Sunday, July 23, 2006

Scenes From Comic-con!

Just got back from the 2006 San Diego International Comic-con, my first time here, and have some photos to share...

Some of the expected 100,000 plus attendees. This is the volunteer line, where you can help this awesome show from behind the scenes.

That's a big Pikachu balloon, just to give you an idea of how big this show is.

Jack Skellington. Cool!

Another photo to show how big the show is... it took us 2 hours to go from one end of the convention floor to the other in super-browse mode, and we maybe saw 50% of what was there. On each return pass through, we always found more booths / tables / displays that we hadn't seen earlier.

Who? Q!

Who ya gonna call? Possibly these guys, if you need help with a wardrobe malfunction. Seriously, though, you have to give credit to the people attending the con in costume. Brave AND creative :0)

Here's just one more example of the many elaborate costumes out there. Imagine if all of these people lived in one town? Halloween would be awesome :0)

Some of these people got strange looks while walking around downtown, but I thought it was pretty cool seeing a couple of stormtroopers on a coffee break.

The National Cartoonist's Society tables. Could this be the year I finally join?

Well, that's all the photos for now. My comments on the show? Well, I had heard about all the great giveaways at these shows, but to be honest, most this year were pretty lame. Lots of tiny little pins with logos on them, and temporary tattoos. Some of the tattoos were cool, and I did pick up a lot of postcards featuring great artwork. The highlight, though, were these cool Pirates of the Caribbean bags, which were only given out on the hour, so you had to line up fast to get them. I expected a lot more mini-comics, or free comics, but there were few, and many of those I found were uninteresting, and left behind when I packed. {Update: I've been going through my loot, and there are some pretty cool things here. I'll mention the highlights later}

The show was excessively crowded, but fun. As I mentioned before, it takes a lot of time just to see everything, and when you add shoping and talking time, you can easily need at least two days just for the convention floor. I was disappointed in the lack of bargains, though. We payed a lot to be at this show, and I was hoping for a lot of exclusive items, hard to find items, and frankly some bargains.

I did find a few things that I couldn't find elsewhere, and I did meet a few nice people. The highlight for me was talking to Andy Schmidt, the Editor of my favorite title, Fantastic Four, and Annihilation Nova, which I am also enjoying. He told em about an Iron Man project that he's working on, which sounds really great.

Anyways, this was my scouting expedition. I'll be more prepared for the next convention, and hopefully get more out of it by putting more into it. I'll admit that I'm completely exhausted, so I'm off. I'll be happy to answer any questions, though, if you have them.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Freelancing 101: "But, Ma..."

A good question for anyone interested in Freelancing to ask would be, "How do I get started?"

Excellent question, but first ask yourself, "Why do I want to be a freelance Artist (Cartoonist, Illustrator, Fill in the blank with your desire )" This question is important because, like so many things in life, Freelancing is difficult. Oh sure, the work is, well, work, but there's more. There's life, and people, and...

Well, let's make a list of the difficulties;

1) Dealing with clients is not easy.
2) Getting clients to pay you is not always easy.
3) Getting vlients to pay you what you're worth is near impossible.
4) Telling your Mother that you are sitting around drawing funny pictures, for Free, is- well, the words 'Ay yay yay' come to mind. Or 'Oy vay', or 'Ayo Rama', or just about any favorite expletive that comes to mind and immediately makes you roll your eyes upward.

"Hold on", you say. "What do you mean 'free'? Aren't we getting paid to work?"

More excellent questions!

I say 'free' because to get started in this business, you basically need a portfolio. A resume helps, but it is your portfolio that gets you noticed, and gets you work. Beyond that, though, you also need to establish a reputation for reliability, among other things. You may have a great portfolio put together in art school, but clients want to know that they can work with you, and that means you need a paying job before you can get a paying job.

So you work for free. Find a client, any client, willing to let you work for free. Now, looking at the ads in my local paper, I know I wouldn't pay for that crap. Bad drawing, Bad ads, bad design. Do some small jobs that allow you to not only get your work out there, but get you drawing for someone else. If you can't even get free work, then give yourself jobs, like creating your own holiday cards or something. Build up a better portfolio, until you can get someone else to work with you.

All this means that you sit around, drawing funny pictures... for free. And your friends and family look at you like you just soiled your pants, and shake their heads, and wonder where you went wrong. And THAT is one of the hardest obstacles to Freelancing, or Self-Publishing, or any other endeavor in which you have to work your butt off before any payback occurs.

So, ask yourself again, "Why do you want to Freelance?" And if the answer is, "Because that's what I really want to do", then, go. Get started. And don't let anyone stop you, because if you work hard enough, and long enough, it will hopefully, eventually pay off.

Once you get that first paying job, you're off like a rocket!

But it never gets any easier. Remember that.

But it does get a heck of a lot more rewarding, when you see your work out there, and when you have some money in the bank that says, not only can you pay some bills, but that someone out there believes in you, and your work.

And THAT is what I'm talking about :0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Publish or Perish!

All right, that's not the exact sentiment I'm looking for, but it's a striking headline, and parallels the sentiment of today's topic. My point is this; if you have a website, you need to update, and quite often, with fresh content. If you don't, you risk losing your audience when they stop showing up often, and eventually forget you in the sea of sites out there.

It's easy to add fresh content when you are a Syndicated newspaper Cartoonist, since you create strips everyday for the papers, and you have an Editor helping out, and an established audience, and some Marketing, PR, and Accounting help. Also, the comic strip is already a 'daily' creation.

It's hard enough for a Small Press outfit like ours to get new readers, and even harder to keep them around unless we too offer fresh content. This is fine when I'm doing a comic strip, or a comic book feature, but there are times when I'm putting a book together, or swamped with Freelance work, that I can't put out regular content, or perhaps working on something that I'm not quite ready to reveal. I am at that stage right now, in the midst of several projects, where I want readers to stick around, but not willing or ready to reveal my cuurent work.

What to do? Luckily, I can compromise, and offer a sneak peak at the next book coming out from HappyGlyphs Comics... The Inquiring Minds: Adventure in Hangman's Swamp. It's an all ages kid's book, fast paced, fun, and sometimes silly. The kind of book I like to read to my kids, and sometimes to myself. Not exactly Juvenille, but not The Davinci Code, either.

Anyway, the book is nearly done, so we are offering a sneak peak at Chapter 1. Newsletter subscribers will get a peak at chapter 2 as well, and maybe some other stuff, so head to our website and sign up.

Meanwhile, please let us know what you think of any of our books. HappyGlyphs Comics is growing, and will soon have a diverse range of products to offer. This is a great thing, as far as I'm concerned, although it does lead to some difficulties.

These difficulties will be explained in a future blog, titled "Familiarity's Brood", coming soon :0)