TOP FOUR : 4 Comics Which Changed My Life
Amazing Spider-Man #100The internet tends to buzz periodically on various trending topics that I don't always follow. Today I was already sitting in my studio, reviewing artwork submissions for my next project with Darryl Makes Comics. Last year I finally produced and published my first graphic novel. A dream fulfilled by a Puerto Rican boy in the 1970s who fell in love with his first comic book Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man #100. The cover was penciled by one of my all time favorite artists, John Romita, Sr. and inked by Frank Giacoia. I was only 1 when this comic book came out in 1971, but my brother was already collecting himself. This book was around our apartment when I was around 3 or 4 years old. I recall studying the cover as a child, entranced by the composition, costume design and layout. It was unlike any other comic books of its time, combining the concept of a pinup along with the rogues gallery and cast of characters that made up both the life of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. In 2011, I collaborated with Humberto Ramos to recreate this image for an art exhibition that didn't come through. This cover will forever be etched into my memory. As for the story? What!!! It ends with Peter Parker experiencing some dizziness he's attributing to a bug (pun!). The last panel reveals as he removes his costume that he has 4 additional arms!!!

Star Wars Treasury Edition #1Still in the 1970s, I would be blown away by the amazing science fiction opera that we all know and love as Star Wars. Now, my son today doesn't know of a day when you could not watch a trailer on YouTube, his favorite movie on Netflix or in our DVD/BluRay collection. After I left the RKO Fordham, I ran home and started on my own comic book adaptation while the images were still fresh in my mind. Later that year I found the Marvel Special Edition Star Wars #1 in Woolworths! I took that giant oversized book and reread it too many times! Without a home video, a comic book adaptation is a true geek's only way to relive the joy from that original movie screening. I collected many of them like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Blade Runner (I'm seeing a Harrison Ford trend here). After the treasury editions, I started collecting the ongoing series by Marvel that would introduce me to Carmine Infantino and Walt Simonson's artwork for the first time. This month Marvel picked up the Star Wars license and started selling their own stories. and wouldn't you know it's making a lot of news.

As a student in JHS 22 in the South Bronx, I would be introduced to the concept of collecting comics. Acid free polypropylene comic book bags. Long boxes. Well, I didn't always have enough money for these after I collected coins from returning bottles and cans, so I would use cardboard boxes I'd find outside liquor stores and milk crates outside bodegas. The one book all my friends talked about was Uncanny X-Men. My first book was by Dave Cockrum, but all my friends told me about the legendary work by John Byrne and Terry Austin. Now, Chris Claremont had a 17 year run on Uncanny X-Men and worked with many amazing artists. However, Uncanny X-Men #137 was the comic book collector's holy grail. No one's collection wasn't official without it. How important was this book? Decades later Bryan Singer would reference the Dark Phoenix Saga which concluded in this issue to create Fox's X-Men cinematic universe. Now that's some serious source material.

The fourth book on this list is my own DMC #1. I don't mean to come off vain at all, but I must give you some background. I'm a Puerto Rican Native New Yorker (Nuyorican). Darryl Makes Comics DMC #1In the 1970s and 1980s I spent most of my childhood in the South Bronx. From 1984-1986 my family moved to Puerto Rico, then Reading, PA then Syracuse, NY. I longed for my life in New York City. As crazy as it was with crime (I was mugged many times on my way to school) I still appreciated how the city introduced me to comics and hip-hop. My brother was a b-boy and I grew up seeing wild style graffiti on the subways of Nueva York. Hip-hop stayed with me through the 1980s and my friends in Reading and Syracuse can attest to how much I loved listening to Run DMC. At a school talent show I was even called a Beastie Boy when I was on stage with my crew rapping on the microphone and painting live graffiti. When I met Darryl DMC McDaniels in 2013 we talked about comic books for 3-4 hours. That first meeting felt like the days I'd stay up late with my late older cousin Santiago DeJesus talking about our favorite superheroes and their adventures. DMC and I at that point decided to start Darryl Makes Comics with a reimagined universe that looked like 1980s New York City. This fourth book brings me full circle from the child that collected to the man that publishes.

Which four comics changed your life?

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Augmented Reality (AR), Comic Books & 1960s Activism
I have the honor of being selected as an artist by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute CCCADI as part of their Mi Querido Barrio project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. I was inspired to create an AR (Augmented Reality) based on the Young Lords Party garbage offensive of August 1969. For this project I art directed a piece based on this demonstration and brought on legendary artist Carlos Pacheco (Superman, Captain America, X-Men, Avengers) to illustrate my ideas. Next I approached the amazingly talented Christopher Sotomayor to digitally paint the piece. The multi-talented powerhouse that is the theater company Universes, provided an excerpt from the song American written by UNIVERSES' William Ruiz for their play Party People and it was mixed especially for this video by D-Stroy Melendez. The video was directed by myself and animated by José A. Gutierrez Rivera. This video will be part of an AR that will be viewable when you walk with your smartphone or tablet on 110th Street between Park and Lexington in East Harlem, or as we endearingly refer to it as Mi Querido Barrio.

