Chicago Live Art After Party

The Wizard World Chicago convention center wasn't the only place crawling with comic book creators last weekend. After two days of sitting behind a table hawking their wares, a small group of artists headed into downtown Chicago Saturday night to the Black Beetle Bar & Grill on W. Chicago Ave. to chill out, relax, listen to some tunes and make some art.

Surrounded by a boisterous crowd, five artists - Jim Mahfood, Mike Huddleston, Dave Crosland, Jose Garibaldi and Mike Bianco - whipped up some amazing artwork while four killer DJs - Intel, Pickel, Maker and Jim's little brother, Mahf - took turns spinning some phat beats. The drinks were flowing as fast as the paint was flying and the crowd was constantly cheering them on, chanting their names to the headthumping rhythm.

"I like vibing off the energy of DJs," Mahfood told CBR News. "I paint to the music. I let the music determine what's gonna come out."

And the enthusiastic crowd? "I like that live interaction that goes on," Mahfood said. "It's totally different than sitting in your bedroom alone, or your studio, and just drawing comics. This is a whole other vibe where you feed off the energy of people."

These live art shows "…combine art and music and those are two of my favorite things in life," Mahfood said. "To me, those things are inseparable. They're meant to be together."

Covered in paint and dripping sweat, the artists finally took a break around 12:30 Sunday morning and discussed some upcoming projects.

Mahfood, probably best known for his creator-owned "Grrl Scouts" comics and a few Kevin Smith-penned "Clerks" stories, including a new 20-page story that debuted as a limited edition in San Diego and can be found in the soon-to-be released "Tales From the Clerks" trade paperback from Graphitti Designs, has recently taken his talents online, drawing a Web comic for Chamber Six called "Puro Yayo."

"It's 'Scarface,' but with stuffed animals," Mahfood explains. "Arturo Puro is basically Scarface. He's like a Care Bear, a little cute bear, who's a hardcore cocaine dealer. It's brutally violent, funny. It's totally rated-R."

Fans of the "Grrl Scouts" needn't worry. Mahfood hasn't forgotten his roots. A new series is on his schedule of things to do. "I have it mapped out. It's probably gonna be a three issue thing and each Grrl gets an issue," said Mahfood.

Joining Mahfood at Chamber Six is Dave Crosland, whose first web comic for the company, "Beatles Kumate," takes a very different look at the Fab Four's first appearance on American television.

"Scarface" is also playing a role in Crosland's career. Timed to coincide with the release in October of the video game sequel from Vivendi Universal, IDW is publishing a five-issue mini-series that, like the game, asks the tantalizing question, "What if Tony Montana survived the attack on his mansion at the end of the movie?"

"It's gonna be amazing," Crosland told CBR News. "It's gonna be really violent. Lots of swearing. It's gonna be great."

"Scarface: Scarred for Life" is written by John Layman and will debut in December. For more on the series, check out our interview with Layman.

Before long, it was back to slinging paint for the crowd, which never seemed to shrink all night. In fact, it seemed larger at one in the morning than it did a few hours earlier. The artists and DJs looked fresh, reinvigorated by the mass of bodies still hanging out, urging them on. Mahfood and the others were definitely in their element.

"This is meant to be beer in one hand, paintbrush in the other, loud music blasting in your ear, people getting down, getting fucked up and having a good time, and that's the whole point of it," said Mahfood.

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