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


  1. That workshop alone was worth the price of the membership... so much great info!