Comic Cons….or are they?

I just returned from back to back Comic Conventions; Big Wow in San Jose and Phoenix Comic Con.  Both shows are well run and I was treated extremely well at both shows.  At the Phoenix Con I had an interesting conversation with several other artists about the nature of what I call Comic Conventions but what are fast becoming Multi-Media Cons or in some cases Cosplay Cons.

At the Phoenix show it would not be an exaggeration to estimate that almost 30% of the attendees were in costume.  It did not appear the attendees were at the show to buy art or comics but instead to walk around in costume and get their pictures taken with fans and other people in costumes.  In fact, one pro suggested to me that out of the 40,000 attendees, half were in the convention hall and the other half were out in the lobby area taking and posing for pictures.  There was also a large contingency of TV actors and wrestlers there as well.

At San Jose, there was still some costume presence but it had more of a traditional comic convention feel.  Artist’s, Book and Comic Book Dealers and Toy Sellers is still the main focus.   There were TV and movie celebs there but the biggest draw was still Stan Lee.

Back when I first started going to the San Diego Comic Con (now appropriately titled “Comic Con International”) in the mid to late 80’s, it was the biggest con I had ever seen.  One convention hall filled with artist’s and comic book dealers and the other with publishers and their representatives.  In fact, I got my first comic job by showing my samples to then Marvel editor, Terry Kavanaugh.  It was truly the greatest Comic Book/Show Convention in the world.

Since that time though, it has become the greatest Multi-Media Con in the world and comics have become a miniscule part of the show.  All of this begs the question,  should there be separate cons for separate interests?  Cosplay Con?  TV/Movie/Entertainment Con?  And the almost extinct, Comic Con?

I get why promoters combine these elements.  The more diverse your show the more people will come through the door.  The problem is for artist’s and retailers.  The more diversity, the more of a battle for the buck.   Some times I will appear at a show where 70% of the people there have no interest or knowledge of comics.

I may be old fashioned but I want to go to cons that are for comics!  But then again maybe there wouldn’t be anyone there besides me…

The Creatiion of a book part V: The exciting conclusion

A five part blog?  I’m worse than the Twilight series!  Moving along…..

I was starting to get a real flavor for the book publishing world.  The vision for my book was quickly becoming their vision for my book.  As I stated previously, a lot of good came out of the publisher’s ideas and changes they had me make.  Unfortunately, I believe some really devastating ones came out of it as well.  The book title which I already discussed and then the cover concept.  My original idea was perhaps not all that original but certainly it was apropos to the subject matter of the book.  I wanted the book to look like a faux leather bound roughed up field guide.  Perhaps with a single character from the book featured on it with some hand written notations to make it feel like a real “field guide”.  But no.  The designer and the publisher had a “better idea”.

They wanted me to draw a lot of the characters standing on an island shore around a sign that had the title of the book on it and a few creatures in the nearby water.  What?!  My argument was that their cover concept was inappropriate for the content of the book and that it would look like the cover to a collection of newspaper strips. I desperately tried to talk them out of this but again to no avail.  So I offered up some sketches that took their basic idea but made it more pallatable to me.

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With these two concepts, the title of the book was central and large.  It gave an idea of the concept without putting the characters in a “situation” or “setting” that just didn’t make any sense to me.  The first one was my choice but I could have begrudgingly lived with either.  Of course, both were rejected and I was forced to do their “cheezy” idea.

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I felt the design was dull and there was nothing that made me look at the piece and make me want to pick up the book.  My lack of enthusiasm for the concept probably aided in my rather crappy execution of the final painting.  Bad design and bad execution never adds up to anything good.

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After looking at this rather unsuccessful painting I once again tried to pitch them another cover concept.  One that I felt had more focus and again was more appropriate for the subject matter.  This was also rejected.  I think my big mistake on this was I should have chosen a more interesting or unusual looking character for the main image.  But this was a concept piece not a finished proposal.

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At this point I was ready to jump out a window.  I tried one last suggestion to try and give the book a more appropriate and grounded look and save my book from looking like a Peanuts’ collection.  I thought by adding a faux leather border around the image it might at least give a hint of the correct feel for the book.

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I actually thought to myself, “this just might work”.  You guessed it….REJECTED!

I was totally depressed at this point.  Then they came back and wanted me to paint some continental maps to use in the book.  Actually a good idea, just not what I was motivated to do.  But I did a reasonable job on them.  Of course, they pale in comparison to James Gurney’s maps in Dinotopia but come to think of it all of my work pales in comparison to James Gurney’s!

So they published the book and it tanked.  Now I am not saying the book isn’t good, it actually got really good reviews and I do believe it is a very fun and entertaining read. ( It is available through Powell’s Books (see link) and other online outlets) It just never found its audience which was my biggest fear and why I so vigorously tried to make the changes to the title and cover.

So what’s the moral of the story?  Don’t sign over creative control unless you have to and then be prepared to compromise until it hurts!