Jess Smart Smiley draws rad pictures with his bare hands! He lives in Utah, where he spends his days biking, drawing, and cooking. His first graphic novel, Upside Down: A Vampire Tale, comes out this fall from Top Shelf Productions.
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The most obvious progression

Panel Discussion Outside!

I participated in a total of 5 panels/presentations at Comic Con, covering a Comic Jam, How To Make a Graphic Novel, Dealing With Rejection: An Artist’s Survival Guide and Digital vs Print. My final panel was at 6pm on Saturday: Artist’s Tools.

It was my role to moderate the panel and, after delving into introductions and a brief overview of how the panelists started working with their current tools, the fire alarm sounded and the entire room was evacuated.

At first I was feeling discouraged, thinking that the last hours of the con were to be spoiled by the evacuation, but we quickly realized that the entire room had stayed together and that we had all shown up to talk about tools together. I jumped up on a cement platform and continued the discussion with the other panelists and it turned out to be my favorite panel of the weekend.

This Girl Made My Comic Con

This girl is 8 years old and has great taste in books! Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased, but this little Maleficent picked up Upside Down: A Vampire Tale on Saturday morning, then stopped by later that afternoon to tell me she had read the whole thing and that she liked it. How cool is that?! And what a cutie!

Polar Cycle Attacks Comic Con!

This was cool. Blaine Taggart was setup just two tables down and he picked up a copy of Aw Yeah Comics! #8, in which I illustrated a four-page comic written by Dave Scheidt. Saturday morning Blaine whipped up this awesome drawing of Polar Cycle, the villain from our story. So cool!

The Rare Upside-Down Upside Down Book!

So, get this: a guy comes up to my table on Saturday and comments about how it’s funny that my book is called Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and that the book is printed upside-down. I laughed and told him to turn the book right-side up.

It turns out that the book was printed upside-down! Crazy! I breathed a sigh of relief that no one had bought the printer’s error copy and went to put it away, when he asked to purchase it. I realized that this could be a one-of-a-kind book and was happy to sign it for him. He even let me take a photo of him with the book!

Day 3 and running low on Upside Down and Rumpus on the Run. My Aw Yeah Comics! issue with Dave Scheidt was a big hit with the kids, as was my ultra tiny and super cute $1 Ghosties comic (–see ‘em ontop of that black box, next to the Rumpus?).

People seemed genuinely pleased to find good comics for children and it was cool to see children and adults flipping through my books and taking my comics home.

Mine is a small setup, but the colored price signs were a step in the right direction, I think. One day I’ll have a big setup with holograms and a DJ. Until then, this is a cozy little display and I’m happy with it.

Tabling at Comic Con

Here I am on day 1, trying to figure out my table setup. I lucked out and got a spot next to Bill Galvin and the main entrance. That means over 120,000 people poured into the convention center just behind me!


I knew you wouldn’t believe I ran into the Aquabats, so here’s a photo of me with the MC Bat Commander and Jimmy the Robot. TAKE THIS, YOU UNBELIEVERS!

Archie Artist Bill Galvin

Oh my gosh! Is that Bill Galvin? Illustrator for Archie Comics, Marvel Comics, Bongo Comics, Universal Studios Monsters and Diary of a Girl Next Door? IT IS!

I was fortunate enough to table next to Bill and I’m so glad we got three days to goof around together and geek out about making comics. Bill is also here in Utah and I highly recommend you get yourself to Dragons Keep in Lehi for their Halloween event, where Bill will be doodling and making millions of dollars selling his Archie issues.

Comic Jam

On Thursday I hosted a comic jam for a group mainly made up of children, almost all in costume. We ended up with comics about ghosts stealing money, Iron Man flying to get groceries, scribble Batman, and fingers with faces on them. Good times!

(Bonus: Come to the next comic jam at Dragons Keep in Provo, Utah, on September 17, 6-7:30pm)