We didn’t make it to SDCC this year, in fact none of our contributor’s have made it there, yet. So as it wound down this year we reached out to a few people who we knew had attended and asked if they could share their experiences with us.
So without further ado I give the spotlight over to our Guest Contributor “Anna Marie”
Enjoy! – Chuck (the editor monkey)
This year’s massive convention, known to those in the know as Comic Con, happened to be my first. Many people told me that my attendance at 7 of the past New York Comic Cons (as both a guest and exhibitor) would prepare me. They were half right.
The sheer enormity of the convention is indescribable. There are seas of people moving like multi-colored, multi-scented masses through corridors large enough to park an F-18. This is not a convention for the claustrophobic or agoraphobic. In fact, I think Comic Con should run a disclaimer like pharmaceutical commercials on their website. “Please do not attend Comic Con if you’re afraid of zombies, have PTSD, a fear of clowns and people who smell like bologna and diet coke.” It may help.
Unlike NYCC, I spent more than 50% of my time in panels at SDCC. Some were incredibly informative. Others were a complete and utter waste of time. I took a plethora of notes, which I’ve forwarded on to several colleagues for their analysis. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version.
First off, I didn’t go to ANY panels in Hall H. For those of you not in the know, Hall H is a large auditorium where they have many of the big announcements. The Captain America Winter Soldier panel, the DC Batman vs. Superman (or World’s Finest, as I’m calling it) was in Hall H. You get the point. What they don’t tell you is that in order to GET INTO one of these panels, you literally have to camp out overnight in line, and then wait another 4 or 5 hours to see if you can actually get in. So there’s an entire day (or more) of the convention spent waiting in line. I’m sure it’s fun. It was fun when I waited in line all night for the release of Pearl Jam’s Vs. album, but I was a younger woman, then, and the thought of sleeping in line in my mid 30s didn’t sit well.
Now to the panels I did attend. I’ll start with the bad news: According to more than one set of editors, if you’re trying to break into comics, you should attend what is lovingly called “Bar Con.” If you’re unfamiliar with how to hustle at a con, Bar Con is the party after the convention that usually takes place in one of several hotel bars. Comic book hopefuls looking to pitch their ideas approach editors, and the price is, you guessed it, buying the editor a drink. I’ll be honest this disgusted me. It seemed like a bunch of egocentric, self-important asses trying to keep their blood alcohol high to get through the harrowing experience of having to talk to young and new creators.
Another gem of the panel scene was the “Women of Marvel” panel. Now, aside from Louise Simonson and a young colorist, whom I have to admit not even hearing her name correctly, the other women on the panel were an editor, the woman who basically runs the AR (augmented reality) part of Marvel’s interactive online magic, and a woman from Marvel’s licensing and marketing department. This panel was insulting. At one point I nearly had a “youtube” moment when the southern belle who works in marketing actually said, “If y’all wanna work at Marvel, you don’t have to just be a writer or artist. We got plenty of jobs. If you’re good at math, you can be an accountant, or work in the legal department, or in marketing, like me!” In my mind, I stood up and shouted, “B*tch no one here wants to be a f*cking accountant!” I restrained myself and my mother is proud of me.
I’ll end my panel dissection of this one with this one last nugget of wisdom from Jeanine Schaefer, editor of X-Men. During the Q&A, a young woman approached the microphone and said, “I’ve been to panels all weekend and heard about all the sexism that’s rampant in this industry. You all claim that you haven’t experienced any for yourself. That’s great for you. But what do you say to the women who have and who struggle with wanting to give up?” Jeanine Schaefer leaned into the mic and said, “Just be stronger.” Wow. Had I been Kate Bishop, she would have a suction cup arrow sticking out of her forehead.
Now, onto a good panel: I attended “Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way.” Sam Humphries, Mark Brooks, Axel Alonso and C.B. Cebulski were on this one. It was your standard, “this is how I got into comics,” spiel, but then there was something Sam said that really stuck. “Two years ago, I was sitting on the other side of this table, in the audience like you. I wanted to write for Marvel, but didn’t know how to get in. I listened to what Axel said and, guess what? I’m here now. So the system does work.” The “system” Sam is talking about is this, “If you want to be IN comics, then PUT YOURSELF in comics.” In laymen’s terms: Don’t go to an editor with a script, even if you’re a writer. That’s the worst way to get in front of an editor. Put your money (and time, and blood, and sweat, and tears, and life) where your mouth is, and MAKE the comic. Then approach an editor and say, “here’s a sample of my work. I produced this comic myself. Please give it a look and, if you have time, let me know your thoughts.” Axel doesn’t want people to hand him a Cap script. He already has someone writing Cap. He wants to see what you can do with no boundaries. That’s what Sam Humphries did, and it worked. It may not work for you, but it’s actual, solid advice. I also heard this echoed in panels with IDW’s editorial team, as well as with the head of Valiant.
My one last gripe (yes, I’m a Negative Nancy) is the “infighting” between “real nerds” and “fake nerds.” Look, does it really matter how someone got interested in a character? So what if someone thinks Chris Evans is hot? If she wants to start reading comics because of it, I’ll suggest Steranko’s run, or Brubaker. That “fake nerd guy or girl” vs. the “real nerd guy or girl” crap has got to end. It’s annoying as hell, and all it’s doing is making the environment uncomfortable, INCLUDING the people who have been nerds their whole lives, i.e. ME!
So, yeah, in conclusion, everyone (if you don’t have a medical condition showcased in the aforementioned “fair balance”) should experience SDCC. It’s expensive and a complete circus, but at least you can say that you’ve done it. It’s like skydiving (and no less death-defying): It’s a bragging right. And if you’re one of those, “I’m a real nerd,” and you don’t attend SDCC, you’ve got no cred. So take that!
– Anna Marie is a writer, artist and all around Negative Nancy. Her sarcasm is what keeps her warm at night, coupled with the afghan blanket her mother knitted for her, and the body heat she siphons from her husband.
A message from Chuck (the editor monkey):
So there you have it one woman’s view of the craziness that is SDCC. We here at What’cha Reading would like to thank “Anna Marie” for taking the time to share her experiences.
Did you attend SDCC? Got an opinion about it? Let’s hear it in the comments people!