Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comics Experience at San Diego Comic-Con 2011

San Diego Comic-Con may be the place for gazing at Hollywood stars, but it's also still a destination for those who create -- or want to create -- comic books.

Many great panels were offered for comic creators, covering topics such as getting news coverage, editing, breaking in, and indy marketing, just to name a few. Trickster, the "con-away-from-the-con," also had some excellent sessions directed to artists and writers. And the ICv2 Conference, held the afternoon before Preview night, provided insight into the latest industry numbers as well as the future of comics, digital or otherwise.

Comics Experience put on three panels at Comic-Con, attended by several hundred people over three days. In Breaking and Staying In on Thursday, Andy Schmidt (former Editor at Marvel and IDW) chatted with writer Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra) and artist Zander Cannon (Top 10) on their own "breaking in" stories, and how they've managed to stay in the industry over the years.

In the Building Your Art Portfolio panel on Friday, Andy, artist Reilly Brown (Incredible Hercules), and artist Zander Cannon (Top 10) discussed the do's and don'ts of building your portfolio and making the right impression with your work.

And during the Pitch Perfect panel on Saturday, Andy, John Layman (Chew) and Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra) provided advice on pitching. A highlight of this panel was hearing John describe how many times Chew was rejected -- as the crazy "bird flu, cannibal book" -- before it eventually landed at Image. It was especially ironic hearing John's story on Saturday, with Chew having just won an Eisner for the second year in a row the night before!

Comics Experience Creators Workshop members also caught up on Saturday night over dinner and drinks and had a lively discussion about everything from the Direct Market and digital to the latest super-hero movies.

Pictured at left, from the Workshop meet-up, are: Amy Chu, Rob Anderson, Tim Shields, Carl Peterson, Joe Sergi, Frederick Kim, Shaun Manning, and Andy Schmidt. (Click the picture for a larger view.)

Also present at the meet-up were Bobby Curnow and Chris Murphy, who had to leave before we remembered to snap the picture!

One of the best parts of any convention is meeting up with people you don't get to see every day. Our thanks to everyone who attended our panels, hung out, or just caught up with us in San Diego!

Posted by Rob Anderson
Twitter / Facebook

Why should you take the Comics Experience Lettering & Production course?

The Comics Experience Comic Book Lettering & Production course is taught by professional letterer Dave Sharpe, who has been in the lettering business for twenty years.

Dave started out hand lettering in the Marvel Bullpen before moving to digital lettering, taught lettering at the Joe Kubert School in the mid-90s, and developed and led the Marvel in-house lettering department for two years.

Since then, Dave continues to letter for Marvel on a regular basis, in addition to working with many small publishers as well. He is, without a doubt, one of the most well respected, talented, and professional letterers in the comics business.

To quote Comics Experience founder (and ex-Marvel and IDW Editor) Andy Schmidt, "Dave can teach. I've seen him do it and he taught me much while I worked at Marvel. In the first ten minutes, he taught me enough about lettering that I could talk reasonably intelligently about it with the seasoned Marvel staff. Thank you for that, Dave."

Here are four additional reasons you should sign up for this class now!
  1. Save money on your projects - If you're looking at self-publishing your own comics, learning to letter them yourself can save you hundreds of dollars per issue. This class will pay for itself in short order. Plus, this class also prepares you for the production work -- placing logos, UPCs, combining the color art with the lettering -- and that saves you even more money.
  2. Bad lettering kills - If we've heard this once from Editors, we've heard it a hundred times, because it's true. Nothing will kill your story and beautiful art faster in the eyes of an Editor or a reader than amateurish lettering. Unfortunately, without appropriate training, you may not even recognize what the issues are. Your lettering needs to be up to a professional level and this class will show you how to make that happen, whether you do it yourself or hire someone else.
  3. Improve your storytelling - Lettering has a huge impact on storytelling in comic books. Readers generally only notice at a subconscious level, but as a creator, you need to know how balloon placement affects how the eye tracks the page, whether the balloons enhance or distract from the art, how the lettering can drive the page turn, and many other issues. This class will open your eyes to how crucial placement and lettering design can be to your storytelling
  4. It's FUN! - At Comics Experience, we never forget that no matter how serious you are about the profession, creating comics should be fun! Dave and Andy are two of the nicest folks in comics, and the teaching environment is encouraging while also being honest. Plus, you'll meet classmates that may well become fellow comic creator friends!
The class will be taught live, online for six weeks, meeting for two hours each Monday night. Classes will be recorded for later viewing if you can't make the live meeting. And you'll have access to a dedicated class forum for interacting with your classmates and sharing/critiquing each other's work all week long!

