I can’t believe it’s been two years since my last comic convention. Fuck, when I think about everything this pandemic took from us…
I mention in detail everything I’ve had to endure since the pandemic began, but the week leading up to New York Comic Con was especially nightmarish. My mom was hospitalized for an infection caused by a kidney abscess and, as Wing can attest, I wasn’t handling it very well. This took me completely out of my depth and at one point I broke down sobbing. Twitter locked me out for a day because I was making certain… comments about doing things to myself.
I’m okay I swear, but the way everything seems to progressively get more awful like the world’s worst video game isn’t doing wonders for my mental health. [JC: *hugs* We all need a shoulder to lean on, especially these days.]
The comic convention this weekend was a relief I very much needed. I only attended Thursday and Sunday, but sweet Jesus I haven’t felt this good in ages. It was wonderful to see most of my usual con friends again.
NYCC wasn’t as crowded as usual due to the absence of several big names on the show floor. The artist’s alley was also more spacious so there were a number of people I didn’t get to see this year.
For this year’s sketch haul I tried to focus a bit more on the horror-based magical girl stories I follow. Since I’m recapping Magical Girl Raising Project I saw this as a chance to discuss a subgenre I don’t normally talk about on here in more detail. Not to worry, I did get a few Goosebumps and horror movie related pieces.
Hardgore Alice (Magical Girl Raising Project) by Alexa Cassaro
In the lead-up to completing the Magical Girl Raising Project Vol.1 recap, I’ve asked Wing and several other recappers to place their bets on who is likely to survive this story. By the time of this post, Hardgore Alice is in the lead among the betting pool thanks to her power of regenerating from ANY injury. [JC: I don’t know anything about MGRP besides what Jude has told me, but I’m in love with this sketch. Look at her! So pretty! And she got my vote, along with Ruler, who can apparently command anyone to do anything. (I think I actually said Ruler wins if you pit those two against each other, but never mind that for now.)]
[Wing: This is beautiful! I particularly love her hair!]
But will that be enough to survive this battle where it’s kill or be killed?
This was my first time commissioning Alexa because I thought her style was a good fit for Alice. I briefly got to talk about MGRP with Alexa and her friend at the table.
Nurse Diesel (High Anxiety) by Jamal Igle
R.I.P. Cloris Leachman, another bright star taken from us during this shithole of a year.
High Anxiety was previously mentioned as my favorite Mel Brooks film, it being a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. Leachman portrays the depraved Nurse Diesel, who’s secretly exploiting the Institute for the Very, Very Nervous alongside her lover/lackey Charles Montague (Harvey Korman). [bat: I think this is a great capture of her likeness and probably a character most artists never get requests to draw. Nice commission, Jude! Fun fact: High Anxiety is filmed in my favorite San Francisco hotel, where I always stay when I visit.] [JC: This is one of the few Mel Brooks films I haven’t seen, but Cloris Leachman was always an MVP.]
Nurse Diesel steals practically every scene she’s in thanks to Leachman’s exaggerated scowl and depraved relationship with Korman’s Dr. Montague.
Jamal was one of the first artists I commissioned after I really got into the swing of art collecting in 2009. He’s always amused by the weird ideas I have for commissions.
Phantom of the Auditorium (Goosebumps) by Luca Pizzari
[Wing: THAT HAIR!]
So, story time! The published cover for “Phantom of the Auditorium” features a guy wearing a plain white mask covering his eyes and cheekbones. Even though the book describes it as some blue-green affair.
I found by happy accident that Tim Jacobus provided a “How To Draw A Phantom” tutorial in one of the fanzines provided to the Goosebumps club in the 90s. The reference images showed a Phantom looking more like he appeared in the book, which made my life so much easier.
Luca Pizzari previously did the artwork on a story in the 2018 Avengers Halloween special written by Jay Baruchel. It was, believe it or not, a mash-up of the Phantom the Opera with the Punisher. The story took Christine and Raoul from the original and made them the villains. The Punisher’s wife is the famous opera singer while Christine’s her jealous understudy. After his wife and children are both murdered, well, this being a Punisher story you can imagine it won’t end well for our bad guys. [JC: I love my shooty boi. And I’m both baffled and infuriated by real-life cops out here adopting his symbols as their own, as if Frank wouldn’t fucking blast the shit out of these murdering asshole POS cops.]
