I’m a lady got my mind made up

Comics Underground last night was AMAZING! Thank you to everyone who came out! I had a great time and I know the other presenters did, too.

I put my comics from the event online; click on either title image to go to the comic:

Comic-Con 2009: General

Okay. Comic-Con recap time. I have divided the novel I could write on Comic-Con into several posts to make it easier for readers to find the parts they want to read:

WB, Disney, Pixar, and Miyazaki

In general, it was an awesome trip and an awesome con. I loved San Diego (it was my first time in the city), the weather was balmy and pleasant, if humid, we had good food and I felt safe walking around the city, even alone and at night (haha, the things you don’t tell your parents…). I could definitely see going to San Diego just for a fun trip, and it seems like a livable city from what I saw.

The con itself was great as well. It was very crowded, and there was a lot more time spent waiting in lines than I’d anticipated (great quote I heard: “What is this line for?” “Something that nerds want.”). You couldn’t go to everything you wanted–you just had to pick a couple of things per day and accept that it would take time waiting in line to even get into them. The floor got pretty bad on Friday, but Saturday was not as awful as I’d been warned it would be. There were tons of great exhibitors, from comic publishers to movie studios to individual artists to the voice of Dr. Tran (trip highlight!). :P I know I missed more than half of what I could have seen at the con, but I am so pleased by what I did see, I am alright with that.

I am already excited for next year! Though I’m told there is a diminishing return to going to SDCC, I am still in the honeymoon phase with it.

Comic-Con 2009: Panels

I went to three great instructional panels during Comic-Con, and I’d like to pass on the general points they made:

Marketing Indie Comics

  • Send postcards to potential buyers
  • The trend in our economy is a move to niche markets and combining small audiences (example: Penny Arcade uses jokes that only 8% of the audience will get, but this creates loyalty and an ‘inside joke’ feeling among that 8%)
  • “Be shameless” – write people again if they don’t respond the first time. They may have simply misplaced your first e-mail…you’ll never know if you don’t try again
  • Seek out bloggers and reviewers to mention your work/mini/book – format the e-mail so that it can easily be copy-pasted into a blog entry; this will make it very appealing to the blogger since it’s instant, easy content. Just make sure it is free of grammatical erros and has no strange formatting. Aim for under 400 words and include only small jpeg files. Don’t forget to mention the release date!
  • Good cons for promoting small press/indie: regional cons (Wondercon, Heroes, Baltimore, Toronto, Emerald City, MoCCA)
  • Print outside of the US to keep your costs and prices down (China, Korea have printing services to US)
  • You can actually negotiate prices with printers for a better rate; if you are printing 5,000 copies, they want your business and may bend the rules to get it
  • Haven (alternative to Diamond distribution)
  • Cross-promote laterally (same size, different people audiences, like among webcomics)

Breaking Into Comics – Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (Zeros2Heroes)
This panel was on alternative ways to earn a “first professional credit” in order to bypass the catch-22 of needing professional experience to be hired by a publisher. This was by far the best presentation I saw all weekend, with a great speaker, great PowerPoint, and great content.

Facts: If you are a jaw-dropping artist or writer, you will find work, no matter what your other skills are. If you suck as an artist or writer, you will not find work, no matter what your other skills are. But what if you are in-between? What can help push you over and make you appealing for employers? The answer: professional credit. Big names on your resume say that an established company trusted you, and they took the biggest risk by employing you first, making it easier for later companies to trust you.

