(prints are available here, or write $65
The McFlys (seen above) is my contribution to the fourth Crazy 4 Cult art show which is currently on display at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. (You can see all of my film family portraits here.)
A quick look into my archives yielded this handful of examples; from a drawing of the Black Hole's Maximilian that I did when I was seven, to a freshman year rendering of Citizen Kane...
I knew the medium would give me a lot more control over the details and I could work smaller. So I dug through the garage until I found the same baggie of pencils I had purchased for class more than a decade prior, and I bought a four pack of 11 x 14 posterboard at Walmart. After a couple misfires, an acceptable image started to take shape.
The learning curve was in full effect and I reworked some parts so many times that I was in danger of eating through the card stock. A week of nearly-sleepless nights and aching fingers went by and the more work I did, the more foolish I felt. I knew I was pouring days of my real life into a far fetched fantasy. I jumped into my impulse so quickly I hadn't even checked to see who curated the show...or if they were even having a third show...or what their selection process entailed...or if they even considered outside submissions! Yet there I was, an amateur by definition, two thousand miles from this gallery I had never set foot in, behaving like I had a chance.
Then I noticed an art contest on AintItCoolNews.com in which the winner got to participate in Crazy 4 Cult. Okay, maybe there was a sliver of a chance. I got excited by the prospect and finished the Torrances. Well, I knew it still needed work, but by then I had decided that the concept would be even stronger as a series, and I hoped that a bit more quantity would offset the lacking quality. So I started on the Lundegaard family from Fargo.
I'd been sacrificing every available hour for over three weeks when fatigue set in. Neither of the pieces was turning out as well as I imagined, so I decided to shelve the project, just for a while. After all, I had a whole year. And hey, if I just stopped nobody other than my very tolerant wife would ever have to know about my goofy plan. Besides, the San Diego Comic Con was fast approaching and I was planning to attend on behalf of another project.
Then it dawned on me— everyone seems to be at Comic Con, what about the guy who puts on Crazy 4 Cult? Turns out his name is Jensen Karp and he kept a blog. I scrolled down until I saw it—
"I'll actually be out in SD representing 1988 all week, but this time as an artist liaison for the Mattel company. ...[yada, yada]... at the Mattel Hot Wheels booth ...[yada, yada]...on Friday, the 25th, at 3 PM" [!!!]
Unbelievable! Not only was he going to be there, I knew exactly where and when! Forget the contest, I could just ask the guy in person. But how would I know how to spot him? A Flickr tag search served up Jensen's face to his newest stalker.
I returned to my work with new found motivation. I "finished" Fargo and attacked Jack Nicholson and crew with a new coat of polish. If I squinted I almost felt good about the Shining one, while Fargo deserved about a C-, but it was San Diego time so it would have to do.
On Friday the 25th, a bit before 3PM I was walking towards the Hot Wheels booth with a backpack containing color copies of my freaky little portraits. I felt my blood pushing through my neck. Almost immediately I saw Jensen handing out prints to a long line of Hot Wheels fans. He was busy; what a great excuse to not approach him yet. So I took a seat against a concrete wall where I could still see him.
He finished with the handouts and started chatting with his then-girlfriend. I didn't dare interrupt their special couple time so I stayed seated in my own sweat. I was terrified that they would notice that I'd been spying on them for a full half hour. When their conversation finally slowed, I stood up. Then a cluster of his friends swarmed and I sat back down. That group was replaced by another one, and another. Jensen knows a lot of people.
When my view of the curator was obscured I moved, and occasionally I circled the booth trying to shake some of my nervous energy. I checked the time; I'd been lurking over an hour. My stomach felt twisted and my mind was shot. When I wasn't scanning them like a sick robot I was cursing myself. My fantasy and reality finally had the unlikely chance to collide, and my weeks of investment were weighing on every moment. Fifteen minutes later I crumbled and walked away from the booth.
I think it was an experiment to see how it would feel. Relief washed over me and I started to think "By walking away now I'm saving myself from rejection. Nobody ever has to know what happened." By then I was convinced that there was no way it could end well. But then I started replaying everything that had happened, and I could almost see a red sign flashing in my head that said "POINT OF NO RETURN." Yup, that's where I was. So I turned around.
When Jensen came into view again there was nobody else with him. I had a straight shot! Suddenly, just like in the movies, a wall of people slid right between us. I started to wait, but my new sense of abandon possessed me and I simply interrupted their exchange. Things started off rough.
I'm going to use the word incomprehensible to describe my introduction and I use it in its truest sense. My body was in a state of panic and I had been sinking so far inward for the past hour that my brain seemed to lose its link to my tongue. My words were often out of order, and inaudible. Jensen played it totally cool.
My plan was to conjure a shred of credibility by giving him the film I worked on for FunKo (which was showing there that weekend) and my S.S. Adams book. So I, the mumbling stranger, told him I had gifts and started piling random stuff in his arms. "I made this." I eloquently stated as I handed him the book. When he mentioned that he liked Chris Ware (who wrote the foreword) I decided to inject some of my unique wit and I heard myself saying "He's my best friend." After a pause Jensen said "Oh, right on, man." to which I smoothly replied "That was my joke. That was just me joking. He's not really my best friend." Sorry if it's hard to read over the sound of me cringing!
Now that he was putty in my hand it was time for my big pitch. "I know that this is uncalled for, but I have some art..." I said as I rummaged through my backpack. Again he was totally cool. "Naw, man let's see what you've got." I handed him the paper without a word. He looked silently and without expression. Then he exploded "Aw man!!" and he burst into laughter and walked into the crowd to show it to some people. When he emerged he said, "You're in dude! You're in."
I literally jumped up and down like I was on The Price is Right. I tried to disguise the tears in my eyes. Then he asked "Do you have any more of these?" and I started flailing again.
Ten minutes later I was back in the oozing flow of Comic Con attendees, smooshed between three other t-shirts as sweaty as mine. But I felt like I was floating. My euphoria must have been obvious. "Hey man," said the guy to my left. "I don't know what the big secret is, but I wish you'd tell the rest of us."