Stacey Carter and Morris (Graveyard School) by Agnes Garbowska
Haven’t gotten any new Graveyard School commissions in a while, and it’s always good to see Agnes (who did this for me as a freebie after hearing about how my year’s gone).
Stacey Carter was one of our Graveyard School main protagonists, appearing in almost every book from the beginning with “Don’t Eat The Mystery Meat!” Here she is with her beloved bulldog, Morris. [JC: I was introduced to this series because of Jude. This commission is adorable as hell! Look at the cute doggo!] [Wing: HOW IS THIS SO ADORABLE H O W?!]
Suzanne (Night of the Demons) by Sean Chen
Sean Chen’s one of my con regulars, and he was willing to sit down in the Artist’s Alley to do this for me even though he didn’t officially have a table this year.
Portrayed by B-Queen Linnea Quigley, Suzanne was the boy-crazed gal in pink from the 80s horror classic Night of the Demons. Suzanne and her goth gal pal Angela decided to throw a Halloween party in the abandoned Hull House… and in the process accidentally awaken a bunch of demons. [JC: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? YOU THREW A PARTY IN A HOUSE THAT SOUNDS LIKE HELL HOUSE! This sketch is absolutely gorgeous. I’m so glad the artist was able to do this for you!]
Ironically, Suzanne’s the first of the cast to be possessed but Angela’s the one to serve as the face of the movie franchise. Yet Suzanne’s infamous in her own right because of what she does with a tube of lipstick.
The summary I made up for Night of the Demons is one of the things that got me onto If It Were Stine a few years ago.
The Thing (Give Yourself Goosebumps) by Thom Zahler
Last year I reviewed “Trick or… Trapped,” the second of the two Halloween-themed Give Yourself Goosebumps books. This one has the reader character trapped in a strange gated community on Halloween, before they’re left at the mercy of their nerdy classmate Nathan Rickles and… THE THING!
This was an idea I had for artist Thom Zahler for years, but it took me forever to finally give him the sketchbook and the Goosebumps book for reference. [JC: Ooh, I like this commission way better than the actual cover art!]
Reeka (My Little Pony) by Andy Price
SHE’S A WITCH SO SHE COUNTS, SHUT UP!
Over the years I had a small theme I tried to do with Andy Price since he’s one of the artists who worked on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comics for IDW. I wanted to get all three of the witches from the 1980s My Little Pony cartoons, including quotes from other roles their actresses were in.
For Reeka, I had Andy include a quote from Rhea Pearlman as Zinnia Wormwood, the neglectful mother in Matilda.
Before this I got Draggle quoting Madeline Khan’s most-infamous, adlibbed line from the film Clue.
And then years later I got Hydia with a quote paraphrasing her TV actress Tress MacNeille’s other role as Futurama’s evil matriarch business tyrant Mom.
…no I don’t understand how my mind works, stop asking me.
[bat: I love these! Especially Draggle, since I can totally hear her saying that line. These were a fantastic idea for a commission, Jude!]
[JC: These are great! I’m a sucker for the Madeline Khan line from Clue. You could throw that on damn near anything and make me happy.]
Rachel Benning (Red Garden) by Janet Sung
Time for more Magical Girl History! Years before Puella Magi Madoka Magica “reinvented” the magical girl genre, there were several shows to explore darker themes within the magical girl lens. Many of them were also horror stories. Red Garden was one of them.
Produced in the 2000s by Gonzo, Red Garden was the story of four teenage girls living in New York City… who’re told they’ve all died. Now these four girls are expected to fight monsters almost every night if they want to continue their new existence or ever hope of reclaiming their lives.
Our cast of four girls included Kate Ashley, Rachel Benning, Rose Sheedy, and Claire Forrest.
Rachel was the “party girl” of the group, the one with active social life and a large group of friends. Among our quartet of unofficial magical girls, Rachel’s the one who suffered the most in rectifying her new situation. Her mom’s an alcoholic (but strangely not abusive), she has no dad to speak of, and her friends ultimately prove useless in being any support to her.
Janet Sung’s emphasis on Rachel’s fingernails in the sketch is actually a really clever nod to one of the first clues that something strange happened to these girls. She notices one of her nails has been broken in a very odd way, but for the life of her she cannot remember how it happened.
I wrote about Red Garden in detail for the website Wicked Horror and if any of you have access to Funimation’s streaming service you should check it out. It’s a gorgeous show.
