwork and art-related posts on Facebook and twitter, purchased the first issue of Damn Tourists, and stuck around to chat about my work and some of the conventions that he's attended. Shortly after Charles left, two of my other Santa Clarita friends walked into the shop: friend and animal trainer extraordinare Tuesday Torrese, as well as special education teacher and number one fan of the FOS Mongoose, Wendy Shaner. They picked up some books and chatted also ( I even gave Wendy a printed version of her mongoose monday illustration game sketch prize that I signed for her). Rounding out the sales was Chaz's husband Nathan, who picked up at least five of my books------how a bout that! Before the event was over, I did some christmas shopping at my fellow vendors tables, who in turn shopped at my table and purchased more books!

When the clock on my droid phone struck 9:00 p.m, I had a great feeling of accomplishment inside of me. Taking a chance on a shop that I had never been to, in a town that I had never been to, and all the while,  I never felt more at home------thanks mostly in part to the friends I knew there that came out to support me,  and especially to the wonderful Barbra and Bryant of Fanboy Comics for putting alot of leg, arm,  everything-work to make this holiday show happen. As the title of this blog states, this show was the best way to end what had started out as a very challenging year for me both financially and mentally. It only gives me even more motivation next year to not only return to larger conventions as an exhibitor, but to also hit up other smaller shops and conventions in towns that are starved for new, off-beat comics. The sky's the limit in 2016!

Comikaze Expo: Back behind the table

The 2015 edition of Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo at Los Angeles Convention Center has officially wrapped up as of Sunday evening. This time last year, I reviewed the Expo's 2014  show in my very first blog as an attendee hanging out with friends from out of town, talking with Artist Alley friends, and being interviewed by good friend Tyrone Tann of Stauros Entertainment about the progress of a comic book that I was producing for him. Three-hundred-sixty-five days later, I'm an Artist Alley exhibitor once again at Comikaze's fifth show, joined by Tyrone and other great friends in promoting and selling the now-finished freelance comic book. How was the show for me on the other side of the table again (I exhibited at Comikaze once before in 2012)? How do I compare this year's event to last years? Was the show great or not so great overall? Well, just settle down, and I'll start from the beginning: 

This year's Comikaze Expo was a three-day ordeal spread across not one but two halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The South Hall---it's sole location the past four years----was now home to celebrity photo ops, movie and tv props, and the show's famed "Hot Topic" stage, while the West Hall housed comic dealers and retailer booths, a Stan Lee museum, and of course, Artist Alley----my home away from home. For this event, my temporary "home" included not just yours truly, but also friends and business partners Tyrone Tann, actor/puppeteer Justin Galluccio, his mother Joann, and actor Zane Huett. Since the show started on Friday, I wasn't able to set up the table due to my work schedule, but Tyrone and his crew were more than happy to do so until I joined them the next day. Our main objective: to promote and sell copies of the aforementioned new freelance comic book I wrote and illustrated, a four-color panel adaptation of Tyrone and Justin's "Blooob" live-action web-series, featuring Justin as the operator and voice of the Blooob puppet, which he also brought to the show. Also present on our tabletop, were my other comic titles fully created by me: "Damn Tourists," "The F.O.S. Mongoose," and "Cosmic Force." with "Blooob" the puppet as our main draw to the table, the show was moderately successful for us, as we sold eleven books between the Blooob, Cosmic Force, and FOS Mongoose books. The main highlights of the show were the reactions Justin got with "Blooob" greeting customers (especially little kids), and the interviews and promos we did discussing the book thanks to the help of Tyrone and his cameraman. Then there were my various rounds to the rest of Artist Alley to visit my vendor buddies and their tables, including Christie Shinn, Lonnie Milsap, Paul Jamison, Wendy Shaner (who presented me with more Mongoose Monday art to sign), and newlyweds Mark Rivers and Kamiel Harrison, who just got back from their honeymoon in Europe. Rounding out the show highlights were unexpected visits from old and new friends/acquaintances like Francisco Dominguez from Meltdown Comics, Jesse Campbell from San Fernando Valley Comic Con (my next show), new Damn Tourists fan Soni Trevor, and former co-workers Vahagn Kirakosian and Jenn Muranaka, all of whom stopped by to say hello. It still amazes me just how many people I've met in the five years of being an Artist Alley Vendor, and I expect that number to grow the further my convention circuit rolls along.

