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.

“Family Guy” 5 year anniversary drawings

Five years to the day that I started working on “Family Guy” was a Sunday that I spent drawing gifts for the people whom I felt had a hand in putting me on the show. From my co-worker Mick Cassidy, who put in a good word for me when I applied for the job, to my “phone buddy,” Brei Brantley, whom I would often speak to before being connected to producer Shannon Smith when making follow-up calls on available spots, and to the very people who interviewed me, not one, but FOUR PEOPLE: Shannon, animation associate producer Brent Crowe, and supervising directors James Purdum and Peter Shin. You bet your ass that interview was scary as hell. I think it was on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, but I could be wrong. Either way, it is indisputable that the following week on Monday, April 27 was my very first day working on the show.

These gift drawings see the return of Lois Griffin as Yukari Hayasaka of “Paradise Kiss” fame. They were penciled with a blue Prismacolor Col-Erase pencil, inked with a Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen, and colored with warm grey Prismacolor markers on S143 Maruman watercolor paper postcards.

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for Peter Shin

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for James Purdum

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for Shannon Smith

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for Brent Crowe

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for Mick Cassidy

"Family Guy" 5 year anniversary drawing for Brei Brantley

For more of my FG/ParaKiss pieces, check out the following entries:

“Family Guy” meets “Paradise Kiss”
FG/ParaKiss panel
Birthday drawings

Katherine Brannock shines at Laluzapalooza

Katherine Brannock

I am standing next to the back entrance of the gallery, poring over paintings of skulls on wooden plaques by an artist unfamiliar to me under the moniker Jinx. My eyes gaze for a second in the direction of the front door of the vicinity – perhaps I am looking for my friend April Connors, whom I have brought with me that night – when a beautiful figure glides through the entryway before me. She is like a character that has just stepped out of the pages of one of my favorite mangas, Ai Yazawa’s “Paradise Kiss,” dressed in a monochrome outfit of blacks and grays, with a top and skirt combo, black tights and heels, head adorned in a feathered hat, a red ribbon providing the only pop of color tied around her neck, and the pièce de résistance: a dramatic white fringed bolero. She is my high school classmate Katherine Brannock, the reason why I have made the journey to the La Luz de Jesus Gallery tucked away in the far corner of the Wacko Soap Plant store in Los Feliz, for the artist reception of Laluzapalooza.

A week prior to this, I had run into Kathy for the first time since 2003 at Comic-Con, where she was exhibiting with her extensive portfolio of ballpoint pen drawings, and a new hardcover collection of sketches from French publisher Xupuy. It was wonderful to see that she was still flourishing artistically, for Kathy was already very talented when I knew her in high school – the most skilled artist I knew in those days, actually. As we caught up on each other’s lives, I learned about her profession as a tattooist, and how we both have similar aspirations of publishing our very own graphic novels. Then there was the upcoming Laluzapalooza, where her work was to be featured among four other artists: Frank Forte, Hueman, Jinx, and Sean Stepanoff. Obviously, I felt compelled to show my support.

"Subconscious Miasma" by Katherine Brannock

"Saturn Returns in the Arms of Deuterium" by Katherine Brannock

Katherine Brannock wall

At the gallery, Kathy and I talk about her work: ten sketchbook pages, and one elegant piece of a larger scale done on Fabriano paper, that hang on a wall solely dedicated to her. Gloriously rendered in ballpoint pen, with occasional touches of bronze ink and watercolor in red and golden hues, her works are inhabited by fantastical humanoids and anthropomorphic creatures floating in the ether, their long flowing locks of hair, and inky sinewy things resembling oil and smoke, spiraling around them in a symphony of gradations and textures. Details that stylistically, to me, seem like a ménage à trois between Eric Canete, John Tenniel, and Claire Wendling, with H.R. Giger standing on the sidelines as a kind of referee.

"Silverlake" by Sean Stepanoff

Kathy’s work speaks to me in a way that the other exhibit pieces do not – the same goes for April, as I will later learn that evening. The La Luz de Jesus jury appears to agree with me on this, as indicated by their glowing review of her in the Laluzapalooza Jury Winners list, her summary being the longest. Not to say that the other artists’ works do not display the tremendous talents of the people who breathed life into them; they do. It’s just that Kathy’s voice is far more new and unique in comparison to the still lifes of skulls, quirky hipster caricatures, and creepy 1930s cartoons that have been done many times before.

"The Incredulity of Saint Donald (Caravaggio Tribute)" by José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros

And who hasn’t chanced upon a picture or two lampooning the likes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and other Disney characters, as seen in José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros’s Profanity Pop exhibit in the adjacent room? Though I must say, as a Disney fan, I find this unexpected solo show thoroughly enjoyable.

Laluzapalooza is on display until August 31, 2014, at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz. For more pictures of the artist reception, check out the set on Flickr.