Showing posts with label Awesome Con. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awesome Con. Show all posts

Friday, June 16, 2017

Awesome Con's local faces

I was able to make into Awesome Con's main floor before it closed for the day, and tried to say hello to local cartoonists.


In no particular order:

Evan Keeling represented the Smithsonian.



National Geographic's booth, with my wife's colleagues.


Joe Carabeo of Curls Studio.


A token Canadian, Ryan North (aka writer of Dinosaur Comics and Squirrel Girl).


Cuddles & Rage with their new picture book.


Arsia Rozegar.


Dawn Griffin of Baltimore.


Matt Dembicki.


Vanessa Bettencourt and novelist Jacob Falling.


The Frazetta family's booth (they've got some originals for sale!)


SL Gallant.


Jamie Noguchi in motion.


Marc Hempel of Baltimore.


The Red Skull with a cosmic cube cosplayer.




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Library of Awesome is open at the Library of Congress


In cooperation with Awesome Con, the Library of Congress has Library of Awesome, a pop-up exhibit on comic books in the Jefferson building, off to one side on the first floor. You have to look for it, but it's worth seeing.

The exhibit was curated by Megan Halsband of the Serials division, and features rooms of comics - Milestones, Wonder Woman, Marvel, DC, Children, Science Fiction and a final room for selvies with the characters drawn by the Library's exhibit department.


Comic books surround Amelia Earhart's handprint and a speech by Clara Barton.


The Milestones exhibit (including an original page of art from the first Spider-Man comic).


WorldCat only lists two copies of this Lost World #6 comic book held by libraries - one is in Australia. The comic was only published for two issues - #5-6 in 1952.


More pictures can be seen here.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Vanessa Bettencourt

by Mike Rhode

Last weekend, I briefly stopped in the Hooray for Books bookstore in Alexandria on Saturday to meet Portuguese cartoonist Vanessa Bettencourt who was doing a drawing workshop for children, and I enjoyed seeing her interact with the kids in the audience. She agreed to answer our usual questions about her journey from Europe to northern Virginia.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

My comics have a lot of humor and fantasy and a mix of manga and Disney styles together. When I'm not working on commissions for business, websites or people who want their portraits as comic characters, I work diligently on my personal projects.

I work daily on my free webcomic series,

It started as an effective way to communicate with Jon, my fiancé in a long-distance relationship, and became a way to share my life with those who stayed behind at home after I moved from Portugal to the USA. Now I share my daily adventures as a freelance artist in the USA.

In 2015 I set a goal of a year to write, illustrate and completely finish a graphic novel on my own. I accomplished the goal. Polly and the Black Ink is 520 full-color pages that I divided into five paperbacks. The first three volumes are already available.

Sometimes I take commissions to do political cartoons (as happened with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), but between social and political I favor social issues.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

For Polly and the Black Ink, I drew and wrote it all in paper for a few months first, then I scanned it and edited before the digital process of inking, coloring and adding the text. I write the text as I draw the scenes, instead of having a script. This way I have a better sense of space and where the text will fit in each panel.

This is my first graphic novel and I learned a lot, especially about writing short but meaningful sentences when sometimes I feel the character has so much more to say. For I only work digitally. I have my format and I stick to it. Commissions can be digital or traditional. I use Photoshop and I recently upgraded from an Intuos3 to a Cintiq 13HD.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in December, 1979 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to the USA in 2015. I met my fiancé in 2012 when he hired me to draw all the covers for his epic fantasy series Heir of Scars, including chapter illustrations and maps. A few years later we started the K1 Visa (fiancée process), which I describe with a lot of humor in He was currently working in DC so we decided to stay. I'm a freelance artist so it's easier to adapt. We live in Alexandria near the Potomac river. As a Portuguese soul, I miss the ocean a lot, so the river is nice to have nearby.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I have a degree in Portuguese and English literature. I became a teacher and worked for publishers as a fantasy illustrator Then, I returned to college for Fine Arts while I worked. I'm self-taught when it comes to comic books and cartoons. I started drawing this style for fun. A simple away to share my day with Jon then it became more serious. I intend to continue to learn, share and create more stories and worlds.

Who are your influences?

For fantasy illustration: William Bouguereau, Larry Elmore (and all D&D art), Luis Royo, Donato Giancola, Prince Valiant by Hal Foster…

For comics and cartooning: Calvin and Hobbes’ Bill Waterson, Bones by Jeff Smith, Asterix, Turma da Monica by Mauricio de Sousa, Hagar the Horrible by Chris Browne, W.I.T.C.H fantasy series, Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon), Akihiro Yamada (Junni Kokki - The Twelve Kingdoms artist), all Disney, many manga, anime and fantasy books.

And for the surreal humor with a lot of nonsense: Mortadelo & Filemon by Francisco Ibanez Talavera, Guillermo Mordillo, Janguru wa Itsumo Hare Nochi Guu manga.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

Sometimes I want to go back and retouch finished work. In the beginning, I wished I had more time to finish a cover or a project, but to get the commission we have to go with the publisher's schedule.

What work are you best-known for?