So, my overall thoughts on this year's Comikaze Expo? Despite the kind words and fun experiences, the show was mediocre in terms of both sales and customer interactions. I suspect it was the Halloween weekend that kept many attendees from parting with their cash, and perhaps the event organizers should rethink next year's show dates. I would recommend the weekend after Halloween for next year's Comikaze, as a general public recovering from the holiday would be in more of a spending mood after the parties, costume purchases, and trick-or-treating are behind them. Also, and this is a smaller issue: get some microphones with less audio feedback, and try not to speak to close to the mic when doing loudspeaker announcements. You'll give both vendors and attendees less migraines that way. On the positive side, I did feel that splitting up the show was a good idea, as the customer-distracting Hot Topic stage did not share the same space as Artist Alley. This was definitely a step in the right direction in showcasing us members of the "Alley" more. As a whole, this year's Expo I felt was better than last years in terms of show scale and floor organization. This con has the potential to be a can't miss show if it can zero in on what sets it apart from other shows. I personally don't like the "L.A.'s Comic-Con" tagline they're starting to use, as we don't really need another "comic-media" event like in San Diego. Perhaps Comikaze can study what Wondercon does at the same venue next year and learn from that, as that show has a fantastic reputation for balancing celebrities, pop culture merchandise, large comic dealers, and artist alley. So whether you liked this year's Comikaze Expo or not, just remember these four words:

There's always next year.


Carter Comics gets ready for Comikaze Expo!

I know it's been awhile since my last blog, but work's been very busy lately, which leads to long nights (but bigger paychecks). Aside from my day job, I've been preparing for my return to exhibiting at large conventions, which will start again at this year's Comikaze Expo next weekend (yes, Halloween Weekend, just like last year), from Friday October 30, through Sunday November 1st at the Los Angeles Convention Center right in the heart of Downtown LA. Thanks in large part to my new job, I'm finally able to afford promoting and selling my comics and artwork at larger venues once again. There is one difference to this show compared to many other that I've done in the past five years though; For this event, I will be sharing my table with a popular production company called Stauros Entertainment, with whom I've written and illustrated a comic book based on their live-action YouTube series called "Blooob," about an alien that comes to earth to learn about human behavior that can be adapted to the extra-terrestrial's race. His "teachers?" two teenagers and a pool guy who find his crashed spaceship in their pool.  In addition to this project, the producer, actors, and relatives of the actors will be present at the table. One of the actors, Justin Galluccio, will have "Blooob" himself (in puppet form) at our table. But that's not all, as on the Carter Comics side of things, I'll have my three separate comic titles (Damn Tourists issues 1-3, The Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose issues 1-4, and my Cosmic Force volume one trade paperback). Another change to my usual convention formats, is that I will only be present for just two days of this three-day comic extravaganza, due to Friday being a workday for me. My fine friends at Stauros Entertainment Tyrone Tann, Justin Galluccio, his mother Joann, and "Blooob" co-star Zane Huett will be holding down the fort on day one of the show until I make my first appearance Saturday morning. Preparing for this show under these new conditions has been a little nerve-wracking at first (due to Carter Comics being a one-man show for so long), but I welcome the new challenge and experience. 

A few words about the show as well: Comikaze Expo, better known as "Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo," has been L.A.'s largest and most popular comic conventions since it started back in 2011. Hosted by both comic legend Stan Lee and the "Mistress of the Dark" herself Elvira,  both of these talented and dynamic personalities spread their presence around the convention floor in the form of themed-activities such as museums, as well as just walking the floor and greeting fans. While a large part of the show is pop-culture media oriented, Comikaze has over the years made quite an effort to make sure that comics share just as big a piece of the convention pie.  This year's revealed show floor layout details  proves that in spades, expanding the event from the convention center's south hall and lobby, to its west hall across the street. The South Hall will host both celebrity and cosplay activities, while the West Hall will feature comics and comic-related material. A Stan Lee Museum, Artist Alley, and Small Press tables (we'll be at Small Press Table N05 here by the way), will be the attractions to this part of the floor. Anchoring the independent creator areas will be comic industry heavyweights Grant Morrison, Todd MacFarlane, and Jim Lee! With such an expansion to help keep a balance between pop culture media and comics, this is a show not to be missed. Carter Comics and Stauros Entertainment both look forward to seeing you there! 

My car-less weekend experiments:

If you've been reading at least a few of my blogs since I started them last year, you'll know that I have embraced the mass-transit portion of the Los Angeles Metro since moving from the mostly sprawling suburban Western San Fernando Valley in Canoga Park, to the denser East Valley in North Hollywood. Now that I've started working again at a new job in Downtown Glendale, where restaurants and stores are within walking distance but is sadly not served by any Metro Rail, I have decided to use more mass-transit at least once on the weekends since I have to drive to and from work during the week.

