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 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.

The Islands Are Calling... July 14, 2014 12:01

I grew up with my Grandfather and Grandmother in Denver, Colorado.  The last two weeks of every summer we would go on vacation.  We didn't have a lot of money, so all our destinations had to be places we could drive.  This meant that the farthest we ever got from Denver was Florida.  Which, mind you, was incredible to me.  Florida was different in every way from Colorado.  The fact that it was warm when it rained just amazed me.  Floridians, I thought, must be about the luckiest people in the world.  Warm rainstorms, and giant bugs everywhere.  Not to mention Cypress Gardens, where you could drink orange juice through a special plastic green spout stuck into the side of a fresh orange while you walked through Technicolor gardens where girls dressed like Southern Belles sat on broad green lawns, waving to 8mm movie cameras with white gloved hands, resplendent in their Florida-ness. Cypress Gardens was surely the jewel in the Florida tourist attraction crown.

It's hard to explain just how far away places like Florida and California seemed to be when I was young.  At the very beginning of our fourth grade school year, our teacher asked us to give a report on our summer break.  Most of us had ridden our bikes or had picnics in the Rocky Mountains.  But Monetta Dardanis had done better.  Much better.  Monetta Dardanis had gone to Disneyland with her family.  And she had the slideshow to prove it.

In the early days of that September, in a freshly cleaned elementary school room with blank bulletin boards yet to be filled with construction paper turkeys and windowsills still waiting for their jars of potatoes and tadpoles, I sat there in the dark, at my desk (the sort with the storage under the seat and the routed-out groove on the upper desktop where you kept your pencil), and watched as Monetta's slides clicked by.  There, in all their Kodachrome glory, was a place I was sure I would never see with my own eyes.  Disneyland.  White horses pulling fire trucks down main street.  Translucent red, green, and blue balloons in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, massed in the hundreds and being sold by a beautiful California girl in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.  The Enchanted Tiki Room.  The submarines.  The Matterhorn.  I had seen them on "The Wonderful World of Disney," but this was different. Someone from Colorado had made it there.  It meant it was real.  And a Coloradan had been granted access.  A girl I knew.  I hated her for it.  And yet this slideshow represented hope.  If her family had somehow located the Magic Kingdom, perhaps someday my family might as well.

A few years later my family would go to California for the first time.  We were staying in a Holiday Inn close enough that you could see Disneyland if you stood at the railing outside our motel room door.  Not much of Disneyland, just the very tip top of the Matterhorn peeking above the trees in the distance.  But when I saw just that little bit with my own eyes I was so overcome with emotion I threw up.

If California seemed that impossibly far away to me, you can only imagine that Hawaii might as well have been on another planet.  Hawaii, I knew, was a place you had to fly to.  We didn't have flying money.  Our family only had driving money.  And there were no roads or Texaco gas stations in the Pacific ocean.  No, you had to get there in an airplane.  Hawaii was a place better people went to.  Wealthy people, movie stars, and people that won trips on "The Price Is Right."

But just like Monetta Dardanis made it to California, someone else we knew went to Hawaii.  Our next door neighbor of all people.  And they brought back the most marvelous souvenirs.  Black lava figurines in the shape of Polynesian maidens and ferocious tikis.  Like the one that tormented the Brady Bunch on their Hawaiian trip causing African shields to fall off of hotel room walls.  These objects had great power and allure; they were treasures in the truest sense.  My family never made it to Hawaii, and I would be in my thirties before I made my first trip.  Having arrived at last, I was saddened to find that all those wonderful figurines were no longer sold.  I began collecting them from Ebay.  And the more figures I collected, the more I wondered why in the world no one was making them anymore.  I determined that if I should ever have the means, I would try to bring them back.

And so the project began.  The first prototype was presented in 2008 -  a model for a dashboard hula nodder.  Since then it has been sidetracked a few times, but never neglected for long.  When we partnered with Gentle Giant in 2012 we finally had the right team together to get the job done.  From there the project moved quickly and the first samples of two figures debuted at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con.  Maile, the pineapple girl, and bikini-clad Kiele, fresh from a tropical pool.





And now they're finally here for sale: the first two in a series of Polynesian figures that evoke times gone by.  Maile and Kiele.  Standing over seven and eight inches tall, respectively, their glossy black curves harken back to the lava souvenir figurines from the '60s and '70s.  Unlike most of those statues which were made in a one-piece mold and viewable only from the front, ours are fully dimensional.  During paint mastering the artists at Gentle Giant noticed that the figures we provided for reference, having been around for 40 or more years, all had a little bit of dust hiding in the crevices where fingers couldn't wipe it away.  So they carefully airbrushed a little simulated dust onto our prototypes.  We were so taken with the idea we decided to make that slightly dusty version our Comic Con variant.  Take one or both home and let their beguiling smiles lead you to enchanted places.  Available only in San Diego and later in our online store (while supplies last), Maile and Kiele come in their own individual boxes designed by Jessica Steele and featuring new artwork evoking Polynesian menus from the Disneyland I visited so long ago.