Known options for breaking into comics:
1. Partner with an emerging artist/writer
2. Pay a professional artist (if you are a writer)
3. Enter competitions

You can sidestep the gatekeepers by partnering with organizations other than comic book publishers. Some examples:
-The Federal Government (there are actually funds for making comics to educate the public about comics. What else might there be in federal funding? Suggest something!)
-Public Cultural Funds
-Entertainment Companies (often test properties by releasing a comic with the hook and main characters first to see how it sells)
-Private Institutions (Companies have found that sending information to employees by posting it in comic format in bathrooms is much more effective than sending out a memo. Suggest this to a business!)
-The Legion
-Heritage Groups
-Local Religious Groups
-Local Cultural Groups (ranging from gay rights groups to the humane society, and any other group you may have in your area)

Send a ‘One Sheet Cover’ to your target groups: who you are, what you want, and what’s in it for the other person/group. Prove that you are the person to pull it off with a work sample or previous work. Suggest how they might put you to work, help them picture it.

Be a pro: Set the budget, schedule payments and delivery milestones, create contracts for you and your partners (including writers, artists, letterers, and the employer), manage the workflow, conduct meetings, and deliver a great product on time.

“Just because there’s a ladder in front of you doesn’t mean you have to climb it. Come at it from the side or back–or fly over and parachute down.”

Making Webcomics – Ron Perazza, Kwanza Johnson, Kevin Colden, Cameron Stewart, Molly Crabapple

  • Aim for a short, punchy, memorable, and easy to spell url for your webcomic. The shorter, the better
  • Promote to scenes outside of comics, or people in other subcultures/scenes/demographics who may enjoy your work–if you make comics about knitting, try promoting them to knitters instead of comics readers
  • “Please RT this” be shameless with that phrase on Twitter–it can reach a lot of people
  • Also, don’t forget to tweet updates. It’s what twitter is best for
  • Make artwork embedable so it can become viral. Just make sure that your name and a link back to your site are attached
  • Don’t worry about your work being stolen–posting on the internet and having your work reposted gives you great exposure, and the original post serves as proof that you uploaded it first if you ever get into a legal spiff.

Comic-Con 2009: WB, Disney, Pixar, and Miyazaki

One of the best parts of the trip was the Friday line-up in Hall H (the largest room in the convention center, holding 6,500).

I wanted to see Hayao Miyazaki at the Disney/Pixar panel at 12:45, but to get a seat in the room, let alone a decent one, you had to go very early and sit through whatever panels came before it, since they didn’t empty the room between presentations.

I was planning on going early Friday morning, since seeing Miyazaki was the single Comic-Con event I was most looking forward to and I wanted to be sure to get in, but I had a panic attack on Thursday night, imagining a line forming as I was eating dinner, and my chance to see him slipping away, so decided to just camp out overnight to be safe.
I joined a line of about 10 people that had formed by 11pm, and slept out there overnight until they let us in the next morning at 9. Over that time I met some fun people, including a group of boys behind me in line who were saving on hotel costs by camping out each night in whatever line was forming for Hall H. They knew how to do it in style! Airmattresses, a hooka, and fireworks, lol. They made the experience much more fun, and let me use their airmattress for about 6 hours of sleep. :) And actually, they are the reason I got such a good seat inside, because some idiot in the front row would not answer me as I stood in front of him asking, “Is this seat taken?! Is this seat taken??!!” while the room was filling up around me. They saved me a seat in the second row, and I am eternally grateful!
Joelle and Jamie heard that I was camping out and came over to see me, despite having partied and probably being in the mood to crash in the hotel room. They were so sweet!! They brought me a pillow and blanket and were like, “Seriously, text us if you need anything!!” Terry brought me coffee at like 8:00 in the morning, too…such good friends I have!! What would I do without them?

