I went to Comic-Con as the biggest loser on the planet. For days, i was in a complete state of panic, not because of the stress that comes along with the biggest convention in the country, but because I had already made plans to go to this thing and I shouldn’t even be there. I hadn’t finished the projects I wanted to have on hand at the event. I’ve been working harder than I ever thought I could on freelance stuff just so that I could have the money to go to this and do more work that may end up lost in the glut of other Comic-Con reporting. On the eve of my fourth year at San Diego Comic-Con, I was still a virtual unknown completely incapable of making any kind of waves in a scene so large.
It’s hard to admit online that you suck. It opens you up to trolls, probably makes you look bad to potential employers, etc. Since caring about those sorts of things has only made my life more miserable, I’m taking the opposite approach today.
Everybody feels like a failure at times, or at least they should. That’s how you know that you aren’t a raging, egomaniacal fool. I don’t think what I’ve been going through is any different from what others have experienced. A year or two filled with pretty intense rejections will do that to you. For me, that manifests in not being able to write the things that I really want to write. It means second-guessing everything I type. It means feeling like a reject at Comic-Con.
I got to the convention center fairly early on Wednesday. It was Preview Night, when some badge holders can check out the exhibit hall before an even bigger crowd arrives on the first official day of the con. I got into my first Comic-Con line, the one for my press badge, and it moved with shocking speed. To the convention’s credit, they’re efficient when it comes to badges.
First stop for me is always Small Press. I love independent comics and have gotten to know a few of the people who show in the section of the exhibit hall, so I wanted to get some new reading material and say my hellos. Before I got there, a physics group handed me a stack of comics. Cool!
Inside Small Press, I saw Shing Yin Khor, whose work I recently covered for Los Angeles Magazine. She had a great booth set up with her art and books. She was handing out preview copies of Swimming in Sake, a forthcoming travel comic by Pinguino that will be released through Shing’s Sawdust Press imprint. Then I visited Jenn of Just Jenn Designs, who had a great variety of stationary along with her comics at the booth. Jenn kindly gave me a Mighty Fine mustache pin, which I placed on my denim jacket, right above my Underground “I love Johnny Marr” button.
I stopped to say hi to Paul Horn as well, and bought a copy one of his 24 Hour Comic books. He wrote and drew an entire 24 page comic in 24 hours. That’s one page an hour. Ugh, sometimes it takes me 24 hours to write one page that I inevitably trash. Then I stumbled onto the booth of a comic creator named Josh Shalek. I really liked his book covers, so I bought one called Dancing with Jack Ketch: The Life of Jackson Donfaire, Notorious Pirate. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks great. At some point, I ventured outside of Small Press to say hi to Eric Nakamura at the Giant Robot booth. They had tons of cool, independently made toys and books too.
All these people were doing stuff. Awesome stuff. And they’re working indie. So, why am I so afraid of going it alone? Why am I so convinced that I’m going to fail? More importantly, how can I learn from them?
It’s Comic-Con and, this year, I’m not just here for work. I’m here to figure out what I’m doing wrong.