Being my first blog post for my new, Comic directed blog I thought I’d take the time to share about my experience at WonderCon.
My wife and I left for WonderCon last Thursday (the 31st of March). We drove down to Sacramento and spent the night with family and then got up early on Friday morning and drove down to Sacramento for WonderCon. I won’t bore you with details about the problems we had with our hotel and parking, I’ll just say we got to the Con later than we wanted. The doors opened at 12pm but we didn’t get there till around 1pm.
Let me preface the rest of this blog by telling you why we went down there, besides for the sake of sheer fandom. For the past year I’ve been working in the comic industry. Nothing I’ve worked on has gone to print yet (I’ll keep you posted) but I have been making steady income making comics. At this point in our lives we wanted to take things to the next level. I heard from a number of people that the best way to get work in the comic book industry is to go to a comic con and do portfolio reviews.
A portfolio review is where an editor from a comic book company like Marvel or IDW sits down with you and looks at your portfolio to decide if you have what it takes to work for them. I’ve been doing a lot of work so I put together my portfolio and headed south to find some work.
Marvel was offering a panel called, “Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way”. This panel was at 1:30 on Friday which meant we only had a half an hour to find our way there.
We aren’t used to crowds and this was the biggest WonderCon yet. The place was packed with people and we were a little stressed out trying to find out where the Marvel panel was. Eventually we ended up at the huge Marvel booth at the front of the event center. Without realizing who he was I asked C.B. Cebulski (Marvel’s talent scout) where the panel was and he pointed us in the right direction.
The panel was informative and enjoyable. The most famous people at Marvel were there, Joe Quesada, Jeph Loeb, Jason Aaron and Axel Alonzo. They each told the story of how they broke into the comic industry. Non of them had a conventional story and what we basically took away fromt this panel was that there is no clear path to finding work in the industry, you have to make your own.
After the panel we rushed off to our first portfolio review. We waited in line for over an hour but they cut the review off and I didn’t get in. Bummer.
We weren’t really there just for work, after all, we’re fans so my wife and I made sure we checked out the rest of the con and enjoyed the rest of our Friday afternoon. I was shocked by how many of my favorite creators were there. I had checked the schedule online but they didn’t really tell you who was going to be there.
I walked up to the Oni Press table, one of our favorite publishers, and saw a guy sitting at the table with a pad and some pencils in front of him. I walked up to him and said, “well, you must be somebody, who are you?” He answered, “I’m Greg Rucka”. To which I replied, “Holy shit you’re Greg Rucka!” He was a great guy and a lot of fun to talk to.
While at the booth we ran into Brian Hurtt. Brian is the artist for the Sixth Gun. The Sixth Gun is not only my favorite comic but also my wife’s. We geeked out on him hardcore. I think my wife and I were competing to see who could give the most compliments.
Meeting Brian was the highlight of my trip. On the second day I had a couple very disappointing portfolio reviews. It became clear to me once I did these reviews that not many people get hired this way. Besides not getting any work, the reviewers weren’t really giving me much advice that would make me a better artist. I was feeling very disappointed. To shake it off my wife and I walked back to the Oni Booth and talked to Brian Hurt again. We have all the Sixth Gun comics at home but didn’t bring them with us, so we bought a copy of number 1 and had Brian sign it.
After signing my comic I asked Brian to look at my portfolio. He spent like an hour looking at my work and gave me great advice which is helping me already. He really made my day. I already loved his work but now he’s got a fan for life.
Another creator we met who really impressed us was Nate Simpson. He’s the writer and artist on a new series called Non-Player. The art on this book is some of the best I’ve ever seen. He’s really more of a digital painter than just a comic artist.
Nathan is a great guy and he also took a look at my portfolio. He helped me with some photoshop issues I was having and gave me some great ideas about how to be better.
On a side note: Non-Player came out today (April 6th) and it’s a great comic for non-comic readers. The art is amazing and the story is really good. I highly recommend that if you can get a copy everyone should check it out.
We met a ton of comic creators including, J. Scott Campbell, Ryan Ottely, Eric Larson, Robert Kirkman and a bunch of people I had never heard of before.
Among creators we’d never heard of before was the creative team of J.D. Arnold and Richard Koslowski. They were working the Top Shelf booth and signing copies of their graphic novel B.B. Wolf and the Three LPs. When I asked what the book was about J.D. Arnold told me, “I used the story of the three little pigs to explore racism in the south.” I love comics.
Once we had gone through the portfolio reviews and talked to just about everyone in the industry my wife and I made some realizations. Basically, the work for hire game is not for me. There are too many artists out there who are better, faster and cheaper than I am who aren’t getting work. However, I’ve always been more interested in the creative arena of the Creator Owned market. I like the idea of working on my own ideas and collaborating with people on new comic ideas. I made some great connections and pitched an idea for a comic I’ve been working on to a few publishers and got some great responses. Nothing to report yet but I’ll keep you posted.
Being a blog dedicated to recommending comics I’ll tell you about a graphic novel I picked up from Archaia called tumor. It’s by the creative team of Joshua Hale Fialkov and Noel Tuazon. Tumor is the story of a past his prime private detective dying from a brain tumor. People suffering from this kind of tumor have a hard time keeping track of time. Basically time starts to feel fluid and they can’t tell whether they’re walking around today or twenty years ago. Tumor is told from the protagonist Frank’s perspective and shifts time along with him. Even though time is shifting the story is easy to follow and never feels slowed down. As Frank looks for a missing girl, the daughter of a local mobster, his memory of how he lost his wife keeps getting interposed through the parallels in the story. Tumor is a great crime comic with a main character who is likable in spite of himself. The book finishes out with 200 pages of comic and another 40 pages of extra content including a short story by Joshua Hale Fialkov who is an acclaimed crime novelist. The hardback costs $14.95 which is a steal for such a great book with so much love poured into every page. You can order it at your local comic shop and if you order it from Iguana Comics, make sure you tell Jeff I’m the one who recommended it to you.
Keep checking back here for good comic recommendations and news from the comic industry.