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Independent Comic Con Artists

Earlier this month, I asked you guys for suggestions about what I should cover at Comic Con. An overwhelming number of you voted to see coverage of the independent artists at the event. I loved the suggestion and here is the result—a post highlighting some of the coolest artists seen at the convention.

These days the convention is no longer limited to just comic books and even the artists are scattered between comics, fine art, video game design, crafts and more. I tried to cover a little of all these areas to give you a chance to see the variety and the talent of the many artists displaying their works at the 2010 Comic Con. I hope you enjoy!

Kozik

Frank Kozik is one of the biggest artists at Comic Con. After gaining notoriety through his Labbit series with Kid Robot, he started his own booth at Comic Con, which features a number of awesome art toys, in both plush and vinyl.

Alex Pardee

Alex Pardee is another fairly big artist who has a booth at the convention every year. I actually met him at the 2005 convention (when he still had a tiny booth in the Artist's Alley) and talked to him about his work for a bit. My favorite of his projects are the Bunnywith comics, but you may know him better for his Team Conan shirt or his Chadam series.

Mitch O'Connell

If you've ever picked up a tattoo magazine, then you've probably seen the classic, flash-inspired artwork of Mitch O'Connell.

Peter Kuper

You may not recognize the name, but I'm sure most of you _flossers recognize the icon art of Peter Kuper, who is the most recent of the many Mad Magazine artists to have worked on the Spy Vs. Spy comics.

Crystal Chesney-Thompson

Here's another artist whose name may not ring a bell, but I'm sure you're familiar with a little show called Futurama and thus, have seen Mrs. Chesney-Thompson's work before. For years, she has been attending Comic Con selling books and plush toys for her own project, Haminal, but now that Futurama is back, she's also attending panels for the show.

As for Haminal, the basic idea is that this adorable little fellow is the result of genetic engineering a pig, a hamster and a guinea pig for the purposes of creating an animal that is tasty and built for the can. Over the years, he has gained some new friends, including the Deviled Haminal and the KiTuna Fish (seen in the photo before this one).

Battle Bears

Battle Bears is the first iPhone game slated to become a movie. Oliver (the brown bear) and his military unit crash land on a planet filled with huggables (the pink one), and find they must destroy all the adorable pink enemies in order to survive.

Battle Bears was created by a nine-man team that was headed up by Benjamin Vu (seen above) who previously worked on Coraline.

Alejandro Garza

Alejandro Garza is a comic book artist that has worked on titles such as the Teen Titans, Batgirl and Supergirl. At the convention, he seemed to be selling his own artwork, along with quick sketches.

Rosita Y Conchita

This booth had a great set-up, as it really looked like a little Dia De Los Muertos altar featuring the book Rosita y Conchita, a rhyming storybook in English and Spanish. The artwork in the book was adorable and the story was cute, too.

Devon Devereaux

Speaking of children's books, here one that's not actually for children: The Littlest Bitch by David Quinn and Michael Davis. It was illustrated by Devon Dereveaux, seen above, who uses a playful retro style in all of his works.

Laurie B

Laurie B's artwork depicts classic characters in a unique and distinct style that is completely irresistible.

Here's her take on Princess Leia:

Kirby Krackle

There are all kinds of artists at Comic Con, but Kirby Krackle is the first band I've ever seen to set up a booth. They fit in well because all of their songs are inspired by geek culture, particularly comic books.

Lark Pien

There isn't much to say about Lark Pien other than the fact that her paintings that generally feature a cute critter are simply adorable. Her clean style is visually stimulating and it was one of the booths I kept coming back to throughout the convention.

Mike Sosonowski

Mike Sosnowski is another artist that recognized the value of the convention years ago and has been coming back ever since. His pieces tend to focus on monsters and what they do with their free time.

Misty Benson

Do you like skulls with big deep eyes and creepy, yet cuddly animals? If so, Misty Benson's Morbidly Adorable Creations are sure to make you smile. She even makes mini prints of her paintings into necklaces so you can carry them around with you.

Geof Darrow

Geof Darrow is another comic artist who was there to sell his prints. His most famous work has been on the book Shaolin Cowboy, which is where the artwork above is from.

John Van Fleet

John Van Fleet has worked on a number of projects with major entertainment companies, but his pet projects are simply amazing, featuring dark mechanical imagery.

