Family Guy veterans Kara Vallow and Mike Elias among this year’s Annie Award nominees

"Family Guy" executive producer Kara Vallow

"Family Guy" editor Mike Elias

Congratulations to Family Guy veterans Kara Vallow and Mike Elias on their Annie Award nominations!

Kara has been nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production for her work on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
. She is responsible for developing and producing the unique animation style for the historical reenactments of the show. Best known as the executive producer/producer on Family Guy and American Dad!, and with a resume that includes shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Johnny Bravo, and Drawn Together, she is definitely the TV animation production aficionado. She is also an avid reader and writer, as is made evident in her blogs The Haunted Library and Teen Sleuth.

Mike has been nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production for his work on the one-hour Family Guy/Simpsons crossover spectacular, “The Simpsons Guy.” An editor on Family Guy since the show’s revival in 2004, Mike has been working in the film and television industry for over three decades, and has done work for such shows as The A-Team, Walker, Texas Ranger, and the brilliant, yet underrated, Clone High.

Winners will be announced on January 31, 2015. Let’s cross our fingers that these two plushie enthusiasts win!

CTN 2013 and 2014: a photo essay

The Art of David Boudreau booth

For this photo essay, we’re flashing back to 2013, back to my very first experience at CTN Expo, where I spent most of it working at my cubemate and co-worker David Boudreau’s booth.

Craig Knowles at CTN animation eXpo 2013

Sitting next to us, was character designer and animator Craig Knowles, who hails from Manchester, England. When he wasn’t chatting with CTN attendees, he was sketching away on post-its.

Post-it sketch by Craig Knowles

Here’s a post-it sketch that he gave me.

Thank you post-it sketch for Craig Knowles

And here’s a post-it sketch that I gave him in return.

The event served as a reunion for me and some animation folks that I hadn’t seen in ages, such as:

Me and Mike Morris

“The Simpsons” storyboard artist Mike Morris. Can you not see how thrilled I am to be blessed with his presence? Um, maybe I’m a little too thrilled…

Jessie Velociraptor Greenberg

My Story Development for Animation classmate and DreamWorks Animation production assistant Jessie Greenberg, a.k.a. Jessie Velociraptor, who was working at the Motivarti booth.

Me and Ivan Aguirre

Background painter Ivan Aguirre, whom I randomly met back in 2009 at a Women in Animation event at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Check out his portfolio and prepare to have your mind blown!

I also got to meet new artists, including:

Mike Kunkel

Animator and Herobear and the Kid creator Mike Kunkel. Such a nice guy. And he worked on “Cats Don’t Dance,” one of my favorite animated movies as you can tell from these pieces I did for the Villains of Animation Art Show.

Three of the seven contributors to the comic book "Anthology 451." Left to right: John Hoffman, Craig Berry, and Kris Pearn.

Anthology 451 contributors John Hoffman, Craig Berry, and Kris Pearn. I was so impressed with the artwork in the book, I bought a copy for myself.

The Family Guy softball team with "Children's Hospital" second assistant director M. Ryan Traylor pretending to be Seth MacFarlane. Back row: Patrick Clark. Middle row (left to right): J. Lee, Shawn Ries, M. Ryan Traylor, Francis Lucas's brother, Andrew Goldberg, and Matt Gerardi. Front (left to right): Drew Graziano, Lisa Hallbauer, Francis Lucas, Kristina Bustamante, and Kyle Lau.

Fast forwarding to 2014 now, I was only able to attend this year’s CTN on Sunday, November 23, because I was playing with cheerleading for the Family Guy team in a softball game against the McCarthys the previous day – sad news: we were annihilated. Photo above is me and the Family Guy team with second assistant director M. Ryan Traylor after our game against Children’s Hospital, which, for those of you who know me as the least athletic person in existence, serves as proof that I actually played and that I’m not making this shit up. Now that game we actually won.

CTN animation eXpo 2014

With only a few hours to wander the convention this time around, I was more concerned with talking to as many artists as I possibly could, which meant opting out of taking a lot of photos as that would have interrupted the flow of things. Artists that I spoke to, but aren’t pictured here, were Zach Bellissimo, Tara Billinger, Mingjue Helen Chen, Clio Chiang, David Colman, Alice Herring, Rad Sechrist, and Gabe Swarr. Check their stuff out. You won’t be sorry.

