Navigating The Con: Get Yourself And Your Work Noticed
COMIC CON 2010 – My Thoughts
By Brandon M. Easton October 12, 2010
As I enter my thirteenth year as a professional writer, my reflection on the San Diego Comic-Con 2010 (SDCC) comes down to two words: opportunity and preparation. One simply cannot exist without the other and this was made very clear to me this year.
I hadn’t been to SDCC since 2003 and back then, it was a tough and confusing time for me. I had just come off of my first gig in the industry with Dreamwave Productions on a title called “Arkanium.” Breaking into the comics biz with a hot new studio like Dreamwave was literally a dream come true for me, but it would end up being bittersweet as the series did not find a large audience and was cancelled after five issues. It seemed that no matter what I did after that, I couldn’t get any publisher or editor to consider me for work.
Fast forward seven years, I had moved to Los Angeles to break into Hollywood screenwriting, I have developed two independent comic series, and I had established a small network of industry contacts. With this, I was ready to tackle the convention.
To sum up my experience, I’ll quote a friend of mine who said, “This was the first convention I went to where more happened outside of the show than inside.” In the sense that much of the networking and business deals happen in the exclusive after parties held at the circle of hotels surrounding the convention hall. Many of these parties are free, but the best of them – the ones with the decision makers – sometimes are invitation-only.
To any aspiring writer/unpublished talent out there, heed these words: the best thing to do at Comic Con is to find your way into one of these parties. Having some kind of track record (a blog, a web series, a fanzine, a meet-up group) will give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not some loudmouthed fanboy/girl who claims to be a writer, but has absolutely nothing to show for your career.
So with all this said, what do you need to have with you when you step foot into SDCC 2011 as an aspiring professional? Let’s say you make it into one of these parties, what’s next? Follow this guide to the letter:
1) A Professional Attitude: This means that you need to view yourself as a professional. Period. You don’t ask someone to hire you, or give you a job, or even if they know where a job is available. You exchange information, and you get to know the person the best you can in the short time you have at the con. Over time, as they become comfortable with you, then the discussion will drift to opportunities.
2) Business Cards: If you don’t have a business card, then you shouldn’t even try to network. There’s nothing worse than when someone asks you for your card and you start fumbling around, looking for a pen and paper to write your contact info. It’s unprofessional and amateurish.
3) Relevant Material: In other words, what do you have to show for your career thus far that you can give to an interested party? In these networking environments at a comic con, you need some kind of pitch package with the concept briefly stated, character profiles and at least FIVE (5) pages of artwork with finished lettering. People want to see comics, not scripts.
4) Hygiene: You might be surprised at how many people forget to bathe at a comic con. Bottom line, you need to carry gum/mints, cologne (don’t overdo it) and maybe a toothbrush in your backpack or pocket. Remember, you’re going to be talking to people up close. Don’t make a bad first impression by stinking up the joint.
5) References: This is a tough one because it requires that you have some experience in the business, or at least enough to have someone vouch for you and your abilities. The entertainment industry is all about relationships with people. Having an established creator introduce you to other important folks goes a long, long way.
Of course, you will discover what works for you through trial and error. However, with the economy the way it is and the increasingly anti-newcomer vibe in Hollywood these days, a first impression is often the only impression you get to make. Don’t screw it up. J
And one more thing, if you’re just starting out, you might want to check out my podcast specifically for sci-fi and comic book writers: WRITING FOR ROOKIES – it can be found here 100% free: http://writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com/
Brandon M. Easton is a professional writer, screenwriter, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Easton is a graduate of Ithaca College and Boston University’s prestigious Screenwriting program. Brandon has well over 10 years of writing experience and is currently working on his next series SHADOWLAW which will be (finally) released in summer of 2011. Brandon hopes you will check out his free podcast series WRITING FOR ROOKIES to learn more tricks of the trade. Visit Brandon at www.shadowlawonline.com and writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com