Artist. Designer. Awkward wad of nerd. Fights off existential terror and self-loathing with Godzilla films.

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We could be Heroes

This year’s HeroesCon was the absolute best.

There are too many things I want to write about. The incredible food we ate (if you like Vietnamese, you NEED to go to Lang Van, seriously), the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find shop itself which I’d never been to before, getting a great big awkward hug from Chip Zdarsky after the phenomenal and emotional Sex Criminals panel and getting a sketch of E.T. from him, all of the other awesome sketches I got in my vintage sci-fi themed sketchbook, hanging out with the incredibly talented and awesome Alejandro Bruzzese and Chris Pyrate, meeting my friend and collaborator Xylon Otterburn in person for the first time, who just straight up kindly gave me my first piece of original artwork (and did a badass Videodrome sketch too), getting really into Jordan T. Neves’ work, doing my first sketch cover of Dracula and Frankenstein dressed as Superman and Batman, drawing Pikachu in lederhosen with a beer…I could go on and on.
I’ve never had an experience like this one before. I hope it isn’t the last.

And seriously, you guys, Alejandro is the best. I really feel like his work is going to blow up some time soon, his design sensibilities and colors are just too fantastic to be ignored. He’s the nicest, friendliest dude and I’m grateful that he and Chris let a dope like me hang out with them Friday and Saturday evening. I can’t wait to get to see them again, but until then, I’m going to show this incredible Zardoz sketch that Alejandro did for me to everybody I know whether they want to see it or not:

I did way better this year than I did last year,  even counting all that time spent away from my table on Sunday. I had people I met at last year’s con come by and say hey, that they were glad to see me again. That was incredible. I met so many more people, made new friends, I’d still be happy even if I hadn’t sold a single thing, you know?
There was only one thing that kind of marred this year’s experience, and…I’ve been wondering whether or not I should even mention it, but I feel like I should, if only to get it out there. The guy at the table next to me was…pretty annoying.

He was a salesman. He had a pitch for his comic series that he was selling. He called out to people as they walked by, asking them to come take a look, even if they’d already walked past his table and were almost past mine. Then he delivered his pitch. It was the same pitch every time, with no deviation. I had it memorized myself by Friday afternoon, down to his inflection and tone. Even when people would say something that you’d think would make him alter the pitch or something, he would keep going. He was there to promote and sell his comic, no more, no less. And it worked pretty well for him Friday, it seemed! But it was annoying, and it felt…dishonest, maybe. And people caught on. Sales seemed to dwindle over the course of Saturday and by Sunday I’m not sure he sold more than one or two books. And I could tell that was upsetting him. He continued to give the pitch, but it was like the life was sucked out of him.

Friday morning he asked me what my “endgame” was and tried telling me how to talk to people and pitch my books, even coming behind me at one point and talking to the people at my table because he didn’t like how I was doing it, which infuriated me. I told him that this wasn’t business for me, it was a labor of love, and he backed off. And that’s true. I just couldn’t agree with how he was doing things. Sure, he easily made more money and sold more than I did, probably on Friday alone, but…

…I had a guy come by who bought both issues of Burst Reach AND a copy of Other Sleep. He straight up GAVE me a copy of his own comic and we chatted quite a bit while I signed and sketched in all three books. Saturday, he came by again briefly to tell me how much he loved Other Sleep and how he‘s showing it to everyone he knows and telling them about it. Sunday, he stopped by once more and we chatted a little longer about how awesome HeroesCon is. A girl I met last year was just wandering by with her friends when she looked over and shouted “holy crap, you’re back, that’s awesome!” We caught up a little bit and she went on her way. I gushed about Welcome to Night Vale with the woman I drew German Pikachu for. I had so many fun conversations with people, I didn’t care if they were going to buy anything from me or not.

…I rambled too much there, but the point is: I feel like I was connecting with people. I wanted them to enjoy and buy my stuff, yes, but more importantly I wanted to make a good impression and if nothing else be remembered as that weird cool guy who really likes Godzilla movies a lot and draws monsters. I don’t think I ever saw anyone go by that guy’s table to tell him how much they enjoyed his comic after buying it off of him. I don’t think anyone really asked him how his weekend was going or what he thought of the con, or anything like that. No casual conversation at all. He was so committed to selling his book that he hardly left the table, so I know he didn’t go around meeting other creators or anything like that. And I just…I can’t imagine being like that, you know? He only really talked about this comic he’d written, hardly deviating from his pitch, more concerned about making sales than anything else at all. I can’t do that. I can’t understand that, just as, I suppose, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t trying to pitch my work and make money the same way he was. But he started driving people away Saturday, which wasn’t good for me or for the guy on the other side of his table, and he didn’t really make the best impression. I feel like, if he comes back next year, he’ll do even worse because people will remember him and know that he’s kind of pushy about getting you to buy his comic.

I’ve wasted too many words on this, haven’t I? Long story short, dude was kind of a pushy salesman, and though he was nice, it was annoying and just didn’t seem right at all, poor con etiquette. Guy on the other side of his table agreed with me, and we both took over his table when he left early on Sunday, which kind of boosted sales for both of us.
On the other side of my table, however, was Ronnie Filyaw, who does a webcomic called WHOMP, and he was delightful. He had a loyal fan base, and I enjoyed watching and hearing him interacting with them and taking selfies. Yeah, that was a thing he did, he took selfies with his fans! How cool is that? I got three sketches from him, Ashley and I both bought books from him, and I got a selfie with him too.

I hope that one day I can accumulate the same kind of wonderful fans that he has.

…Huh. So yeah. I guess that’s my con report. I’m already excited about next year and plotting what to do next. I almost certainly need a banner, yes. Anyways, back to work on Cannonball Fist, but before I go? Here, watch the video of my incredibly awkward, sweaty, beautiful hug with Chip Zdarsky, as Matt Fraction stands and watches like a creeper. This video pretty much sums up what HeroesCon means to me:

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