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The Graphic Universe table was located between the balloon-decorated table run by First Second Books and the table presided over by Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye author and First Second designer Colleen AF Venable, which featured her lumberjack zines, jewelry by former GU editorial intern Marianne Ways, and books by animator Scott Bateman. Although traffic seemed a little lighter this year than in 2009, we found new (very young!) readers, with lots of excitement generated by Guinea Pig, Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox, and Twisted Journeys #12, Kung Fu Masters. We sold a lot of books; met quite a few of our artists, authors, and letterers including Steph Yue, Zack Giallongo, Yuko Ota, Andrés Martínez and Na Liu, and Hyeondo Park; hobnobbed with bloggers; and bought some new T-shirts.
For me, MoCCA has always been dangerous. It’s essentially a convention all of comics that I would consider reading. In the past, I limited my time at the con. If I ran out of cash, I went home. One year I hit the ATM twice out of weakness.
Webcomics have been on the rise at MoCCA. This year the Topatoco booth had an impressive presence, with Kate Beaton signing comics next to the Wondermark guys. Beaton’s collection is self-published, but Wondermark has found distribution through Dark Horse comics, following shortly on the heels of Dark Horse’s Achewood collection. There were plenty of up-and-coming artists to discover as well, and excellent collections from students from the Center for Cartoon Studies and other schools. The quality level and creativity of the exhibitors at MoCCA 2010 reached a new high this year. Our office bookcase of books and samples is overflowing.
Expect to see Graphic Universe at MoCCA 2011 with an even wider range of titles to fit onto the table. And maybe even balloons of our own.
This week I chatted with Der-shing Helmer, the artist behind Manga Math #4, The Kung Fu Puzzle: A Mystery with Time and Temperature. Der-shing has also done several Avatar the Last Airbender comics for Nickelodeon Magazine. Check out some sample pages here.
What computer programs and/or what kind of pens, pencils and brushes do you use?
I use Photoshop CS2 to do my rough work and my finished linework. I also use Photoshop to do my colors if I am doing colors for a comic. I like that I can achieve nice results with the program, and since I am not a precise inker, it is good to have the “undo” button!
What music (if any) do you listen to while drawing?
I actually can’t listen to music while I’m working… Listening to music makes me imagine things and go off task, which is not great for when you’re making art. I save music for when I’m doing less creative things, like grading papers.
I read in your bio that you’re studying to become a biology teacher. How old are your students?
Students in the science classes I teach are in 9th to 12th grade.
I was wondering, do you ever take your pet snake in to class?
Ha ha, sadly I haven’t had a teachable opportunity to take my snake to class. But I do get to share stories with my classes about my biology work in Yosemite, like how we caught live rattlesnakes(!) along with other endangered mammals, reptiles and amphibians in order to do population studies with them.
What comics did you read growing up?
Growing up I really enjoyed comics like Tintin and the comics in the (now out of print) Disney Adventures. Those comics made me excited about doing my own sequential art.
Did you go to college for art and/or comics, or something else? Which college?
I attended college at the University of California at Berkeley and majored in Integrated Biology. Having a background in biology is extremely useful for creating art that makes sense, and of course nature is an ultimate inspiration.
What is your favorite comics convention?
My favorite convention is APE con in San Francisco. I enjoy seeing my friends and the work of all the other growing comic artists who attend.