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San Diego Comic-Con 2019 July 14, 2019 18:42

It's time again! San Diego Comic Con is upon us! For Jess and I, it's a week of very welcome mayhem and getting last minute things attended to. This year we have a lot of fresh things to present and I'll dive right in.

PINS     PINS     PINS      PINS  !

My wife Jess has really outdone herself and produced so many fresh enamel pins, I have trouble counting them all. Years ago I thought pins would be a thing, and even made one for Con. Eight or nine years later, you can't stop at a booth without having a few offered for sale. They brighten your day and make a statement about the wearer. They're also tiny works of art.

Now, I must jump in here and mention I've learned a heck of a lot about pins watching Jess make these. There's a genuine talent to translating a drawing while holding its character, and an art to orchestrating a limited number of colors, the placement of the enamel, and augmenting with delicate pad prints to produce a remarkable object with great depth and complexity. Not to even begin going into the harrowing process of shepherding these through production. More on that as we go along...

So first up are a series of three unusual pins that Jess created directly from the original art: the first three drawings I made to pitch the concept for "Lilo & Stitch." While these are recognizable as Lilo and her alien friend Stitch, there are some differences from the ones that ended up on screen. Stitch began as green, and was changed to blue in early development. His signature black eyes are slightly smaller, and his ears flare at the base, not near the top. In one of the drawings his nose is below his eye-line, not above. Each of these three pins is backed on a card with the original artwork, and a short story of the unique origin of the film's style. Take a look at the pad printing on Lilo's dress which mimics the watercolor original! The complexity of the six-legged Stitch is truly incredible to see in person.




Next up is a return of our Island Girl, an extremely cute and popular pin, now in three new colorways for 2019. Joining the blue, coral, and mint green versions from earlier this year will be a RED variant with a white-glitter flower, a TEAL variant with a ruby-glitter flower (if you missed out on the blue one, this is a slightly darker, slightly greener version), and a VIOLET variant with a yellow-glitter flower.


Every year that we have a new sketchbook we also have a new cover girl, this year featuring a redhead in a red fox outfit. After finishing the cover I mentioned that it would be swell to have a pin that would accompany the book release, and ka-bam! Jess produced a beautiful pin! This 1.75" pin is the perfect companion to "Sketchbook 8"!


Years ago we had a company produce a Moon Witch pin based on one of my pinup drawings. It was cute, but Jess in particular found it wanting in a lot of ways. She had always wanted to take a second swing at it, enlarging it overall, changing the base metal color, perfecting the eyes, reflections on the vinyl bodysuit, and most importantly, upgrading the moon so that it would actually GLOW! This year she did it. As I watched the process of re-making and re-issuing this pin, I was so very excited to get a finished one in my hands so I could run to a nearby closet and see that big moon glow. Well, I did, and it does, and here she is, bigger (at 2" tall) and better than ever, and waiting to join your Halloween, pinup, or moon-pin jacket or bag. 


But WAIT.... just to make things harder to decide on, Jess turned around and created three variants on Moon Witch. One in CORAL PINK, one in VIOLET, and one in MINT GREEN. These three are posed in front of a pale blue moon which glows quite nicely in the dark!

 

One of the most popular images from a past sketchbook was a girl riding a scooter while reading a guidebook. At first the image seemed too detailed to consider translating to enamel. But Jess thought it could be done, and jumped right in. She worked like the devil to preserve a ton of the little details that make this drawing what it is, and submitted it to multiple manufacturers before finding one that could keep everything on-point. And by golly, she did it! Everything is here, and stunningly beautiful. Note the printed pages in her guidebook, the labeled bottle of wine strapped to her scooter, and the pad-printed polka dots and dog spots that give the pin dimension. Oh, and just for fun she gave the scooter a glitter-paint finish! 


"Sketchbook 3"'s cover girl in a yoga-esque pose seemed perfect for translation into a pin. I get to share the same studio as Jess, and I get to watch these pins come to life on her Centiq. Jess made this one look easy, but be assured that capturing the vibe and lines of a drawing and holding them as they are miniaturized is no small thing. I really love this pin. It has a wonderful scale, and a shape and gesture that stand out on any pin board or jacket, or bag. Don't miss this one! Yoga Girl comes in four variants, each with different hair and paired bikini stripe color. 

