Monday, June 25, 2007

Bisbort Praises TTYS!

Alan Bisbort gives Troubletown Told You So a killer review on his Hartford Advocate blog:

...Dangle’s faux naïve style actually disguises a master at caricature. No one gets the simpleton Bush Cowboy like Dangle—the key is to be just as simple as he is while drawing him; thus, Dangle’s Bush renderings are spot-on. Likewise, his Coulter caricature is a masterpiece of fright, worthy of Daumier or Goya.

Read the rest.

Oh no, he's uncovered my secret! While you're at it, Blogbort is a funny read too, check how he had the goods on Cheney way back in 2000. Of course he had to publish it in Canada since the has a US blackout on all relevant news here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Licensing Show: Today's Tally

Today's tally isn't going to be good. It's all artists. The show has been slow as hell. Going back to my earlier post, I'll finish my categories...

Fans: Fans are people who already know my work. It would be great if they were also art buyers with big budgets, but my fans aren't people who have jobs. Fans hang around and make it impossible for art buyers to enter the booth to do business. Fans, please come to see me at my book signings and at comics shows.

Menu Men: The men who drop off menus for Chinese restaurants. On the last day all the jobbers come around trying to get logistics business.

Losers: The Licensing Show lets anybody in, there's no need to provide identification, there's no qualifying of attendees. The badges aren't coded in any way to let you know if you're talking to a real journalist or art buyer, or just some disability case killing another one of his endless string of free afternoons.

Losers will come into your booth and plop down in the chair you're renting for $100 a minute, open up their egg salad sandwich, take a bite, then proceed to spit little chunks of all over your portfolio, table, carpet, and samples, as they recount the long, sad story of their life. Losers are tactile. They pick up every item you have on display and set it down with a gummy smudge. They like to touch. Some losers will have that kind of bitter edge too, where they simultaneously fawn over you and berate you for doing everything all wrong. If you become annoyed they take pleasure in the negative attention.

The loser reduces the curb appeal of your booth by 95%. As the clown is trying to impress you with everything he has done and all that he knows, the corporate suits with massive budgets stream by. Losers park themselves in your booth during the heaviest traffic. Your exhibit is blighted. You will say, "thanks for dropping by," as you scoot them off on their way, but they'll ignore it and find some other reason to linger for fifteen or twenty minutes. I had one like that today, he said that he was an artist's representative.

Some loser identifiers: he used to be an artist himself and wants to get back into it, he's an inventor of something he can't tell you about because it's so amazing that everyone would want to steal it, he has a project in development that you would be perfect for, he hasn't been doing his art because he's been ill, he's in the process of getting new business cards and his website is undergoing a redesign.

Weird Phenomena

Fifteen feet in front of my booth there is a turn-around suck hole. It's a vortex of some kind, a paranormal phenomenon that most people don't know much about, but in this case makes persons turn in their tracks for no reason. It could just as easily make them hallucinate, develop hiccups, or simply vanish. These things exist! Honestly, I have been watching it occur for three days now. There is a spot in the carpet worn thin. I'm pretty sure it is the work of black magic. I am at the hub, but the booths down past mine are really screwed. For them it would be worth bringing in a practitioner to cast a erasure spell.

Happy Bunny

Happy Bunny is here, the famous licensing phenomenon created by JT Benton. It's like the Airborne of rude-cute animal characters that are now on gazillions of T-shirts, mugs, and greeting cards. The fastest-selling bunny in retail history, I believe. Ilise Benun sent a link to the Wall Street Journal article on the guy. (He's also fantastic at getting press). Happy Bunny became licensed through an agency called CopCorp. CopCorp, if you're reading my blog, come see my stuff in booth 1878! We need to tawk.

With apologies to Happy Bunny.

What's the Daily Tally?

I always keep a daily tally of contacts, people who actually come up and speak to me, give me their card, and engage in conversation.

