Monday, January 2, 2012

Andy Schmidt's "2011 Year in Review"
-- Part I -- The Creators Workshop

Comics Experience has really grown significantly in 2011. And I don't mean that we just added new courses as well as new activities in the Creators Workshop. The membership has tripled in the last 12 months and just keeps on growing. I mention this because it's astonishing. We've done no advertising, we've done almost no promotion for Comics Experience. We post on Twitter occasionally and we have our blog and a Newsletter for those who sign up for it. That's it.

So when talking with Rob Anderson, our General Manager and Paul Allor, our Book Club Manager, we wondered why membership has been growing so fast. And it comes down to one huge thing. Word of mouth. Our Workshop members and course attendees are talking up how comprehensive, fun, and intensive the courses and workshop are. But even more than that, they're talking about our community.

2011 saw our first in-person meetings at conventions. Almost every major convention in the United States -- like NYCC and SDCC, just to name two -- had a Comics Experience meet-up where we all got together at night, continued to get to know each other, swapped stories, and compared notes on the convention. We'd do this about halfway through the convention so that we could all strategize the second half of the show. Members have been helping other members meet with comics editors and publishers, or taking them by to meet great artists or talented writers.

The community -- the genuine desire for everyone else in the Workshop to succeed -- more so than anything else, has made Comics Experience's Creators Workshop an untouchable success.

And as membership has grown, we've been feeding those funds from member's payments right back into the content. There's a Book Club where we review a graphic novel together with at least one of the creators. These sessions usually last about two hours.

Just last month we were pleased to welcome Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise) to discuss his awesome book Echo. Before that we had Joshua Hale Fialkov (Elk's Run, I, Vampire, Tumor) on to discuss his Top Cow book Echoes. (No, it wasn't a themed book club, but Echo and Echoes are both fantastic books!) And we had in Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Frankenstein, Essex County) to discuss Sweet Tooth before that!

Coming up just next week, Scott Snyder (Batman, Detective Comics, Swamp Thing, Severed) is joining us to discuss American Vampire, Volume 1, his Vertigo book.

And all of those top-notch guests have come about because our membership has grown and we've been able to bring Rob and Paul on board to bolster up the programs. We've had more Workshop meetings on topics and with creators in 2011 than I thought possible.

Last month's session with Michael Alan Nelson gave us some great insight into breaking into comics and his relationship with BOOM! Studios, a continually growing comics publisher.

Coming up, we've got a session with Drew Gaska who is the only person I know of who was able to license properties from Fox directly -- not through a known publisher. He actually got Fox's attention HIMSELF and got licenses for Planet of the Apes and Space 1999. He's going to talk with us about just how he went about doing that.

Paul Tobin will be joining us to discuss his career writing "all ages" superhero comics. His credits include Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and every other Marvel Adventures book (in addition to work with DC Comics, Dark Horse, and Top Shelf)! He may just be the most widely read superhero writer working today as his work gets repurposed and distributed through more channels -- and more "custom" and promotional comics -- than any other mainline superhero books.

Every month, we've got writer and artist members of our community receiving professional critiques from outstanding comics creators. Michael Alan Nelson (Valen the Outcast, 28 Days Later), Chuck Dixon (Batman, Punisher, G.I. Joe), Peter David (Incredible Hulk, X-Factor, Supergirl), Mike Costa (Blackhawks, G.I. Joe: Cobra), and many more have done professional reviews for our community members.

I'm committed to making the Creators Workshop the BEST place for budding comics creators to hone their skills, learn every aspect of the comics business, and network effectively.

When the Workshop was created in 2010, I honestly thought it would be several years before we'd be able to say that we achieved that goal. But only a little over a year later, we're there. But don't worry, there's plenty more we have planned as membership continues to grow. We're not content with being the best, we want to be the only place worth considering!

2011 also saw several success stories from Comics Experience Alumni and Workshop members. We had more than twice as many comics published by our alums this year than in the previous four years combined! My sincere congratulations go out to everyone (too many to name) who published their own books and who had their work published by others! Nice work!

This last year, our members and alumni were published by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, IDW Publishing, and many more! We've also had alumni on staff at Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, and DC Comics. Congratulations to you all!

Okay, I feel like I've talked enough and I've only covered the Creators Workshop, really. So maybe I'll get a chance to write about the courses in the next few days. (You can still sign up for the Introduction to Comic Book Writing, Introduction to Comic Book Coloring, and Advanced Comic Book Art courses right now -- although all three are close to selling out!)

If you're interested in making comics -- writing, penciling, inking, coloring, or lettering -- there's no better place to get started, to learn, to practice, to grow, and to start getting your work out there! If you've got a genuine love of comics and interest, join us today -- the Creators Workshop only gets better with each new member!

Thank you to all Comics Experience alumni and Creators Workshop members for your continued support and spreading the good word!

Happy New Year!

Andy Schmidt
Comics Experience Founder
January 2, 2012

Read PART II of Andy's 2011 Year in Review right here.

4 comments:

  1. That was a cheerful, enthusiastic read!

    I had no idea the workshop was created only in 2010. It struck me as having been around for ages so that was a surprise. :-)

    Here is to a fantastic 2012!

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  2. Congrats on all the success of Comics Experience, Andy! I've only been a part of the Creators Workshop for the past two months, but in that time it feels like I've gleaned a career's-worth of insight and information. I can't wait to discover what this year--and hopefully many, many more--have in store for this incredible community!

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