 
 

One day in the studio Jess said, "You should draw a series of Ogo heads that I can turn into pins." I was like, "Yeah, that's a cute idea." I'm sure I didn't get to it right away, but Jess patiently reminded me. In the meantime, I'd look at pins we bought and admire the ones with a big, bold outline. Jess reminded me that the Ogo pins could have a similar vibe. So, I drew them! When it happened, it happened fast. I kicked out the sketches and gave them the bold inks that make Ogo look right. Turns out, those fat inks make translation into a pin a bit easier than my more thin-lined stuff. Jess ran with these, and took special attention with the enamel color choices, since there are only a few and they're pretty big, so harmonizing them was critical. The result? A series of six pins that really POP! These look awesome when worn or displayed, and if you get all six and put them in order, they actually animate!

 
 
 

Morgan is a tiger I've drawn for years, and will eventually be joining the "Kiskaloo" universe. He's friendly, optimistic, and LOVES spiced cocoa, coffee, and the occasional buttered rum. He also owns a mug with a razor-sharp pad-printed "M." If you love coffee, hot chocolate, and drawing when it's cold outside, this pin is for you!


Kellee Riley is an illustrator that Jess and I are quite fond of. Her drawings exude confidence and joy, and her mermaids in particular are truly things of wonder and beauty. Frankly, seeing her stuff is inspiring, and makes me want to run straight to my drawing table and do a better job!

A while ago, Jess partnered with Kellee to create a set of the "Rescue Sirens"' five lead characters for use in merchandise, and Kellee drew her personal interpretation of Nim, Kelby, Pippa, Echo, and Maris. The result was stunning! This year, Jess thought that those illustrations would make a great set of pins, and she began the process of translating them. The first two, Nim and Kelby, are finished, and I have to say, these are probably my front favorites among the pins Jess has produced. Their scale, charm, details, and freaking GLITTER TAILS make these pins that you will want to display and covet for a long, long time. No way you'll trade these away, so you'll need an extra one for bargaining purposes (which you can do, as our pin purchase limit is two per design).

 

In our house there are two problems: finding enough time to maintain our tiny "Animal Crossing" towns, and finding miniature pins that can fill empty spaces that inevitably crop up on jackets and pin boards. Enter these two new pin collections --  inspired by one of Jess's and my favorite video games, these two limited-edition filler pin sets are designed to complement both ocean-themed and "Animal Crossing" pin collections. These are cute and happy, and really fun to pin to things! 

 

So where do you find this stuff? As usual, booth 4616, in the Illustrator realm. There will be some other stuff as well, but as the pins are the biggest new addition, I thought beginning with a pin-only post was a great way to start the Comic-Con announcements!!

I'll be at the booth every day, (save for momentary times when I'll step out to do some "Call of the Wild" approvals) and Jess will be there every day save for Friday, so if you have "Rescue Sirens"-related questions, pin questions, or general aquatic or mermaid-related questions, come see her Wednesday night and Thursday, and Saturday and Sunday!

Stay tuned for further announcements about sketchbooks, stickers, and original art...

San Diego Comic-Con 2018 July 18, 2018 12:16

Here on that most hallowed of holidays, the eve of Comic Con set-up, I'm sipping an old-fashioned and writing this blog post nestled beside the pile of stuff I need to fit into my truck tomorrow morning. Boxes, banners, lights, all to make booth 4616 a great place to visit this year! And this is an exciting year indeed, as we're bringing the latest installment of the the thing that started it all over ten years ago: the Chris Sanders Sketchbook.



Sketchbook 7! Designed by my wife Jessica Steele-Sanders and filled with drawings culled from my archives, Sketchbook 7 is a worthy addition to your collection. Forty eight pages of fresh artwork including witches, mermaids, my first comic book cover, and a few formerly secret lineups from sitcom development. It's been five years since the last sketchbook, so there was a lot of material to choose from!

But that's not all!  Jess has been hard at work producing some terrific new products based on her "Rescue Sirens" characters. A big favorite of mine: CHARMS!!!


Precision printed and cut on crystal clear acrylic, these colorful characters are miniature treasures to collect, display, or wear. Nim, Kelby, Echo, Pippa and Maris are the perfect size to hang from a cell phone, a zipper, or wear as a necklace. There are not one, not two, but three unique sets of the five Rescue Sirens featuring the art of Kellee Riley, Gabby Zapata, and myself.


All of the charms feature artwork on both sides!  Kellee Riley's Sirens are wearing their lifeguard tops on one side and their mermaid tops on the opposite, while Gabby Zapata's sets show the mermaids in both their human (feet) form and their secret mermaid tail identities. Supplies of these tiny treasures are limited so stop by early!




Last year we introduced vinyl stickers into our lineup. We're happy to let you know that all the stickers from last year are back, and we've added to the lineup!  The same great art from Gabby Zapata and Kellee Riley have been transformed into colorful vinyl stickers as well!

