A Day at a Comic Conference

Visual artists and writers spend a lot of solitary time immersed in creating their art. The need to connect with other artists and the public, face -to-face, has led to all kinds of creative gatherings to remedy the long hours of solitude. For comics artists, this means conventions, conferences, expos, and festivals celebrating the medium of sequential art. These gatherings can range from huge mega-conventions with tens of thousands of attendees to small intimate affairs of a couple of hundred. I attended one of the latter today, and as always with these things, large or small, there was a sense of belonging to a tribe.

Today started way too early, but with pleasurable anticipation of time to be spent in the company of fellow comics makers. My hubby, Ron, and I set off to Camosun College, where I had spent an incredible amount of time and energy during the school year of 2012/2013, learning to write and make comics in the comics program there. Picking up a friend (who is doing the follow-up mentorship program with me) on the way, we arrived at 9 — waaaaay too early in the morning for this night owl to be coherent, but the festive atmosphere, smiling faces, and the succulent carrot cake provided by one of the students woke me up nicely.

After moving tables around in the two classrooms reserved for our use (which at times was a bit of a comedy act, but we finally achieved order), we all staked out our territories. Besides the students from this year, there were several people from our class who showed up to help and even to have tables of their own — it was a wonderful reunion! Our tables were spread with the results of our work of the past year, and old and new students got acquainted and talked shop. There were professional artist/writer/publisher guests as well, and we had a couple of hours to mingle and talk with them before the public came in. I had set up the original artwork for my upcoming graphic novel and webcomic, as well as a lot of the background sketches, and got some great feedback on it.

Two of my friends chat in the background while our comics from last year repose in glory on the central table.

Two of my friends chat in the background while our comics that we made last year repose in glory on the central table.

I had not realized how closely scheduled my time would be after that — I headed for the dealers room, where the pros were set up, and methodically made my way around the whole room, talking and buying books. I had some great conversations, and now I have lots to read for the next little while!

All my little polymer clay children!

All my little polymer clay children! Spammy still hasn’t got his stripes, and a few other details, but I decided he was presentable enough to bring him.

After a brief trip back to my tables, where Ron was patiently guarding the artwork, I dropped into the auditorium to listen to a couple of the talks. But alas, i couldn’t stay, because I was slated to help run two hours of comic jams.

My sweet and ever-patient hubby sat the table most of the day while I ran around and bought comics, chatted up the guests, went to talks in the auditorium, and helped run a comics-making session.

My sweet and ever-patient hubby sat my display most of the day, when he wasn’t helping out the convention by running errands — while I ran around and bought comics, chatted up the guests, went to talks in the auditorium, and helped run a comics-making session.

And then it was over — so fast! I thought the day would drag because I was so tired, but there wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted to do! There was still shop to talk! Comics to buy! Friends old and new to chat with — which was satisfied when we all gathered afterwards in one of the common rooms for a chat and pizza. And now, I’m going to go curl up in bed with a few good comics…

2 responses to “A Day at a Comic Conference

  1. Thank you for all that most interesting information! I work at an Arts University, but how to do comics is not a part of the curriculum here. It is not “fine arts”, and therefore not taught.
    I took a glimpse on how you presented your comics at the convention – could you say a bit more about that? I saw a coloured piece, but also some black and white drawings.

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  2. Hi Ulla — yes, the battle between “fine art” and “client-based art” goes on — in my opinion it’s an entirely artificial division and should be done away with. Comics programs are springing up in colleges and universities everywhere, as well as animation programs. It has to be a multi-disciplinary approach, because the creating of comics requires not only all the skills of fine art, it also involves writing, communication, and research skills.

    Your question about presentation gives me an idea for a blog post — I’ve been doing shows of various kinds for many years, and would love to pass along what I’ve learned (I wish I had found a how-to book on that myself all those years ago!). So stay tuned — I’ll have that put together later this week!

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