Robot 6

Themed convention sketchbooks

The Royal Tenenbaums, by Matt Wagner

One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.

Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.

In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:

Margot, Raleigh & Dudley by Ted Naifeh

Richie by Michael Lark

Margot & Richie by Hope Larson (with Bryan Lee O'Malley)

Richie by Cameron Stewart

For more, check out a page devoted to the book on Jones’ website.

Do you have a themed sketchbook or know someone that does? Comment below and if we like it, we’ll post it!



James’s sketchbook is one of my all-time favorites. Top Shelf honcho Brett Warnock has an Avengers-themed sketchbook featuring indie artists that’s pretty awesome.

I’ve had a lot of friends contribute to my own themed sketchbook, which is Marvel/Timely Golden Age characters.

I posted them here a while ago:


That’s not an idea I would’ve had. Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Lone Ranger – sure. Royal Tannenbaums – not really. It’s very interesting, though.

I don’t know of any specific “themed sketchbooks,” but I know there is a large collection of con sketches and commissions of the Iron Giant (including art from Dave Dorman, Scott Wegener, Sergio Cariello, Mike Grell) here:

I think Brett Warnock also has a Twin Peaks sketchbook, but i don’t think it’s posted anywhere online other than random artists who post their contributions on their own blogs..

I’ve been collecting sketches of my personal mascot and totem, Norbert, for 20 years now. The 400th artist joined this last weekend at Baltimore.

I know a guy with a Hellboy sketchbook. Not a fan of the character, but I did find the collection amazing.

When I started really going to comics conventions back in 2003/2004, I started one called “Books and/or World Literature.” I haven’t scanned any of them in, but some of my favorite pieces include:

*Jeff Parker’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
*Amanda Conner’s take on Moby Dick
*Mark Brooks and a character from Slaughterhouse Five

I’m looking forward to getting more sketches when I go to the NYCC in October.

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