Saturday, May 30, 2015

State Farm has nothing on my neighbors at the PRCC

I’ve always thought that if you surround yourself with the right people, good things can happen. That applies to people whom you work with as well as just in general people who are around you. At the Puerto Rico Comic Con, I’ve learned the value of having cool people around me and of having people who aren’t on the positive spectrum of life.

Last year I had one awesome neighbor called Juan Fernández and it was super lovely to get to meet him and his lovely wife. On my other side was a nice guy as well, although one of those people who find an issue and a problem in every equation. He was nice, although a bit draining. I still wish him the best in his cosplayer project and have no doubt he’ll do a brilliant job with his team. Trust me, the guy was this HUGE reservoir of cosplay knowledge and well applied, it will be wonderful on film.

This year, both my neighbors were thrilled to be there every single moment and when you’re constantly tense because you’re talking to hundreds and hundreds of people, having a positive vibe makes all the difference.

On my right side was Karelys Luna, a multi talented digital artist-singer-illustrator and vocal coach. On her website you can see some of her work and like me she’s not in the mood to limiting herself. I was very impressed with her photo skills and am probably going to contact her for a couple of ideas I have. She was a bit jumpy being her first year and didn’t know what to expect, though she came with open expectations, enthusiasm and an open heart. The result? A great weekend where she sold a bunch of prints and reached her cap for commissions by Saturday afternoon or early Sunday.
On my left side was Marcos Trujillo. An artist with a speed of thought for witty sketches that easily bring about plenty of smiles from anyone who is a Comic Book fan. It went like this, you have a favorite character, a rough idea of what you’d like to see and in ten minutes, boom, original artwork that is quirky, fun, and well thought out. He worked the ENTIRE Weekend so definitely should be a bit tired even a full week after the Con has finished. Regardless, seeing him in his element, I suspect that’s maybe how I look, bent over and smiling over a notebook. A truly nice guy, it was a pleasure to have him nearby.
Which brings me to my next point. Unlike other people, we all wanted each other to be successful. We all wanted more sales for the other and more connections with fans, casual and serious alike. We wanted as many people to see their booth as we did ours and THAT’s the vibe of most of the people at the PRCC. Sure, there might be competition, but there wasn’t much envy or at least I didn’t experience it. I saw people rooting for each other, wishing plenty of good luck and fortune and smiling at every sale we made and every person who left our presence smiling.

With energy like that, you can’t go wrong.

So my thanks to Karelys and Marcos: for being successful, for loving what they do, for wishing well, for being happy for our mutual success, for the little chats we were able to enjoy during the weekend and for bringing positive energy into our artistic corner.

Peace, love and maki rolls.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Nutshell Buffet from the 2015 PRCC

 The Puerto Rico Comic Con has come and gone and I, along with many a fan and an artist were left tired, sore and utterly satisfied. I’d been going to the PRCC for years when last year I was invited to take my book along for the ride in my very own exhibitor. It was another step in my career and one that has allowed me to enjoy the Con in a whole new way.

For last year’s recap, click here.

For this year’s recap, put your seatbelt on, it’s going to be a hearty post.

So if you didn’t go, what did you miss?

First off, Jason Momoa was this year’s main guest and he not only went above and beyond to be a cool guy, I think out of all the PRCC guests in the event’s history, he’s the one who most enjoyed what Puerto Rico has to offer. From going on natural water slides, to eating local food and probably putting on an extra pound or 5 he’ll have to shed, he completely went with the flow and it showed. He’s a smiley guy, sure, but there’s no denying he loved Puerto Rico. In the panels, the only thing he didn’t do was strip (sorry ladies, maybe for the next Con). Although  I didn’t see him up close, everyone who did told me three things: 1. He’s big… as in very big. 2. He’s super cool and smiles all the time. And 3. He’s having a blast. And that’s where I’m going with this. Guests at the PRCC are consistently surprised by how good a time they have inside the Con and enjoying the Island.Check out his Instagram and this link (it's in Spanish). 