Visitors fall into several categories:
Artists, walking the show trying to decide if they should spend the money and take the leap into licensing. Or, got forbid, they're carrying their portfolios around looking for an agent. Sometimes they're young kids right out of art school who haven't figured out what a tragic mistake it was, and the rest are middle aged-women with tie-died hairbands and gigantic medallions hanging around their necks and art fair earrings. You can spot artists in a second and hopefully you can scoot them away from your booth without too much trouble. The ones you can't get rid of are what I call "losers." (see Losers) At one show, two years ago I think, artists outnumbered art buyers five to one. That means you're paying $100 a minute to exhibit your work to #&%@* other artists!!

Bona-Fide Buyers.
Buyers are Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, or Japanese and wear business suits and have business cards. Anybody who doesn't have a business card is is a loser (See Losers). Japanese art buyers are cute, tiny girls who look to be about fourteen years old. The Americans who stop by are often in their twenties and live in Shanghai or Hong Kong, or travel constantly and don't even know where they are. Other buyers will be from the American offices of companies who do their manufacturing manufacturing in Asia. It's odd to find buyers who make things in the US, they are usually obscure businesses with like the guy from Georgia who makes rubber floors, or the father and son team from Michigan that manufacture stretchy nylon athletic wear with horrendous artwork printed on them...

More to come, I'm getting busy up in here...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

End of the Day Sketch Dump

Free Advice

Artists, here's a word of advice: if you are going to make your signature serve as your logo, like Rembrandt, make the damn thing legible. At Surtex, there was a woman near me named Teri whose signature-logo read as "Fern." All day long I overheard, "Are you Fern?" "No, my name is Teri." "Then who's Fern?"

On the other hand, what the hell do I know? Across the way from me here is one of the top licensors. You've probably furnished your house with her stuff from Pottery Barn, but her logo is her cursive signature that reads, "Funeral Bunch." Her artwork is printed onto everything. When I arrived to set up my booth there were three enormous wooden skids parked in front of her booth. It looks like a gift shop.

One of the other exhibitors, a guy who seems to know everything, whispered to me that Funeral Bunch is a $70 million company. So maybe if your scrawled signature looks like it says "Poodle Nimrod," ignore my advice and keep it.

This Show Produces Tons of Garbage

And I'm not just talking about the commercial junk. I mean garbage men go past non-stop!

Taking Care of Elvis Business

Elvis and Muhammad Ali are owned by a company called CKX, who also licenses American Idol. This year's Elvis booth competes with those from the biggest entertainment companies. The design is quite amazing, with flying butresses and intersecting planes everywhere. It's probably larger than Graceland, which is actually a quite modest house. I remember when Robert Sillerman acquired the Elvis estate. He vowed to take the King way beyond black velvet paintings and belt buckles. I think some major Elvis exposure is on the horizon.

I must go over there and do a proper sketch, these are from memory.

You have to admit, owning a dead man is a little morbid, but there's a lot of dead person licensing going on here. John Wayne has a big ass display too. But what about Muhammad Ali? He's not even dead!
What the Elvis attraction really needs, is a pair of gyrating hips and legs. This could easily be achieved. Also a plush Elvis head to walk the show floor...

Live Blogging Day 2

You may be asking yourself, what's going on here at TrouBLOGtown? Well, it so happens that I am blogging LIVE from the International Licensing show, inside the Javits Center in New York, on my $29.99 wireless connection. This is the first online event of its kind ever; TrouBLOGtown is again on the cutting edge.

My impressions so far today: These fuzzy characters should be washed occasionally. I just saw Spongebob's sidekick, Patrick. Pink fabric really shows dirt.

The big corporate displays are vegas-style attractions. Flashy architectural sets with flatscreens blasting visual diarrhea in every direction, complete with meeting rooms (sometimes even including hallways with doors leading to small offices) and curving, undulating walls with licensable properties papered over every inch. I'm doing the same goddamn thing on a 10X10 scale. Displaying art at a show like this is like billboard advertising. You have to grab the corporate eye as they speed past.

