The first year I attended Houston's biggest and (from my experience at least) best comic convention, I had never gotten a commission in my life, and had limited funds for which to procure them. My second year, I was much wiser, but a student with far fewer resources from which to derive commissions. God willing, come May, I'll finally have the time, forethought, and money to do this right. I've found that planning ahead is extremely helpful, because great artists don't always produce good sketches, and you can often get more bang for the buck uncovering new talent. That doesn't seem likely to be a problem this time, as the guest list has gotten steadily more intimidating over the course of the last few months. In fact, I've decided to open up your comments to help guide me in selecting from whom I should get commissions, and of what. The following is a list of attending artists up for consideration, ranked somewhat in order of desirability, but your input could certainly impact on that...
When I saw that one of the few surviving industry legends of the Golden Age was coming to town, I gasped. Surely the man who has taught generations of artists how to draw at the only comic art school in the world wouldn't be offering sketches? Well, I don't know for sure, but Comic Art Fans seem to have a fair selection of relatively recent sketches. I've tended to avoid getting any commissions of the Martian Manhunter himself, especially as modern artists had tended to draw him sooner or later as part of the JLA. However, I'm not sure that Joe's ever drawn the guy, and I can't imagine letting the chance at possibly the only waist up or full figure of J'Onn J'Onzz by Joltin' Joe pass me by!
The Reverend Dave Johnson
I've been a fan of this guy for decades, and he was the first artist announced that had me sweating. As much as I would love to see him draw a lesser known Manhunter character, he simply must do a straight-ahead J'Onn J'Onzz. That is, if I can beat back the crowds that will surely be rushing toward his table. I have serious doubts I can get in with enough time to get work from him, and price might still be an issue, as well.
This guy is probably best known for his painted art of Hawkman and Starman covers, but what impressed me was the high quality of his convention sketches. He seems well suited for a more moody or esoteric character.
I'm not at all familiar with this guy's work, but his style reminds me of Paul Pope, and he doesn't do figure sketches so much as full scenes. Maybe it would be a better idea to come up with a scenario or versus match for him, rather than just say "draw this guy."
Another industry great who for all I know has never drawn the Manhunter from Mars, and I feel he should. However, his convention sketches seem to be pretty basic headshots, which I find boring. I think I'd rather talk to him about a "take home" commission with serious meat on it that I might have to wait a few months for. Hope that doesn't equal serious scratch, as well.
I liked some of this guy's Silvestri school art for Zenescope, and he seems to really like drawing hot and bothered girls in their underwear (or less.) Let's just say that if I wanted to con tribute to the scant amounts of Martian Manhunter porn on the internet (and droves of Miss Martian stuff,) he'd be the man to call. Given that this isn't a mature readers blog and also ick, I'm inclined to be contrary and get him to draw a guy in armor or something completely different from his norm.
This fellow does fantastic fully inked figures, so he's a can't miss on pretty much any Silver Age character I could throw at him. That said, I like flashy modern artists to work on the corny old characters, and retro cartoony artists to work on edgy modern characters. Then again, I'd like a Zook full figure as well, and Zahler might be a safer choice for Patrolwoman Diane Meade than, say, Eric "You Did What With Her Nightstick" Basaldua.
A clean artist who's drawn Martian Manhunter a few times already and seems like he could do justice to pretty much any character I asked of him. Of course, this begs the question of who the heck to have him draw, then.
Here's another guy with a Top Cow pedigree, who has also done some stuff at DC. It might be fun to have him draw somebody completely inappropriate, like maybe Monty Moran.
This is another artist that might be a pain to get to, not so much because he's far famed, but because he just launched the Houston-based Spider-Man spin-off Scarlet Spider.
I'm totally unfamiliar with this guy's work, there's barely anything online, and no strong indications of his inclination or quality of sketches.
Shane Davis & Michelle Delecki
To be honest, I expect the success of Superman: Earth One makes it likely that I won't be up for standing in line to get a piece "just 'cuz." The lady sometimes paints over Davis' work, and has her own Patrick Nagel sort of thing going on. I'd need to see/know more for her to seriously be in contention, though.
A painter of monster stuff, so most likely he'll just be selling prints.
I never heard of him, and the only art I found was a few pieces of zombified super-heroes.
I welcome your suggestions. If nothing else, this puts my priorities into perspective. I really need to get to Johnson and Kubert, since I think that if I can score commissions and early enough, they'll be mine that weekend. I should be able to talk to Chaykin about something for the future without time being an issue, and the rest I can work out on my feet. Of course, it's only February, so there's another three months for guests to be announced...