Top 3: Inspiring Tales from the Con

IMG_8609What do you think of when you hear “Comicon”? I’m guessing your top 3 would likely include comic books, nerd herds, and costumes. Excuse me, epic costumes.

That’s what I thought three years ago. Then I attended one for the first time. Now my top 3 would be inspiration, imagination, and motivation.

Why? Because of the self-driven authors and illustrators I discovered at these events. And every year I find more.

These people are risking their time and money to follow their creative hearts. In the process, many of them are also teaching their kids to do the same, through both demonstration and direct involvement.

If you’ve ever daydreamed about pursuing your own goals, or simply appreciate stories of others who have, here are my top 3 inspiring tales from the Con 2013.

Photo courtesy of Nervana:
Photo courtesy of Nervana:

1. Steam Crow

This husband-and-wife team started it all for me. On my first trip to Comicon, amidst the aisles of plastic-sleeved comic books, hardback graphic novels, and superhero paraphernalia, a booth of charming prints and unexpected kids’ books caught my attention.

At its table, a friendly couple was eager to tell me the story behind their book Caught Creatures, a series of fun Haikus written about adorable monsters. The best part? Daniel and Dawna made it for their son, and all the monsters’ names are their son’s imaginative toddler words. How charming is that?

As if they weren’t busy enough building a book and art empire, they simultaneously created Tiny Army, an Arizona group for creative types who want to help each other realize their dreams. So not only are they doing their own thing, they’re going above and beyond to help others in the same boat. Amazing.

You can learn more about them, their fabulous stuff, and Tiny Army here.

RoosterMonkey2. Rooster-Monkey

I’m pretty sure I was there for Robert and Lorraine’s first date, or at least one of the first. It was a party at Jim and Jen’s, mainly consistently of Bungie folk, back in the Chicago days. Robert and Lorraine brought homemade sushi rolls. I was impressed, and I had a good feeling about them.

Nearly 15 years later, in addition to a noteworthy catalog of Bungie art and writing, they’re building their own side endeavor. Last year, Robert bravely left Bungie to pursue this goal, in addition to the enviable task of being a present dad for their two young sons, both of whom were there helping at the show.

I continue to be impressed and have a good feeling about this couple.

As Lorraine said in my favorite Rooster-Monkey post, “Perhaps this is why art is done at all—to make a connection with someone, with words, with pictures. We have a desire to entertain, to share our own wonder with things in our lives that make us smile, make us laugh, make us awestruck.”

Hear! Hear!

To learn more and follow their journey, visit

RositayConchita3. Muertoons

I’m not going to lie to you: not every self publisher I come across gets a gold star for story, writing, art, quality of materials, and congeniality. These guys ticked off all those boxes. That’s why they were my top new discovery at Comicon 2013.

What’s more is their bravery. With Rosita y Chonchita, they’re tackling a kids’ tale about Dia de Los Muertos and twin sisters coping with the separation of death. Heavy stuff. Stuff traditional publishers aren’t willing to gamble on in a world of talking vehicles and party-going princesses. But what they achieve is not depressing or melancholic. It’s hopeful, whimsical, and even sweet.

As any teacher, psychiatrist, or grief counselor will tell you, kids should be given outlets to safely explore the subject of death. At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm children (or their parents) with fear and sadness. This team has struck a nice balance. I myself am struggling with this balance in my own endeavor. Let me tell you from experience: It’s tough.

And there’s more… The book is a side-by-side tale in English and Spanish (both rhyming) complete with detailed info about the Day of the Dead, instructions for making sugar skulls (a tradition of the holiday), and step-by-step tips for how to draw one of the book’s main characters.

These guys clearly think through the full experience for their readers, and I’m excited to follow where their journey leads next—somewhere creative, I have no doubt.

So there you have it, my top 3 inspiring tales from the Con. Have your own? Please share them in the comments below.

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