[JC: This is another one I know nothing about, but that sketch is beautiful. I’m seriously jealous of how talented all these artists are!]
Ichika Tachibana (Uta∽Kata) by meldoodles
Oh wow, what a cute and bright outfit! Surely this must be a cute and fluffy magical girl story!
Too bad this is the outfit she wore when she tried to kill someone.
[Wing: This is the perfect outfit for attempted murder! It’s so cute.]
Uta∽Kata was a magical girl show which quickly fell under the radar due to its pacing and complaints about the amount of panty shots every episode had. On the surface it appeared to be another bright and happy magical girl story, before it quickly became clear this was a psychological horror show.
Ichika Tachibana is a 14 year old whose life is turned upside down when she encounters a girl on the other side of the mirror. Green-haired Manatsu Kuroki emerges from an old mirror in Ichika’s school and asks for Ichika’s help in completing her “summer homework.” Ichika’s thus blessed with the power of elemental spirits called “Djinn” and has to experience the world through their eyes.
Initially, Ichika’s usage of the Djinn are fun and easy before they take a heavy toll on her mind. Her constant lying to those around her causes her to develop anxiety and later an eating disorder. Eventually, the Djinn basically force their power onto Ichika and her anger takes control of her actions.
Episode nine features Ichika using the power of the Flower Djinn to almost murder a woman. With flower petals. In what can only be considered an extreme form of intrusive thoughts, Ichika has an out-of-body experience where she watches and hears herself try to kill a hospital patient who is deathly allergic to flowers. The woman’s initially overjoyed to be around flowers again after so long, but her joy turns to agony when she starts convulsing and screaming in pain. Ichika regains control of herself before the woman dies, but it serves to further convince Ichika she’s a horrible person.
I also wrote about Uta∽Kata for Wicked Horror, as a rather interesting attempt at a horror magical girl story before it became popular. It eschews gore and more blatant violence for the sake of a story about change and misanthropy.
Bonus Halloween Sketches
Here are two pieces I got for myself as Halloween treats.
Pumprincess the Princess of Ghosts (Yu-Gi-Oh) by seadeepspaceontheside
Seadeep is a digital artist I’ve been friends with on tumblr for a few years. They were a big help when I was trying to raise money to get my boiler replaced last year. I’ve developed a habit of getting quick pieces from them as Halloween and Christmas treats to myself. [JC: Ohmigosh look at her little crown! So cute!]
Yes, I was once deep in the hole that is Yu-Gi-Oh the Japanese series where everyone takes a collectible card game VERY seriously. You’d honestly be surprised by how much of a horror story its earliest chapters were in the manga and its original anime adaptation from Toei. The main character regularly committed mind rape on antagonists, and even set a guy on FIRE.
Beyond that, a lot of the cards featured in this franchise are rather disturbing. You’ve got Illusionist Faceless Mage, Dark Sanctuary, Jinzo, Clown Zombie, Doll Chimera, and one of my personal favorites, the Cursed Twin Dolls. [JC: I’m now in love with the Dark Sanctuary. I hesitated to click on Clown Zombie, but it wasn’t nearly as nightmare-fuelish as I was expecting.]
Aren’t they adorable?
I stopped collecting the cards years and years ago when I lost track of the anime, but I still semi-follow the franchise in regards to monster designs and older episodes.
Pumprincess is a follow-up card to Pumpking the King of Ghosts, a zombie-type monster that boosts the attack powers of other zombie-types.
Pumprincess was created decades after Pumpking, so I kind of love that they did a follow-up implying the king somehow had a kid. If the franchise had more interesting cards available to actually play with, I might’ve stuck by it for a while longer.
Rilo Buru (Strange Matter) by Donald Kirby
Donald’s an artist I found on twitter last year when everyone was offering commissions to help with the protesting. I’ve semi-regularly gotten smaller pieces from him through ko-fi and for Halloween I got everyone’s favorite Buru from our breakout recap of this year, “Rilo Buru’s Summer Vacation.” [JC: Burus just want to have fun!]
Yuta (Mermaid Saga) by stardustrobin
I was unable to get anything horror related in my heavyset collection sketchbook, so I got my friend Robin to do this piece of Yuta showing off the goods. [JC: Aw, he’s very huggable!] [Wing: Oh, I love this. Look at those arms, and those sides, and that stomach.]