Notfrombrazil, because for the past two years I’ve been uploading thrice a week online, on the usual social media and in platforms such as tapastic and LINE Webtoon.

What work are you most proud of?

Polly and the Black Ink. I am really happy that I was able to create a compelling world, story and characters with a lot of adventure, action, mystery and fantasy parallel worlds that children, teens and adults feel compelled to read and discover. Also, the new art for the Heir of Scars book series.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

Continue to get as many commissions as possible so I can make my dreams come true. HaHa!
I will focus on finishing my epic novels so there’s not a gap between publishing Polly’s 5th volume and my next project. I will continue to work on the next covers for the Heir of Scars book also. My husband and I decided to agglomerate our projects under the same name, Violet West Entertainment, as we build our brand together.

I want to be proud of my projects, control the outcome as much as possible and be sure it's something memorable. I might return to Polly and the Black Ink for a second arc too later.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Because I work in so many different projects and styles I got used to having an escape, but there are times that I can't work at all and I need to watch animation, movies, read, learn a new technique, go to a museum or a park, do something completely different from my daily routine and refill my batteries.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

Things change so quickly now. Everything has an up and down side. The system or the rules change without notice, and we're forced to go with the flow or stay behind. Artists and authors will always create and try to reach their audience.

The Internet allows us to publish our books, to see people engage daily with our process and become part of the process. What we do is starting to be seen more as a job. We are professionals.

Also, the audience is starting to learn how to give back. It balances all the free entertainment or work they've been having access to. That's why it's important to support artists. Kickstarter and Patreon are good examples of making it possible for an artist to work full time on their craft and support themselves.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I attended Katsucon last February as an artist with Polly and the Black Ink debut. I got a table and it was a great experience. The audience reacted very well to the books. We'll be attending Awesome Con DC again in June with Polly and the Black Ink and the Heir of Scars books and art. I will have book III available at our table.

Next event will be Small Press Expo. We've attended it as visitors before, but this time in September we will be managing a table with our books, including Polly and the Black Ink volume IV. The downside of having a table is to be stuck behind it and miss the panels, the contests, etc.

I also attend local events as much as possible, from bookstores to street art festivals when schedule allows. I had a great opportunity to publish one comic page on the Magic Bullet #14 and I intend to keep going.

I also have an invitation from Alexandria's Duncan Branch Library, where I taught a comic book workshop last year. I will be drawing people's portrait in my cartoonish style on the street and raise money for the library during the Del Ray Street Art Festival next September 7th, 2017.

Polly and I are available to attend schools, libraries and other events to share my experience as an independent author, but also to share my process and give some tips (ages 5 up). You can reach me on my official website or contact me at

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I love the free museums and the food diversity.

Least favorite?

The business, political stiffness and mood of the city.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

The Lincoln Memorial. The size of the sculpture helps, but the entire area has soul. There are many good museums. The National Museum of Natural History is my favorite to visit over and over. I get so much inspiration from it to draw and come up with new storylines. And I have to visit the Zoo. I haven't had the chance.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I love food. It's hard to pick. Each day is a different mood. From Asian to Americana. There are good seafood places in Old Town, but being Portuguese, I also miss some of the fresh and diverse seafood that we don’t have here.

Do you have a website or blog?

I keep two websites. One as an artist and another for the free webcomic series notfrombrazil.
My website has a blog where I share news of my creative process, tutorials, articles with events and book releases.

People are free to subscribe to get news of the next events or book releases.

For those who wish to get a weekly reminder of subscribe to the website I add new episodes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

You can also find the following pages on Facebook: @pollyandtheblackink, @notfrombrazil, @vanessabettencourtart and @heirofscars up to date.

On Instagram: @vanessabettencourtart where I host giveaways.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eric's Awesome Con Pics, a guest post

My name is Eric and I have been shooting amateur photography for over six years off and on. I normally shoot up in Columbia Height, DC is a private studio (really really small). I completely agree with the the creator of Awesome Con that the DC area has been under served by comic book conventions so in my own little way I hope this support the hometown convention.

I am hoping to make contact with the various convention cosplay attendees so that I can email back their image(s). I snapped approximately 1200 images at the convention and now I am editing it down to one image per cosplayer to post to DeviantArt and Flickr. If you are a cosplayer that would like their respective image emailed to them (or really anything else people would like to communicate about such as Photoshop talk or setting up a shoot) then the best way to contact me is through my email (

Below were Friday's Cosplayers (better quality images are at my DeviantArt site).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Awesome Con 2014 commercial

Awesome Con commercial directed by Joe Carabeo, a frequent contributing writer to the Magic Bullet comics newspaper and collaborator with Carolyn Belefski. It premiered in certain markets during last night's Walking Dead episode on AMC. (Visit the Tumblr of Joe's Astray Productions for an extended version of the commercial.)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Meet a Local Comics Writer: Shawn Padraic Murphy

I met Shawn Padraic Murphy at Awesome Con this spring. He writes comic book scripts and hires artists to illustrate them. As a college student also did a webcomic, Wesleyan World. He's currently writing a series of blog posts How Not To Make Money In Comic Books. He promptly answered my usual questions (and as usual I'm much less prompt in posting them).