Katrina Law also definitely enjoyed the convention although on her side of the equation, I think the biggest surprise were the fans! That’s another thing, as far as crowds go, Puerto Rico is one of the best places to see a concert or sporting event because fans here are hardcore. She was on this big stage and looked over at the crowd causing this huge reaction and she was honestly shocked at how pumped we can get. Make no mistake, if you like easygoing crowds we’re not the bunch you’re looking for. We’ll look out for each other, of course, but be quiet? Impossible.
That’s just two guests I’m mentioning and from the panels, people seem to have brought a great series of questions showing that as far as fandoms, we can hold our own and then some. Speaking of which, we have our local Star Wars and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers crews among other established groups. When I tell you fans here are hardcore, I mean it. You don’t know what it’s like to be driving down the freeway only to see someone driving the Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1. By the way, of special note was Troy Baker's acoustic set he performed on the closing night. I had no idea he played and sang and he delighted people with songs from Radiohead to Glen Hansard. I was really impressed and he was very gracious to the crowd. 
Next up are the artists. DAMN what a solid showing. I saw local talents and people from the states who brought their A+ game. From locals like Juan Fernández, Gambit Meléndez, Marcos Trujillo, the brilliant JA! Comics or the dynamic duo of Soda Pop Comics, to visitors like Dave Dwonch, Caleb King and Juan Carlos Baez and dozens of other high caliber artists who live and breathe these types of events. I got myself some sweet books and artworks courtesy of a few of the above mentioned names and the biggest challenge is to control yourself. Trust me, if you have cash to spare, you will find something you’ll love.

Then, we have to talk about one of my personal favorites every single year: the cosplays. This year I saw Coraline, Cuban Pete (The Mask), Ace Ventura, Bettlejuice, Totoro, Kung Fu Panda, and dozens of others. Seriously, check out my facebook page or google plus gallery to see who I was able to get a pic with. My highlights though were three kids, pictured below.

Videogames were offered, trailers were screened and exclusive figurines (only available at the 2015 Puerto Rico Comic Con) also made this an event to not miss ESPECIALLY if you are a collector. I took a stroll by many a shop and quickly turned tail because there were so many awesome things, vintage and new, up for grabs.

Past issues were dealt with professionally, i.e. lines moved a lot faster, the weapons check for cosplays was more efficient and the 42,500+ attendees over the 3-day event were more than pleased.

As for my experience during my second year as an exhibitor, it was stellar… but that’s another post.

See you at next year’s Puerto Rico Comic Con.

Peace, love and maki rolls

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Return of Blanc Comics

For the second year in a row, I have been presenting my Blanc Comics along with the rest of the Estrada library. This is a very special project in honor of my late grandmother, Tata. You see, Tata had advanced Glaucoma and her vision was severely impaired. Still, the memory of her lingers. Sweet smelling hands, soft as silk and a beauty that stuck around til the day she passed. 

I was always amazed at the stories she used to share and the level of detail she had in her stories (something mom inherited, by the way). So thinking of her and channeling her ability to tell a vivid tale, I decided to make my own comics. The stories are there and fully fleshed. Actions can be heard, panels have been set and descriptions have been given… but there are no visuals, for as a storyteller, I am blind and I need you to help me see the story I have to tell. 

For this year, I have the second episode for the first two Blanc Comics titles: Tricks and ladders and Raining Dead.

It’s a very special series because it is part of a larger project I’m working on and which I hope to share before the end of this year. It’s also the chance for any artist to show me what they can do with the story I have to tell. You see, there are no two identical perspectives in this world… and that’s a beautiful country I hope we can explore together. 

So thanks for reading and most definitely, thanks for filling in a Blanc and letting me see the stories I have to tell. 

Peace, love and maki rolls.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why I fully support the Puerto Rico Comic Con

The Puerto Rico Comic Con is a world class event.

Let me explain.

