It only took me 2 months to write this all up, but here goes…
Reed and I stayed up well passed midnight on Friday, cutting paper and using rubber cement to piece together our two prototype prints of Dream Crasher: Chapter 1. We listened to lots of Maria Bamford and Against Me! as we powered through it. It was labor intensive but absolutely worth it. The same can be said about the whole last five years we’ve been working on this.
With our binders and postcards in tow, Reed and I met up with Jaime at 51st street around noon, then walked over to Pier 94 for the convention. We made a quick pass on artist alley before checking out Let’s Talk About Checks: The Business of Professional Comics, which was moderated by Alex de Campi (Writer). Also on the panel were Joseph Illidge (Editor and Writer) and Vera Greentea (Writer and Jedi Master of Kickstarter Campaigns) among others. Some of the takeaways for me: having an agent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – you can always hire a lawyer for reviewing individual contracts. Editors and Publishers are not the same thing and shouldn’t be treated as such – the Editor isn’t the one you want to write a scathing letter to when things go awry. In fact, it’s best to avoid scathing personal email rants altogether. Lastly, it is important to pay the artists for the work they’ve done. Not that I didn’t know that one, but it’s one that’s worth repeating. I particularly appreciated Vera Greentea’s story about cutting her page count down so she could afford to allocate more of her budget toward pay her artists.
After the panel I walked the floor a bit. Back at my first ever comic convention experience (NYCC 2012), I picked up the first few issues of First Law of Mad Science. So it was pretty cool to pick up Issue #5 this year. I also backed their Kickstarter for their first collected edition when I got home. It’s wonderful seeing the progress fellow independent creators have made over the years. Stopped by Steve Orlando‘s booth, who was already sold out of Midnighter #1, so I picked up a copy of the December 2014 Vertigo Quarterly. I Also picked up Whatzit #1 by Gideon Kendall and The Calamitous Black Devils by Joseph Schmalke.
Next up was Writers Unite: Pitching Creator-Owned Comics featuring Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Marguerite Bennett and moderated by Jim Zub. There was some truly valuable tips and examples on how to pitch an idea. As a naturally long winded writer, this is something I know I need to work on. Marguerite Bennett sold me on her entire catalog of work with the example she gave (forgive my butchered paraphrasing): a “psycho-sexual fantasy” where “a nightmare falls in love with it’s dreamer.” There emphasis placed on the need to show that you can make consistent, professional quality work before anyone will pay you for it. Lastly, the host Jim Zub summed up a sentiment that really seemed to dominate my entire weekend: “most people don’t appreciate where there at.” It’s not about jumping to the top rung of the ladder. People in comics tend to move up and through it together. It’s about knowing your contemporaries, learning from and growing with them. Thinking about where I was just last year, with not even a title to show for four years worth of work Reed and I had put in, I have come along way. We have come a long way. We’re nowhere near finished but I can appreciate the progress and remind myself to enjoy the process.
This was all the perfect segue into the last event of the evening: Creator Connection hosted by Buddy Scalera and Dirk Manning. I’ve learned a lot about effective networking over the years, and I really like the way this event is set up. In rapid fire speed dating style, I exchanged business cards and conversations with some really talented people. Right off the bat I got placed with Stan Chu, who has a really solid portfolio of some truly beautiful artwork. I also met Steve Pertivelli, who’s first comic Sweetie should be out later this year. At the tail end of the event I met Anna Leue, who had just finished the first issue of her webcomic Half Man (you can support it on Patreon). As the floor closed up, the Creator Connection moved to the Brew House a few blocks away for the after hours event setup by Stan, Steve, and J. Jacob Barker. Reed and I went along for a drink and some fries. I met a few more people, including James B. Emmett who just put out the first issue of his comic The Committee with Wayward Raven.
Reed and I ducked out of there a little early to grab some dinner with Jaime, which was followed by some celebratory ice cream at Sixteen Handles in Chelsea. It was near midnight by the time I got home, and not all that surprising that I overslept on Sunday morning.
After I overslept (and Reed kindly let me sleep in) we got to the upper west side and had wonderful lunch with Anna, her husband, and Half Man artist Patrick Tsao.My friend Alex also stopped by to take over Jaime’s Sunday pass. I found out that Anna and I would be crossing paths again in July at ReaderCon, and we talked a lot about process, business hurtles, and comic book finances. Fun stuff if you’re into that. We parted ways when we got back to Pier 94. I opted to not go to any of the Sunday panels, having already had a late start, and made a more decided to more thoroughly walk Artist Alley.
I picked up Nightmare World Volumes 1 & 2 by Dirk Manning, as well as The Bible 2 by Z.M. Thomas and Amelia Woo. I ended up stopping by the Hijack Press table and picking up The Cult House #1 from writer Joven Tolentino. I also had a really wonderful conversation with the colorist Kwan Wilson, and bought one of his last prints of “Winter Barbarian.” Henchgirl creator Kristen Gudsnuk, whom I met at NYCC in the Fall, was also tabling. I snagged Issues 2-6, and am now eagerly anticipating #7.
After that I ran into Stan, from Saturday’s Creator Connection. He very graciously introduced me to a number of the other artists and writers he knew, including Soo Lee. If I had any more wall space/money to spare at that point in the day, I would have bought one of her beautiful prints. Instead I opted to spend my last $5 and picked up Fight Like a Girl #1, which Soo had drawn with writer/creator David Pickney. When my love for Power Rangers came up in the conversation, Stan quickly ushered me over to to meet writer Brian Visaggio and artist Kevin Roberts. They were unfortunately sold out of Stronghold Volume 1, but I still have every intention of getting myself a copy in the near future. I had exceeded my budget for the weekend, anyhow. Before the convention store closed, Stan gave me a copy of Carl D. Smith‘s Be Careful What You Wish For #1 – which features the short “The Courier” that Stan had done the art for.
All in all, one of the reasons it has taken me so long to write this is that WordPress deleted my first draft. The other reason is that I immediately followed this weekend with Flame Con, and then went to Reader Con with the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers a few weeks after that. It has been a wonderful, stressful, important, and inspiring two months. I have met and stayed connected with some truly talented individuals who are making some beautiful comic books. I needed to take some time to myself after it all (3 conventions in 6 weeks) to process everything, recalibrate, and remind myself that I’ve come along way and should appreciate where I’m at.
One of the more important things I learned from this weekend – always take off the Monday after a convention if you can swing it. I wish I had thought to do that.