Did you sign up for Comic Creator Connection?

22 JUNE 2016

Love is in the air - or at least creativity, if you're planning on attending SDCC's Comic Creator Connection. Are you looking for your comic book soulmate? The person who can draw your ideas or write your story? Then you will want to attend SDCC's version of speed dating for comic creators.

Who Can Go

Anyone, but you should have some kind of solid offering before you sit down at the table. If you've never written or penciled in your life but might want to some day, this isn't for you. This is for emerging professionals looking for collaborators who can sit down and do the work. Yes, it's okay if you're just starting out and have no real credits to your name, as long as you're committed to making a partnership happen.

How It Works

You spend a few minutes with prospective partners to assess each other's style, skill and personality. Just like dating, the chemistry is there or it isn't. If it is? Exchange contact info and samples, with something to visually jog their memory later. If it's not? Be polite and thank them and say you'd like to think about it. If you get shot down, be gracious. Usually both people kind of vaguely thank each other when they know it's not a match.

Where and When It's Happening

Friday from 7:00-9:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm. Both sessions will be in the Santa Rosa room at the Marriott.

How to Sign Up

Email programs@comic-con.org and tell them if you're an artist or writer and which day you'd like to attend. Artists can go both days; writers, you have to pick just one.

What to Bring

  • Water
  • Business cards with a link to your digital portfolio
  • Digital business cards if possible to connect right there
  • Good samples
  • A good pitch that sells your project and offers your skill set/credentials without bragging
  • A succinct summary of your goals, your influences and your availability
  • Something to take notes on
  • A positive attitude and realistic expectations

What to Expect

The potential to make new friends and contacts. If you go in guns blazing and notify the artists across from you that you're the next Brian Vaughan, or if you expect to meet the next Jim Lee and will accept nothing less, your Comic Creator Connection experience will not be a success. Instead, get to know the people you're meeting, be gracious even if you think they're hacks, and recognize them as part of your community. If you do make a career for yourself in this industry, you'll be surprised at some of the people who come up with you - so try to stay on decent terms with everyone. And don't let your ego get in the way; ask your new comrades how they're networking and getting ahead. You'll find out who's publishing new writers, which house is looking for inkers and other tips that established pros often have no clue about.

And maybe you will meet that perfect collaborator. It could happen. But your experience will be valuable even if it doesn't.

Other Tips

You'll meet anywhere from 1-2 dozen people, so don't expect to remember everyone's face, name and work style. Collect cards and jot down visual reminders and a numeric level of your interest on a scale from 1-10.

Ask questions. Don't make it all about you. Just because someone has a pretty sample doesn't mean they're responsible, finish projects, listen to other people's ideas or handle business intelligently. If you like someone's work right off the bat, dig in and find out if they've got chops beyond talent.

Bring hard copies. Showing off on your iPad and shooting them a link is all well and good, but giving them something physical is more likely to keep you top of mind. Yes, San Diego hotel wastebaskets are full of crumpled fliers and promotional junk, but this is a situation where someone wants to see your work. Offer enough samples to showcase your versatility (short punchy dialogue vs. narrative description, different art styles) and package them in a way that protects them and maybe makes the recipient feel guilty about tossing it. I once was at an event where I received samples from 11 writers, and  one had packaged hers like a restaurant menu with elaborate design and thick plastic. I kept it (and remembered her) for a long time just because I felt bad about throwing it away.

Finally, be aware that you need badged access for Friday and/or Sunday to attend. These are good days as you probably had the option for a Sunday badge if you got a badge at all. Which one is better? I'm guessing most people will choose Sunday afternoon over Friday night, so factor that into your decision.

I'll talk more about marketing yourself as a creative at Comic-Con over the next week. But if you're an aspiring comic creator, this is a great place to start.

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