Me and Megan Nicole Dong

I did, however, get a snapshot with the lovely Megan Nicole Dong, whose comics are a huge inspiration to me. I bought a copy of her comic diary and sketchbook Shark Bites Vol. 2.

Me, Pierre, and Satine

And through my friend Pierre Bernard, I was introduced to a lady with the coolest name ever, Satine Phoenix, who was working at the MAXON booth. She is the co-creator and illustrator of the graphic novel New Praetorians, and has a rather colorful resume. We hit it off right away with our love of comics and fashion (and probably made one of Pierre’s dreams come true in the process).

For more photos from CTN, check out the sets on Flickr:

CTN animation eXpo 2013
CTN animation eXpo 2014

The hunt for David Derks at the Villains of Animation Art Show

"Meowrice Makes his Move on Mewsette" by David Derks

I arrived at the opening reception of When Good Toons Go Bad: Villains of Animation Art Show an hour into the event, only to wish I had gotten there sooner. For I had just missed the chance of meeting David Derks, the artist of my favorite piece, “Meowrice Makes his Move on Mewsette,” a Gay Purr-ee tribute. I was talking to Phillip Graffham, the organizer of the event, about how much I loved that piece, when he informed me that Mr. Derks might still possibly be floating somewhere among the sea of people. With wine in hand from the open bar, I then went on a mad hunt for him, hoping that he had not already left, so that I could sing my praises to him for his work.

"Big and Loud" and "Li'l Ark Angel" by Kristina Bustamante

Thankfully, the gallery provided name tags for the artists, so that the curious could spot the contributors from the general crowd. The downside to this, however, was that it made me an easily identifiable target of interest, thus beginning a series of interruptions to my search for the elusive Mr. Derks, as a few people wanted to know which piece was mine (two actually: Darla Dimple Cats Don’t Dance drawings “Big and Loud” and “Li’l Ark Angel”), or, in the case of mosaic artist Juliana Martinez, if I was some other Kristina that she knew.

Me with artists Joe Vaux and Mark Covell, and company.

Me with "Pole Dancing Adventures" artist/author Leen Isabel and "Hiraku" artist/author Nguyen Dong.

The arrival of friends and co-workers was also a distraction, but pleasant ones indeed, especially that of show contributors Joe Vaux and Mark Covell, with wives in tow, and – surprise! – my comics friends that I hadn’t seen in ages, “Pole Dancing Adventures” artist Leen Isabel, and “Hiraku” artist Nguyen Dong. These run-ins pretty much defined my night at the gallery, which was basically about me trying to focus on the art/finding Mr. Derks but failing because I couldn’t resist being social.

Me and Phillip Graffham

By the time I bumped into Phillip again as he was conversing with another artist, I was undoubtedly feeling the effects of the alcohol, and melodramatically lamenting that I might have missed Mr. Derks, which sucked “because I just love Gay Purr-ee so much!” Phillip and his companion seemed quite charmed by this display of girlishness. With a glimmer of hope inside me, I asked Phillip what the man looked like – maybe he was still at the gallery and just not wearing a tag? – and Phillip started spinning some magical description about how insanely tall and good-looking Mr. Derks is, with intense amber eyes, tan skin, and a deep voice made irresistible with an Australian accent…

Of course, I knew he was joking, but, being a single woman and looking (HA! Yeah, right), that didn’t stop me from humoring him with an exclamation of “Damn it! Now I really wish I could have met this guy!”

"Black Wolf" by Joe Vaux

In the end, I didn’t get my man- I mean, meet Mr. Derks, but at least I got to see some amazing artworks of animation’s most notorious villains. Joe Vaux’s “Black Wolf” was a definite standout in my book, especially since Wizards is my favorite Ralph Bakshi flick.

Show ends on November 29, which is coming up fast. Stop by Van Eaton Galleries today for some exquisite villainy.

For more photos of the event, check out the set on Flickr.

Coming soon: “When Good Toons Go Bad” Villains of Animation Art Show & Sale

When Good Toons Go Bad: Villains of Animation Art Show window banner. Evil Queen image by Mark Hammermeister.

I will have two pieces in the upcoming When Good Toons Go Bad: Villains of Animation Art Show at Van Eaton Galleries. Some of my co-workers and favorite artists will be participating, including: Mick Cassidy, Alina Chau, Mark Covell, Andreas Deja, Kaya Dzankich, Kali Fontecchio, Jeff Rebner, and Joe Vaux. Opening reception is this Saturday, November 15, from 6 PM – 10 PM. Hope to see you there!

