The comic book industry isn’t an easy one to break into, nor is it an easy one to stay and make a successful career in. As part of #MakeComics week, Comicosity reached out to creators working in the industry today for wisdom about breaking in and surviving the world of comics. We posed a question to them that we have seen asked a thousand times online, and these “pro tips” are priceless for would-be pros and pros alike. The question we posed:
Any tips for other creators with respect to surviving and thriving during Con Season?
Writer of The Invisible Republic, Star Wars Legacy, Once Upon A Time: Out of the Past
Be honest with your editors. They are probably at the cons too, and know what it’s like, so if you pin down your con schedule early you can try to work around it. Despite trying to do this, I still always end up working in my hotel room anyway. But this can be an advantage since cons are so intense and I’m a pretty quiet person. I use the solitary writing time to recharge a little, to have a snack and to drink a lot of water. I usually feel better afterwards than if I had just spent every moment being social. It’s not an ideal break from the craziness of con weekends, but if I approach it calmly instead of in a panic it helps me keep my equilibrium.
Artist of Roche Limit, Thumbprint, X-Files: Year Zero
As someone who has worked on a page during a convention panel, unfortunately not. I only do 2 or 3 cons a year and they always throw a wrench into my work schedule. They’re incredibly fun, but you always end up getting a cold afterwards despite swimming in hand sanitizer the entire weekend.
I guess if I had to give some advice, it would be to plan ahead and try to get between projects or issues, or build a little bit of a buffer before heading off.
Writer of Bandette, Colder, I Am The Cat, Plants vs. Zombies
Oh, wow. That’s a hard one. Best I have is, “Work Hard, Make Time For Friends, and Worry About Recovery Later.” And then I have follow-up advice of, “Just Kidding. You Will Never Recover.”
Writer of The Tithe, Aphrodite IX, Think Tank, The Test – President/COO Top Cow
I wrote a long blog post about this: http://matttalks.com/2016/03/convention-tips/
Writer of Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers, Darth Vader
Just know your workload and know your workrate. And don’t confuse your maximum workrate with your normal workrate. Most artists have the “I did an issue in a week/two-weeks” story. There’s a tendency to think that just because they can do it once, they can pull it off any time. This simply isn’t true.
Same is true for writers, of course, but it’s harder to tell. Or rather, it’s harder to tell until it’s too late.
When scheduling, I would say that it would be best to assume you only work a half-week following it. Call that the con-crud tax.
Writer of Green Lantern, The Flash, X-O Manowar, The Homeland Directive, The Surrogates
I save things like revisions and email interviews for plane rides and slow periods at conventions. The kind of work you can divide up into small chunks, which I can’t really do when I’m generating new material. To do that effectively, I need much longer stretches.
Writer of A-Force, Jem And The Holograms, Heart In A Box
I think I have to abstain here as I have yet to really get involved in Cons, though 2017 looks to be my big year of trying to integrate cons into my life. Maaaaybe one in 2016 depending on how the year goes. Although, is there such a thing as “Con Season” any more? It definitely feels constant and unrelenting to me!
Writer of Black Science, Tokyo Ghost, Deadly Class, Uncanny X-Force
The most I do in any year is five and even that’ll kill me pretty good. It causes my life to become a hectic nightmare afterwards as I’m constantly catching up with work from the time I lost at the shows, which in the end are also a lot like work. When you’re climbing the ladder and making connections they’re pretty mandatory, but once you get the work, once you find an in someplace you belong and you can make comic books I say unplug, scale back to a couple year or so. Much more than that you won’t be making your best comic books you’ll be a networking politician PR machine, and who wants that bullshit?
Writer/artist of Lady Killer, Helheim, Mockingbird
If I knew I’d tell you. I have zero idea how to get through it myself. The only trick I know is look forward to the little things, a good breakfast in the morning and a relaxing drink at night.
Writer of Princeless, My Little Pony
A lot of people use cons as a chance to make money off of prints of other people’s property. There have been a lot of indications of late that some of these larger companies are looking to put a stop to this. My advice for people going into comics now would be to make things that you own. If your entire artistic career could be shut down by Disney or Warner Brothers dropping a Cease and Desist letter on your table, you’re putting yourself in a bad situation.
