San Diego is about to get blasted with all the pop art that four days can pack during Comic-Con (July 12 through 15), when Hollywood migrates south to drum up hype. Once a gathering of comic-book nerds and their idols, it's now the largest convention of its sort in the world, appealing to the mainstream with an all-out pop-culture orgy.
Those not holding tickets needn't fret, because the excitement carries over to the outside world as local artists prepare their work and gallery spaces to fit the theme. One such artist is Adam Hathorn. During Comic-Con, his usual focus as a tattoo artist will be elsewhere: His drawing of the early-'60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Top Cat will be on display in Cartoon Network Gallery and Exhibition, running July 11 through 14 at Jett Gallery (989 W. Kalmia St. in Little Italy); there'll be a book-signing event at noon on Friday, July 14, in the convention hall (Booth 4934 in the Cultyard) for the adult-oriented Color Ink Book, which features Hathorn's work inside and on the cover; and his first solo show, Zero Fucks Given, at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at 5 & A Dime (701 Eighth Ave. in East Village) will highlight his cartoon-illustrated fish-tail skate decks.
For the skateboards, Hathorn first sketches directly on the deck, applies a watercolor stain, fills in the sketch with paint and, lastly, outlines the designs with black paint. It's that last step that makes the drawing's framework pop; the black-painted pattern gives the board's edges a carved-out look from far away.
The illustrator isn't trying to be something he's not; he admits that his art isn't deep and that, most of the time, he simply draws what he feels like drawing.
"I've always liked drawing ridiculous cartoony animals," he says, adding that Ren & Stimpy has always been an inspiration for his sometimes dark and mostly twisted adult-cartoon drawings.