Topic Options
Jennifer M. Contino Offline

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA
This week one of the most anticipated events in al of comicdom: the Comic-Con International in San Diego is taking place. A few years ago, I presented a guide for the fans attending to make it a stellar event. Now, I've created a handy-dandy guide for the pros attending on the etiquette of meeting and greeting folks. Feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas to make this one of the best guides around.

Comic fans, a place for you to read all about con dos and don'ts is here:

Story: Glenn Barbis, Jr. Art Dudley Bryan Jr..

I know you might get asked the same question a dozen or more times and you might have to explain something that many times or more, but that doesn't mean you have to get rude about it. Even if you're the most well-known creator out there, if someone asks you what something is about, don't say "read the book!" give them an honest answer. But being polite doesn't mean you have to be friendly to that person who just followed you into the bathroom, and is trying to get an autograph or secret about the next big comic event while you're "occupied" with a more pressing matter! Remember without all these rabid fans, you wouldn't have your great career.

I can't tell you how many times I skipped talking to a pro at a show or even going to his/her booth, because, when I made eye-contact, I didn't get a smile or any kind of friendly gesture in return. If you're at a show and you would like to sell some of your comic books, make the extra effort to get people to the table. Don't sit there reading or looking down or with a scowl on your face or like you've just lost your best friend in the whole world (unless of course you did). I'm not saying you have to go the beauty queen route with Vaseline on your teeth to aid in smiling (although I know some of you enjoy that sort of thing!), but make the effort to be cordial and display some enthusiasm.

Well, y'see my book
is about ... stuff!

This here happens and then

... uh ... oh ... it's 3 bucks!

When someone asks you, "What is your comic about?" the worst thing you can do is stare back at him or her with a blank expression. Be able to give an answer to that important question. It's horrible to say, "Well, it's tough to explain what my comic is about." Because if you can't sum up your series in a few sentences, how is anyone else ever going to be able to do the same thing? How will you ever get any new readers if you can't let the average Jane or Joe know what you're doing? Be proud of your work. Toot your own horn. You have to compete with everyone around you at a big show like San Diego, so you have to have that succinct description of the work available. Practice explaining what you're work is to friends and family or in front of the mirror, but please don't torture your pets with long diatribes -- even man's best friend has his limits!

In a sea of pros, you have to do something to be different and stand out from the pack! Get a colored tablecloth or streamers or glittery strips or something! You have to be different. You have to catch the eye of the person standing at the end of a row scanning back and forth. If you have something to make your table pop from the norm, you'll get a better response. But getting them to come over to your area is just the beginning, once there, like any good host, you have to have things pleasing to the eye on top of the table as well.

I'll Be Your Friend

If You Feed Me!

Invest in freebies that can do you the most good. Get some of those minibuttons made and have a design or something on them that will make people really look to see who or what is going on. Having a sea of your buttons on folks at SDCC can get a buzz going. If you're printing up T-Shirts to sell at the show, make a few extra ones and give a few away to people if they promise to wear it at the show. Make sure the shirts you give away have your booth location on them or website or something else to direct folks to you during and after the show. Or, and this might be a little too expensive, get some of those plastic bags made with your website, contact info and the name of the comic really big on them. If people shove their other free junk in your bags, you'll have even more "relatively" free advertising on the floor.

Also get some cheap candy or gum or other non-expensive type food to give away. If someone is stopping to grab a mint (yes, mint, you'd be doing the whole show a favor as well by making everyone's breath minty fresh!), you've got a captive person for 20 - 30 seconds who you can tell about your book. That's why it's so important to have that succinct summary of the book available, so when someone is stopping to loot your freebies, you can tell them all about the next big comic book smash!

Ok, so most of you probably won't be wearing a mask at the con, but you might as well be if you're not going to make it super easy to contact you! I can't tell you how many times I've left a convention with a stack of indy books in my hand, read the stories, liked them, but then couldn't find a contact ANYWHERE in the book for the creators involved in the works. The last thing I want to do is have to go on a scavenger hunt online to find someone. And I'm sure a lot of people aren't going to make that extra effort to find you, even if a book is phenomenal. With Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and any other number of "free" web email addresses, there's no reason you can't have an account JUST for contacts from comic conventions to get in touch with you. Get one of those going and make sure you include that information in your comics.

Which brings me to the next point ....

Yes, fire was good, but think how much better electricity is ....

Get out of the cave. There's life ahead! You're reading this online. That means you have the internet. But you can put the internet to work for YOU! Along with that slew of free email services are free social networking services! Get a MySpace, ComicSpace, LiveJournal, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any and every other free social networking account. Put samples of your comics up there. Put contact information on there. Buy a domain name that is the title of your comic or your first and last name, so it's infinitely easier to find you online. Get some advertising online once you have your website up and running. There are great places to advertise (like maybe this place) and some places have ad packages to fit any budget. If you're going to a show like SDCC, you should try to advertise in the months leading up to the show, so people know you'll be there. But, make sure all your web presences have a clear contact email on them that can be viewed without having to click a million and one times.

It's tough to get noticed by convention attendees, but even tougher to get noticed by the press; especially when one company after another is making a huge announcement to kind of one-up each other. So, you have to be a little proactive in this area as well. Make a bunch of packages -- probably 30 to 50. Put a copy of your comic (with contact email inside the front cover), business card, website, any freebies you have, etc.,. inside a manila envelope or magazine size plastic comic bag with backing board. Keep those with you and if a member of the press stops by, give them one. It's a business expense you can write off of your taxes and it might get you a review, interview or mention in someone's con report. At the end of the show, if you haven't met a lot of the press, go to the dealer's floor and give away the packets to some of the larger comic book stores. If you can get one of them to carry your product, it might open you up to a whole new readership. And if you're selling out of your comic, raid your packets.

And speaking of connections, get a nice tablet, gel pen and create a mailing list at your table. When someone buys a book, have them sign their name and email address to the list so you can email them when a new issue is out or email them after the show to say "thanks for stopping by." Creating a mailing list is easy and, if your book doesn't come out on a regular basis, it's a good way to let readers know when the next issue is available.

Finally, everything I told the fans here: applies to the comic book pros as well. So, it wouldn't hurt you to check that column out either!

All art is by my good friend Leigh Dragoon unless otherwise noted. Leigh is an extremely talented artist!

Jennifer M. Contino Offline

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA
I've heard from several people that they were not allowed to give away food at the Comic-Con International. But if you do attend a show where you're allowed to share some candy, go for it!


Moderator:  Steve Conley, The Pulse