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I am a writer, and work with artists to make my comic books.

Mike Rhode: How do you do it?  How did you find an artist for your books? What kind of script do you provide?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: When I first started, it was a chance meeting with a grad school friend who was already working on a comic book for a friend and was interested in doing another one, and we worked together on a script I had already written.  But to start working on more comics, I was sort of at a lose (espcially since I graduated and had just moved to the Baltimore/DC area 1 year prior).  I met someone who told me about DigitalWebbing.Com and how they had a forum just for writers that were trying to hire artists.  I sumbitted a description of 3 different titles I needed work on, and placed the ad up for 3 days (what was recommended).  Then, after 3 days, I closed the forum and looked over the 120 submissions I had.  That took a while sifting through them all to find a style that matched the story I wanted to tell.  Since then, however, I've hired my artists throug the con scene by hoarding business cards and entering their name and website into a database so I can look for artists that match the type of storying I'm trying to tell quickly when I have a new project.

page-7I've always used a script that breaks down the panels and describes in detail what's happening in each scene and panel.  In only one comic (Strength) have I ever just summed up what was happening on the page without panels and left the panel layout and number of panels to the artist, but I think that kind of format is rare.

Mike Rhode: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I was raised in Scott Depot, WV in 1982.

Mike Rhode: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: After I obtained my MFA in Creative Writing, I needed to move from Southampton, NY, as there was nothing there you could do in terms of jobs unless you were a contruction worker, retail, or had money to buy mansions.  Luckily, I happen to have a friend in Baltimore that needed a roommate soon, and Baltimore and DC were close enough that it seemed it would be easier to find a job with 2 different cities close by (this was 2007, by the way; less than a year before the recession, and before MFA's now meant basically nothing).

Mike Rhode: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I had an undergrad degree in English & Psychology at West Virginia Weslyan College at Buckhannon, WV, then went to Southampton College (now closed) in Southampton, NY and got an MFA in Creative Writing, which I thought would help get me writing or editing jobs for magazines or corporations.  Unfortunately, the recession hit less than a year after I graduated and business started not to care about writing as a whole and I couldn't find anything, despite having an MFA.  Luckily, I did find a job eventually (not writing related), so I could actually have funds to pay artists to draw for my comics.

Mike Rhode: What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I've attended many conventions now, such as Small Press Expo, Baltimore Comic Con, SPACE, HeroesCon, and AwesomeCon.  I'll be attending Intervention for the first time this year (and hopefully Otakon; I'm going to be attending more Anime conventions next year).  I find that anime and indi comic places are good to sell comics and meet with other artists and writers, but found that the big superhero cons like Baltimore Comic Con usually only contain people who want to meet celebrities or buy fan art, so I don't try to go to those often.

Mike Rhode: Who are your influences?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I got into comics with The Death of Superman, but stayed around because of the Spider-Man Clone Saga.  I really liked serialized storytelling then.  As I grew up, though, I found out about a lot more mature and serious works and realized you could do more than just superheroes.  I really enjoyed the indi comics I discovered in the early 2000s that covered virtually every subject they wanted (you couldn't find those in WV when I was growing up; there was no internet info about them, and all the comic stores closed in 1996, leaving mail-order the only way to read comics).  When I write my comics, I try to ask myself for each project if this is different than something else I've read or seen, because I want to create something new and exciting for people to experience the way I enjoyed discovering different types of stories as a kid.

What work are you best-known for?

PhotobucketShawn Padraic Murphy: At conventions, the comic book I am most known for is "The End" a series that focuses on how regular people deal with the coming end of the world in 7 days.  Each issue has 2, stand-alone, stories.  People enjoy the series for the variety of the stories.  Plus, each issue has a different theme, so people can start with a theme they like on any issue, rather than starting from the begining like in most other comics.

Mike Rhode: What work are you most proud of?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I'm actually proud of them all, because I like the fact that I can write such completely different stories and be able to show that I can write anything (I hope that's not just my ego talking).  I have a slice-of-life anthology (The End), a mature superhero story that addresses our societies double-standard concering nudity and shaming (Strength), an experimental diary comic (Displacement), and an all-age fantasy (Mechanaflux). 

Mike Rhode: What would you like to do or work on in the future?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I already have the next 3 comics planned that I want to work on.  I'm working on a superhero/romance comic right now with an artist.  I've written another all-ages comic and a completely different fantasy comic, but those last two are only finished at the script stage as I'm trying to finish up the comics I am already currently working on.

Mike Rhode: What do you think will be the future of your field?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: I'm not sure.  I know that local printers and easy access to technology have made it easier to make my comics in print.  I'm hoping digital comics makes it easier to get your comics out to the public since everyone is connected throug the pad and phones now.

Mike Rhode: Do you have a website or blog?

Shawn Padraic Murphy: My website is  My "Comics" tab contains links to descriptions of my comics and preview art, as well as links to purchase my comics. I also have some video reviews, comedy skits, video game reviews, and recently I posted a short novella about playing a video game as if I was that character; I pretty much like to write and create anything.