Also new this year are a number of stickers made from artwork featured in Sketchbook 7.








So there you have it - a quick view of the things waiting for you at SDCC booth 4616. And of course, Jessica and I will be there. See you soon!

SDCC 2017 July 18, 2017 00:00

And in the blink of an eye, it's time again for SDCC! Jess and I will be heading down today but before we go I wanted to give everyone a heads up on the new things we'll be bringing!


First up, enamel pins! The lead characters from our "Rescue Sirens" series - Nim, Kelby, Echo, Pippa, and Maris - have been carefully translated into these detailed nickel finish pins, plus a gold-toned "Rescue Sirens" emblem pin. Pins are something I've enjoyed collecting over the years, and Jess had the great idea to make a set of our own for San Diego! Hurry over to our booth (#4616) to see them in person!




Something I recently did just for the fun of it, was to generate chibi versions of the Rescue Sirens characters. They became the basis for the enamel pins, but Jess thought they would also make a great set of stickers. And here they are! These heavy weight stickers have great color and a gorgeous pearl finish. Really, really beautiful. They'll look great on a computer, a lunchbox, the bumper of your electric car, or even the control panel of a super-collider or tail fin of the next Space-X rocket. If they allow such things, that is. 


Once we saw how beautifully the Rescue Sirens stickers turned out, we thought we might grab some favorite illustrations from past sketchbooks and give them the sticker treatment as well. Here's four of my most popular pin-ups, as well as my good friend Ogo, looking quite happy with himself indeed.


But that's not all we'll be bringing. Jess and I are very happy to announce our first children's book, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up." Beautifully illustrated by Dylan Bonner, this 32 page book has a great story all about our five mermaids saving the Miami Beach waters from some carelessly dumped aquarium pets. This is an engaging story for all ages, teaching the younger set (and all the rest of us) about the dangers of invasive species, as well as teamwork and keeping the ocean clean.

Jess's writing is fast and fresh, and Dylan's illustrations have the charm, joy, and vibe of classic Mary Blair drawings. We have a limited number of these advanced copies, so be sure to come by our booth early and pick one up for yourself.

This book is also splash-resistant, due to being printed on special synthetic paper pages. So you can read this "Rescue Sirens" book by the pool, ocean, or tub with confidence that a little water won't spoil it. Just wipe the pages dry if they get splashed and the book is as good as new! - We recommend you not leave the book to dry on its own, as the pages can tend to stick together. But with a gentle toweling-off, it will be ready for another read!


We'll also be bringing some copies of last year's debut, "Kiskaloo: Volumes 1 and 2." If you haven't picked one up yet, it's the collected first and second series of my web comic all about a little girl named Sesi, her older sister Autumn, and Ogo, their wretched little cat. They all live in a fictional town in Northern Alaska named Emergency, where odd things tend to happen.


If you like "Kiskaloo," and are familiar with its lead character Ogo, and wish to take an Ogo home with you, then you're in luck, as we'll be bringing a limited number of Ogo plush with us to Comic Con this year. He's soft, cuddly, and naughty. Don't leave him alone with your chocolate chip cookies or root beer lest they disappear!


One of the most frequently asked questions I get every year is whether or not I'll be bringing original art to San Diego. In the past I've resisted this, mostly because I don't have anything I'd want to part with. This year, however, I'll be bringing a few original inked drawings with me that will be available for purchase. Drawn and inked especially for Con this year, I'll have two to four inked originals with me. They won't be cheap, as I don't like to sell drawings, but I am possessed for some reason to do this. Created purposely for sale, these unusual offerings will likely appear in future sketchbooks, and the inking quality is what I would consider to be perfect. Suitable for framing, brush and Winsor-Newton ink on bristol, these are large: 14"x17".

You can find all this (and us) at booth #4616, in the Artists & Illustrators neighborhood. See you there!

SDCC 2016 July 14, 2016 20:00

Another year has come around, and just like that, it’s San Diego Comic Con again! Yes, the planning is over and now it’s time for the packing, the late-night van loading, the long drive. Did we remember the parking passes? The Square stand? The backdrop? The……………. books?

Yes, the books! That’s what is new this year! I’m very happy to announce that after an eight year absence, the web comic KISKALOO is back! To celebrate its return we’ve been running the original strip every day at www.kiskaloo.com for a few weeks now, with the first of the new comics coming out on Monday, July 18th. Writing, drawing, and inking this strip has been something I've wanted to do ever since I was a kid reading Peanuts every Sunday morning in Denver, Colorado. I guess the true reward for me is sharing it with all of you.