For the longest time, PR has had a bad reputation of taking shows and concepts and doing a cheap knockoff version for people on the Island. From versions of the Bachelor, Survivor, and remakes of movies, to lord knows what, it was a bad habit for Puerto Rico to think, act and deliver like second best.

When you go to the Puerto Rico Comic Con, you see that this habit has been eradicated. Year after year you get high quality guests from movies, from comics, from voice acting and from everything you can imagine. This year has Jason Momoa, an actor entering and enjoying his prime if there ever was one. This is not a B-List event, it’s not what they could muster for the people on the Island.

This is the declaration that we are not limited in scope, potential or ambition. It’s gone from inviting people and looking for guests to having a waiting list of people eager to be part of this event. This isn't your local small scale event, this is an activity where over 40,000 attendees will roar their voice in unison that we are global.

If it were just the event itself, that would be enough… though like an infomercial, I have to say, “but wait there’s more.”

The Puerto Rico Comic Con is already huge and attracting people from all over, but it’s also supporting other events that support local talent, from local artists to short films, there are burgeoning projects and others that are just getting started. In that way, the PRCC is on its way to becoming a cultural driver that defines an era of fandom and pop culture, proudly saying, sure we have pristine beaches, historical monuments and a rich multicultural history, but we also have talent, we have dreams, and we do this while working in Paradise.

So when you’re wondering what to do for May 2016, consider this my heads up for an event that you have to see to believe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Avast, fellow Humans; there’s a Comic Con a Comin’!

For the Second Year in a Row, I’ll be participating in the Puerto Rico Comic Con from May 22-24. Denying there is excitement is not even an option because there’s plenty of it on all fronts.

Firstly, the organizers are excited because this is the first year the Con will be 3 days. For people who haven’t had the chance to see all there is on offer at the PRCC, this is huge because it’s a full extra day of awesome geekness.

Then there’s the guest artists. They might think they’re coming for a small Con and are looking forwards to some sun and maybe a fan or two. Big surprise, Puerto Rico has some of the most fervent fans in all likes of life, from sports to concerts and celebrities, we’re a loud fun bunch and if you’re looking for a party, we are your huckleberry field.

Of course, there’s people like me: the artists, the writers, the people who get this wonderful opportunity to meet the people who enjoy the stories we have to tell. It is incredibly gratifying and I know we all put our everything into what we bring to the PRCC. We feel the responsibility to put forth works in our own disciplines that are worthy of this platform and I already have some local favorites whom I ALWAYS visit.

To boot, there’s the cosplayers and locally, every year they take it up another notch or three and it’s awesome to see. You see, I may be in my mid thirties, but make no mistake, I’m a fanboy and I’m a huge cosplay fan. From accurate, to outrageous, to complicated, I love it all and to see people with a dayjob and “ordinary lives” break out of the shell is inspiring on several levels.

So in the end, everyone’s a winner because neither the fans nor the artists nor the exhibitors know the meaning of holding back when it comes to sharing our love for all things geek and I am proud to give my all to push myself and deliver works that transcend genres and borders, just like this event.

Cheers and happy ComicConning!

Peace, love and maki rolls

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Daydreams come to Raelity

What started as a random conversation between two writer friends has become a book. A book for people of all ages. A book about dreams.

My latest published book includes fantastically whimsical stories, written with ink from the stream of thought. There is only one rule and it is followed adamantly, have fun and smile. Out of all the projects I’m working on, none come close to making me giggle and smile while I write as do the daydreams. They are some of the most special stories in my life and the plan is simple, to write them for as long as I live.

Right now, the first volume is available in print and digital form on Amazon. It includes 5 of the daydreams, drawings made by the talented Miss Frances Lugo and an extra section containing poetry straight from Draem. The poems talk about some of your favorite characters from the Lucid including yours truly.

It is also the second book released on Mother’s day, which prompted a new literary tradition for me, but that’s another post.

This series is my tribute to the healing power of dreams and the importance of not only embracing your inner child, but playing tag with it. There is plenty of play on words and the adventures range from discovering the realms within the Lucid to just enjoying a bottle of Giggle Suds at the Parched Pumpkin.

