August 30, 2013

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SPX Spotlight 2013: Rob Ullman

Not Actual Cover but Actual Cool Art
Welcome to another entry in the 2013 SPX Spotlight series!  For the next month, I'll be highlighting creators and publishers who will be at the best convention, the Small Press Expo.  You can check out all of my spotlights for SPX from both this year and prior years here.

It seems like forever ago when Erica first gave me a Rob Ullman diary comic (which I reviewed here), but I was quickly attracted to his slick line work, sharp sense of humor, and his fondness for Pittsburgh sports teams, especially hockey.

As the years have gone on, Rob and I have had many conversations over comics and sports and (along with Katie Sekelsky and a few others) felt the pain on showing up to SPX just as our poor Pirates have fallen apart. (But not this year!)

Rob himself has also gone on to quietly build a really impressive lineup of comics, art, and other projects. He's participated in the Animal Alphabet project, done work for a Penguins hockey fan site, and is designing a Pirates shirt, which hopefully will be ready in time for SPX. He's done work for a CD, frequent commissions (some of which have even ended up as tattoos), and prints.

Ullman is easily at home illustrating any kind of story. He'll draw you the cutest animals of all time or the gruff life of a hockey player (review here of his hockey work, co-created with Jeffrey Brown), all with the same smooth, slick style. That's what makes Rob's most notable work in the area of traditional pin-ups. While other creators who focus on the female form end up with unrealistic and exploitative work, Ullman's females, while being incredibly sexy, never feel like something you'd be embarrassed to show to a friend.

Sure, Rob can joke about it, even calling his art collection "The Lurid Art of Rob Ullman" but he manages to ensure that the very attractive women he draws aren't ever in a position that makes them feel like they're anything other than being proud of who they are. He's never going to feature "Catwoman in Bondage" like some idiots always seem to manage to bring with them to comics shows. The man loves pretty women, and draws them with a lot of respect. Also, no matter how sexy they're shown, they always look like real people. No stupid unrealistic curves to be found in an Ullman pin-up!

This year, Rob takes his talents at drawing women to a new mini-comic, called Diamonds are a Girl's Worst Enemy. It's 36 pages and should be ready in time for SPX, featuring a series of heroines who struggle to deal with the fact that most men are jerks. I've only seen part of it so far, but it looks great (of course) and features Rob's patented razor-sharp humor.

Ullman will also have any spare copies of his existing minis (such as the Alphabet drawings, Hockey Tales, and his art book) and prints. I don't know if he'll have time to do any drawing at the show, but if you are into commissions, talk to him about drawing your favorite character or a cheerleaders for your hometown sports team, because I guarantee you Rob will do an amazing job on it.

Even if it is of a Baltimore Raven or Philadelphia Flyer.

Got pinned down and can't make SPX? Go have a look at Rob's web store and pick up a book or two.