Tag Archives: Conventions

5 Tips For Setting Up At Your First Comic Convention

Ten years ago I set up a large banner, held up by a homemade stand that itself was only upright because physics couldn’t bear to look at it. The banner itself had the name of my first comic accompanied by 90% white space and a tiny figure of the main character inexplicably peering in from one side.

nycc-2013I have not seen a more horrible banner since.

My table itself had copies of our one issue, more empty space, and a folder of sketches I had done of characters owned by Marvel or DC.

But, man, was I excited to be on the other side of the table.

In the decade since I’ve made a lot more mistakes and still in many ways am trying to figure out what works best in the crazy alternate universe of comic conventions. What little wisdom and successes I’ve achieved is definitely built on a foundation of failure. Which isn’t a bad thing.

With all that said, here are some things I’ve learned that might help you if you’re getting ready to embark on your freshmen year of peddling your comic wares. So here’s 5 tips for setting up at your first comic convention. For those more experienced, feel free to add your own wisdom to the list.

Design a banner that is meant to be sat in front of – Remember you’re going to be blocking the bottom half of the image. All that cool stuff isn’t going to be seen by most people, so keep the eye-catching important stuff up top.

Don’t be a used car salesman – If you’re going to be serious about comics, self-publishing or otherwise, it’s a long-term commitment to be successful. Meaning, you’ll have to see all these people again. And again. And again. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll network and make friends and connections. So avoid all the gimmicky, flashy, loud stuff that tries to get attendees attention from a mile away. Also, don’t call me “Bri-guy.”

Have change ready – Seriously, I always forget this and have to try and find change on the fly from table neighbors. Have enough ones and fives and tens to actually sell the things you’re trying to sell. You know, like a business.

Have a variety of things available – At the very least have your book, prints, and original art. From my experience it seems a shows tends to fall into one of these three categories as far as sales go. And it can vary from year to year. So be ready. I’ve had shows where I’ve barely had a commission but prints bailed me out of it being a complete bust.

Say “hi” to people who stop and look at your stuff – I can’t believe I actually have to give this advice, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at an artist’s work and never been acknowledged as standing right in front of them.  It’s just common courtesy for people who are human beings when approached by other human beings.

There’s probably a hundred other things I could list, but that’s enough to get you started. Hope this helps and see you at the con!

Con Debriefing: Charticon

This weekend was my first experience with a Transformers convention. Charticon was a two day show in Charlotte, NC and what a blast! It also helps that I’m a fan of Transformers in addition to doing work on the comic. I spent three hours in crazy traffic and barely got there for the panel I was supposed to do entitled “How to Draw Transformers.” When I walked in I was surprised to find the room pretty much full:


I was given a computer and tablet to do demonstrations, which I thought was going to be really awkward since I’m not that great at drawing with a tablet. But I did better than I thought I would. My studiomate John “waki” Wycough was beside me and IDW Transformers penciler Brenden Cahill came to help add more insight into the process. Here I am trying to figure out if I can pull off drawing on the computer:


As it turns out, I could.


At the end I did a couple head sketches in ball point pen for a few people.


The rest of the show was pretty good. I did quite a few head sketches over the weekend, but only managed to take pictures of a handful.

charticon1 charticon2 charticon3 charticon4

Overall a great show and a fun  time hanging out with other IDW creators and fans. I’m looking forward to more TF shows. I really want to do Botcon now.

NC Comicon

I’ll be at the North Carolina Comicon at the Durham Convention Center this weekend (Nov 17-18) with the rest of the Tsunami Studios crew.

I’ll have original art from books I’ve worked on including Transformers, Doctor Who, and GI Joe. I’ll also be doing commissions and have a few other odds and ends – including a lot of the sketches and warm ups I’ve done here.

Hope to see you there!


My Interview at NYCC

I was interviewed by Project Landmine at NYCC. This must have been Saturday or Sunday of the show. This is the first show that I never once ventured out into the dealer area. Primarily because the way the show was set up, artist alley was in a separate wing of the convention center. But really, I kept hearing how crowded the dealer floor was and wouldn’t have been able to just stroll through looking at things.

The artist alley area was the newest part of the Javits center and we had the rare luxury of cell phone coverage in the building. Also, the bathrooms smelled like spearmint.

SDCC Journal: Day 2

FRIDAY (I think. Is it Friday?)

I woke up with sore legs. Three months of no running makes Brian out of shape. Breakfast at the same place as yesterday where I was seated at a table in the neutral zone (i.e. where two serves thought the table belonged to the other.) so I sat there, invisible. Eventually I was waited on.

Full of eggs and ham I still felt horrible and had to lay down in the car for a nap. I say nap, but it was more like 30 to 40 minutes of non-existence. But it did the trick.

The con is way more spread out throughout downtown it seems. And, it seems that there are more people here than before. There’s just nowhere you can go where you’re not in a crowd.

Except the glorious Pro Lounge. Which took me 5 years to discover. I’m actually sitting IN A CHAIR! It’s like I’m rich…or a king…or at in a normal place.

I think the afternoon is going to consists of hanging around artist alley. Other than meeting someone for lunch, I don’t have anything major. None of the panels are appealing to me.

SDCC Journal: Preview Night and Day 1


I met up at Horton Plaza with Randy Green and Kelly Yates outside of The Great Khan Mongolian Grille. Given Randy’s fanaticism with the place (which may be justified, it’s good) it’s not surprising that I would run into them there. To kill time until badge pickup we went to see Spider-man, which reinforced my opinion that Tobey McGuire is the anti-spider-man.