Paul Guinan

Paul Guinan and his cut out of Boiler Plate attracted quite a crowd throughout the convention. Boiler Plate is the star of a book by Guinan that was named as the third-best book by Amazon last year.

Denise Vasquez

Denise Vasquez was one of my favorite discoveries in the Artist's Alley area this year. She is quite the artist, experimenting with a variety of mediums, including music, drawings and toys. I wasn't the only one impressed with her talents. Apparently Stan Lee saw her toy version of him and told her he wanted to buy it after the convention.

Danielle Griffith

Danielle Griffith is a cartoonist and all-around artist. What was most impressive about her art, though, was the fact that she hand-sculpted and cast these toys all on her own, rather than hiring a company to do it for her.

She also had some really fascinating paintings that were some of the only watercolors I saw at the convention.

Will Quilt For Games

Crafts are a little less common at the convention, but they are still present, as you can see by this collection of pixelated gamer pillow cushions available from Will Quilt For Games on Etsy.

Jeff Pidgeon

Jeff Pidgeon and his adorable Happy Beaver have been a constant at the convention over the last few years. And with adorable vinyl toys, sketches, tees and more, they seem to do really well year after year.

Wardell Brown and Wattana Khommarath

While the sign behind these two reads Wild Monkey Works, the booth was actually a collaboration between these two gentlemen and another who wasn't present (the skateboards in the background are by the other person).

Wattana Khommarath (at right) is a 2D animation teacher at the Art Institute of San Diego, but at the convention, he was selling the cool prints above.

Wardell Brown has a cool cartoony style and for the convention, he printed these revisualized versions of a few classic video games.
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Now there were literally hundreds of other artists at the convention, but obviously I couldn't cover them all. If you were there, did you have any favorites?

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats 'Blep'?
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As pet owners are well aware, cats are inscrutable creatures. They hiss at bare walls. They invite petting and then answer with scratching ingratitude. Their eyes are wandering globes of murky motivations.

Sometimes, you may catch your cat staring off into the abyss with his or her tongue lolling out of their mouth. This cartoonish expression, which is atypical of a cat’s normally regal air, has been identified as a “blep” by internet cat photo connoisseurs. An example:

Cunning as they are, cats probably don’t have the self-awareness to realize how charming this is. So why do cats really blep?

In a piece for Inverse, cat consultant Amy Shojai expressed the belief that a blep could be associated with the Flehmen response, which describes the act of a cat “smelling” their environment with their tongue. As a cat pants with his or her mouth open, pheromones are collected and passed along to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth. This typically happens when cats want to learn more about other cats or intriguing scents, like your dirty socks.

While the Flehmen response might precede a blep, it is not precisely a blep. That involves the cat’s mouth being closed while the tongue hangs out listlessly.

Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the owner of Fundamentally Feline, tells Mental Floss that cat bleps may have several other plausible explanations. “It’s likely they don’t feel it or even realize they’re doing it,” she says. “One reason for that might be that they’re on medication that causes relaxation. Something for anxiety or stress or a muscle relaxer would do it.”

A photo of a cat sticking its tongue out
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If the cat isn’t sedated and unfurling their tongue because they’re high, then it’s possible that an anatomic cause is behind a blep: Johnson says she’s seen several cats display their tongues after having teeth extracted for health reasons. “Canine teeth help keep the tongue in place, so this would be a more common behavior for cats missing teeth, particularly on the bottom.”

A blep might even be breed-specific. Persians, which have been bred to have flat faces, might dangle their tongues because they lack the real estate to store it. “I see it a lot with Persians because there’s just no room to tuck it back in,” Johnson says. A cat may also simply have a Gene Simmons-sized tongue that gets caught on their incisors during a grooming session, leading to repeated bleps.

Whatever the origin, bleps are generally no cause for concern unless they’re doing it on a regular basis. That could be sign of an oral problem with their gums or teeth, prompting an evaluation by a veterinarian. Otherwise, a blep can either be admired—or retracted with a gentle prod of the tongue (provided your cat puts up with that kind of nonsense). “They might put up with touching their tongue, or they may bite or swipe at you,” Johnson says. “It depends on the temperament of the cat.” Considering the possible wrath involved, it may be best to let them blep in peace.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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