So if you’re in the mood to read something that just may bring a smile to your face, feel free to stop on by. After all, life is just a dream.

Peace, love and maki rolls

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Daydream for a Mother

Last year I was able to publish my first poetry collection, Between the Tides, on Mother’s Day. This year, I wanted to keep up the tradition so I’m happy to share with the world Volume 1 of the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore.

The reason for wanting to make this a tradition is simple and singular: I love my Mom and I want to not only make her proud but to give back on the day where I celebrate the artform known as motherhood. As a mother, my mom has taught me plenty of lessons and we’ve shared some of my fondest conversations in memory. I’ve shared bottles of wine and inappropriate jokes the likes of which most people would blush at. That’s my Mom. She’s such a character that I felt the need to capture her essence in Mrs. Fawn within the Human Cycle and she’ll appear a lot more… it’s not that I’ll make it so, it’s that I have no choice, nor do I want there to be a choice. My default setting is to have my mother at the top of my mind in all I do.

One of the most important lessons she taught me was that if you did your best, you TRULY did your best, then whatever the result, it’s OK. It’s good enough. But if that there was one bit more you could have given, then you should ask yourself why you didn’t give it. Although I always do my best in all I do, I apply this to me as a person, a husband, a son, a friend, a professional and most definitely as a writer.

When people ask me if I don’t think I’m being too ambitious or if I should slow down, I think of Mom and her lesson. If there is energy within me to put my best face on, to help others, to use my words for good or to entertain or bring a smile to my face, you can be sure I will invest it in that.

Giving my best is the least I can do for my Mom. She’s shown me that not by saying it, but by being the example of a human of the highest caliber. She has flaws, such wonderful flaws and she’s happy and she’s also taught me that committing mistakes, having flaws, not being perfect and being let down are acceptable outcomes when you’re giving your best.

I give my best because I learned that it is the best way to being happy. And trust me, the lesson has stuck and will stick… I had one hell of a teacher.

So here’s to my Mom and all the wonderful mothers out there. In your hands is the ability to change the future for the better, with kindness, with patience, with communication and with love, four treasures I have been fortunate enough to enjoy for almost 35 years on this Earth.

I love you mom, and in the garden of my life, I look at the flower of you and give my all to harvest my best.

Your loving son,

La jota de Estrada (Estrada's J)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Money ≠ Legacy

Some people say that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Floyd Mayweather is not one of those people. After securing his 48th win, he’s one fight shy of tying Rocky Marciano to retire 49-0. He’s done whatever he’s had to do to guarantee this winning streak and has showcased a variety of skills inside the ring and beyond the squared circle.

On Saturday, Floyd was who Floyd has always been, the winner. Granted, at least he didn’t sucker punch Manny, he didn’t hit him low, he didn’t elbow or shoulder him, he didn’t punch on the clinch or any other dirty tactic. He won, fair and square… and has caused yet another chorus of casual fans to say that boxing is dead… but that’s another post.

This post is about Floyd and his role in boxing.

If you ask me, Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers in two categories: being talked about, and making money. Actually, that second one he’s actually undisputed raking in over 140 Million dollars last weekend alone. Good for Floyd and his bank account.

But let me make this clear, he’s no Muhammad Ali.

Legacy refers to more than your boxing record. Legacy refers to your role in boxing, what you mean to casual and hardcore fans and what you mean in the history of the sport. In that respect, Ali is a legend along with several other boxers who captivated our imaginations, who thrilled us, who inspired us.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is an elite boxer, but he lacks what other greats possessed in spades. He took the fights he knew hands down he could win. He turned the buildup to a fight into a media frenzy. He’s had the highest grossing fights of all time. He played the villain to earn his payday and changed his in-ring nickname from Pretty Boy to Money… and the name is rather appropriate because his only focus is on the money. He’s openly said he won’t engage boxers in full on fights because although the fight pleased fans, he wasn’t willing to expose himself to unnecessary injury and he’s stuck to that statement to the T.

