Each member of the GrayHaven Comics editorial staff is going to write a column on their experiences in the comic industry to act as a how-to for new comic creators on what they should and shouldn’t be doing. My column will be on something near and dear to my heart: NETWORKING AT A CON.
While I don’t want to steal the thunder from the wonderful folks at Comics Bulletin, I am going to give my loyal readers (all seven of you) a sneak peek of what I’ll be instructing in the article.
I have been involved in comics (not just as a fan) since 2007 when I started working with Jim Valentino’s Shadowline corner of the Image Comics universe in a promotions and PR role. Earlier this year I added another role with GrayHaven Comics as an editor and an assistant art director. Part of that assistant art director role means that I am always on the lookout for new talent to grace the pages of our comics. And while promoting Shadowline’s work, I’m always talking to retailers trying to see how we can get our books into their stores and into the hands of the fans. Networking at comic conventions has become something of a requirement.
And for those of you looking to break into the business, or those of you who already have your foot in the door but are looking to find other talented creators to collaborate with, I offer this advice that I have come to rely heavily upon in the past few years. While some of this may seem rather obvious, you would be surprised at how often the simplest faux pas could bring a potential collaboration crashing down before it even has a chance to start.
I present you with the DOs and DO NOTs of Comic Convention Networking:
DO your research and know a company’s policy on accepting writing samples or open
pitches. For artists, it’s quite often that you’ll have an opportunity to have your portfolio reviewed by a comics professional, but you’ll likely find that for writers it’s remarkably difficult to have any of your work looked at in the form of a script. It’s certainly going to be easier to hand a finished comic book to an editor or publisher for review, but many won’t even look at a script. Check before you go to the convention to see which companies will be there and specifically what their policies are in accepting writing samples or pitches. But even then you have to remember …
DO NOT hand in your pitch to someone at a convention. Seriously — even if you’ve done your research and it says that they accept writing samples and pitches in person, don’t do it. Editors and publishers are so busy at a convention that the likelihood of something that you’ve handed to them making it back home with them for review is somewhere between slim and none. And slim just wore a red shirt and beamed down with Captain Kirk’s landing party. You’re much better off just introducing yourself, maybe exchanging business cards or contact information, and letting them know that you will send your pitch to them by email or post.
DO consider how small and tight-knit the community of comics professionals may be. That’s one of the best reasons to network at a convention. It’s a great way to meet people whose work you enjoy, and possibly leave a lasting impact with them. I don’t promise that you’re going to be best buds with Jim Lee after your first meeting, but being genuine goes a long way in a community so small. But with that said …
DO NOT bad mouth a comic creator to another creator, or to another fan while in line in
front of a comics pro. Or in front of anyone, really. Let’s be honest — comic book fans are sometimes known for their negativity above all else. But saying how much you hate so-and- so’s artwork in front of another comics creator is much more likely to end up in an uncomfortable moment rather than something you can bond over. You never know who is good friends with whom, especially in a community as small as comics. Which leads me to …
DO stay positive. If you can’t say something nice about someone in comics, don’t say it at all. No one is trying to stifle your opinions or beliefs, but you have to consider that it’s quite likely that the artist on the hottest X-title doesn’t really care how much you dislike the New 52. What’s he’s probably much more interested in hearing is how much his work means to you. You may also find yourself along the waves of professional talent in Artist’s Alley and standing in front of a table where the book(s) being sold just aren’t your cup of tea. In an instance such as that …
There is going to be plenty more information when the article goes live on Thursday morning so please be on the lookout.
In the meantime, if you will be attending the New York Comic Con, please be sure to look for me as I canvass the convention floor all day on Friday, or come by and say hello while I am stationed at GRAYHAVEN COMICS booth 2457 almost all day Saturday.
Or you could do both!