Writer of The Sixth Gun, Sinestro, Uncanny X-Men, Harrow County
Just make sure that you’re keeping your work schedule in mind. It is extremely difficult for me to work while I’m away at a convention. Even folks who are more productive at shows than I am are going to have to sacrifice some of the time they spend actually producing work. Don;t fall into the trap of thinking that going to conventions IS the job. It’s part of the job, but there’s no point in going if it means you don’t have time to work.
Writer of The Tomorrows, Mayday, The Fiction
Don’t overcommit to cons. Don’t treat other creators as stepping stones to jobs. Cons can be crowded and exhausting, go the extra mile to be kind + patient to others.
Colourist of Bitch Planet, DC Bombshells, Black Hood
Suggestion #1: Bathe yourself in hand sanitizer. Suggestion #2: Pace yourself if you are going out at night. I tend to only go out the Sat/ Sun of the convention and try and organize dinners for Thurs/ Fri. Know your limits.
Writer of Transformers, Toil & Trouble
Factor in Con time in your schedule before you go. Everyone’s had that moment where they think they can leave the floor and write ten good pages that night, but you just can’t. Cons are draining and it’s very hard to work well at a convention, so front-load what you can beforehand. You want to be at parties making new connections after-hours, not in your hotel room writing. Also, never leave a party without meeting three people you didn’t know when you walked in.
Writer of Further Travels of Wyatt Earp, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors – letterer for Marvel
Be responsible. I don’t do many conventions, but when I do, I try to work ahead as far as possible. And I’m not really much of a partier, so I’m no stranger to going back home or to my hotel room and working for a couple of hours before bed. Partying is for people who don’t have deadlines, haha.
Colourist of Semiautomagic, Escape From New York
Con season happens every year at the same time. It isn’t a surprise. Don’t over pack your schedule for con season. Pre con prep takes 1-2 days. Post con email takes 1-2. Move all deadlines you can before the con. Expect your plane to bounce you around the country for 24-48 hours.
Valentine De Landro
Artist of Bitch Planet, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Adventures of Superman
It takes planning. I think that you have to recognize your limits and prioritize which conventions you attend. Strategize your purpose and what you need to do to accomplish your goals.
Writer of Green Lanterns, Star-Lord, Weirdworld
Yeah, do less cons. I think that’s good advice for, like, 75% of the pros I see out there.
Writer/artist of Guarding The Globe, Green Hornet, Wonder Woman
Know your limits. I usually take work to cons, just to make myself feel like I’m still on the clock, even if I never touch it. You are on the clock, even when you’re away from the studio. Cons are business affairs, not parties. Have fun, but never forget you are at work.
Writer of The Red Ten, Epic, Tears of the Dragon – publisher of ComixTribe
Yes, cut back on your shows. Do less shows, but make them count. In fact I’d recommend cutting your one or two least profitable shows and instead, putting that same time into launching a Kickstarter for a new comic, sketchbook, print set, or passion project. Need help with the mindset, strategies, and tactics to successfully crowdfund? ComixLaunch.com has you covered.
Sean E. Williams
Co-founder of Comicker Digital, Writer of Fairest, Artful Daggers
Try to not schedule more than one convention a month, even if it’s a local show for you. If you’re exhibiting, it can take a week’s worth of time for prep (ordering supplies, booking tables, tickets, and hotel rooms, etc.) and a week of recovery (getting over Con Crud, doing your accounting, re-ordering supplies for the next con…), so you only really have two weeks left in the clear. That’s not a lot of time for work and family, especially on a regular basis.
Artist of Paper Girls, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow/Black Canary
Conventions will eat up your time, there’s no way around it. The best way to avoid disrupting your schedule is to start working your ass off a month before the show. And you’re going to need a week after the show to recover and get back up to speed. Cons can be worth it — for the camaraderie, networking, and connecting with your audience — but often it’s better to stay home and get the work done.
