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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.

Nimue in Bronze July 11, 2014 14:45

For those of you searching for the exceedingly rare and unusual, we are offering this high-end variant of the popular Nimue figurine sculpted by Anders Ehrenborg and and produced by Jessica Steele. I've always been a big fan of bronze sculpture, both for its look and weight, but also for its durability; it's art you can touch without fear of breaking it. In fact, you need to be careful not to drop it on your foot lest it crush your toes or punch a hole in your floor.

This is a smaller version of the original Nimue, and was produced from the same data. Mastered by Gentle Giant and cast by American Fine Arts Foundry, she is solid bronze, and rests on black granite. The sculpt as shown is 4 1/2 inches tall including her base. She weighs in at 2 lbs, 6 ounces. Her hands, arms and flower were so detailed at this size that they had to be to be cast separately by a jeweler. The tail fluke is admittedly sharp, so displaying it next to your alarm clock might not be a good idea.

Originally conceived to shrug off the effects of an extended burial (a whole different story) we decided that since we were going through the trouble of making one, we might as well cast a few more. There are a total of 15 of these in existence. Anders, Jess and I have 1 each. 2 were hidden. We are offering the remaining 10 for sale at $800 apiece, debuting at our San Diego Comic-Con booth (#5534) later this month.


And now for something completely different... July 10, 2014 11:04

So with San Diego Comic Con almost here, it's time to introduce the things we'll have at our booth!  In the quest to stay fresh, I challenged Jess with some unusual design and manufacturing requests.  Throughout the year I see things I'd like us to have in our shop, and have pretty much no idea where these things come from, so it's up to her to start researching and then the process of contacting and building relationships with manufacturers.  But this year she also had some challenging shipping situations, and I'm happy to report that not only did she get everything made, but got everything to California as well!  Here we are a couple weeks out, and every product is safe and sound in our warehouse, waiting for the day we'll drive it down to San Diego!

The first of the new products you can pick up at our booth is the T-shirt we previously posted about.  It has a detailed and vivid reproduction that we felt was worthy of the Koi Girl illustration.  Jess has been wearing hers almost constantly and it's still looking bright.  My advice - never ever put things you love in the drier.  We wash that shirt a lot, but only air-dry it so the blacks stay black and the colors don't get fried.  Anyway, on to more new stuff...

Every year we take a chance on something completely new, and this would be one of those things!  I hang out in any store that sells stuff from Japan, and I've been seeing a certain something for several years now - beautifully printed plastic folders.  Strangely practical, yet so attractive I always buy them just for their covers!  Any papers you put in them, from a grocery list to a water bill, suddenly become happy and fun to have around.

So this year we're offering an identical folder of our very own.  Made with heavy-weight plastic, ours are designed to safely hold 8 1/2 x 11 paper.  Jess chose Koi Girl to adorn its cover.   I've been using these for a month now and not only is it a welcome sight each and every time I pull it out of my backpack, I've also noticed that things don't get lost anymore.  If there's something you want to keep track of, put it in one of these folders and it becomes mighty easy to find.  Guaranteed to raise eyebrows and start conversation!

Should these sell well we'll follow up with a series of other girls and animals so that it will become even easier to organize your life!

Booth 5534 continued... July 10, 2012 10:32

More merchandise pictures!

I've always wanted to bring mugs to the Con, and this year that dream comes true!  These are heavy, so I'll not bring a lot.  But I'll bring about a hundred and see what happens.

That's the Morgan mug on the left.  Morgan is a character I'll add to Kiskaloo this year.  And yes, he runs a diner.

Ogo buttons.  They glow in the dark.  As all buttons should.

See?  I always have the urge to hold them against the end of my nose.  But that's just me.

Dream Catcher print, color by Christina Strain.

Party Witches print, color by Christina as well!

Finally, all the free buttons available at my booth.  I'll have some free Ogo tattoos as well, and I'll post them tonight.  One button is offered every day.  The little square one is for preview night.

Comic Con Booth 5534 July 9, 2012 11:52

Okay, so the first thing you need to know is that I've moved.  I'll be in a new place on the floor this year, hopefully easier to find than in the past.  I liked the neighborhood I was in, which was very near Stuart Ng, but my visibility was about zero, so I'm giving this new location a try.  I'm pretty sure I'm against the front wall, but check your maps just to make sure.  Here's the stuff I'll have.

To my surprise, as I was signing sketchbooks, I found a very few copies of sketchbook 2 and 3, which I was sure were gone for good.  If you're looking to pick them up, I think I'll have enough for Wednesday night, but I'm sure they'll be gone by Thursday sometime.

As I was nearing the printing deadline for the new sketchbook, I realized it was going to be another last-minute dash to get everything in.  This would have meant leaving some drawings unfinished, uncolored, or leaving them out entirely.  So I opted to do something I'd been thinking about for years - reprint the very first sketchbook from seven years ago.  If you weren't at that Con you had no chance of getting that sketchbook, and since then I've answered many questions as to whether it would be made available again.  You could argue that it was never really printed in the first place, since it was run off on a high-end Xerox machine.  That process printed the images in a rather low-res dot pattern, and several sepia colored drawings were reproduced in grey.  This edition restores all the drawings to their original appearance, upgrades their resolution, and moves the original cover to a fold-out in the center.  I've re-drawn that girl in two different versions for the new cover (that's the original book in her hand) - choose whichever one you like best!  As always, every sketchbook is only 10 dollars.  Even the rare ones.

Now this is important.  As a little promo for The Croods, which I am currently finishing for a spring release, I'll be giving away this poster in the amount of 600 per day.  Free, to anyone that comes by.  It's a collaboration between myself and Aurthur Fong, and features two of the characters from the film.  They're set against a background of story sketches from the making of the movie.  It's 20 x 24, and printed on heavy textured stock.  This is a Con exclusive, and will never be available any other place, ever.  So come by, bring a friend, and we can chat about the movie.  You might meet Aurthur, who will be stopping by, and he can tell you how to paint like this, although it may take a few days.  Oh, those little colored squares won't be on yours.  This was the untrimmed proof.  Which is the one I'll be keeping.

Free poster featuring artwork from the new "Croods" movie from Dream Works.  (Ogo mug included for size comparison.)

24 oz. aluminum water bottle with wrap-around Chris Sanders artwork.  This will keep you hydrated while you wander the floor.

Another bottle, if you prefer your water in a mango-colored container.  These will sell for 20 dollars.  The lid is a new type that snaps shut.  Very satisfying.

I'll post more photos of the other stuff tonight.