I’ve had a very exciting last five days, with Kapow Comic Con and the London Book Fair. Surprisingly, I don’t feel like I have been overloaded with information, but I am glad that some of the industry processes have been cleared up in my head.
I didn’t actually attend either event with thoughts on what I wanted to find out or get out of them. I just went out of curiosity. I wanted to know what a Comic Con would be like and what the London Book Fair is all about.
Kapow Comic Con was fun and very energetic. As expected, majority of attendees are comic book/games/science fiction fans. Quite a few people dressed up and there were loads of queues for autographs, of illustrators and creators. It was a real pleasure to be in the midst of a crowd that showed such pure unbridled passion towards the same thing. It was very easy to be lured into it.
I am not a massive geek… but I think I am a little bit of a geek. I love some comic books (Gaiman’s stuff, Bone – from when I was a teenager, Calvin & Hobbes – timeless, Garfield, etc), some games (Diablo mainly, actually) and lots of different science fiction and fantasy books and movies.
One of the stands that we visited sold quite a range of comic books. The person at the stand asked if we knew about the comic books that were on display and we said no. He then proceeded to give us an overview of each. I ended up buying two comic books. Leviathan (massive ship stuck at sea, in the middle of nowhere for a long time) and Nemesis (alien warlock). Looking forward to diving into them.
We also bought some drawings from a small stand by an illustrator, Jack Tempest (http://jdtempest.blogspot.com/). The drawings of the Norse Gods in particular (I’m sure you’re not surprised), caught our attention. We bought some stuff and I took his contact details as I am looking for an illustrator and I think his style could work with my writings. I have never worked with an illustrator before, so am a little nervous about kicking this off… but very excited too. I have other illustrators to contact too, so hopefully I will be able to set-up some collaborative projects.
A couple of our friends had a stand there too, for their new Windows phone app game, Timedancer (http://www.timedancercorp.com/). It seemed popular with loads of interest form the public. Can’t wait for it to be released for the Mac! Check it out or download it if you have a Windows phone!
Anyway, I dragged Ken to sit in for a talk on how to break into comics. The panel were from Marvel and ranged from artists to editor. It was really interesting as the message was to work hard and polish your skills. It seems that at the end of the day, there isn’t a right way in, but what they look for is skill. You can get into the industry in other ways (above and below board), but without real skill, you won’t survive it, was the main message.
I left Kapow feeling refreshed and excited about writing, about setting up the projects with illustrators and about just doing things. With all that energy, I decided that I should go check out the London Book Fair too.
The first seminar that I sat in at the LBF11 was on breaking into comics too, coincidentally. The difference was that this is from a literature point of view and the panel, though enthusiastic and passionate, were still looking at the product as a book. The main discussion areas were around how people still need to have their mindset changed on what comic books are all about and that it seems the British still have an old-fashioned idea of it. From the turnout at Kapow, I can’t really say that this is entirely true, but I guess if we are looking at mainstream print, then this may be the case.
The stands at the LBF11 were too many and too vast. For someone who just wanted to sit in for some seminars and browse some stands, it was not a very friendly environment. The industry, probably being one of the oldest around, comes across as a very stuffy industry and those who hold positions of power in it comes across as elitists.
I sat in for a couple of talks on self-publishing, which were more optimistic. It is good to know that there are companies out there now who are catering for those who want to self-publish (either completely or at least whilst looking for a publishing deal) and also support the e-book platforms, with enough research and up to date knowledge.
I also attended a seminar about the publishing sector called Talent Time Bomb (http://ht.ly/1cbf1P) and another on the relationship between Editors & Authors (by www.sfep.org.uk). Both were very useful and eye-opening about industry practices. It did end on a much more positive note with the main message being to get out there and do things. It does seem that people are expected to have examples of work ready before they have a job, to be able to show initiative and experience. A lot of work and projects need to be initially self-funded to create a viable portfolio.
So, armed with some additional knowledge and inspiration, my aim now is to get at least a book completed and to start working on my short stories compilation with illustrations. I am feeling very excited about this, so hope that you will follow me on my journey. Perhaps it won’t be long before you’ll be able to buy one of my books.