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Comic Cons: Coast to Coast pt 2

Posted On Sunday, July 13, 2014


20 events.  17 weeks.  14 cities.  9 states.  3 time zones.  2 coasts.  

Me at the airport en route to Seattle
This was my life this spring, by the numbers (no, I've not counted the miles or the hours -- it would scare me to know!).  In a herculean effort, mixed with a slight rivalry (shout out to Dirk!), I took on one of the BIGGEST, self-imposed challenges of my career (to date)!  Last post I walked through the 'why' I did this to myself [sic], but I think there's INFINITELY more to share on 'HOW' I did this and what that means to any other creators on the market!

Now, I will be quick to say -- this move is NOT for everybody.  Not even to dismiss or sway anyone from attempting this, in all honesty, this move might not be necessary for what you want out of your time in comics and by no means should it be looked at as the standard.  But having said that, it certainly is A standard (curse you semantics!) that should be respected, mined for content and emulated (if applicable).  Here's my quick list of the pre-req's you need to make this happen.

1.) Type A Personality: We comic creators are NOTORIOUSLY introvertive beings! We labor over fictional beings, in intricate detail, secluded from the light of day and physical interaction.  If your idea of socializing requires internet access, you may way want to forgo tackling this crusade, because there's a lot of extrovert-necessary, personal, public, and interactive attention needed to pull this off!  

2.) Access to Materials: Get your prints exclusively from the Mom&Pop store in town?  Use an overseas printer or a POD company, with a few weeks turnaround time standard for your books?  Then you might want to pass up on doing something like this too -- its way too hard to know what's going to move where and how quickly, so if you've got a problem tapping a national chain like FedEx, Staples, etc. you may be plum outta luck should your Deadpool print sell out and you want to maintain quality.  

3.) A Support Team!: There is no such thing as a TRULY self-made "man" -- every successful person on the face of this earth has had people in their corner who believed and supported them in their efforts.     You will feel lows, you will feel highs and its important to have a foundation of support to both, lift you up  and ground you when its needed -- those outside pair of eyes can be EXTREMELY beneficial to help you gauge your activities and progress along the way.

These mark the three most important tools to have in your belt BEFORE jumping into such a crazy campaign, but what follows is what you will need to maintain along the way.

Passion: 

Comic conventions and events are A LOT of fun!  You're surrounded by like-minded fans, celebrating a culture of immersive pastimes, featuring colorful characters enacting every adventure you can imagine.  But despite all the stargazing of notable celebs and legendary creators, the thoughtful and provoking panels or the intrepid fans that fill convention halls, conventions are a whole lotta work!  LIKE A BUNCH!  For myself, I tend to stand throughout the duration of the show -- to me, its a mark of professionalism and readiness, but at the end of the day, is downright EXHAUSTING!  Make no mistake, this is a "job"-- a physical one and it WILL take its toll on you.

Feet hurting and voice gone are regular feats for me, and yeah, I've even suffered a paper-cut or two.  I've lost sleep hours in time-zone transitions, simply absurd take-off/arrival times, and last minute inventory checks that last into the wee hours.  And even with all of that, there's one more, most-critical tax you pay when adopting this coursework -- being away from your family at long intervals.  This past June, I was home for a total of 11 days throughout that ENTIRE month. 

My Kids working the table at Awesome Con
But if you maintain your PASSION about your craft, about what you're bringing to the show, about comics as a whole -- you can acknowledge all these difficulties and KEEP pressing on without stopping.  If you can keep your eye on the bigger picture of success (and I don't JUST mean money), you can stay motivated and hungry to keep pushing yourself, against all odds! 

And believe me, that last bit is truly the hardest of all -- I've heard many creators use their family obligations for why they can't chase their dreams.  I'm a devoted father of four beautiful children, ages ranging from 5-11 -- there is NOTHING I won't do for my kids, including work my butt off to show them that if there's something they believe in and love, that they can find success within it.  

Your Goal is to Create a GREAT Experience: 

I just said that doing this is a lot of work -- and believe me, it is!  But, becoming an active part of the comic book community has fandom at its roots.  We, all of us, got into comics because we were a fan of some part of it -- whether it was the books we read, the shops we went to, or the creators we had the fortune of meeting, we became fans of the medium.  Its the fandom experience that inspired us and it's in creating that experience, both for ourselves and for others, that needs to be your number one goal.

I know, I know -- you're probably thinking, shouldn't MONEY be the number one goal -- and from a purely practical/fiscal standpoint, you're absolutely right.  But there will be times when the monies a little slow, the totals a little less and you still have to find something that keeps you going, keeps you smiling and excited about being at the show.  And that's where the goal of creating a GREAT experience will serve you best!  

Great experiences build fans!  And look -- DIRK!
Music lovers can cosign this with me -- we'll pay large amounts of money to see some of our favorite entertainers perform and its all justified by the experience we're given!  We don't go expecting get anything more than that (unless you bought the VIP package, then there's a whole meet-n-greet, swag-bag, photoshoot portion, but that too builds on your experience of the event!) -- and we leave satisfied if we had a good one.  BE that experience!  Create an environment that your growing fanbase can enjoy and frequent!  Create something that will get people talking POSITIVELY about you, that they want to share -- because remember, you even being behind the table is an extension of YOUR fandom!  

And if you create a great experience for yourself and others, one of three things WILL happen: 1.) the money will come automatically.  2.) the money didn't show, but you still had a great time, setting the stage for future payoff of either contacts, friends or future buyers.  3.) you get the connects AND the money!

I'm gonna cut it short here -- I've got three more points to share before I wrap this up, but they're probably some of the most important!  Hopefully, you've gleaned a bit for yourself from my journey -- check back here soon for the final spin!

V.

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