And that's where the book comes in! For Comic Con, we’ve compiled thirty of the newest strips into a fine collection for your binge-reading pleasure! As an added bonus, my wife Jess suggested we package the original collection inside as well, just as a courtesy for everyone that missed the first book the first time around. We also corrected some typos and image quality issues from the first volume, so the comics look better than they ever have. This complete collection of the new and the original is a substantial 72 pages. Come by and pick one up for yourself and return to Emergency, Alaska, and the antics of one-eyed cat Ogo and his owners, Sesi and Autumn.


Oh, I know what you’re thinking, so before you ask, yes, a few weeks after Con ends we’ll be offering "KISKALOO: Volumes 1 and 2" on Amazon. But if you’re planning on being at the big show, come get it in person and say hello!

Making a return from last year will be "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist." This is an original story written by my wife, Jessica Steele-Sanders, and myself. "Rescue Sirens" introduces a group of mermaids living in Miami Beach who hide in plain sight as lifeguards. The novel is 168 pages in length, with 7 interior illustrations by the brilliant Genevieve Tsai, and features a bonus 14-page gallery in the back with color model sheets drawn by myself (and colored by Edgar Delgado) as well as concept sketches by Genevieve. Debuting last year, the first run of hardcovers almost sold out, and these have been hard-to-find items outside Comic Con. Don’t miss this chance to pick one up for yourself or someone who may have missed it. And now there’s a second edition in soft cover. This second edition is run at Maskell Graphics, the same press that printed the first edition "Rescue Sirens" book, and with a slick new cover and heavyweight paper, it’s a weighty and worthy follow-up to the original!


Oh, last but not least, we’ll also be bringing the original Ogo plush that sold out almost instantly when it was introduced a couple years ago. Plush Ogo is the perfect soft and quiet companion for those long San Diego nights spent reading in bed after an exhausting day of scouring the convention floor for treasures, and fighting the surging crowds on the street searching for the perfect margarita!


So come by booth 4616 and meet "Rescue Sirens" author and part-time mermaid Jessica Steele-Sanders, and me, Chris Sanders. We’ll be there every day!


Ogo is here. Hide your ice cream and beer. July 15, 2014 09:21

Ever since I started "Kiskaloo" I've been asked if I'll ever make a plush of the cat, Ogo.  Well, I wanted to, just like I want to get back to drawing the comic and learn deep-sea welding.  Even though I've had enough time to write more than a year's worth of strips, I'm still so swamped with other projects that I haven't been able to get enough ready to publish.  Same story with the plush.  Except you can add "I don't even know where to start" to the "I never have enough time," and, "Don't people have enough trouble in their lives already without adding a one-eyed cat with a propensity for mischief?"

Well, ready or not, Jess decided it was time.  She took point on this one, shepherding Ogo all the way from prototype to testing to labeling to shipping.  So if you let Ogo into your house and twenty minutes later you can no longer find your car keys or your car, you can blame her for it.

Seated, this Ogo is ten inches tall from his bean-ballasted bottom to the tip of his ears.  His giant head is filled with just the right amount of fluff to make him soft to squeeze yet firm and pleasing to pat on the head.  With his vaguely blank expression and unblinking stare you will forever wonder what he is thinking.  I've had him in my room for a few weeks now, and I swear he sometimes seems happy, and other times he is decidedly frowning depending on what's going on.  He looks happier near the liquor bottles and sofa, and sad when he's fallen over or when you haven't talked about him for too long.  The above picture was taken in Boulder, Colorado.  I asked him to smile but he was looking past the camera at something.  A dog, I think.  Or a pizza restaurant over my left shoulder.

If you would like to bring your very own Ogo home with you, he requests that he sit on the part of your sofa closest to the TV.  He would also like it if you stocked Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream and Bugles corn chips. He likes long car rides and movies about bad weather and/or vampires and monsters.  Submarine movies of any kind are also appreciated.  DO NOT under any circumstances let him watch "Trilogy of Terror" or any episode of "Pippi Longstocking" if you want to sleep through the night.  He prefers coffee to tea and if you serve him the latter he will likely pour it on your carpet or down a heat register and spend the next few months collecting the dead flies from your windowsills to glue to a card in letters that spell T-E-A  S-U-C-K-S for your refrigerator.  He likes the snow and also beaches.  He thinks he can do more than he can.  If he asks for kitchen knives or power tools tell him you don't have any.  Don't let him write letters or play on the computer.