Cape Mini Con Recap – OR – Did I Deliver as a Vendor?

Cape Mini Con 2018 table setup

Last week, I covered some of the things I really like about being an artist at comic cons, as well as some of my bad habits and hangups that I would like to improve, both for the sake of seeing better returns, and so convention attendees have a better experience interacting with me. My first big test came in the form of Cape Mini Con this past Saturday. While it wasn’t a record-breaking day for sales or anything like that, I did better at the Mini Con than I have at four out of the last five shows at which I’ve had a table. (I also found out later I sold a book to a Secret Service agent, which I thought was pretty cool.) I can’t say for sure whether or not my efforts to improve are responsible, but hey, at least they didn’t hurt. Let’s review my habits and hangups from last week and whether or not I was able to overcome them.

Go on….

Comic Con Highs, Habits, and Hangups

Godzilla at convention

The second-ever Cape Mini Con is at Southeast River Campus in Cape Girardeau this Saturday, November 3, and this guy will have a table at the convention! I have been tabling at comic cons for ten years now. Generally, my only convention appearances are at Cape Comic Con and the Mini Con in Cape Girardeau, but I have occasionally extended my reach to other local conventions over the last few years, such as Burg Comics Con (Harrisburg, Il), Eclipse/Saluki Con (Carbondale, Il), and SEMO Con (Poplar Bluff, Mo). While you might assume that means I have a lot of experience and know what I’m doing, you’re dead wrong! Conventions are fun, but even after ten years, they are some of the biggest challenges I face as a comic artist. They force me to do three things that make me quite uncomfortable: appear in public, interact socially, and exhibit confidence in my work. That’s rough!

Go on….

No Time? No Problem!

For the next five minutes, Apu is going to party like it's on sale for $19.99

This is the post every blogger has made at least once. It’s the inevitable “I don’t have time to blog about my original topic, so I’m going to blog about not having time to blog” post. Unfortunately, both blogging (well, my original post, anyway) and comics took a backseat to some of the more important things in life this week—family time, personal health and responsibility, some weedeating I kept running out of time to finish, and so on.

When I get busy and don’t have time to work on passion projects, I have often felt like a failure. I used to build this nonsensical bubble, encompassing a certain amount of time, that I couldn’t see past. For instance, let’s say it’s the weekend. I decide I’m going to do a bunch of creative work and be super-productive. I build my bubble around that goal, not taking into account my chores, or family time, grocery-shopping, errand-running, or that get-together that’s been on the calendar for weeks that I knew was coming. When all is said and done, the weekend is over, and no creative work got done in my all-important bubble. I was crushed. I would obsess over how I maybe could have done things differently to squeeze in more time. And, since I often couldn’t see past the bubble, I sometimes even worried that I was running out of time in my life to get things done. All because I didn’t get the work done I wanted to do in a period of time that couldn’t realistically accommodate it, anyway.

Go on….

How to Make Comics The Big Skink Way!

How to Draw!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks telling you about these crazy comics that I make. But, I haven’t told you how I do it. How does a comic develop from that fuzzy idea I had at 2 a.m., stumbling around in the dark, looking for the bathroom, to a finished product on somebody’s bookshelf or in their Facebook feed? Read on. Despite the impostor syndrome creeping its way into the corners of my subconscious as I write this, I would like to believe I have done enough work to be able to tell you a thing or two about my creative process and why it works for me.

The most important thing to remember is that this is a guide, not a set of rules. Everybody works in their own way, and only certain methods and tools work for certain people. No matter your passion, develop a system that plays to your strengths.

Go on….

Why Yes, I AM a Comic Artist!

Any good story begins in the 1980s.

What’s my biggest failure as a comic artist? It’s not that I haven’t drawn the best drawing or drafted the finest, Eisner-award winning tale. Nothing like that. My biggest failure as a comic artist is that I don’t tell people that I’m a comic artist. I’m the worst at it. I’ll lug some art supplies into work to get some drawing done over my lunch break, and an officemate will inevitably walk past, see what I’m doing, and exclaim, “I didn’t know you were an artist!” Likewise, an old friend or coworker will bring their kids to Cape Comic Con, stop by my table with a look of wonder, and say, “What?! This is all your work?! Gosh, I didn’t know about any of this!”

It’s true. They didn’t know. Could there possibly be more telling evidence that I’m bad at marketing myself? Any time I have to explain to someone that I make comics, I scrunch into a small ball and explain myself as quickly and concisely as possible, like I’m confessing to eating the last brownie. My hesitancy is partly out of embarrassment (as though I’m worried some jocks are going to spill out of the nearest locker room and pound me for making comics, even though I’m 34), and partly because I’m afraid that admitting to all of the hours of work I’ve put into comics is going to come off as bragging, and that I need to just keep my mouth shut and stop bothering people.

It’s a completely irrational and dumb fear, right? Making comics is my pastime, my hobby—everybody has hobbies. Why would talking about that be bragging? It’s not like I won Olympic gold or ate the hottest wings at B-Dubs or anything. Talk about a guy taking himself a little too seriously. It’s no wonder I don’t sell very many books.

So, it’s time to conquer this fear, this roadblock. Yes, I am a comic artist. I’m going to tell you how I became a comic artist and the comics I’ve created. (I’ll give you the abridged version—I know you have stuff to do.) Even if you’re reading this and you’re not interested in comics, my hope is that if you struggle with some of the same mental hang-ups as me, you’ll be inspired to find the courage to talk about what you like to do, as well. Don’t be afraid. Own your passion.

Go on….

Refocusing

Farnsworth and Tate think about math

I just finished a freelance job building a website for a friend. It turned out really well. However, through no fault of my friend, who was extremely patient and understanding throughout the endeavor, the project was way more of a mess than I expected. Aside from the e-commerce aspect of the site, which my wife would be handling, the design was complete, and the site was built and ready to launch. However, something was wrong. The website was throwing frequent internal server errors (just one of the many versions of the “white screen of death” you’ll see when a website is not cooperating), caused by the site using too much of the server’s available memory. To my dismay, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong or why the site was being such a hog. I’ve built numerous sites the same way, using the same tools and the same platform. Despite most of those sites being more complicated and resource-hungry than this one, they all worked as intended. This one did not, and no amount of Googling or tech support or uninstalls-and-reinstalls could help me find a solution that worked. Unsure whether to laugh or launch my computer into the sun, I ended up rebuilding the entire site from the ground up using a different framework.

Go on….

Just Tell Your Story, Already

Bilbo's first line

[Surprise, surprise. I’m struggling through more creative process/work habit issues! As usual, I hope talking myself through my problem here might help somebody else out there, as well.]

Recently, a friend said something about art that struck me in a way I wasn’t expecting. To paraphrase, the goal of art should not be entertainment; the goal of art should be to tell a story. In other words, writing, drawing, performing, or whatever the form of art may be, is done because of a burning desire to express something inside of the artist. A good professional wrestler, for instance, works with the same intensity and believability in front of ten people as he or she would in front of ten thousand people. They do this because wrestling is their art, and getting their story out there is the most important thing to them, regardless of how many people are in the seats. They do it because they need to—they have a story they need to share with other people, whether it’s ten or ten thousand.

I thought about this for a while. I’m still thinking about it. And I realized that I have lost sight of the idea of creating art to tell a story, and instead have wandered into the territory of creating art for entertainment. I know this because the first question I keep asking myself (and others) about future projects is this: are they marketable? Will other people like them? My number-one concern about these projects is no longer getting the story out there; it’s commerce. It’s finding an audience and making money, and if I can’t find an audience or make money telling these stories, is it still worth it to tell them?

This is all wrong.

Go on….