Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fan Convention or Job Fair?

Allen Gladfelter posted a comment on yesterday's blog. He wondered if anyone ever actually gets any work after attending a convention. I have a story about that. Archie Goodwin went to a convention, I think it was around Baltimore, and saw some pencil samples that really impressed him. He could not use him, but he recommended the artist to another Editor Carl Potts. The artist was Jim Lee and I remember inking the backgrounds on his first job on Alpha Fight.

My point is that someone with gigantic talent will get noticed, but it's like a lightning strike. These days, there are established pros hitting up the various editors and the newcomers may not get noticed at all. That's why I believe in drawing your own books and becoming a success independently.

I know that conventions are the only way for most people to have any face to face time with an editor. The only place to get a professional review of their art. But the first con was not a job fair. A bunch of geeky comicbook readers got together in the early 70s in a hotel lobby somewhere and talked about comics and sell some back issues. Maybe some invited guests like an artist or actor would show up.

I bring some samples everytime I show up at a convention because I don't have the face time with the editors that I used to have. Do I hope to get more work? Sure. I don't expect lightning to strike.


Steve Buccellato said...

I can relate to Allen's point. I often wonder if the convention is a big waste of time--usually when I'm there, standing in a huge crowd, and wondering how to get out!

But, when I think about it rationally (after I'm in the saftey of my own home!), I realize that some good always does come out of it.

Besides the fun that can be had, it's important to be aware of what all the publishers and related industries are up to. See what's selling, what the buzz is, where the trends are.

If you are promoting a specific project (like I was at the Tokyopop booth) this may be the best way to make people aware of what you're doing. In the past, when Comiculture had a booth, we may not have made much money (or even paid for the booth!), but we DID make people aware of us.

As far as networking goes, I firmly believe that the editors Allen spoke of in his comment are overwhelmed by the convention. Don's "lightning" analogy seems apt. However, I also believe that some of the best networking is done after hours (can you say "Hyatt Bar?").

For me, drinking at the Hyatt Bar has become as important as any aspect of the convention! Since I, like Don, no longer live on the East coast, this may be my only chance this year to reconnect with people I used to work with, and through them meet new ones.

I did not bring my samples this year (though I had my newly printed manga). Instead of showing people work I knew they'd likely forget, I tried to make a connection--and get their business cards. In a few weeks, when things have calmed down a bit, I will send them my samples and HOPE.

Maybe it's all about expectations. people who expect that their genius will be "discovered" at Comic-Con are just setting themselves up for disappointment. And they'll probably have a lousy time.

For what that's worth.

Allen Gladfelter said...

And, for what it's worth, I want to say that I DO enjoy myself at ComicCon. Well, I do and I don't. When I went to ComicCon just for fun, I had a great time. Later, when I went to ComicCon with a big heavy portfolio hoping to get "discovered" I had a terrible time. Then, when I decided to change my approach, leave the portfolio at home and just go for fun again, I had a great time again. Basically, think that going for fun is more to the purpose and point of ComicCon. This is not to say that there are no other purposes or points to ComicCon. One can go as a fan, as an exhibitor or as a "professional," perhaps. But to go as a novice cartoonist looking for that big break can be heartbreaking. To the novice cartoonist looking for that big break I say, make that break yourself. This day and age, you're better off self-publishing and attending as an exhibitor in the Small Press section. I DO believe that artists get discovered in this manner. Most of the editors and big-name publishers go through the small press section and if they see something that catches their eye, they will stop, chat, perhaps purchase something. THAT is the connection that may come to something. It certainly is a better connection that the one made with the long-suffering junior editor manning the portfolio review booth in the flag pavilion. I'll tell you what, the next time I attend ComicCon, if not as a fan just having fun, I will attend as an exhibitor. May be more expensive, but I'll have stuff to sell, and the impression that can make is worth the expense.

Thank you for your thoughtful responses!

Don Hudson said...

Allen, I hope to see you at the next con behind a booth selling your masterpiece. And later, networking at the Hyatt Bar!

Steve Buccellato said...

I hope to see you dancing ON the Hyatt Bar.

Allen Gladfelter said...

Just so long as I don't wind up UNDER the Hyatt Bar!