Writer/artist of Superman, Booster Gold, Batman Beyond, New 52: Futures End
I don’t even think of it as Convention Season anymore because we now have so many Cons and they’re so spread out through the year, that “season” seems a bit inadequate.
I’ve always looked at this way: The book has to come first. Con appearances are secondary.
Artist of Jem And The Holograms covers, Princeless Anthology
Prepare early! Create a merchandise plan as early as possible so you have ample time to order and ship things. I have finished merchandise assets months in advance to have them ready for cons, because there’s nothing worse than trying to figure it all out 2 weeks before you’re supposed to fly out. Try to cram as much work into the weeks before the con so you aren’t rushing back to your hotel room to hit deadlines, and be kind to yourself: take at least a few days after you return home to decompress and recover from the stress of being social for an entire weekend.
Alex de Campi
Writer of No Mercy, Grindhouse: Doors Open After Midnight, Valentine
This is a vey different question for writers and artists. For artists, conventions should be money-makers. For writers, they’re purely networking opportunities. Pick your battles, newbie writers: SDCC is huge, overwhelming and incredibly expensive, and many young writers would be better off going to ECCC or NYCC instead for networking. I network at NYCC and then only go to other conventions that invite me out / pay my full way as a guest.
Writer of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Halcyon – producer of Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow
Gosh, I’m the wrong person to ask because I go to three conventions a year TOPS. Hand sanitizer is key. Not over-scheduling is key. In the case of over-scheduling, remembering that everyone does it and plans falling through — “Forget it, Jake. It’s Comic-Con.” — helps. There’s enough stress involved. I also try very hard not to make plans with people who are based in Los Angeles. That’s just silly. Why not see them under less hectic circumstances?
Writer of Southern Dog, Art Monster, After Houdini
Go to as many conventions as your budget will allow. I recommend ECCC, HeroesCon, NYCC, C2E2, and Baltimore Comic Con. Outside of the convention, be present at after hour parties, dress nice, and have plenty of business cards on hand. Don’t worry about pitching your book in person. Just make a good first impression and if you can exchange business cards, follow up a week later with your pitch in a neat PDF.
Also, take the time to walk around Artists Alley to connect with future collaborators. As important as it is to interact with editors in person, it’s equally as important to interact with artists in person. Making a good first impression with artists will help ensure that you have future projects in development.
Writer of The Skeptics, Power Rangers: Pink, Barbie, Magdalena
As a writer, I can’t really make bank at cons the way artists can with commissions. So when I attend a convention, I make sure to make it a real business trip and make it worth my while. I set up meetings with editors and collaborators, do panels to reach new audiences, and if nothing else? Walk the Artist Alley floor to expose yourself to new artists and new work.
Writer/artist of I Hate Fairyland, Rocket Raccoon, countless Marvel variant covers
That’s a pretty tough question. Cons can bring in good money but it every 3 day con usually costs you 5-6 days or more of work. When you’re trying to keep a monthly schedule, that starts to eat that time up very fast. It’s a tough balance but I try to make the books my priority. I can always go to next years con, or even next months, but that book is due now and will be around forever… hopefully.
Writer of Pawn Shop, Footprints, Captain Ultimate
The work has to come first. I’ve cut back on shows the last couple of years. It’s more important to me to create a bigger and better body of work than it is to shill my old stuff. It’s important to attend conventions and be a present part of the comics community, for sure, particularly for meeting people and networking and all of that, but you have to weigh your options. For example, as a writer without any ‘mainstream’ sway, I don’t clean up tabling at a show. I might sell some trades, a floppy or two, and some related merch if I have it, but it’s typically more about being there to sign stuff, be on panels, and hang out with friends I only ever see at conventions. So I could do a show and make anywhere between $50 and $500 for 2-3 days, but after expenses — especially if the show isn’t paying for you to be there or at least comping you a table — you’re left with chump change, if anything at all. So is that worth more than finishing a script for a new project or final edits on your new book about to go to print? I say no.
Writer/artist of Titan
Find the shows you really enjoy and do those… Skip the ones that you find drain your energy. You don’t have to do everything.