So the first presentation, which I did not initially care about but had to sit through to keep my seat for Miyazaki, was by Warner Brothers at 10:00. It actually turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend. They screened about 10 minutes of new footage for each of the films they were promoting: Where the Wild Things Are, Jonah Hex, Sherlock Holmes, The Book of Eli, Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Box. There’s a nice summary of it here.
What I personally enjoyed so much about this panel, though, was the star-studdery! Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Megan Fox, Mila Kunis, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Cameron Diaz, and James Marsden were all great, and it was so surreal to see them in person. Being in the middle of the second row, I was about 20 feet from each of them in turn, and I was just shocked by the experience of seeing celebrities in person (hur hur hur, Oregonian moment). The lighting must have reached the first few rows, too, because I could make eye contact with the people sitting on stage when they scanned the audience. It felt really cool!
Oh, and the actresses were gorgeous! You can tell yourself it’s lighting, the makeup artist, and photoshop, but they are all truly beautiful, even in a very normal environment.
Robert Downey Jr.’s announcement made the crowd scream, stand up, and surge toward the stage, and his presentation during the panel really stood up to that anticipation. He’s very funny and quick-witted, and it was really fun listening to him answer crowd questions.

Then, finally, came the Disney/Pixar animation panel! (Matt Goldberg has 2 good posts up describing the panel) They showed previews of Beauty and the Beast in 3-D (nice glasses provided by Dolby), Toy Story 2 in 3-D, Toy Story 3, The Frog Princess, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, and Prep and Landing, and there were many talented creators there to present and discuss the films. Miyazaki was the big name, though…you could tell by the crowd reaction and the fact that they saved him for last. He came out very modestly and reluctantly, and conducted his interview in a very understated fashion. He used a translator for the interview and Q&A, and I felt kind of bad for him seeing how he wanted to know what was being said but having to wait for it to be passed on to him, and then feeling pressure to answer quickly when he might have wanted to think it over. Can you imagine addressing a room that big in a foreign language?? Blegh. Anyway, it was truly worth waiting for, and the single highlight of my trip to see and hear him in person. I recorded the entire thing on my camera, which was evil and never quite focused on him, but which I will post anyway soon enough. Again, I was so close to the stage that I could see the seams in his clothing, and it was really, really special to see him looking out at the crowd and at me occassionally. He would watch the crowd as footage played behind him on the big screen, and I tried to look animated and appreciative for that. :)
The Ponyo footage was very exciting–we saw a clip embodying the original and difficult portrayals of the ocean in the film. This scene created an ocean of teeming fish, which looked like it was hell to draw. I also got a preview of Tina Fey as the mother, and saw a bit of her character in the film. All in all, I am very excited to see it. On the negative side, though, I was admittedly a little disappointed by the backgrounds in the clip. They were sparse and…hmm…drawn plainly with colored pencil? What? Tell me this will make more sense in the context of the film…I mean, does it work as an embodiment of the main characters youth…???
I was a little concerned.
Oh, but the Frog Princess is looking great–we got to see the entirety of the classic Disney bad-guy song, and it was awesome!!! So much more excited about that movie than I was. :)
And of course, Toy Story 3! So stoked. But I was already.

Comic-Con 2009: Swag/Purchases

It was a great con for new reading material–besides the tons of free reading from random pass-outs and gift bags, I got plenty o’ swag and merchandise from friends and creators at the convention. Notables include:

Joelle Jones – Okay, besides being an effing prodigy of an artist, Joelle is an extremely generous person. She gave me not only copies of her new sketchbook based on the 7 Deadly Sins and a copy of Token, but an original page from You Have Killed Me, her latest graphic novel written by Jamie Rich, AND sketches from a new project (I so wish I could tell you about but can’t). :) They are great, though, and that project is going to be fantastic! Joelle gets +1000 fan points.
Steve Lieber – Steve gave me a copy of the promotional first issue of his and Jeff Parker’s series Underground, coming from Image this fall (for free!! Can you believe that guy??). You can preview the first issue online, but it was nice to read it in book format. I don’t know…something about turning pages. I do know that I am very excited to see the 5 finished issues!

David Hahn – I picked up David’s new “Late Nighter” sketchbook, which is full of his character designs, new ideas, and practice panels. It’s a great demonstration of his skills, and fun to read!

