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While I focused a lot of attention on the online galleries of announced special "guest" artists scheduled to attend the con, I also tried to keep an eye on the multitudes slowly lining up in "Artist Alley." Unfortunately, the alley attendance really got away from me towards the end, and I wasted a lot of time studying the galleries of "guests" that ended up canceling. I realize day planners and paper calenders seem outdated, but how professional is it to double book cons? Anyway, Johnny Segura was confirmed early, kept his appointment, and I had the chance to give his work a thorough looking over. The more I saw, the more I liked, and knew I'd end up having to whittle down a whole list of prospective subjects.
Speaking of those "guests," I wanted to get the "high dollar" guys out of the way, either by paying them or by deciding from day one to sidestep them. That way, I would have a better idea of what kind of money I had to spread around the alley. Having dealt with that (and having dealt out entirely too much bread in a span of time so short I still get nauseous thinking about it,) I finally started to settle in and start talking to people. Segura was one of the first I approached, because I had such a clear idea of who I wanted him to draw. I had initially considered the Human Flame, since Segura had shown an eagerness to draw thick dudes with thicker mustaches on fire in his Kickstarter-funded graphic novel Pipe Dreams: A Tale of 2 Plumbers. However, I found another artist even more tuned in to Mike Miller's wavelength. See, to my mind, Segura's at his best when he's drawing lanky, high energy characters. He's also great at displaying broad comedy, exaggerated features, and has a slightly sinister edge to his otherwise bright, buoyant style. Then there's the obvious influence of Humberto Ramos, who had drawn me a sweet Professor Arnold Hugo bust two years earlier that I really wished was a full figure. I thought Segura could bring the same manic glee to the Wizard of a Thousand Menaces, and told him so.
I gave Segura a few pieces of reference, including a scan of the Ramos, and a brief description of the character. Professor Hugo is your basic mad scientist bank robber who used a device to expand his brilliant mind, as well as the head it came packaged in. He'd fought Martian Manhunter, Batman, and Robin in his day. He wore nice suits, and usually used a gadget of some kind in his heists, often a high-tech firearm of some sort. I wanted so much for Segura to capture the spirit of the character, I even loaned him my copy of House of Mystery #153, featuring my first and still favorite Hugo story.
Segura asked me a few questions about the character. I made it clear that his dome really is supposed to be that big, with a long lean body propping it up, since he's sort of like a criminal Peter Pumpkinhead. I figured Hugo should have some kind of doohickey to play with, and I think we decided on a rifle. Segura had free reign with the body posture and suit, though I secretly hoped he would not follow Ramos' lead on the plaid, because I think Hugo's a bit too stylish for that. Segura asked about what I wanted the piece drawn on, and I happened to have a bundle of industry standard 11 x 17" boards that he was willing to work with.
I swung back by the table a few hours later, and beheld a piece far and away exceeding my best hopes. Segura had perfectly captured the freak nerd gangster vibe of Professor Hugo, who looked extra sharp in his suit, and improvised an excellent tommy-ray-gun that was ideal. A lot of the color dropped out in my scan, so you can't appreciate how vibrant this piece is, and I especially regret that facial pallor seen here but not in the physical art. My hosting site also couldn't handle how tall my scan was, downshifting it from 800px x 1306 to 537px × 878. It's just too big and bad to handle.
Segura sells commissions to order on eBay, from a $40.00 8.5 x 11" to a $120.00 11 x 17", always in full color with extras. Segura was a super cool guy that I had an easy rapport with, and it didn't hurt that his wife took such a liking to Professor Hugo, I let her hold on to the House of Mystery issue for further reading. After all, I wasn't done getting commissions from Segura that weekend, as you'll see in future posts...