Ryan K. Lindsay
Writer of Negative Space, Chum, Deer Editor
Make friends and meet up with them on tour. Make the convention a place to laugh, to connect, to enjoy. No one wants to buy from the sad clown in the corner, and you don’t want to feel that way.
I love catching up with people, riding the vibe, and genuinely chatting with those who stop by. It’s an energising connection, despite it also draining you by the end of the weekend.
Besides that, coffee. Just pound that coffee like it owes you money.
Artist of Jem And The Holograms, Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
My ‘be friendly and make friends’ advice applies here too. That’s the main thing conventions are good for, making new friends and new contacts and networking. Making money at my table selling stuff is always secondary. I don’t have any tips about juggling conventions and work, not to mention the post-con crash or getting sick after a show. I usually don’t get any work done in the two weeks surrounding a con.
Writer of Doctor Who, Vikings, Adventure Time
It’s a difficult balance, especially as it also hits around family holiday/vacations times.
I wish I had a clever answer, other than, for writers, have a good reliable laptop so you can take with you and work on planes and trains and in hotel rooms or maybe on the loo. OK, that last bit is probably a bit extreme, but you know what I mean. You have to be prepared to scrap together any spare time you can…
BUT make sure you also schedule in down time for you and yours too, otherwise its all too easy to burn out, which will only add to ongoing stress.
Writer of HIT, Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios
If a convention is going to negatively impact your ability to deliver great work and meet your deadline, DON’T GO. There are a ton of amazing things that only happen at shows, but guess what, there will always be more shows. You won’t always have another chance to work on the project you’re currently working on. Now, if you can strike the balance, then grab cons by the balls. Do it all. Meet with as many editors as possible and get in quality time with fellow creators. Get up early, stay out late, and be a part of as many moments as you can.
Writer of Doctor Who, Captain Britain MI:13, Action Comics, This Damned Band
Don’t treat it as being as important as the work. Your work will get you seen, you won’t vanish if you stay home.
Writer of Sons of Anarchy, Cluster, Sheltered, Comeback
It’s a tough one. As a writer, cons often lead to a loss in money and time. You’re stuck at a table all day selling $3 comics or $10-$15 trades. You can’t take on commissions and sell original art, like artists can. If you’re paying for a table, flight and hotel room, it can be really hard to recoup your cost.
It’s worth taking a step back and considering what you’re really getting out of each show. Some are better for meeting other creators and editors and some…not so much.
For me, I know I’m not getting any work done at a con, so I need to consider if it’s worth working longer hours before leaving for the con and after getting back.
Artist of The Fix, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Whiteout
Start getting things done well-ahead of time. Make a checklist of everything you’ll need several weeks before the con, and check things off as you do them.The last minute scramble to pack while making a deadline adds too much stress to an already tough gig.
Writer/artist of Rust
Decide what you want to be doing; creating a single piece of art or commission for a fan, or a book for a fan base. Cons are super important for networking and getting exposure and sometimes even making money. But I feel like I see a lot of artists get caught in the trap of just wanting to float from show to show and they never actual get to creating content. I love connecting with fans and doing sketches but I have to focus on my priority, which is writing and drawing a book. For that reason I try to limit my show attendance. I’ll definitely hit more when Volume 4 is out 🙂
Writer of Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters, The Burning Fields
Well, I think this is a philosophical difference I have with most creators, so I’m not the best person to ask. Many creators–and rightfully so–put a lot of stock in networking, especially with editors. And, believe me, that’s a completely worthwhile investment of time. I’m a pretty private and personal person, so network isn’t something excel at (though I wish I did). I spent much more time working–writing, reading, and studying the craft. I feel like my work says everything about me that needs to be said, more or less. i’m probably wrong, haha, but that’s me. So, if you’re like me, then don’t feel pressured to put yourself into situations you’re not comfortable with. Do your work, stay dedicated, and get better.
