For the last 5 days I’ve been at San Diego Comic Con and now that it’s over, I’m surrounded by piles of business cards, hand-outs and comics and today I’m going to share a little of my thoughts. For the last 3 years I’ve been an exhibitor at SDCC in the Small Press area. (Which you can read here: http://decadebrothers.com/2015/07/14/sdcc-wrap-up-a-small-press-perspective/ ) This year I wanted to change it up a little, and apply for a Professional badge, mainly because I do not have a new Pariah Missouri graphic novel out this comic con. Book 3 will be ready later in the fall, and I didn’t want to go to the show with the same books back-to-back, even though a healthy portion of my sales is original art.
I was really looking forward to being free from my 6-foot booth/cage this year. I had planned a ton of panels and people to see, art to study and a good amount of just seeing what Comic Con has to offer now. I arrived in San Diego on Wednesday afternoon, and first thing to find was that parking prices increased. $50 for 12 hours was way too much for me, and I swear that each year they raise it by $10. My first year at Comic Con in 2000, I parked across the street in a lot for $5. I didn’t have a hotel, so we slept in the car! Yeah I wouldn’t do that again, but those were the days. So I parked on 20th and Island, a neighborhood that was a little salty. It was a good 20 blocks away, which was a hike, but on the 2nd day I decided to take an Uber for $6 which was a lot better than $50.
Preview night was great, did some shopping, met with a few people and prepped for the weekend. It’s a great couple of hours to scope everything out, see where people are and plan. At night I stayed in a motel in Chula Vista and took the Trolley a couple of those days, which for $5 round-trip was a pretty good deal.
I won’t go through each day, but I’ll hit some of my highlights and thoughts.
Portfolio review: I’ve been going to Portfolio Reviews for many years. Not so much when I’m an exhibitor but I try to hit them up for 2 reasons, 1 to find collaborators who want to work on new projects and 2. to talk to people who are hiring creatives to see where I fit with the needs of the market. My first portfolio review, in the early 2000’s Dark Horse comics were there, and I felt that it was legitimate. The artists and writers were right on that level of about to get jobs, ready to work professionally. This year I can’t speak to people’s artwork, but I can say that the companies that are looking at these portfolios are the very same ones last year and the year before that. There are some big names, like Hasbro, Lego, etc but not any big comic book folks, a couple of small press guys and honestly I wasn’t impressed. I’m sure it is worth it for some and that good business happens there, but waiting for 1-2 hours for a 5 minute talk with a sketchy company, nah I’ll pass on that. I did speak to 5 or so companies at the review, but I was very picky and even then I was wondering if it’s worth it. That all said, for scouting out artists to work with I think it’s a great place, all these guys want to work in comics, so it’s great, in fact that’s how I met Jose Pescador the penciler for Pariah Missouri.
Panels: Thursday and Friday were my big panel days, but towards the end, either things didn’t interest me, bad timing or I just felt that the info at these panels are light. After years of these panels there is only so many times you can hear about how someone broke into the business. Maybe the panels that are more introspective on a creator’s career or the more entertainment style ones are better, but the “business” ones are quite dull and rarely give good information. I have heard that the legal panel is good, which I unfortunately missed.
Having a professional badge, I thought that I would be free as a bird, be able to do everything I wanted to with time to spare but boy was I wrong. With everything going on outside, the other hotels that have events and the show floor, you just can’t do it all. By Sunday 3pm I felt I did what I needed to, but there were still areas that I didn’t get to.
50-cent long boxes? Done away with! I saw only one vendor with $1 comics everyone else sold either trades, or the Bronze, Silver age comics. No more bargain 25-cent,50-cent bins. Too bad, I miss those days.
I spoke to fans, publishers and other creators, but talking to editors seems to be a challenge. It’s like asking that cute girl out, and I always feel like I am intruding and there is a wall up. I think editors are people too and great people to work with, but the circumstances of comic con and approaching some is a big challenge for me.
Highlights: Seeing original Frazetta paintings and pen/ink work was amazing! I saw original Robert Fawcett, Noel Sickles, Alex Ross, Wrightson, all these masters that you can look at and study. That for me was the best.
I never knew that Charlie Adlard worked on the Walking Dead in a smaller size.
Alex Ross’s air-brushing and watercolors are really exciting to see in person.
Artist Noel Sickles, one of my all-time favorite illustrators! This was priced at $600.
Talking to fellow creators. I spoke at length with Jose Villarrubia, with I was very excited about, his coloring is an inspiration for my book. We talked about his process and I have some new ideas about how to color Pariah book 3. Meeting the greats and seeing the originals is so fun for me, as a fan of the art form.
We played some Werewolf one of our big annual events. We do this every year and it is always a blast to get back together with old friends and make new ones at Comic Con.
The Creator Connection event was a great experience. Think of it as speed dating for artists and writers.
San Diego Comic Con 2016 was an experience. It was worth the effort and for someone in the business or wanting to, it’s a must. Now I have to get to my long list action items and follow-ups that came from it.
If you want to learn more about my work and Pariah Missouri, please check out http://www.pariahmissouri.com
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