For a teaser of my contributions to the show, go here to my Instagram.

Inktober: Day 3

Inktober: Day 3

Remembering my brief stint at MLG Productions with this drawing of Torunn, daughter of Thor. I was a freelance storyboard revisionist for “Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.” Don’t bother looking for my name in the credits, though. You won’t find it because there was no obligation for the studio to credit freelancers on the project.

That being said, I had a completely different drawing in mind for today’s post, but that one will have to wait because there’s a dude in it, and I just seriously have a hard time drawing dudes.

Inktober: Day 2

Inktober: Day 2

Day 2 of Inktober, and still standing. Here’s another original character of mine.

My drawings never seem to turn out the way I plan them to be. I’m kind of embarrassed, honestly, but I’m not going to let it stop me. Might as well fail spectacularly on the way to success.

Inktober: Day 1

Inktober: Day 1

Attempting Inktober for the first time ever. I hope I’ll be able to keep up with the daily posts. First entry is a character from one of two comics that I’m working on. Man, there’s too many ideas in my head. It’s hard to choose just one!

Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung: The night of

Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung

The Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung took place on the second floor of the Animation Guild building. I arrived at the very beginning with a decent but manageable crowd, which served me well, as I was able to view most of the pieces with relative ease before the inevitable madhouse that ensued. Indeed, the gallery was packed that night as family members, friends, and colleagues of Simon gathered to celebrate his life, and bid for artwork to help pay for his medical bills and debt.

Auction artwork

Auction artwork

The walls were practically covered from top to bottom with artwork by familiar names from the animation industry, most notably the director of the Academy Award-winning “Adam and Dog,” Minkyu Lee, whose pencil drawings of Anna and Kristoff from “Frozen” hung from almost every corner of the room.

"Anna #3" by Minkyu Lee

"Anna #1" by Minkyu Lee

A stage at the far right end from the entrance provided gallery-goers with an intimate glimpse into the sketchbooks of their dearly departed friend. As I pored through the pages of those sketchbooks, rife with quotes from the Holy Bible, and human figures in a style that reminded me of Ekaterina Khozatskaya, I could not shake off feelings of guilt, as if I were somehow invading Simon’s privacy. So strong were these feelings that, out of respect, I refrained from taking any pictures of the insides of those books.

Simon's sketchbooks

In the end, most of the pieces were auctioned off, and $34,000 was raised. The best part was that my former roommate Kalia Cheng made a bid for my piece and won! Meaning, I’ll be able to see it whenever I visit her apartment. Looks like I won’t be missing my piece too much after all.

My ex-roommate Kalia won my piece!

Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung

Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung

I will be at the Animation Guild tomorrow night for the Memorial Silent Art Auction for my co-worker Simon Chung, who passed away on the eve of August 8. All proceeds will go to his family.

It was a pleasure knowing Simon, who was so full of life in the face of death. He had the cheerfulness of an innocent child, and the stride of a man in charge of his own destiny. Even without words exchanged between us, it was a delight just to be in his presence, watching him doodle his surroundings in his pocket Moleskine sketchbook. His infectious smile was the best thing about him.

I learned about his condition not too long before his final hiatus. We were having lunch near work one day, when he told me about his battle with multiple myeloma, and the chance that he might die from it. I was so in shock, all I could muster was a weak apology. He reassured me that he fully accepted his situation, and that he was at peace with whatever may come of it. His demeanor and the calm sound of his voice told me that he meant what he said. This is what I remember whenever I feel like crying over his passing. I stifle my tears, as I feel they would be an insult to him.

My submission for the Memorial Silent Art Auction for Simon Chung: "Tribute to A Dance Around the Moon"

This is my contribution for the auction, my “Tribute to A Dance Around the Moon” that I made in 2010 for the “American Dad” art gallery, Freak Show. I had the option to auction it then, but I held onto it because I was proud of my work, and didn’t want to let go. When I learned that Simon’s art auction, which was originally intended to fund his medical needs, was still going on despite what happened, I looked up at that Charles Altamont Doyle-inspired drawing on my cubicle wall and felt its time had come.

I believe in God, and the promise of eternal life. I know that even though Simon no longer walks among us, his spirit remains alive and well. He never left.

Hey, Simon. This one’s for you, buddy.