Writer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strange Nation, Orc Girl
I’m not great at cons from a networking and business standpoint — it’s something I’m working on. But I would just say, try to be genuine. Treat conversations like conversations, not like networking opportunities. It’s okay to end a conversation with an editor *without* telling them you’d like to work for them. They know, and follow-up e-mails are a better time to hit that point. Also, don’t be afraid to take a break from the con floor. Pack Advil and Immodium AD (hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll thank me). Also, stay hydrated — way more hydrated than you think you should.
Writer of The Fuse, The Coldest City, Umbral
In terms of workload, I wish I knew myself. I’ve never been able to work at cons, and living in England means US cons require an extra 1-2 days either side of travel time. So a 3-day con is actually a week when I’m not working.
But that also leads into my main con advice; enjoy yourself, hang out with friends, and relax. FOMO is always strong at conventions, but young creators would be surprised how many “must-attend” semi-official parties are deathly dull, full of middle-aged creators like me getting drunk and bitching about life. Trust me, if you’re just chilling and having fun with a half dozen friends in a bar somewhere, you’re having a better time than many.
Artist of Titans, The Flash, Nightwing
Simple, don’t go to a bunch. Comics is your job, they take priority, so the answer is simple, few shows. I do like 3 a year a few months apart. Nice little breaks to see friends and fans!
Writer of Narcopolis: Continuum
Attending cons is a great way to potentially get noticed and take your career to the next level, whether or not you’re tabling, and I’d recommend trying to make it out to at least a couple shows per year so long as it’s in your budget. The opportunities to interface with the comics community, ask questions, and allow editors a chance to get to know you are all good reasons to make the effort. The work, however, should be priority number one. Most pros should know that and respect their deadlines so that they’re not taking time out of their schedule to attend cons if it means blowing a deadline. It should go without saying that managing your time is key to achieving success in any creative field.
The best tips I could give if your goal is to form relationships with publishers is to introduce yourself and not come on too strong. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know you’re interested in breaking in or are trying to get paid work in comics, but be mindful of their time as conventions are crazy busy. If you come away with an email or a means to send over samples (if requested) then that’s a major win but keep your expectations in check because you shouldn’t expect more than that in most cases. Also, find out which bars the comic pros hang out after hours as that’s when you’re likely to do the best networking.
Fred Van Lente
Writer of Archer & Armstrong, Conan, Incredible Hercules
When you’re first starting out in particular, and in general, avoid cons if you don’t have anything new. Economics 101 is that it’s easier to sell something new to an old customer than make a new customer. If people already have everything that’s at your table, you could be taking a loss by going.
Writer of Vampirella, Sunglasses After Dark
As a writer, I don’t do a lot of conventions unless they bring me in and put me up, since I can’t generate income by drawing sketches and the like. All I can suggest is try and keep your overhead as low as possible, and keep an eye on your shipping costs.
Artist of The Futurists, Captain America
When you are just starting out, conventions are indispensable in building relationships with fans, peers, retailers, and industry insiders. They are also a nice way to supplement your income and to learn from experienced pros. My advice is to take a broad view of your year ahead and pace yourself accordingly. If you are already accepting offers for work from major publishers, It may be best to honor those commitments first and foremost. Personally, I am looking to amp up my convention schedule over the coming year to connect with fans and promote my upcoming “Futurists” project. I’m kinda dreading the hectic schedule, but making the case for my book to a few thousand more fans could mean the difference between failure and success.
Everyone has a different approach at cons, but if you are setting up at a convention as a professional I think it’s important to present as such. Have business cards ready to hand out and promote your work clearly and legibly with a banner stand and nice table cloth. Don’t go overboard.
Writer of Resident Alien, Durham Red, Terra Obscura
Pace yourself. This stuff can be incredibly stressful, so you might as well accept that upfront. Some of your workload is probably going to get delayed, no matter what you do. If you can be honest about that with editors in advance, they MIGHT cut you some slack over it.
As far as the cons themselves go, the first question is : do you really need to go ? I try to restrict myself to a couple of cons a year, because I find them quite draining even when they’re enjoyable (and not all of them are). Go to too few, and people forget you exist, too many and the work suffers. Also, I find you enjoy cons best if you go with absolutely no expectations at all – which is hard to achieve, but that way at least you can’t be disappointed, and anything good that comes out of it is a bonus.
