Last weekend marked my third trip to New Orleans for a comic convention, the second since the show was bought out by Wizard World. I entered the weekend in a very uncomfortable manner after an unfortunate disagreement with a staff member at Wizard, so I did not really know what to expect. I had even considered not making the trip after not receiving a table at a Wizard show for the first time in over a year, but I wanted to revisit the city and connect with the fans who I know expected me to be there, as well as see some new faces and make new friends. I was told by a representative of the show that I could not be given a table because they had sold out artist’s alley and therefore could not justify giving a table away.
To payse for a moment, I should explain why this is important. On the tour, every show has a certain amount of tables that are given to artists and a certain amount that are sold. Tables that are given away are mostly based on merit. If you are a recognizable name who they feel will bring people in to the show then you can sometimes be granted a free table, whereas new and upcomming artists, or just relative unknowns will need to pay. I paid for every table I had on my first two years doing shows, but have recently been able to attend most shows without paying, after promoters see the reaction of the attendees to my work at the show. I am not a big name yet, but people tend to respond well to my work, so while I won’t necessarily sell more tickets by being on a guest list, I will add something positive to the experience of the show, because I work hard to.
To be clear, being given a table at a show is flattering, and it’s always appreciated, but it’s not something I demand or expect out of ego. For me, this is my full time job. I support myself with my art, and so right now in all honesty, I am very low on the economic ladder (like, bottom rung). I ask shows to comp me whenever possible because when they don’t often I can’t afford to attend. Does it confuse me when someone who has less experience than me and less of an impact on the industry get’s a complimentary table and I don’t? Yes. Do I make professional decisions based on those feelings? No. That would be immature, and wouldn’t get me anywhere. It is, however, confusing to me when I am told that there is no room to give me a table, and when I show up to the show there are at least half a dozen empty tables. I know that the organization expects this, and so what I was told, in my own assumption, unfortunately had to do with a single staff member having little or no respect for me, and letting his/her own personal opinion of me dictate professional decisions. This is unfortnuately very immature, and it will ultimately ony do harm to the company. This is unfortunate. To summarize, I have no personal bad feelings toward the Wizard World organiztion, but I feel it is unfortunate that bad choices by a key staff member cause uncomfortable situations to industry professionals, without whom Wizard would not exist.
All of that being said, I did have a good time at the show. I tagged along with my friends <a title="Rad Comix" href="Rad Comix, who sell toys and comics and specialize in hard to find action figures. They had a pretty large exhibitor space directly across from artist’s alley, so I was blessed to still be close to where I belonged, despite officially not being included in the show. I was set up across from Arthur Suydam, which is always great because he’s such a respectable professional, and a nice guy. I created an exclusive print for Rad to give away with purchases hoping to repay the favor of having me at the show, which di okay, but they definitely did not need my help to succeed at the show. They had a great setup and I was happy to be a part of it.
I made some great connections at the show. I got to have another productive conversation with the wonderful people at Daz3D, a 3D rendering and animation program that I use for reference material for many of my works. They are working very hard to make comic books easier for creators to make, and if they continue to educate artists about their product, they’ll usher in a whole new generation of creators who may have otherwise not stood a chance in this business. It’s easy for me to support what they do, because they’ve been a big help to me and I think they are a great new part of this industry.
I was also blessed to be able to take time and soak up some valuable knowledge from some of my heroes in the industry like George Perez, Arthur Suydam and Dan Panosian. Dan is a personal hero of mine, so I was so happy to get some of his time. He is somebody who could have easily been swept up in the forrest of artists who emerge every day in this industry ever since the Image boom of the 90’s, but over the years he’s worked very hard to continue to reinvent himself and grow as an artist, and I respect that a great deal. His recent works have been so great, and I’m happy to see him working on X-Factor for Marvel comics. I know he’ll do well on the book. He was generous enough to spend some time reviewing my work and had some positive and encouraging things to say, which made the trip a memorable one for me.
I was also blessed to spend some time with friends I’ve gotten to know in the industry, and make some new ones as well. Chandra, Kendall and Jessica, pictured above, were all very friendly and supportive of my work, and a special thanks to Kendall for making my day on Saturday I was also happy to share my table on day two with Tim Lattie , an artist from the area who is very talented and a lot of fun to share a table with.
Thank you so much to all of the people who came out and supported the show. As I told many of you, the show isn’t perfect, but keep coming out and supporting it, because without attendees it will not grow and improve. I’m not sure what the future holds for me with the Wizard World shows, but I do hope to be back next year, meeting great people, sitting next to Lattie, and having fun regardless of whether I make money or not. It was a good weekend because of the people who came out, and I greatly appreciate all of you.
Thank you for reading, it means a lot! My next adventure will be in Dallas next weekends at the Sci Fi Expo. I’ll be there again with my friends at Rad Comix. Not through any fault of anyone, We just decided at the last minute based on how much fun we had at this show that I would come along to Dallas. See you there!