After a very painless and quick trip through the pro badge pickup process (well done, SDCC) we made our way into the three hour Preview Night. SWEET MOSES IT WAS CROWDED. It was shoulder to shoulder with various lines for various con exclusives forming, twisting and winding on ad nauseum. It was too tightly pack to do anything but shuffle along like cattle and too stressful for me to enjoy anything. Fortunately, jet lag forced me to call it a night.


Up at 4am. My body’s on East Coast time. After driving in to San Diego I grabbed breakfast at The Broken Yoke, a diner that only took me 4 years of attending this show to find. I eventually ended up handing out post cards advertising my site and my art book to the attendees filing in to wait for the show to open. I handed out more than I thought I would (if you’re here as a result, I usually post art, except during cons. Hence all the photos.) I intended to put some on the freebie table, but apparently you can only do that if you’re an exhibitor. Which I’m not. Fail.

Spent the first half of the day attending panels which left me with the feeling that I need to work harder. In between them I stopped to say hi to Doug Tennapel and buy his latest book, CARDBOARD, which he says is his best. He’s also committed to drawing 400 pages this year and has done 200….which makes me feel like a slacker. If nothing else SDCC pushes me to quit wasting time,

My stomach thinks it 3:00 so I stopped at a pub for lunch. Once I rest my feet, I plunge back into the madness.

Convention Etiquette – How to (not) Sell Your Comic Book

So, you’ve got your comic all finished, printed, and ready to sell. You’ve spent years going to comic conventions as a fan and now you’re ready to be on the other side of the table, peddling your wares on your way to fame and fortune. Chances are you’ve got a table in the Small Press section (or Artist Alley, depending on the show,) your book and your banner. Now what?

My first comic convention was Heroescon in Charlotte, NC. We had a Small Press table way in the back of the hall and we were ready to sell, sell, SELL! We did that for a few years with a book called GravyBoy and did fairly well. I think we sold 100 books one year at that show — for an indie book in the back of a convention, that’s phenomenal.

However, we made our share of mistakes as we climbed the convention learning curve and witnessed others wrestling with their own peculiar brand of foibles. So how can you sell hundreds of books at conventions?

I really have no idea, we only did it that once (well, twice counting SDCC, but that’s another world entirely) and there were many more shows where we sold 50, 25 — or none — and came away tired with boxes full of books.

Well, maybe it’s not completely true to say I have no idea. GravyBoy has (if I do say so myself) a good hook. It was easy to sell because the pitch intrigued people. So I know that you need 1) a good hook (or pitch) and 2) a good story to back it up.

So, let’s assume you have the comic version of Citizen Kane and you’re sure people are going to be reading it well after your death. That is, if only you could get them to buy it. How do you rise above the din and stand out among so many other independent creators?

Okay, NOW I have no idea. But I can help you not become the bane of artist alley as you try to figure it out for yourself.


I was at a show once where the guy next to me came in acting like he was in between shifts at Willy’s Used Cars and selling watches on the corner of Broadway and 44th. The comic book community is small, and if you stick with it any length of time you’re going to keep running into the same creators over and over. So, try not to annoy the guys and girls who end up being your convention neighbors.

This particular creator’s tactic was as follows

– Make eye contact with everyone walking down the aisle, even if they’re nowhere near his table.

– Start yelling his sales pitch well before they reach his table.

– Pitch his book to people who walk up to my table.

– Keep laying on the used car dealer talk as they walk away.

The last one is what began to wear on me since people wanted to simply get away from him as fast as possible, which meant they were not stopping at anyone else’s tables, including mine.

Also, in the middle of all this he kept calling me “Bri-guy.”

Look, I get it. I know you’ve got to get people’s attention. But even when I walk around the convention halls now I have a tendency to keep my eye out for the used car salesmans and avoid their aisles altogether. Don’t be that guy.


Yes, you’re very talented. Thanks for sharing it with us.

People out on the show floor with booths can get away with a lot of noise. Back in the tables, however, it overpowers everything else and the other artists will give you the evil eye as they collectively try to light your head on fire with their stares.

We did a contest when we first started and it was loud. To everyone that was within earshot of it, I’m sorry. Please don’t set my head on fire.

I guess ultimately what I’m trying to say here is be considerate of those around you.  Try to be personable, give the pitch to those who are interested, and avoid gimmicks.  If your book is good you won’t need them and in the long run it’s better to build solid relationships with those in the trenches with you.  Don’t try to drown everyone else out.


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Red Sonja sketch card

I did an impromptu artcast yesterday afternoon and finished up this Red Sonja card.  You can watch the process from pencils to finished color on the archived video.

I just want to plug the Virginia Comicon winter show one more time.  It’s this Sunday, Feb 28th in Richmond.

I’ll be up with the guys from Tsunami Studios.  It’s a fantastic show, you won’t regret going.

Virginia Comicon, Richmond VA. Feb 28th

Sunday, Feb. 28 I’ll be in Richmond, VA for the Virginia Comicon.

I’ve done the fall show for the last 3 years and it’s well run, well attended, and definitely worth your while if you’re looking for good show to attend.  And there are comics.  Lots of comics.

This is one of the shows our studio hits every year.  I’ll be up with Randy Green, Rick Ketcham, John “Waki” Wycough, and Kelly Yates.

The poster to the left is what we did for the show last November (which turned out to be a huge success.  The show, I mean, not the poster…well, people liked it too.)  I drew the Hulk and Betty and did the coloring.  The other figures were done by the rest of the studio.

Incidentally, my favorite thing about the poster is the fact that Batman is holding the Kool-aid man comic.