Writer of Cryptocracy, The Flash, The Leg
Don’t do too many cons. You can make a little money, but don’t forget the out of pocket costs (traveling, food, etc.) or the opportunity costs. Time at a con is time you aren’t writing or drawing, which is your real money-maker. Also: Con crud is real. Bring hand sanitizer, and use it constantly.
Writer/artist of Multiple Warheads, King City, Prophet, Island
I have yet to really figure that out myself. It might just be the kind of thing that’s a trade off.
Artist of Genesis, Creepy, Shadows (In The Dark)
I really don’t know.. it helped me this time at ECCC, though, to be in a place with a kitchen- breakfast, food in the fridge for a late dinner, packed lunches, chickens in the garden and a place away from the con to recharge and see the city. Also, next time I’ll be taking a rubber floor mat if the con is longer than a day.
Writer/artist of Nightwing, Hack/Slash, Revival, Grayson, Batman Eternal
Do ’em when you’re young! Seriously, it gets harder as you get to be in your 30s and 40s, with family and work obligations, but you can get away with a lot of con travel in your 20s. The first year I was worked full time in comics I did a con or two a month. I was 24. I had a blast and most of the pros I work with and hang out with to this day were met that first year, or not long after.
Writer of Atomic Robo, 8-Bit Theater
Man, you should talk to Jim Zubkavich about that. Me? I do at most four conventions a year and they destroy my schedule for what seems like the whole month but is probably only localized to the week before and after. They’ve never made me miss a deadline, but they’ve given me some headaches.
Writer/artist of Wuvable Oaf
I work predominately on a Cintiq screen, so it’s very difficult for me to draw and travel at the same time. I would say I’m just more realistic about workload in the spring/summer. I don’t take on as much work, or I try to finish up ongoing projects in advance of conventions. No flashy advice here; just know your limitations and plan a reasonable, responsible work schedule.
Artist of Lazarus, Gotham Central, Daredevil
Convention Season is not something I concern myself with. Getting my pages drawn is always my first priority. There’s no point in going to a con to promote a book that isn’t finished. As I said, it’s better to say “no” and hit your deadlines than to say “yes” and always be late.
Adam P. Knave
Writer of Amelia Cole, Artful Daggers, Never Ending
Take care of yourself physically! Bring lots of water and snacks to any convention. Keep your body running, rested and hydrated. You don’t have to hang out late, get some sleep. Keeping yourself healthy and happy will allow you to return to your workload much smoother. Also they don’t give out awards for killing yourself at a con. It’s never worth it.
Writer of Aquaman, Titans, Guardians Of The Galaxy
Work comes first, cons second. If you attend a con that clashes with a deadline, get the job done early before you go or talk to your editor WELL IN ADVANCE to see if you can run long. It’s pretty simple, really.
Writer/artist of Baggywrinkles, Grand Adventure
I’ve actually been more efficient ever since I started giving myself more time off between shows. When I was structuring my schedule assuming that I’d be back at the drawing table bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by Monday morning, I was stressed out and perpetually behind. Now I’m more realistic about what travel does to me. I try to take three days after a show to regroup, take care of house chores, clear my Inbox, and get rested. This also can help stave off con crud, whereas rushing straight back into a stressful schedule can give germs time to pounce. I’d also suggest that you don’t always have to do EVERY SINGLE SHOW. My first couple years I had a crazy schedule because I was keen to figure out what shows worked best for me, but in the years that followed—especially in years when I didn’t have a big new project to promote—I chose to attend only regional or otherwise convenient cons. It’s perfectly reasonable to take an on/off yearly schedule for tabling. Go hard when you have something to share, but don’t run yourself ragged when it’s not contributing to your creative practice.