Ted Naifeh – I saw the cover for Polly and the Pirates at Oni Press’s booth, and was immediately curious. After Terry explained the basic premise, I was like, “Let’s go, I already know I want to buy this.” xD; It’s awesome–a great premise with a lot of cute and exciting elements, and all done in a very fresh and readable way. I liked Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin series, and Polly and the Pirates is great in the same way, without repeating material from CC.

Warner Brothers – WB put together a great gift bag for people who attended their panel on Friday and redeemed a ticket at their booth. The bag contained a Whiteout carabiner, paper hat mimicking Max’s crown from Where The Wild Things Are, a small plastic toy version of the box from The Box, a Nightmare on Elm Street T-shirt (sadly about 8 sizes too big…), and a Final Destination 3D button.

Top Shelf – Top Shelf was handing out their 2009 catalog, chock-full of samples, reviews, and info on their publications.

VIZ – Viz Media put out your basic Sneak Peek book, with chapters from 6 manga titles. I enjoy these things a lot, because I love having a wide variety of art on hand for reference and inspiration, without weighing down my bookshelf with an entire volume of a single series.

Yen Plus – Again, I love my anthologies. I buy Yen Plus from time to time to have on hand for a sampling of new art in many styles. I do this with Japanese manga magazines as well, and just recycle the old volumes.

Comic-Con 2009: Celebrities

I was kind of surprised at myself, but seeing famous people at Comic-Con was really exciting! I think that some of my favorite moments were meeting and seeing celebrities.

So at the Warner Brother’s panel, obviously, there was Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Megan Fox, Mila Kunis, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Cameron Diaz, and James Marsden, and that was really cool, but I explained that in my post here.

Oni Press, United Talent Agency, and Entertainment Arts threw a party Friday night with a star-studded guest list, and I got to meet Masi Oka from Heroes and Enver Gjokaj and Fran Kranz from Dollhouse. They were all so cool!!!! I could not believe they were even putting up with some fangirl at an after-hours party, but they were really kind and unassuming and willing to talk about their shows with me. I really appreciated it! And if I liked those shows before, you can bet I’m even more excited for the new seasons knowing that the cast members are so cool! Joss and Zack Whedon, Dichen Lachman, Alan Tudyk, and Maurissa Tancharoen were also at that party, but I was too shy to do anything other than creepily stare. *face palm* Apparently Zachary Quinto was there, too, but I didn’t see him, and I kind of died inside when I found out the next day. Still, same party, right?!

And of course, our man Hayao Miyazaki was the cherry on my Comic-Con sundae. Being so close to him at the Disney/Pixar panel was AMAZING. It actually meant something to me to see him in person and hear his voice, even with the availability of interview footage, etc. in our day and age. It felt magical, to be honest.

Buttons now available in my store!!! Check ‘em out! :)

So…Miyazaki is coming to Comic-Con. And this is all that I will be talking about for the next month. *A* I wonder if there will be any way to give him presents…probably not, huh? Meh, I’ll be happy if I see him with my own eyes. :)

Can’t Stop the Serenity was last night, and I had a blast with my friends Mary and Christina! We got to The Gypsy too late for most of the festivities, but it looked like it was a good time. The trivia questions were HARD, though! They asked things like “What quadrant is Miranda in?” O___o;
The movie was awesome. It was my first time watching it, so maybe not the best idea to go to a showing where people are encouraged to yell at the screen and say “look out!” before everybody dies, but still, I really really enjoyed it! I couldn’t even tell who was going to die, because all I could hear around me was “AHHHHHHHHHHH” right before it happened, and there were so many camera cuts leading up to it that I just knew death was coming to someone. :P They asked who was watching it for the first time before it started, and I was one of like 2 people, so once in a while someone would shout things like, “Who didn’t see that coming?” and someone else would reply, “The girl in the middle!!!” xD; Definitely going next year and making preemptive jokes with everyone else. I liked the speakers and the message from Joss Whedon before the film–I love his characters and his portrayal of women, and it was cool to see an entire event inspired by that. Very cool indeed.

Copyright © Natalie Nourigat