For more information or to sign up for the class using Paypal, visit the Comics Experience Courses page!

Posted by Rob Anderson
Twitter / Facebook

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Convention Tips from Chris Sotomayor

At the next Comics Experience Creators Workshop live session, Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt will discuss the art of pitching, providing practical tips and solid advice gleaned from his years of experience as an editor at Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing.

These sessions take place every month, giving members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career. In last week’s live session, renowned colorist Chris Sotomayor led a discussion on making the most of comic book conventions.

Sotomayor shared a ton of information with Comics Experience members, and spent two hours answering their questions about nearly every aspect of comic book conventions.

A few of the topics he touched on were how to plan for a convention, what to bring with you, how to look and who to talk to.

How to Plan
Sotomayor noted that conventions mean a lot of different things to different people. But no matter what your goals are, it helps to be organized. He recommended going in with a plan of attack. Have a map of the show floor so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Know which panels you want to attend and which editors will be there. And follow the publishers’ guidelines about portfolio and script reviews.

What to bring
Sotomayor recommended having all your physical materials in order before attending the con. He noted that for artists, it’s good to have a physical portfolio. However, he said, this does not necessarily need to be a binder. Instead, many artists are displaying their work on tablets such as the iPad, making it easier for editors and artists to scroll through the portfolio, isolating certain aspects of the artwork.

“It’s a handy way to have all of your materials with you all at once,” Sotomayor said.

For writers, Sotomayor said it can be helpful to bring a published comic, to show editors that you’re serious about your craft, and have worked on putting a project together. He said these comics aren’t often read on the convention floor, but are sometimes read after hours.

“You’d be surprised how many comics professionals unwind by reading a couple ofcomic books before they go to bed,” he said.

Whether you’re an artist or a writer, Sotomayor said to make sure your leave-behinds are in a portable format, and are easy to carry back to the office. He said that oversized materials will often be scrutinized and then discarded.

And, finally, have a nice business card, that stands out and will help an editor remember your conversation.

How to look
When meeting editors and colleagues, Sotomayor said, it’s important to be professional and presentable.

“That what editors and art directors want to hire,” Sotomayor said. “People who are professional, and conduct themselves in a professional manner.”

However, he said, this doesn’t mean you need to get dressed up. A nice T-shirt and jeans is fine, as is a polo shirt. He also noted that dyed hair and piercings will not deter you from finding work in comics.

“All the artists have been to art school,” he said. “They saw that stuff every day.”

Who to talk to
Sotomayor stressed that as important as it is to track down editors and talent scouts, it’s just as important to get feedback from other artists and writers, including both established professionals and fellow newcomers.

“Artists, start talking to other artists,” Sotomayor said. “Pick their brains, wander up and down artist’s alley.”

He also noted that if you can get a critique from artist Brian Stelfreeze, “that alone is worth the price of admission.”

Sotomayor also recommended that writers pay attention to artists who are trying to break in, but do not yet have a booth in artist’s alley. If you see someone in a portfolio line whose work looks good, approach them after their critique, and give them your business card.

“Giving a break to somebody trying to break in is a great thing to do,” he said.

This is just a small portion of the advice and guidance Sotomayor provided in this fantastic session.

A recording of the entire discussion will be available to Workshop members for a few weeks, so it's not too late to check out the full session. And there’s still plenty of time to sign up before next month’s session on pitching. We hope to see you there.

-- Posted by Paul Allor

Monday, July 18, 2011

Comics Experience Community News 7/18/2011

We have even more updates from Comics Experience alumni and Workshop members this month! has released the first issue of Shaun Manning's new digital comic book, Hell, Nebraska. During San Diego Comic-Con this week -- whether you're at the convention or at home -- the first issue will be on sale for half off. You can also check it out at's demo station at the con.

What would you do if you discovered that Hell did not exist? For one man, the answer is simple: create it. As a monstrous infernal city erupts from the soil of America's heartland, a teenage boy discovers he may have the power to prevent Hell on Earth--but does he want to?

Hell, Nebraska is written by Shaun with art by Anna Wieszczyk and lettering by Ed Brisson. Shaun is a Comics Experience alum from back when the classes were held live in New York City, and he's a current Comic Creators Workshop member. You'll definitely want to check out his book -- online now, or at San Diego Comic-Con!

