It's been a few weeks now since SPX, and I didn't write about it like I said I would, so I'm doing that now whilst I'm sleepy and alone in my coffin-office.
I don't know if I can emphasize enough how much that convention changed my opinions, inspired me, and really made me feel like I found a community I fit into. Artistic, slightly-to-full nerdy, some shy, some friendly, most with a weird sense of humor, just trying to get their stuff out and make some contacts - how is that not me? I wish I could hang out with those people all the time.
Those conversations I had with certain artists (as listed in a below blog entry) really made me come out of my shell and try and present myself and my stuff with a bit more confidence. It was rad.
I'd never actually been to a comic convention before, so to have two full days of slowly persuing the tables, the artwork, and going to panels that focused specifically on art and the independant comic scene was awesome. I have to say that the panels weren't as good as I was hoping - the topics were kick-ass, like a panel on Small Press Publishing, a Center for Cartoon Studies workshop, and Q&As with people like Bryan Lee O'Malley of Scott Pilgrim. But I found that despite the topics, most of the people on the panel, regardless of their great qualifications to be on said panel, really had trouble speaking. That is, they were quiet, vague, didn't really answer the questions all the time, and generally gave off the impression that they'd rather be somewhere else. Which was disappointing, for the most part - I was hungry for information and it came in small moments. Though I did get some good advice here and there.
Like on the Small Press panel: if I'm going to do this, I have to get more web-savvy. Put up sample pages and free previews. Cross-promote on other sites. Maintain the blog and have the ability for people to order things online. And promote the shit out of my stuff. I need more output, so I have a variety of things to show people (and publishers) rather than just one dinky book. There was some talk on how to sell on Amazon, how much ISBN numbers were, and how getting reviews from people in the community for back-cover quotes are key (must look into that). Going to lots of shows, trying to sell in lots of shops, just getting it out there is key. One guy said it took five years for his small press to accumulate enough of a backlist to really make a profit in selling.
I learned a lot from just going around the tables too. Everyone, it seemed, in addition to their books, had some kind of other promotional material that was really cheap. Buttons, stickers, T-shirts, original art. One girl had scones for sale with her books. There was one guy selling teeny comics for a penny (and they were actually some of the best comics I'd read!).
And probably the comic guy who had the most influence on my attitude was James Kochalka of American Elf (http://www.americanelf.com/). Now James is a guy who M and I have been reading online for years and years, and so we were a little star-struck when we first went into the convention, and there in a hot pink T-shirt is James to the right. I was still wicked shy, so I didn't say anything when we both the newest book from him. But I went back later and looked at his mini-art, and had a bit of a conversation (slightly surreal to talk to someone that you feel like you know, but clearly you don't). He was very nice, if a little shy seeming (like me, I guess).
In his Q&A panel, James said something that made everyone around, both Pas and Bean, give me elbows in the side. He said: "The best thing is to not care if your art is good or bad. You have to get to the level of confidence where it doesn't matter to you, you're just doing it." He also said "People come up and give me their mini-comics all shy and saying it sucks - but if you don't think that you're awesome, who will?"
Point taken, James.
So while working out American, Eh? #2 in my head, I've taken on another little project.
I thought, for a change, it'd be cool to do some really mini comics - 4 pages or so. As you can tell, I was really inspired by SPX, and got all these ideas of mini-comics I could do, and to do some really small stories while I'm plotting out and drawing AE #2 would be fun.
So I've sketched out a four page comic, and it might be the first of several stories about growing up with my brothers and sister (6 of us in total); I'm tentatively calling it "Big Kids."
More cartoony, less detail than AE, and hopefully funny. This first one is about an infamously gross event between my brother Jon and I. I will post it when it's done.