Saturday, February 26, 2011

Con-founded

Less than a week to Emerald City Comicon. My first convention with a badge that says "Image" on it.

Since Nonplayer won't be out for another month (it's debuting at WonderCon on April 1), I'm not completely sure how I'll be spending my time at ECCC. Image has said I'll be able to hang out at their booth, but there are many more creators than seats, so that'll be touch-and-go. Right now, it looks like I'll be signing there from 11am to 12pm on Friday and Saturday. I'll be at the convention for all three days, though, so if you don't see me at Image and you want something signed (or just want to say "hi"), just ask someone at Image where they last saw me.

There will be Nonplayer posters for sale -- they're 11" x 17" on silk cardstock paper. Both the second and third pages of the first issue have now become posters:

 

There are a hundred copies of the one on the left and two hundred copies of the one on the right, and they both turned out quite nicely. After the convention is done, the posters will go up at the Nonplayer store, so don't worry if you want a poster but can't make it to Seattle. Once they're online, I'll happily ship them to any destination. If you want the poster signed, all you'll need to do is mention it in the comment section of the order form. Easy!

So what do I need to do to be ready for this convention? I'll bring good pens for signing stuff. I'll bring some paper so people can add their email addresses to the mailing list. Let's see. What else? Feels like I'm going camping. Trail mix. Gotta bring trail mix. 

I haven't had this much riding on a convention since the 1995 San Diego Comic-Con. I lived in LA at the time, and this guy at my office (a talented fellow named Raphael Navarro, who went on to become a much-beloved comic artist) showed me some sample pages he'd made for a portfolio viewing at the Marvel booth. There was less than a week until the convention, but I somehow got in my head that I'd be able to wow Marvel with some hastily-drawn Captain America pages. I'm still not sure why I decided on Cap -- I think it was because Raphael had drawn him, and on the strength of his treatment I'd decided that Captain America was the platonic Marvel character.

I was still working on my pages in the car on the way down to San Diego -- my mom was going to hit some kind of job fair in San Diego that weekend, so she dropped me off right in front of the convention and agreed to pick me up a few hours later. So there was 20-year-old Nate (still "Nathan" at the time), illusions intact, ready to take the comic world by storm.  The plan was simple: first show Marvel my work, then go over to DC, then sit back as the inevitable bidding war erupted.

The line at the Marvel booth should have been a clear warning, but I managed to keep my chin up through the hour-long wait. The portfolio review area was completely enclosed by black curtains, and an obviously-bored Marvel editor waited within. I suppose I expected him to start drooling over my work as soon as I'd unsheathed it, but his expression did not change when the pages came out. He hit me with some stock advice about studying anatomy harder and not letting my characters stand on the bottom edge of the panel, I gave him a numb "thank you," and out I went. 

I didn't even bother with DC. I wandered the convention floor until my mom showed up, and I barely said anything in the car on the way home. I haven't been back to Comicon since.

The experience did have a couple of positive effects. I started a second Captain America sample, this time working at my own pace. I never submitted it, but it was many times better than the first outing. I've always found embarrassment to be a great motivator, and this was up there with Halloween of '87 on the embarrasometer. So I leveled up a little.

I also learned an important lesson. Now, when I look at someone's artwork, I try to keep in mind that people grow. Technical skill is a learned thing, like driving or using chopsticks. It's worth trying to see through the quality of execution to find the thing that illuminates the work. If a person is excited enough about their art to show it to me, then there must be something there for me to be excited about, too. If a 16-year-old Mignola-to-be comes up to me at a convention and I dismiss him because his anatomy isn't quite there yet, I've not only done the kid a huge disservice, I've robbed the world of a great creator (and plus, my anatomy isn't quite there yet, either).

We may all be passing different mile markers on that road that leads from kindergarten craft-enthusiast to Albrecht Dürer, but if we want to be handled with care by those who are ahead of us, we need to try to remember what it was like back when we were just starting out on the same road.

See you at Emerald City!

PS. Thanks for all the comic shop recommendations, guys! I've contacted nearly 90 shops around the world, and the reactions have so far been pretty positive. If you want to be absolutely sure that your local shop will carry Nonplayer #1, you probably want to pay them a visit before the Previews ordering cutoff on March 14. It may help to tell them the ordering code, which is FEB110397. And tell the shop owner that if they contact me directly (nonplayercomic (at) gmail (dot) com), I'll send them a signed poster.

PPS. A correction from two posts ago: It turns out there is a Korean word for "loser." In fact, there are lots of Korean words for "loser." But they don't use them the same way we Americans do. Or maybe they do. I'm going to ease off on the broad cultural generalizations from here on out. My point was that my wife has a can-do spirit. Maybe that's more because she's awesome than because she's Korean. 

But Koreans are awesome, too. 

That was a generalization. Cannot win.

7 comments:

  1. I completely agree about the critiques, I try to focus on the love the artist has for the medium and then mention things they could improve. I actually enjoy doing portfolio reviews. Let us know how the Con goes, I may attend next year.

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  2. I stopped by my local shop last week and asked them to order me two copies of the comic :) Here's to hoping it's a huge hit!

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  3. DanHale - Yeah, Dan. Sometimes it takes a little digging, but it's always there if you look for it. Maybe see you at ECCC next year. Also, Metroid Prime vs. Boba Fett is some kind of magical mixture of total raditude.

    Ted Terranova - Great! Thanks for putting in a good word for me -- and TWO copies? Wow. I sure do hope you like it. What shop do you go to, if I may ask? Maybe I can goose them into ordering a few more copies, too.

    Also, I love the new architecture work on your blog. Nice design and clean execution. Really pro-looking stuff, man!

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  4. I'm sorry if this is already mentioned elsewhere on the blog but since in Image Solicitations for May there's no NonPlayer #02 mentioned can you tell me what's a planned release schedule for the mini series - bi-monthly, quarterly?
    thanks in advance for your reply.

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  5. GeJ - I'm still plugging away on Nonplayer #2, so it'll be a little while until it's out. I've made a decision to focus on quality rather than speed, and I am aware that this will annoy some people. Rest assured, I'm putting in 12-hour days to get this done as quickly as possible. I hope you're willing to hang in there with me!

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  6. I had to get two copies. Once for reading and one for the archives :) It looks to be an incredible book.

    The shop I go to is called Amazing Stories - 732.747.8686 - Shrewsbury, NJ. Small shop but good selection of stuff. Again, good luck with everything!

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  7. Ted - Two copies! Whoa. Thanks!

    I researched Amazing Stories and was unable to find any email contact info -- I've put them on my list to cold-call by phone, but that list is pretty long. I'll see what I can do!

    Thanks for your help, Ted! When are you going to put some new sweetness up at your blog?

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