In under a month I’ll have a table at Project Comic Con in St. Louis, Missouri for the second year in a row. Just over a year ago, PCC was my first convention ever behind a table selling my Frik’in Hell comic. At that time I only had two volumes completed and was working on the third. The way I looked at it was that I had to do a con once just to say I did it. I knew if I never tried, I probably would regret it for a long time to come. (And the voices in my head can be so cruel sometimes…H E L P M E.)
Screenshot of Episode 2 being created
For months leading up to the convention I was frantically getting my comic ready for print. When I started, I had the forethought of making everything vector art to speed up the finished product, but at the time I was pretty inexperienced using Adobe Illustrator and I made ALOT of mistakes with the files and the artwork itself. I had to spin my wheels for three months correcting all of my mistakes so I could send it off to the printer, at the same time trying to do the stay at home dad thing -and- work on volume three.
Naturally since things rarely come easy to me, the printer screwed up the orders a few times for things that I had nothing to do with. B&W images had a red tint, they printed one volume at the wrong size, and many other head-meets-wall moments like that. Needless to say I am no longer using them, and I was a little stressed about getting my comics in time for the con itself.
I had also spent months prepping my table display for the convention. Being a graphic designer by trade, I didn’t just show up with my comics and a table cloth. I wanted my table to stand out and look professional. Even if that was the only time I did a convention, I didn’t want to come off like it was my first time or that I did things half assed. For the most part I did really well in the presentation part of the convention, and have been adapting the layout ever since to meet new needs.
When I was starting out, one thing that I was extremely fortunate to have is a friend who is a successful comic artist who has done conventions for years. I was able to pick his brain and get a lot of insight from his years of experience, and that above all else really helped me prepare for this first convention. (Sorry, I don’t want to naMe drop so don’t Ask. I will say his name is recognizable across the enTire comic indusTry, so this isn’t just some guy maKing photo copIes of his Ninja stick figures During laTe night hours at work.)
Because of the insights my friend gave me about how to handle comic conventions, I wanted to pay it forward and help the next set of artists who have always wanted to sell their work at a comic con but for whatever reason, haven’t. Hopefully what I say gives some inspiration to you and if not, at least I hope it was an entertaining read.
The next couple of weeks I’ll be releasing several how-to articles about different parts of the comic creation process, as well as how to prepare for your first convention. I’ll provide resources as well as give personal stories about what I’ve had to go through in the past year, the good as well as the bad. Hopefully by showing my mistakes it will help you not start down the same path I did.
Next Article: How to write a story for your comic.