The New York Times profiled me in their City Blog for a piece entitled: With a Virtual Tour, Preserving the History of East Harlem



Here are some reference photos I used for my art direction:
Young Lords Party ©Michael Ambramson
© Michael Abramson from Palante: Young Lords Party

Here is the sketch by Carlos Pacheco based on my art direction and photo references:
Young Lords Party

These are the final pencils and inks by Carlos Pacheco. We added a woman in the front and expanded the height of the image to include the fist and brooms:
Young Lords Party

Here is the basic color guide I prepared for digital painter Christopher Sotomayor. My main points were to maintain the Puerto Rican flag with a light blue triangle symbolizing the independence movement, the purple berets, the buttons on berets and the dashiki in the front:
Young Lords Party

Here are the final colors as digitally painted by the master Christopher Sotomayor who's credits include coloring for Marvel's Avengers, X-Men, Hulk, Captain America, etc. He does an amazing job here of bringing the flames of protest to life:
Young Lords Party

This gives you a behind the scenes of my creative process with my artists. I'll be posting other stories as this project moves forward to give you all an inside look into my work at Studio Edgardo.

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ARTIST CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS | "Mi Querido Barrio"
Edgardo Miranda-Rodgriguez in his studio discussing his augmented reality project to The New York Times.

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora (CCCADI) has been awarded a grant from Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund to develop a mobile augmented reality project called “Mi Querido Barrio” or “My Beloved Barrio."

"Mi Querido Barrio” is an exhibition with both physical and virtual components, mapping an historic and cultural tour of El Barrio to foster greater awareness of the cultural history of the area’s long-standing residents. The works of intergenerational artists in both traditional media and augmented reality will explore the concept of home/community in a global reality.

The physical exhibition will document the lives of 5 families with a generational history of living in El Barrio. The virtual exhibition will place virtual computer graphic artworks and environments throughout the neighborhood of Spanish Harlem as a means to reflect upon El Barrio’s past, present and future in cultural memory, history, fantasy, and reality.

CALL FOR ARTISTS
The CCCADI will be identifying four artists to participate in a workshop to learn the new technology of augmented reality and use these new skills to create site-specific virtual artworks and environments landmarking the history and culture of East Harlem/El Barrio.

We are seeking artists with a wide range of skills including strong computer and media skills, as well as artists with limited computer skills but a strong interest in bringing their more traditional artistic styles into this very spatial and experiential medium.

NOTE: the medium is still in its infancy, and there are severe limits in what you can do right now! So imagination and flexibility to adjust your concepts to fit with the medium’s limitations are very important qualifications.

Traditional artistic skills that fit with current augmented reality technology include:
  • Strong drawing or painting skills – including graffiti artists.
  • Strong interest in installations, assemblage, collage, found object installations.
  • Objects and small sculptures, if it is all right to photograph them and use them as 2D images.
  • Interest in public artworks, strong spatial sense for dealing with the local environment.
What unfortunately does not fit so well right now are:
  • Video or animated movies, as this requires large bandwidth.
  • Traditional sculptors may be frustrated, as we cannot make very complex, organic or finely detailed forms in 3-D computer graphics. Sculptures might have to be represented as cut-out photographs.
Artists need not be computer graphic or media artists, and do not need programming skills. Comfort using computers is however a plus.
Experience in the following areas is helpful, although not required for all artists:
  • Photoshop
  • Some experience with simple animations (e.g. Flash, animated GIFs)
  • Sound editing (again simple – professional sound designers may be frustrated by low-fi bandwidth)
  • 3D modeling programs,with experience making low polygon count models – AR cannot do high resolution models! – a game design orientation rather than a film animation orientation. 

Artists with experience using augmented reality platforms should of course also apply! The project uses the augmented reality platform Layar (www.layar.com), and the augmented reality content servers Hoppala (www.hoppala-agency.com) and porPOIse (http://code.google.com/p/porpoise/). A strong visual and spatial sense is however more important than technical and programming skills.

All artists for the initial workshop should be genuinely interested in working with and helping the other artists in the group.

All artists should be willing and able to participate in the full duration of the project, culminating in the exhibition in Spring 2015.

All artists for the initial workshop should be willing and interested in working with others in the group, and helping each other.

If you are interested in participating in the Mi Querido Barrio project, please send in the following materials:
  • A Letter of Interest of no more than a page in length which outlines your skills and background as an artist and why you want to participate on this project
  • A one to two page resume
  • A sample of your work preferably in digital form
All applications can be made via our online submission form: http://studioedgardo.com/submissions

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Edgardo's Blog
Writing about art and design. That is what this blog is all about. At Studio Edgardo, our approach to our work can be compared to the work of an artist creating a new masterpiece. Here you will read about our technique and you will also get insight that will help you with your next project. At times we will also discuss current trends in design, web, video and art and how they relate to our studio and our work.
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