Last Friday I flew out to Long Beach, California for my first comic con ever.
If you’re like most people that know me, you’re probably wondering how the heck I got involved in a comic con, and it’s all because of my brother’s girlfriend, Tori.
Tori is an incredibly talented artist (check her stuff out at torianne.ink or follow her on social media at torianne00) who has an amazing style and gift for art I have always admired. So, when she asked me to attend a comic con with her where she would be giving two presentations and selling her work in the Artist’s Alley, I jumped at the chance.
If you don’t know much about comic cons, that’s okay because I didn’t either. It’s basically a convention for comic book lovers to attend to cosplay, meet like-minded individuals, learn about the comic book world, purchase art, and meet their heroes (creators and characters).
Here are the top six things I learned from my time at Long Beach Comic Expo:
1. People are so, so, so friendly.
I instantly felt accepted into this community despite my lack of artistic talent or comic book knowledge. The first day of the convention was dedicated to a conference just for the creators, so I was in a room with some pretty talented people for about six hours having absolutely no business being there. But it was really comforting that none of the creators looked down on me for being there as an assistant. People were even interested in my passion for blogging. Everyone was kind and curious about the different skills I brought to the table, which made me feel really welcome. The people who came up to Tori’s table throughout the con were equally as sweet. They made me feel like I was a central part of the team, and even gave me pieces of artwork that they had created. Because of my tendency to think on the dark side, I’m always positively surprised when I see this sweet side of people.
2. You’ll learn a lot just by being open to opportunity.
As I mentioned, the first day was a convention for creators where Tori gave an informative talk about using social media to boost your career online. There was another panel later in the day that was dedicated specifically to networking. It was meant to help comic creators meet each other, so I was hesitant to participate, but it didn’t seem like I had a choice. If you know me at all, you know I hate talking to strangers. Call it anxiety, call it being an introvert — whatever it is, I don’t like it. But I did it anyway, and I am so glad I did. I got to meet some really interesting people ranging from writers to agents who had something to teach me about the comic industry. While I wasn’t looking for an artist to help me create my next comic, I’m still fortunate for the people I connected with and the conversations I had that sparked my creative energy.
3. Talk to anyone and everyone — you never know who you’ll meet.
I already mentioned how great the networking session was, but I also got to meet some great people during the rest of the convention. Sitting in the Artist’s Alley, there are people constantly passing your table, looking at the merchandise, and rushing to the next event, but there are also people that want to talk to you about your work and creative process. I was lucky enough to attend this con with someone who’s done it for a few years and got to speak at the event, so she had fans and other creators that wanted to get to know her. By sheer luck (and friendliness), they also wanted to get to know me. One of the best conversations I had was with Phil LaMarr, a voice actor known for his work as Static Shock as well as a hundred other roles. He was so genuinely interested in Tori’s artistic process and reasoning, and even asked about the work I do for my blog. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting one of Tori’s fans — a young girl who was already doing so much to advance her career as an artist. She inspired me to keep going after my dreams and to find people that serve as mentors in my field as Tori serves as a mentor in her field. (Photo taken with Carlations.)
4. Giving back to the community is never a bad thing.
And people always love free stuff. Tori was super sweet and gave out free prints as a thank you to the comic con for having her (it was her first time at Long Beach Comic Expo). It was always a nice surprise for the patrons when they got a free print just for stopping by the table. It’s important to sell inventory, but it’s also important to give back to the community that supports you.
5. There are a lot more intricacies to comic book creation than you’d ever think possible.
I’ve read a few graphic novels here and there, but I’ve never been a huge comic book consumer, therefore, I didn’t know that much about the industry before I attended this con (and I still have a lot to learn). There are roles you know have to be filled like writers and artists, but did you ever think that the artist may not be the person coloring the comic? Or that someone special is hired just to write out the little speech bubbles? It’s actually crazy to think how many creators can be involved in the creation of one comic book.
6. The amount of work and dedication put into preparing for a comic con is astounding.
I wasn’t overly involved in the preparation part of this con, but I know Tori dedicated many, many hours to ordering prints, packaging artwork, preparing her presentations, and promoting the fact that she would be at the convention to her fans. Additionally, if you’re selling your work for the first time, you have to figure out how much inventory to bring, prepare a cost-benefit analysis, design a display, and possibly enlist help to promote your artwork. It’s not for the faint of heart, and you have to have a head for business as well as many creative bones in your body. I’m immensely impressed with everyone that musters up the courage to enter the convention world and does it with a smile.
Bonus: People in costumes are not my friend.
This might be a highly unpopular opinion, but I really hate Halloween for the same reason I dislike people in scary costumes at comic cons. If Halloween were just people dressed as unicorns and cats, I’d be all for it, but as soon as the scary masks come out, I’m headed for the hills. I’m a baby, what can I say?
I can never thank Tori enough for bringing me along on this awesome adventure. I’ll remember the lessons I learned on this trip for years to come, and I’ll always look back fondly on the incredibly kind, funny, talented individuals I met along the way as well.
If you have the opportunity and you enjoy comics, learning, and meeting new people, I definitely suggest attending a comic con in the future — you never know what will happen!