Somewhere nearby there are some spokesmodels doing an amplified demonstration of some kind, they keep purring and giggling...These hidden stimuli are the ones that really wear you down. The other day when I was setting up, someone had an amplified female voice going, "Pssst!" which would repeat every minute or so. That is like the tactics used at Guantanamo!

Yesterday I told you about the Sony Pictures exhibit, a romanesque (think Caesar's Palace) town square with enormous meatballs raining own from the black duct-laden Javits ceiling. They could be great horse turds falling, except the huge cable-thick linguine noodles identify them as what they're supposed to be. Sony's big movie for 2008, "Help, it's Raining Meatballs."

Yesterday's Numbers

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Last Call

Getting To Be That Time...

It's 4pm and it's getting to be that time of day when fatigue really sets in. It's been a good day. I haven't made many good sketches, haven't really scratched the surface, but that's because I was busy with potential clients. I can't complain. Ugh, if I can just make it for forty-five more minutes...

Bad move: I forgot to drink any water in the last eight hours. Kinda thirsty.

Brisk Traffic

People, this is the first time anyone has ever blogged live from the Licensing Show and everybody wants to know about it! I just had my 11am book signing...One woman asked me to sign one of my cards because she didn't want to buy a book. To Andy. I had a guy from Shanghai sitting here trying to make a multi-million dollar deal on inflatable products. Not sex toys...swimming pools, beach balls...but the woman kept interrupting. You did a terrible job signing this card! Sign it on the front so he can frame it! She wouldn't stop complaining!

There's a lot of traffic today and it's all about Asia. I am definitely going to have to learn Mandarin if I'm going to stay in this business.

Character alert: I saw a plush Lysol can walking around. Also some animal character with a flat head that was poorly weighted. It was flopping to the side. I have no idea what it was supposed to be. Also that little zip code character the post office used to use is a licensable character now. He's walking around.

Airborne fans told me that there are now stuffed animals that are germs. Her daughter got gonorrhea and the clap.

First Character Sighting!

Actually it was about an hour ago. My wireless connection inside this giant concrete tomb went down. Damn it! Javits wireless: $29.95 a day.

The Show So Far

The people are beginning to pour in. My neighbor pointed out that there is a turn-around point on our aisle. People walk up to a certain place, then spin around on their heel. Always at the same spot. I'm going to have to counteract it somehow. I may have to go and stand on that spot.

Day One

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dangle Live Blogging Starts!

At the Javits...Today was setup day. I can already see that Hannah Montana is going to be the biggest entertainment licensing sensation for 2008. Her little blondeness is plastered all over the place. Strange thing: although she's shown in a number of positions, her hands are cropped out of every picture. In one, she has her hands in her hair and they are completely obscured. Why would Disney do that, and then blow up the picture to the size of a skyscraper? In figure drawing class they always said we had to draw the hands. Here are some sketches...

Nobody bats an eye at the Grave Digger monster truck here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Surtex Sketches

Basically, you sit in a tradeshow booth for nine hours staring across at your neighboring booth across the way. A drama plays out between you and them during the show. Sometimes they sneak over to eat your candy, sometime you theirs. Sometimes they let their life stories spill out in sad, excruciating detail. The weaker exhibitors lose their minds, the boredom is so crushing. I deal with it by drawing in my sketchbook.

This year, my neighbor across the way was "Can I keep It?", a whimsical artist who probably rakes in gazillions with her endearing dog-related artwork. In addition to all the dog art, the Can I Keep It people brought an actual dog. Children aren't allowed in the Javits center, but apparently dogs are okay. But this dog was not okay with me.

The potential licensors would approach my booth, eyes wandering from side to side until something grabs 'em, and then they stop and talk. But each time one approached my booth and their eyes went right, toward my cleverly designed booth and highly merchandisable art, they would suddently crank away left and to the floor, where that little cutesy stood wagging his adorable little tail. Out-cuted! It's not going to happen again! (See below).