I attended ConnectiCon over the weekend in Hartford, CT. I am a long-time fan of webcomics and comics, yet I have never been to one of these events. The allure of seeing all of your favorite artists and seeing people dressed up in crazy costumes wasn’t enough to outweigh the awkward conversations that would ensue. “I really like your comic. I’m a big fan.” “In episode #33, you killed off Norvin. Why?” “Can you sign my book?” I feel like I spared the artists and guests the pain, however slight, by not attending.
But now that I’ve been working on Milk for Dead Hamsters, I had stuff to talk about with other artists. “For how long have you been drawing?” “What do you draw on/with?” “Can you check out my website?” In hindsight, I was probably more annoying than the typical fan. Foiled! But at least I felt more intuitive.
I got to meet some pretty cool artists who were all great to talk to, including Kris and Rob from Cyanide and Happiness, David Willis from Short-Packed, and Luke Foster from Moon Freight 3. I attended some panel Q&A’s that featured artists such as the aforementioned, and Christiann MacAuley of Sticky Comics, Jamie Noguchi of Yellow Peril, and Joel Watson of HiJinks Ensue. All had great information for people who were interested in getting into webcomics and their stories were fun to hear.
Some tips I gathered for success:
- Update regularly. I currently add 2 (sometimes 3) comics a week, but it’s usually whenever I can get to it. So I am going to try my best to stick to a Tuesday/Friday update schedule. Let’s see if that happens.
- Be social. I have severe social anxiety when it comes to meeting new people, especially large groups of new people. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. I need to change that. Sucking up my fears and talking to people at this convention was a big step. Now I have to do it regularly. But another part of this is to get involved with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc. Up until now, I’ve mostly just added my new comics. I’m going to try and interact with all of you even though my sweat glands tell me “no”.
- Reinvent webcomics. This was tricky advice. Basically I was told that no one has figured out a sure-fire road map to success, but following trends is definitely not the way to go. Every month there are new sites, technologies, and communities that can propel you forward. The trick is to be ahead of the curve. I know. It’s very vague, but it got my idea generator going.
- Do it for yourself. Which I’m already doing. Milk for Dead Hamsters is my baby – a colicky disfigured baby that only a papa could love. I’m honored that there are some of you who share the same twisted sense of humor and stop by regularly, but I think I’d still be doing this even if you didn’t come by. It’s a creative outlet that let’s me escape the drudgery of the real world twice a week.
I highly recommend attending an event such as ConnectiCon if you are interested in making a webcomic of your own. If it is something you want to make a career out of, you have to do it at some point. I realized that networking is what these conventions are all about. Besides Cyanide and Happiness, I never heard of any of the other strips mentioned above. But now, they all have my respect, admiration and readership because they showcased themselves in a way the Internet could never provide.
I’ve got my eyes set on some future conventions where I can actually set up a booth. Then you will take me seriously. Muah ha ha ha. Lightning.
One last note. The highlight of my day was when I wandered past the Wildside gaming room and I saw one player harness the power of the moon. I just thought I’d share.