Rose City Comic Con was a blast! Ahhhh! I probably should have budgeted before I went, but you know what, I don’t care that I don’t even know how much money I spent, because I have this giant stack of sweet new comics and a handful of beautiful new pins, and I’ve never had a better time at a con.
It’s incredible how awesome events are when you schedule time to eat something and drink water. Take care of your body!
I want to work in the comics industry, right? So fan panels really don’t do it for me–I’m here for the industry panels. I went to a bunch (the Comics Code Authority history panel was especially neat), and took All The Notes on all of them, so for all my buddies who weren’t able to make it, here’s the highlights:
Get off Twitter. Seriously. Every panel about being a successful creator had at least one panelist say to get off Twitter. Social media saps your creativity, makes you paranoid about making mistakes, and sucks up your time like a sham-wow.
Want to break into the comics industry? Having trouble getting discovered? Get your toe in the door as a flatter. Flatters add a preliminary color layer to the inks, so that colorists don’t have to waste time figuring out whether that difficult-to-interpret-in-black-and-white area is flesh or costume (for example). Flatters are in pretty high demand, and it’s not too hard to convince people you’ll be good at it.
If you don’t want to be a flatter, put together a portfolio of whatever it is you do want to do, and go talk to people who are at your level in that field. They called it “punch your weight”, and do I have a story for you about this. STAY TUNED.
Doing this on your own? Get an audience before you try to Kickstart your project. Here’s where the “get off Twitter” thing gets tricky, because you build an audience… through social media. Welp. Nobody really had an answer to this conundrum, but one thing you might be able to do is take advantage of preexisting audiences. Like ninjas, for example. If there’s ninjas in your project, everyone who already loves ninjas suddenly becomes part of your audience. Not every work has a conveniently huge hook like that, but if you do… work it.
ALRIGHT, STORY TIME!
It’s full-on social anxiety territory over here.
Talking to people is usually fine, but thinking about talking to people and having talked to people is purest agony. Whatever I’m thinking of saying, whatever I said, it was inappropriate or weird or wrong and at the end of the day it’s better if I just don’t say anything, ever.
Let me tell you, it is extremely difficult to network like that. Even if you do manage to talk to people, you crumble into dust at the thought of following up.
But I have been working
at having something to show people so that, when opportunity rolls by, I can jump on. I was planning on gracefully leaping into the seats of the opportunity wagon, but uh, it came by before I was quite ready.
I could wait until I was ready,
But I didn’t really have time to think that far ahead.
So I just kind of… flung myself on, grabbing hold of the floor of the opportunity cart and hoping I could drag my legs up before they got scratched all to hell. I did fail on that last point, but you know what, I don’t care, because I’m on.
(If you’re not following, the scratched-legs metaphor translates to spending the last day and a half bobbing in and out of low-grade panic attacks every time I think about my email. And also kicking myself for not having business cards. I… was not planning on doing this.)
Right, so, metaphor aside, I went to a panel on positions within the comics industry other than artist and writer, which included Ariana Maher. Letterer.
I love lettering.
It kind of never registered with me that lettering was an actual job, even though most of the comics I’ve ever read include a letterer in the credits. I thought it was a staff position. I didn’t know you could freelance it, with nothing to prove you can do it but a portfolio and some confidence.
So after the panel I just walked up to her and said, “Hi! I want to be a letterer.” Like it was no big deal. And she talked to me! And introduced me to more letterers! And looked at my portfolio, and sent me a bunch of learning and practice materials to work on! And said I can email her any time if I have any questions!
She’s done so much cool work, and worked with so many cool people. She lettered Arclight, which I love.
I want to do cool work. I want to decide how the reader’s eye travels across the page, and develop character voice through font and bubble shape, and give life to sound effects. I want to work with cool people on projects I’m not allowed to talk about yet.
I… might actually be able to pull this off.