My first "transit experiment" actually started on Labor Day weekend, when I left my Jetta parked on the street, and took a trip to Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier to rollerblade. To accomplish this car-less feat, I carried my rollerblades in a backpack and walked to the North Hollywood Red Line Subway Station (about a mile from my apartment), took the Red Line to the 7th Street Metro Center Station in Downtown LA. From there I transferred to the Expo Line light rail, which currently runs west all the way to Culver City, which is still about six miles short of the beach (that will change next spring however, when the second phase of the line to Downtown Santa Monica is completed). To fill the transit gap until then, I took a Lyft rideshare vehicle from the station and was dropped off at the Venice Beach Pier. I then put on my rollerblades and skated all the way to Santa Monica Pier, switched back from my skates to my shoes, and walked around the nearby Promenade Mall until I was ready to make the return trip on a Lyft back to Culver City, Expo Line to Downtown, and a Red Line back to North Hollywood. The results of this first experiment: Not bad at all in terms of wait time for trains or rideshare vehicle, and the travel times were decent. The major downside was the separate expense of $12 each way on Lyft, when my Metro rides were technically free (since I had loaded a full balance on my TAP fare card). This is something I would definitely do if meeting up with friends on Saturday nights at any of the bars in Santa Monica, but I would still drive during a Saturday or Sunday to skate at the beach until the Expo Line extension is finished.

Transit experiment number two was this Saturday, meeting up with family in Woodland Hills. Despite the 100-degree heat, I left the old volkswagen parked on the street and braved it out to the Orange Line busway Station in North Hollywood (which is right across the street from the Red LIne Subway Station). Almost immediately, one of the two parked articulated buses the line uses pulled up to pick up passengers. The trip was fairly quick at 45 minutes from North Hollywood to Canoga Avenue in Woodland Hills. While this bus travels on an exclusive roadway that gives it a more reliable schedule, it does still have to stop for a few traffic lights, so the travel time can sometimes vary depending on how many lights it has to stop for, and how long the it is stopped for the traffic light. I believe that this trip only had about two or three brief stops at a traffic signal, which isn't bad at all for a Saturday. After arriving a block away from the Westfield Topanga Mall at the Canoga Avenue Station, it was just a short walk to meet my family for lunch and shopping in the newly-opened Topanga Village shopping center, which is an open-air segment of a mostly enclosed mall that covers about three blocks in the Western San Fernando Valley. It boasts a more pedestrian-friendly experience----well, except for the new Costco that anchors the center, I'm not sure how that's gonna fit, but I guess we'll see. Most of the major restaurants have yet to open, so we just explored the few things that were open along with plush seating arrangements and family activities. To really hammer home the "pedestrian-friendly" message, this new section of the mall has an air-conditioned trolley service that runs through not only all three sections of the shopping complex, but also nearby Warner center offices and apartments. How much does it cost? Nothing. It's free of charge, the trade-off being the non-stop promotion of the mall on TVs inside the trolley. Following a great new burger and beer at Red Robin and some shopping at both Costco and Target, I declared this transit experiment  a success. Once the new restaurants open up like Lucille's Barbeque and Pieology Pizzeria, I'll definitely be taking some weekend trips on the Orange Line there for a Saturday or Sunday lunch. And with many of these eateries serving beer on their menu, I can safely drink and dine knowing that I'm just an Orange Line ride away back to North Hollywood.

Final thoughts: I'm glad I'm taking on these weekend adventures without my car. it saves me on gas and maintenance, while allowing me to explore new areas I would have simply drove by in my car. I encourage everybody to take a least one day out of your weekend to take Metro Rail or BRT to a place you've always been meaning to check out, but never got around to doing so.  You'll be glad you did.

Long Beach Comic Con 2015:

I'm starting to not mind sitting out some conventions and just attending again. I just have to remind myself that I'm no longer on the outside looking in when it comes to the exhibitor experience, especially in "Artist Alley." This year's Long Beach Comic Con event once again didn't disappoint. A two-day convention taking place at the beautiful Long Beach Convention Center just steps from the waterfront with lots of great restaurants, aquariums, and scenic ferry rides like the Aqualink, its surroundings rival San Diego Comic Con for best overall convention experience.  