For more info on Hell, Nebraska, click here.

Comic Creators Workshop member, Joey Groah, has launched a new podcast called In Production, which Joey describes as "conversations with people making things."

Joey talks origin story, process, workflow, and the overall business of being creative with people like editor/director/producer Dave Gorrie and former ad exec, now marketing manager, Andy Perrine.

The site is or you can subscribe through iTunes or RSS. Give it a listen!

(If you have community news, drop a line to

Posted by Rob Anderson
Twitter / Facebook

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Comics Experience Community News 7/12/2011

It's been a great month for Comics Experience alumni and Workshop members -- from a Harvey Award nomination to free online comics, our community of creators has been on the move!

Congratulations to Nick Spencer (Comics Experience Writing alum) who received a 2011 Harvey Award nomination in the category of "Most Promising New Talent," for his work on his hit title from Image, Morning Glories. The Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art, and are the only industry awards both nominated and selected by fellow comic book professionals.

Brandon Seifert (Comics Experience Creators Workshop member) had his new book from Image, Witch Doctor, appear as a flipbook in the back of Walking Dead #85, and followed that up with the release of the #1 issue on June 29th. Described as House M.D. meets Fringe, the book looks to be a runaway hit! Witch Doctor is the first original title from Robert Kirkman’s new Image imprint, Skybound, which will also be launching a new title, Thief of Thieves, written by Nick Spencer!

A new anthology comic book, The December Project, was just released recently, and it was created by a group of Comics Experience Writing alums! The book features stories written by Marta Tanrikulu, Chris Lewis, Monika Smyczek, and Elizabeth Amber Love, plus three of the stories were lettered by Comics Experience Workshop member, E.T. Dollman. The book contains a wide variety of stories, from science fiction to magic, and from trippy to heart-wrenching. Pick up your copy of The December Project via IndyPlanet right here.

Comics Experience Writing alum Rich Douek, is offering a free, online preview story from his forthcoming book, Gutter Magic. Rich collaborated on the preview with Jason Baroody, Paul Little and E.T. Dollman, and the zero issue, coming this Fall, will feature art by Renae De Liz (Womanthology, Servant of the Bones), Craig S. Yeung (Runaways, X-Factor) and JC Grande (Johnny Monster, Necessary Evil). Download a PDF of the preview story at right here.

Congrats to all the members of the Comics Experience community, and keep making comics!

If you have Comics Experience-related alumni news, drop me a note!

Posted by Rob Anderson
Twitter / Facebook

Monday, July 11, 2011

Comics Experience Panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2011

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 (July 21-24) is less than two weeks away, and if you're interested in making comics or breaking into the industry, then mark your calendar for three Comics Experience panels focused on building your art portfolio, pitching, and breaking (and staying) "in!"

Comics Experience founder, Andy Schmidt will be moderating all three panels, featuring some fantastic special guests including: artist Reilly Brown (Incredible Hercules), artist Zander Cannon (Top 10), writer Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra), and writer John Layman (Chew).

Check out the schedule and full description of each panel below.

We hope to see you there!

Breaking and Staying In
Thursday, July 21
Room 30CDE
It's well known that breaking into comics as a creator -- be it writer or artist or colorist -- is not easy. Learn how it's done from Andy Schmidt (X-Men, Five Days to Die, Comics Experience founder), who's broken in as an editor, a writer, and a teacher. Not enough? He's also going to talk about how to stay in comics once you catch that first break -- and you'll hear from writer Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra) and artist Zander Cannon (Top 10) for their tips, too!

Building Your Art Portfolio
Friday, July 22
Room 30CDE
You're at Comic-Con and you're surrounded by editors, artists, writers, and producers -- any of whom could represent a job for you as an artist. Former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt (X-Men, Five Days to Die, Comics Experience founder), artist Reilly Brown (Incredible Hercules), and artist Zander Cannon (Top 10) discuss what to include in a portfolio, what to leave out, and how to conduct yourself to make sure your portfolio and your presentation shine.

Pitch Perfect
Saturday, July 23
Room 30CDE
Andy Schmidt (Comics Experience founder, former Marvel and IDW Editor) and panelists John Layman (Chew) and Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra) reveal the keys to creating the perfect pitch for a comics publisher: what must you have, what to leave out, and how to conduct yourself with interviews and correspondence. This might be the most valuable panel you ever attend!

-- Posted by Rob Anderson (