This past weekend I didn’t pay for the fight, but I did watch it. Like many people, I was enticed at the prospect of the "fight of the millennium" and thought Floyd could actually use the biggest of all boxing stages to give a clinic and shut up all his detractors. I thought there was a chance Floyd could rise beyond expectations and show he’s a dominant force and that no one can even dream of matching him. I thought there was the possibility we’d see one of the epic matchups of all time that would rival Ali Vs. Frazier, Hagler Vs. Leonard, Barrera against Morales, Pacquiao against Marquez. I was also skeptical about the matchup providing any type of fireworks and was worried this would be another De la Hoya Vs. Hopkins, another Floyd Vs. Mosley. This weekend was all about Floyd guaranteeing his paycheck and the win. Nothing more.

I am challenged to think of a Floyd fight I’ve enjoyed beyond the Canelo match and I can’t find any I’ve been glued to the TV set. This has everything to do with his mindset and fighting style. Low risk, hit and not be hit, win at all costs. It’s made him the richest man in boxing and given him an admirable boxing record. Now let it be said, most people watched the fight dreaming of a Pacquiao KO no matter how impossible a prospect that was. People don’t see fight stats and are unaware that in most of his 48 victories, opponents have connected less than ten punches per round in most rounds of all his fights. I’m sure he has a record of the least amount of connects and truly as a defensive fighter, Floyd is amazing. People hadn’t seen other Floyd fights and were focusing on his fight with Canelo and maybe other high profile names. The pattern remained largely the same. Lead right hands, good hooks, limited punch output, and severe domination.

This weekend was all about the money.

$100 for the payperview, one of the weakest undercards in the history of PPVs and a fight that guaranteed him victory and that didn’t please the vast majority of fans. Btw, let’s be clear on this, Manny was also to blame but in the end, the Filipino fought Floyd’s fight and he looked ordinary at best. Kudos to Floyd, but if his fight in September really is the last of his career, September can’t get here fast enough.

Here’s the thing, Floyd talks like he’s a warrior who is willing to die in the ring. If anything, he’s proven he’ll do anything to win and often being the farthest thing from a gladiator.

He says he’s fair. He’s not. If you don’t meet all of Floyd terms, you’re not getting the fight and that doesn’t mean he has to abide by the same rules. I’ll just focus on his lack of interest in even attempting to meet the catch weight in his matchup against Juan Manuel Marquez. I'm not saying Marquez would have had a chance had Floyd met the stipulations, I'm saying he didn't even care to try and make it an interesting fight or much less, a fair fight.

He says he’s fought the best. But only the best payday. I’m all for boxers earning their money, but don’t say you took on all comers and at their prime. He didn’t. He may complain that people always look for an asterisk with his wins… I won’t say anything on this because I’m guilty of it. I don’t think any boxer in the history of boxing has been accused of ducking fighters as much as Floyd. I’m not saying casual fans. I’m saying governing bodies, promoters, other boxers, news channels… pretty much most people who follow boxing have at one point or another said, suggested or at least accepted the possibility he’s ducked more dangerous fighters to preserve his record. Now THAT I will comment on.

Floyd has always done what he needs to do to win, from cherry picking to outclassing to getting generous scorecards in fights he’s lost (watch José Luis Castillo 1 and Maidana 1 for reference). But if you ask me, that’s not what legends are made of. Legends take on all comers. Legends knock out people they outclass to show HOW much they outclass them. Legends test themselves and rise above to inspire. Legends have little or no asterisks in their careers. They go beyond the borders of boxing and are known by everyday people because of their greatness, not because of their wealth and much less because they are despised at the level Floyd is.

As a boxing fan, I’m a bit bored of his game. I’m looking forward to other fighters who are not scared to take risks and show without a shadow of a doubt that they’re the best. I’m anxious to see fights and fighters that captivate my imagination and steal my breath with displays of courage and showing us what true greatness is about and I won't have to wait long. This next weekend is perfect for those people who didn't like Floyd Vs. Pacquiao and the year promises great, interesting and dare I say it, FREE fights (or at least not PPV).

