Henry Melton is no newcomer to comic or sci-fi conventions. He's a lifelong science fiction fan, and he's been going to cons for decades now. But starting about ten years ago, he's gone not as a fan but as an artist. That's around the time he started self-publishing his own sci-fi books, which he says fall roughly into two categories.
There are his several young adult adventures, which tend to feature young protagonists who "run up against something unusual," he says. "Time travel, teleportation, portals to other worlds, all that kind of fun stuff. And then they have to solve the problem [and] dig themselves out of trouble."
And then there's his "Project Saga," an ongoing series that's at nine books so far, with (probably) six more to go. That saga starts in present day Austin, and goes on to feature aliens, supernovae, the destruction of technology on earth, and humans who have been captured and moved off world. It's a pretty ambitious undertaking.
Melton is just one of the local artists who will set up shop at Wizard World this weekend, amid the celebrity guests, panel discussions, and costume contest. He'll be joined by Sean Russell, a longtime graphic artist who's started branching out into writing as well, under the name Sean Darklord "I have to write as Sean Darklord, and then I'm an artist as Sean Russell. So I'm just doing everything as 'Banzai Raygun.' That's the studio." He's recently been working on a series of posters that pay homage to the cover art from the pulp science fiction books he devoured as a kid. He's also started a sort of sci-fi parody magazine called Warped Realms, which he says takes inspiration in equal parts from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and National Lampoon, two other childhood favorites.
This is Russell's first trip to a con as an artist, and he's just hoping to make some connections and get some folks interested in his art. "I've been working... as a commercial artist," he says. "But this is kind of my first branching out [into] really selling my own art. So I just kind of want to get in front of people, and [say] 'Hey, check this out, maybe."