Since I wasn't exhibiting this year, I just got a Saturday attendee ticket (I should really start springing for a professional badge, since I am one). To avoid both the parking crunch and fees, I Metro'ed it from North Hollywood to Long Beach using the Red Line Subway and Blue Line Light Rail. The only downside in this option this weekend was the fact that a segment of the Blue Line track was under renovation, which meant that passengers had to use a temporary shuttle bus between the closed track to reach the other stations and continue either north to Los Angeles or south to Long Beach. Once I got there though, I was amazed at the large crowds gathering outside the Convention Center----more than I've seen in the five years I had exhibited there. Inside was just as crazy, but it luckily didn't translate to the ticket lines, as I was able to get my wristband rather quickly. My first thought when entering the exhibit hall this year, was how dark it looked. The same lighting system appeared to be in place, but for some reason it seemed like there were very few lights on in the hall. My first stop was Artist Alley of course, and I explained this weird lighting decision to all of my vendor friends I greeted: Tobias Gebhardt, Mark Rivers, Barbra and Bryant Dillon, JD Correa, Josh Hauke, Wendy Shaner, and Lonnie Milsap are just a few of my exhibitor buddies present behind the table. Lonnie had told me that Artist Alley this year had broken off into smaller segments. For example, Lonnie was a part of a table segment just for "funny books." It was a new way of spotlighting specific independent creative talent that the con was trying out, and from the looks of the crowds, it seemed very promising. Aside from talking shop with my artist friends, the other two highlights of the show was my lone purchase of the DVD documentary "The Death of Superman Lives," autographed by director John Schnepp who was in person, and then doing some autographing of my own when fellow vendor buddy Wendy Shaner brought out glossy printed versions of the sketches I did for her online for winning my "Mongoose Monday" illustration games. She asked me to sign them for herself, family, and students at her school, who have grown quite fond of my "Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose" character, as Wendy has used him in her teaching lessons. I was more that happy to sign my artwork, and later asked her if she could take photos of the signed sketches later to post them on my Facebook page. One of the last stops I made in the hall was to Phat Collectibles, an orange county comic shop that had a booth at the con. They run a convention of their own in January called Phat Con in Anaheim, and I went to ask for information on exhibiting. It's always great to hear about new shows (especially new FREE shows) where I can take my work to new audiences.

Well, after three hours simply flew by ( I arrived there around 2 p.m. and stayed until 5), not to mention my phone battery dying, I decided to call it a day. I said goodbye to as many friends as I could and began the trek back to North Hollywood via Metro Rail and temporary shuttle bus. Despite the fact that Long Beach COmic Con has been running shows since 2009, it's still an event that not many people outside of Long Beach know much about. While it doesn't have the name recognition of a Wondercon or even a Comikaze when you mention comic conventions to non-comic media fans, it has carved out a niche in being a show more for the traditional comic fan, rather than a media-heavy event with tv show and movie panels. I'm hope that my Artist Alley friends had a great show this weekend, and I will definitely be back behind the table for next year's Long Beach Comic Con, and Comic Expo next February and September. Now, it's on to preparing for my return to large comic conventions, starting with Comikaze Expo this Halloween! More details to come...

Back-to-Back Convention Weekend Aftermath:

 I just finished an appearance at the second of two local conventions this weekend, and they both were fantastic (albeit exhausting) shows: a short trip down the street Saturday afternoon to Emerald Knights Comics and Games in Burbank, close to my apartment, and then a longer trip across the valley to Granada Hills most of Sunday for the 2nd of three San Fernando Valley Comic Con events. Despite the fact that these were both smaller, local shows compared to larger conventions like Wondercon and Long Beach Comic Con,  the smaller size of both events was a great advantage in getting to know my customers better without all the loud noise and constant loudspeaker announcements. How much of an advantage were these shows for me? Well, let's start with the first show I did on Saturday at Emerald Knights Comics.

The event, a kind of mini-artist alley called "Support the Independents," is a showcase for new comics talent held twice a year at this spacious, two-level comic shop (they had another one in February). I first heard about the show from my good friends Bryant and Barbra Dillon over at Fanboy Comics, who were a part of the shop's February event, as well as this one.  I arrived about fifteen minutes before showtime, setting up my table in about twenty minutes (hey, it's not how fast you set up, it's how organized and attractive your table looks). After exchanging pleasantries with the three other vendors around me, I began making my sales. Alot of my friends showed up for both support and to purchase books from me, and some new faces came by to get better acquainted with my books and artwork. One of the highlights of this show was a customer who purchased the first four issues of my science-fiction series "Cosmic Force," as he was very intrigued by the story. The day ended with a representative from the Comikaze Expo convention (an event branded by Stan Lee and Elvira that takes place on Halloween in Downtown LA) asking myself and the other vendors if they were planning on exhibiting at the show. I am, but I still have to get some things worked out first, as I'll be possibly sharing a table with a friend that I did a freelance job for. Final thoughts from the Emerald Knights Indie Comic Artist Event: A decent turnout with 8 books sold and $40.00 in sales! Now onto Sunday at San Fernando Valley Comic Con.

