By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – If a message emerged from Windsor’s ComiCon 2016 it is that the route to becoming a professional book illustrator, or even a successful Hollywood actor, has no shortcuts.
As usual, the event attracted hundreds of locals and visitors dressed in their favourite comic book and video game characters. One of the most spectacular was Gabriel and Simon, Gatineau, QC, dressed to the hilt as Warhammer Age of Sigmar cast members.
It took the pair about a year to create their interpretations along with about a $1,000 each for materials.
The annual gathering included a number of events which allowed fans to meet their heroes, including book illustrators.
At the Comic Sketch Dual, Yanick Paquette faced off with Johnny D. Each quickly sketched a number of well-known heroes while taking audience questions. The sketches were offered as door prizes with young Max Brochert winning one.
At the session, industry veteran Paquette was asked about the secret to his success. His portfolio is filled with characters from Marvel comics and most recently DC Comics. Over 20 years in the business he has been the animator on a wide range of projects drawing Batman, Superman, Supergirl, and many others.
Paquette’s advice is to draw and draw. He admitted to being scared to look at his earliest efforts, describing them as awful. However, with each new project, the artwork improved, sometimes by a factor of twenty.
Another tip was for would-be artists to get involved with their local art communities. They are, he suggested, a good source of contacts. Free, on-line courses are also useful in the building of competency and confidence.
Famed Hollywood actor, and star of the classic popular teen television serial Beverly Hills 90210, Jason Priestly offered similar advice. He talked of how his talent developed through three productions during his high school years, mentored by a teacher who saw his potential.
After that Priestly was ready to enroll in a, “… proper theatre school” which led to Hollywood. The Canadian has been in a number of serials and films since and this year was honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
According to Priestly, famed real estate mogul and presidential candidate Donald Trump is an amateur negotiator when compared to the legendary 90210 producer Aaron Spelling. Spelling, he confided, could rub two dimes together and get a quarter.
Caesars Windsor, the site of this year’s event, had its Colosseum chock-a-block with vendors selling comic and related memorabilia. For Brian Newland, of Gillian Newland Illustrations, the most popular item in his stand was a set of four old fight posters.
They included the 1968 match of Wonder Woman vs Supergirl and the 1974 bout that had the Incredible Hulk take on Wolverine. Possibly the fact Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno was one of the featured guests might have been an influence.
Newland finds comic book events hard to predict. He sets up shop at every one in Canada, a dozen in all, and has found that what is popular at one is rarely a top seller at the next.
The local TriOS had Education Consultant Lisa Arquette in a booth. She was there to promote the college’s video game design program, which teaches students how to use digital technology.
Although modern day comics and video games are now created on a computer, illustrator Paquette was using water colours for his sketches. Recently, he returned to hand designed art as a relaxing break from the digital world.
Early expectations suggest as many as 8,000 visitors took in the two-day event.