I guess what I’m saying is that greatness should never be about the money, and boxing shouldn’t be about the Money either.

Here's to less Money and more boxing.


Friday, May 1, 2015

For whom the bell tolls

Tomorrow May 2nd, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather face off in the biggest fight in boxing. Being a fan of the sweet science, I feel the need to give some thoughts and perspectives on this fight since it’s actually a landmark fight and as mega a fight as can be.

So no dilly dallying, what are my predictions?

Mayweather win via Unanimous decision.

Is this how I want it to go? Of course not. I think the mere fact I’m human makes it impossible for me to like Floyd Mayweather. As a fan of the sport, to me he is the Boxing Kardashian and someone who needs life to throw him a couple of lemons to become a little humbler. He’s that unpleasant of a person.

He says he’s the best of all time? I can name various boxers off the top of my head who are better and more important boxers than him: Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis, Marvin Hagler, Ali, Rocky Marciano, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Vitali Klitschko, Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield, Jack Johnson, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard and the list goes on and on and on. People will say, but wait, Mayweather easily disposed of Marquez. My reply is a big “So what?” Mayweather said he’d fight in a 144 lbs. catchweight and he didn’t make weight. Marquez is by far the smaller fighter, didn’t go up in weight correctly and Mayweather imposed his size and strength in a physical mismatch. Here’s the thing, Marquez and all other people on that list didn’t back down from anyone (the clear exception being Leonard until he finally faced Hagler in a classic fight… btw, I thought Hagler won that fight, but that’s me).

Mayweather for years has made the habit to pick the biggest money fights. Kudos to him for becoming a money making machine, but don’t tell me you challenged yourself and picked the cream of the crop. I often tend to compare Floyd to the Harlem Globetrotters although his opposition has gotten better in the last couple of years. But Floyd talks like he’s a warrior and has bravado to spare. His justification on each of those ducks he’s done is that there’s no money in it. Granted, if you’re going to put your health and life on the line, might as well get the best paycheck… just don’t say you’re the best of all time and say so undisputedly.

But let’s get back to the match, here’s a question I’ve been asked, does Manny have a break?

In one word: yes.

He’s a left hander and Floyd is not fond of southpaws (look to his fights against Zab Judah and Demarcus Corley to see that he wasn’t clearly dominant in either of those wins).

He’s faster than Floyd in combinations shots. Potshots and lead right hands are Floyd’s game. But in 4+ punch combinations, Manny has the edge.

He’s faced better opposition. This is the mother of all understatements. Manny faced several fighters in their prime and made them look silly. Think Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, he knocked both out.

He punches from odd angles. This would be one of the definite keys to victory. In his last fight, he almost knocked Chris Algieri out with a punch from an angle that doesn’t make sense… he hit Algieri with a straight left, flush on the left side of the opponent’s chin. You might not think that’s impressive until you stand in front of someone else and do the physics to understanding that connect. Manny’s weird and jittery.

Ok, so why do I still think Floyd will win?

Two reasons.

Ring Generalship. Floyd is a master of making you fight his fight, at his pace on his terms. If Manny does this and the punch output is less than 40 or even 50 punches a round, he’s screwed.

Stamina. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Floyd tired. He knows how to use energy as wise as anyone even better than Bernard Hopkins and that’s saying something. He stays cool under pressure and his eyes are as alert as any boxer you’ll ever see.

So if I were to bet, would I bet on Floyd?


I dislike Floyd to the point of betting against him to prove a point. Like Kanye West, I think he’s a poor example for young people and Black Americans in general. He may be talented, but he’s a fool and a diva. Even if he dismantles Manny, he’s still not the best boxer of all time and by various slots at that. If I need to put money up to show how much I’m clinging on to hope and begging Manny to prove me wrong, I will.

And that’s because regardless of the outcome, the better man will be Pacquiao, because in that sense, there is no contest.