Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wizard World Texas - 2008 - Convention Report

I had a great time at Wizard World Texas as always. I got to share a table with my girlfriend and she was absolutely amazing. She sold out almost all of her Sock critter creations. The best part was at the very end after we packed up, she only had a handful left and someone stopped her in the hall saying he really wanted to buy them before she left. So he bought nearly all of them! I'm very proud of her.

I personally had a lot of good stuff this show too. I got to meet a ton of artists. I met Will Hughes who does a great Pirate comic called SheBuccaneer. I've had an affinity for comics about hot pirate chicks ever since my early attempts at such a comics a few years back. This one is done far better than I could have ever hoped to do. Great dialogue and solid stories with good characters and gorgeous art. I can't recommend it highly enough. Also this show, for some reason, I was on an original art kick - purchasing original art from nearly a dozen different artists. It's a great way of getting to know people too. I also sold a lot of stuff - selling out of my goblin chronicles books the first day and having to buy up another 25 copies or so from my publisher at the convention just to keep up with demand. My preview book did alright too, especially considering it was mostly a sketchbook. I'm excited by the response so far though. Overall it was a good show, and it basically paid for itself.

The convention was well represented by Lubbock people. I was stoked to see everyone. It feels like the Lubbock comic community is inching closer and closer to a wide spread outbreak of talent on the industry. It feels inevitable now.

My absolute favorite part of the show though was getting to sit next to Matt Wagner the whole weekend. Matt, if you dont' know, is the creator of several amazing comic book series, Mage, Grendal and currently working on Batman and Zorro. I feel like a really lucky person - last year I sat next to Humberto Ramos, and then Michael Golden. This year was just as awesome. I'm not gonna say we're pals or anything. But being able to watch someone work, and ask them questions over a period of time is an invaluable experience and I am very grateful for it.

As an artist I am always interested in hearing the stories of successful artists that have come before me. For Matt, he said his start came in college. The most valuable break through experience was going to an art school in Philadelphia. Not necessarily for the school, but because he got the opportunity to work for the school publication as a graphic designer. He would come in twice a week on print deadline days, and he would fill in spot illustrations everywhere they were needed in the paper, and he'd have to stay until they were all complete, no matter how long it took, no matter how much he didn't want to draw what he was asked to draw. That taught him to meet deadlines, and to push through challenging material.

The next big break came when he met a group of artists in that same school who dropped out the year before him to form the comic book company Comico. He soon dropped out himself and joined them in his first forays into creator owned comic books. I'd read previously that he spent that first year as a submissions editor for them, and that helped him to see what editors did and didn't want to see from artists. Not to mention, the invaluable experience of getting to work with other artists on a regular basis.

But the number one thing he said that has helped him grow as an artist, is seeing his work in print. You can draw a jacked-up hand and be ok with it. But when you have to see it in print in 10,000 copies, you never ever want to draw a jacked-up hand again. After producing hundreds, if not thousands of comic books over his career, seeing every little mistake and deciding never to repeat it, has led him to the highly refined, stylized drawings that he does today. There's no magic to it. No single epiphany. Its making mistakes over and over until you find yourself with something you enjoy every time.

To top it off though, at the end of the last day I spent about 30 minutes watching him do this gorgeous little batman sketch as he talked to people at his table. I was marveling at how simple he kept it. So meticulous, thought-out, and uncomplicated. It made me think that maybe its time I start to focus more on that quality, than speed and quantity. Then he packed up his stuff, stood up and HANDED ME THE SKETCH!! ...said he had a good time, then left. I was a little dumbstruck

Matt Wagner and I.
Matt Wagner and his amazing use of NO lines.

So, it was a great show. Thanks to everyone that came by my table at this show! There are a few more photos in my myspace photo album. Next up is STAPLE in March.

-Will Terrell

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