This small, but intimate convention located at the Granada Hills Pavilion is a show that I have done three times last year (they have shows in the spring, summer, and fall), and because I have both developed a great relationship with the three promoters and am usually the only independent comic creator at the show,  They make sure that I get as much promotion for my work as possible. This show was no exception. While my sales were a little less than Emerald Knights at 5 books sold and $30.00 profit, customers were now purchasing a full series of my books. For example, my first sale was from a customer who bought all three issues of my "Damn Tourists" comic series.  Another customer picked up an issue of The Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose, and my first issue of Damn Tourists. I even go to do a raffle at the show with two of my books included. Even one of my new co-workers from my new job showed up to greet me at my table, and thanked me for telling her about a show that was within walking distance from her house. Toward the end of the show, I got two offers from writers looking for an artist for their projects. They were introduced to me by one of the show's promoters, Joe Williamson, who continues to be a driving force in my increased exposure for both myself and my artwork. I can't thank him enough for what he's done for my visibility as an emerging comic artist and writer in the year that I've known him. 

And that was how my convention weekend turned out. 13 books sold, $70.00 profit, customers purchasing multiple books from me, friends coming by to show their support, and being able to sell myself and my work on the microphone in front of a crowd. I think it's safe to say that each appearance I do, no matter how big or small, only gets better, and it will continue to get better with two more shows on the horizon: Sherman Oaks Comic Expo and Comikaze Expo---which will be my first large convention in over a year. Until the next blog everyone!



Glendale needs Rail!

As I mentioned in a blog a week or so ago, I got a new job in Glendale, which is only a 7-mile, 15 minute drive on the freeway from where I live in North Hollywood. After working in this area for two weeks so far, I really took a liking to the location, which is right in the heart of Downtown Glendale. With my office sitting right next to three shopping malls full of places to eat, I never have to use my car once I park it in the garage to enter my building. That led me to start thinking about one of two downsides the Glendale area has: Dangerous criss-crossing freeway on-and-off ramps, but just as important, is the lack of mass transit.

Think about it: Pasadena, which is the next major town to the east of Glendale, has the Metro Gold Line, which currently runs from Sierra Madre to Downtown Los Angeles and East LA. Imagine if Metro created a spur line from the Gold Line's Memorial Park station, and brought it through Glendale (with an underground station downtown near the Glendale Galleria Mall) and further stations at the Burbank Promenade, Burbank Media Center, before ending at the North Hollywood Red Line Station. That would eliminate the need to extend the Orange Line busway eastward (which would be a very problematic process due to the lack of dedicated right-of-way options), and still connect both the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys (once the Gold Line extension to Azusa is completed). Such a line would work best being partially underground through North Hollywood and Downtown Glendale, and grade-separated the rest of the way. Having this existing rail line through Glendale won't just help me leave my car at home when going to work, but also allow other LA residents to discover a town that I feel gets overlooked sometimes in favor of Pasadena. Don't get me wrong, I love Pasadena, but Glendale has what I think is the best downtown area in Southern California: Lots of small shops and eateries close together, reasonably priced parking, and a shopping complex with just about anything you need in it. In fact, the building that I work in has three restaurants on its lower floors (California Pizza Kitchen, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, and Olive Garden). The three shopping areas that cover at least three square blocks (The Americana, Glendale Marketplace, and The Glendale Galleria) have everything from Outback Steakhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin Burgers, Granville Cafe, and Blaze Pizza. And just to make it even more attractive, there's a Target located inside the Galleria Mall, which I will be frequenting after work once I get a few more paychecks saved up. Having an underground Gold Line light rail station within steps of all this commercial activity would make Downtown Glendale twice as fantastic as it already is.

So get on this Metro. After you finish the eastside Gold Line extension to Azusa, and the expo  line extension to Santa Monica next spring, make this "Glendale to North Hollywood" Gold Line spur a reality. I'll be the first in line, walking to a newly linked Red Line/Orange Line/Gold Line station in North Hollywood, as I breeze past and underneath the traffic on the 134 Freeway, and arriving at work by exiting an underground station to experience the awesomeness that is Downtown Glendale. That is all.

Tune in to next week's blog, as I'll be giving a wrap-up on what what will be a busy weekend for me: Dark Nights Music and Food Festival in Downtown LA friday night,  Emerald Knights Comics Artist Alley exhibitor appearance in Burbank on Saturday from 12-5 pm, and a vendor appearance at San Fernando Valley Comic Con in Granada Hills from 10 am to 4 pm.  expect that column to be written next sunday evening, shortly after I get back from the SFV show. Until then!