Writer of Copperhead, Secret Identities, Near Death, Generation X
I don’t do a lot of cons, so there are other creators who will have much better advice on this front than I do. But sometimes you may have to go back to your room at night and work, instead of hanging out with your friends. Or, you may have to do a LOT of work before the con (on weekends, nights, etc.) so you’re able to take time off to hang with friends at the con. Just know your limits and what you’re capable of so the work doesn’t slip. Also — take care of yourself at the con. Lots of hand sanitizer. I use throat lozenges a lot too, since I end up having to raise my voice to be heard over the rumble of the con crowd. The worst thing is to get laid up with “con crud” after a con.
Writer/artist of Pop Gun War, The Wrenchies, It Will All Hurt
Don’t drink. Don’t take personally all the weird things people will say to you. Charge as much as you feel like for sketches. Don’t do conventions if you can help it.
Writer of Death Head
Take your vitamins and don’t overbook yourself. Conventions are a germ-filled marathon of faces and places that can quickly wear you out. I usually book only a few meetings, time to peruse the floor each day, and then the afternoon and evening to just hang out and enjoy the company of people you rarely get to see. You’ve worked all year leading up to this convention — go have a cold drink by the pool.
Mark Alan Miller
Writer of Hellraiser, Next Testament, The Steam Man
Sometimes apathy can be your friend. It’s great to be motivated and ambitious, but if you’re doing it at the cost of your sanity or your health, you’re not going to be helping anyone, least of all yourself. So sometimes it’s okay to take some time to just do something silly. Turn the brain off on occasion. It’s the only way I’ve managed to survive this long.
Writer/artist of Neat Stuff, Hate, Reset
Conventions are just one more job, only they involve travel. Eat your greens, get a good night’s sleep, and you’ll be fine.
Writer of D4VE, Hot Damn, Kennel Block Blues, Curb Stomp
It goes without saying that it’s a big no-no to miss deadlines in favor of attending a con. There are a lot of creators that I’ve seen working on jobs during a con, or skipping the social stuff after to tackle deadlines in hotel rooms. Bottom line, cons aren’t a vacation from your work—you have to make up for that lost time.
Secondly, it always helps to lower expectations. Seldom will you land a new gig or get a greenlight on a pitch at a con, and sometimes you may not sell. It can be out of your control. Try to be positive about the atmosphere, the people, and the peers you get to meet. Cons can be a great opportunity to step back and appreciate the work of others, and to celebrate your own accomplishments.
Writer of The Spider, Black Panther: Man Without Fear, Sherlock Holmes
Set up meetings ahead of time. Try to plan ahead as best you can. Set goals. Also, combine work time and social time. If you make friends with people in the industry and hang out with them, you’ll make connections, get great advice, and land new projects.
Writer of Thunderbolts, Skullkickers, Wayward, Figment
If at all possible, ramp up your work schedule incrementally as you head toward a convention rather than trying to cram it all in at once right before you travel (easier said than done, I know). Assume that you won’t be able to work on the plane or work at the hotel but if it happens consider it a bonus.
Those large group dinners with a dozen friends/creators sound like a great idea but, unless you have reservations set up well in advance and like herding cats, expect that it’ll probably be more hassle than it’s worth. Grab a meal with a couple close friends and then meet up with people after dinner for drinks/social time. If you’re feeling particularly burnt out on the social scene, maybe a quiet one-on-one dinner or even some solo time and room service is the solution to recharging your batteries before diving back in to the big group hangout.
Writer/artist of Mind MGMT, Dept. H, Ninjak, Revolver
There’s really no tricks. You just have to work harder — double up the work load that you normally do but do it before the convention — ’cause afterwards you’re going to be exhausted. Plan on at least 2 or 3 days of recovery after a show. It’s really hard to dive right back into work after a long con weekend.
Writer of Harley Quinn, Starfire, The Big Con Job, All-Star Western
Yes, simply do not do cons when you have work due. Make sure the deadlines come first. As well, do not post art you did at a convention when you owe an editor a book. That will get you fired or replaced quickly. Use some common sense and let your editors and companies know your convention schedule in advance. Also, do not over book and remember, a con will treat you better if you let them know upfront what your needs are, if they agree, get it in writing.