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18 Independent Artists at Comic Con 2012

Back in 2010, we introduced you to some of the many talented artists at the San Diego Comic Con. So how have things changed in the last two years? For one thing, there are even more talented artists setting up shop at the convention these days. Here are a few of the many amazing artists at the convention.

Jackie Huang of Wool Buddy

While crafting has become more common at the convention throughout the last few years, felting is still a bit more obscure than most varieties of needlework and still hadn't made its mark at Comic Con. That's why I was so happy to see Wool Buddy's booth. As if the adorable creatures weren't cute enough on their own, you could even buy a felting starter kit and artist Jackie Huang couldn't be happier to show viewers how to create masterpieces of their own. He even made an adorable Lorax right in front of me.

Martin Hsu of Crakens

Plushies and tee shirts are pretty big sellers at the convention, but handmade plushies are an entirely different story. Martin Hsu's Puffer Puss toy from his Craken line was one of the cutest designs at the convention and the fact that it was 100% handmade and limited to only 50 creations made it totally worth the $65 price tag. If you happen to like the Crabby Bear shirt in the bottom left, you might want to stop by their shop in a month or so as Martin informed me that he will be the next plush produced by the company.

Diana Sprinkle

Not only does Diana Sprinkle have a fantastic name, she also had some delightful artwork and merchandise. Anyone who happens to love Star Trek puns would particularly like her Beam Me Up shirt with a picture of a scottish terrier in a Star Trek shirt -- you can just barely see it there in the top left.

Shing Khor of Sawdust Press

When it comes to adorable, yet somehow slightly unnerving, sculptures, Shing Khor of Sawdust Press definitely was the best newcomer to the Comic Con scene. Her bizarre creations have such vivid facial expressions and bright colors that they made it almost impossible to walk by her booth without stopping to take a look.

David Petersen of Mouse Guard

If you enjoy fantasy stories like The Lord of the Rings and adorable drawings of mice in people clothes, then you'll certainly appreciate David Petersen's Mouse Guard. I started reading the Black Axe series a while back and I have to say, they are great. I can't wait to get my hands on the final installment.

Jermaine Rogers

While Comic Con and rock and roll might not seem like a match made in heaven, it's important to remember that music geeks are still geeks. That's why rock poster artists like Jermaine Rogers always do pretty well at the convention. While there were a number of rock artists at the convention, Jermaine was my favorite, both because he has mastered an amazing variety of styles and because he used his David Bowie bunny for his sign.

Dave Pryor

Dave Pryor's art is delightful in that it reflects the artist's fun and geeky sense of humor. From his "Bacon for President" to his "Kermit the Gorf," his artwork is sure to resonate with at least one of your interests -- especially if you're the kind of person who enjoys Mental Floss.

Agnes Garbowska

If you're a proponent of the idea that everything is cute when it is made smaller, then you will no doubt enjoy the adorable artwork of Agnes Garbowska. While Agnes has many of her own characters and comics, I personally love her toddler versions of classic comic book characters like those you can see on her table here.

Dane Ault of Monkey Minion Press

Dane Ault's Monkey Minion Press creations are great reminders that pop-culture-inspired pop art should be bright, simple, immediately-recognizable and geeky as heck. Best of all, they sell geek greeting cards, so even if you don't have the space or cash for an art print, you can always get a great card for one of your friends.

Freddy Scribbles of Daydreams & Giggles

As I said before, handmade plushies are always a special treat, and it's even more impressive when you can see the toys being made right in front of your eyes like Freddy Scribbles of Daydreams & Giggles was doing. While she had some really cool prints, her "cubies" plushies were definitely her most popular item at the convention. Of course, with creations this geeky, cute and unique, are you really surprised that they were flying off the shelves?

Brandon Bracamonte and Jonathon Weiss of The Mustache Ride

Yes, the name of the comic is a little dirty, but I promise you that The Mustache Ride, by Brandon Bracamonte and Jonathon Weiss, is not an adult comic -- at least not in that sense. Here's the story:

Deep in the future, where society has risen and fallen many times. ‘Marucs Elroi’ and his Donkey, ‘Kong’ set off on an epic quest for revenge through a western wasteland, where the bigger the mustache the badder the bandido!

See, it's actually about mustachioed horse riders -- and the art is simply fantastic, so that always helps.

Tara Magboo of Adorable Mayhem

Tara Magboo's Adorable Mayhem creations certainly live up to their name between her wonderful jewelry designs and her entertaining glass and metal dioramas that take place inside of unassuming bell jars, like the one below.

John and Shelley Loter

John and Shelley Loter are previous Disney employees who met at the studio, got married and eventually started their own business together -- Loter Entertainment Studio. Their tee shirt and postcard designs are simply delightful, full of the kind of whimsy you would expect to see from two ex-Disney artists.

Patrick Morgan of Whaleboy

While many artists come and go at Comic Con, Patrick Morgan has been a long-time exhibitor at the convention and is widely known for his adorable Whaleboy drawings and vinyl figures -- although he creates plenty of other characters as well, has even released a number of books, and is one of the staff members on Nickelodeon's Fanboy and Chum Chum.

Valerie Hochberg

Valerie Morgan is a fantastic manga-style artist with two online comics, Kick-Girl and Mystery Babylon. Valerie's biggest sellers at the convention though weren't related to her comics, but instead were these adorable prints of some of geek culture's favorite characters.

Roger Barr and Pestoforce of I-Mockery

I-Mockery is a fun site loaded with editorial content, comics and video games, but it's the video games, mostly created by owner Roger Barr, that really earned them a place on this list of artists. In fact, the company even spent all of their marketing budget to make an arcade version of their online flash game Abobo's Big Adventure. Given that the game was in use during the entire convention, I'd say that was a pretty good investment that kept people coming back to their booth. If you're big on classic NES games, then you'll probably fall in love with their games the second you start playing them.

I know some of you Flossers made it out to Comic Con as well, so if you think I left any good artists off this list, tell the world about them in the comments. And for more fun sights from around the convention, don't miss this post on my website, Rue the Day.

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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