What's an Indie guy supposed to do at New York Comic Con? Find out in Ken Eppstein's latest Indie Insights Column!
Indie Insights on New York Comic Con
A lot of my friends and fans thought I was a little crazy to bother with New York Comic Con; after all, what place does a little indie comics writer have in the big city at the big con? Wouldn’t I be blowing a huge chunk of change for a limited return? Just what did I hope to gain? Didn’t I know that I’d have to drive across the length of Pennsylvania, where time stands still?
I can answer those questions.
What place do I have at an event like NYCC?
Same as anybody else trying to make a name for themselves. Why are “Indie” and “Mainstream” so segregated in everybody’s mind? Its a phantom distinction. The money behind the projects may vary and outward appearance may be distinct, but the DNA is the same. Marvel makes comics. I make comics. I tell you... It’s time to take some of those ideas about "indie vs. mainstream" to a nice farm upstate where they can chase rabbits all day... If you know what I mean
Wouldn’t I be blowing a huge chunk of change for a limited return?
You guys do know that I plan stuff out pretty well, right? My gauge of risk to reward is pretty finely calibrated. I realized going in that I was unlikely to be able to make a profit at a event like this once travel, lodging and table fees were all tallied, so I went about looking for ways to abate the direct costs. I have family in Jersey City, a quick train ride and jaunt away from the Javits Center... so lodging was free. Then I turned to the Greater Columbus Arts Council and applied for a professional development grant that paid for my half table and mileage. In the end, I had no out of pocket expenses, so every book I sold (and for the record I sold a whole mess of ‘em) was pure profit. Sheesh... You’d think people would know that I’m pretty good at these things by now.
Just what did I hope to gain?
That's the big question with the long answer and probably the fairest of the bunch. I don't think anybody should table at an event that massive without a plan and some goals.
I went into NYCC with three goals (listed in order of how successful I feel I was); To meet up with my peers as well as some of the great writers and artists who have influenced my work, to shop around some of the scripts I’ve been working on and to raise some love for my current kickstarter campaign.
The Artist Ghetto... er.. Alley was loaded with my peers and stars alike, as was a tiny corner of the main floor on the opposite end of the Javits Center.
(OK. I kid about the Artist’s Alley being a Ghetto.) While the separation was at first a source of consternation to me and some of the folks I talked to, I think it actually was good thing.
The Main floor was very Vegas with its loud pitchmen hawking their wares, fit inducing flashing lights, lack of clocks and geographical reference points and massive throngs of humanity looking for the next big thing. Not my kind of scene at all.
Conversely, the Artist’s Alley in Javits North had plenty of natural light and only a dull roar conversation. The relatively serene environment allowed for better, more relaxed conversation between the artists and their fans. In no particular order of love or favorites, highlights of my artist alley Meet-ups included:
Finally getting to meet Vic Boone Creator Shawn Aldridge, Fell and Extinct author Fabian Rangel Jr. and other 215 Ink stars after a year or two of tweeting back and forth to each other.
Erica Heflin of Felinix Publications made my head swell a little when she told me that the $500 she dropped on me for a lifetime subscription to Nix Comics has been worth it!
Interesting fact--- Jeff McComesy and the other guys who put out the para-historical Zombie anthology Fubar are really big. Not like famous or popular among the kids big... Like professional wrestler big. Gigantic. Super nice guys, though!
The Guys from Home of the Brave tracked me down after feeling a little kinship towards me after seeing the “Comics for the Huddled Masses by The Wretched Refuse” Nix Slogan. Their politically charged Graphic Novel looks pretty great!
David Lloyd (of V for Vendetta Fame) was there pitching his new Aces Weekly digital comic anthology series. I think that its $9.99 subscription rate for 7 weekly issues is a pretty stunning format/tactic and hope that it takes off for him.
I didn’t really talk to Colleen Doran so much as fall victim to fanboy stumble-tongue. “duhhhhh.... I really admire your art and... um... you’re great on twitter.” She took it all in stride. I’m glad, there are few artists who manage to juggle talent, smarts and work ethic as well as Colleen Doran and I’d hate to have bothered her with my brain freeze.
(OK, I know I said above that I wasn’t playing favorites, but...) Bob Camp, was the famous artist I felt the best connection with. He was funny, engaging and generous with praise. My new picture of Stimpy looking at his own butt was the largest purchase I made all weekend and will proudly hang over our couch!
The script submission was understandably a tough road. Most of the major publishers didn’t have anyone available to talk to... And you know... For shame on them for not embracing that aspect of their fandom. Image accepted my package of comics and scripts without editorial comment, and presumably has already lost my babies in a pile of material packed up for the trip back to California.
The bright spot for young hopeful artists and came from Avatar Press and their VP of publishing/managing editor Jim Kuhoric. Avatar held an open meet and greet at 10am on sunday morning and Jim took the time to shake the hand of every comer, review every scrap of material presented to him and give an honest opinion of where the work presented could fit into the Avatar canon. It was an impressive display of humanity and midwestern charm by the man from DeKalb.
(His verdict on my material? After a brief “wow” about the quantity of material, the hard truth that while Avatar hires writers from time to time, they generally have names like Moore or Ennis or are longtime Avatar/Bleeding Cool contributors. I can dig it.)
I only list the Kickstarter solicitations last on this list of successes because its too early tell. I handed out over 500 little cards asking for support, complete with my little blurbs from Derf and Michaels Allred and Kupperman. There haven’t been any pledges that I can directly trace to those cards yet. Hopefully I’ll be able bump this up on the success scale as the weary fans get home and unpack their goodies.
(Cough... http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nixcomics/nix-comics-2013-its-the-big-ask-baby … Cough)
Didn’t I know that I’d have to drive across the length of Pennsylvania, where time stands still?
Normally I’d agree with you, but it just so happens that mid-October is the one time of year where Pennsylvania is a pleasure to drive through. The leaves are are midway through turning and every hill is a beautiful patchwork of Bob Ross style happy orange, red and yellow trees.
Besides... You gotta suffer for you’re art a little, don’t ya?