I am not all bitter about being on the East Coast instead of being in San Diego. I did not watch that episode of The Big Bang Theory, envious that they have the opportunity to go to Comic-Con International and inwardly delighted when they are not able to purchase tickets. I will not lament the fact that even if I could go, I do not have four friends to complete my team of Sailor senshi. (I may or may not have straightened my hair be a more authentic Sailor Mars.)
For better or worse, people associate Comic-Con with the fervent fan-girling that culminates in cosplaying, long lines for George R.R. Martin’s autograph, the purchase of exorbitantly priced imported DVDs, replica Green Lantern rings and the obligatory samurai sword. This may seem overwhelming for a Comic-Con neophyte. However, if you strip away the makeup, capes and Princess Leia in the metal bikini (because there is always a Princess Leia in a metal bikini), there is a deep and robust literary treasure trove to be discovered.
Comics, graphic novels and manga frequently are dismissed by “proper” adults and the uninitiated masses as juvenile, sophomoric and even silly. To them I say “you poor unfortunate souls.” It’s like passing on sterling silver drinking straws just because they are wrapped in flimsy white paper.
You can stay with mainstream offerings like Batman, The Walking Dead and Bleach. All three have substantial fandoms built on the strength of great story telling, complex characters and beautiful imagery. Or you can stroll through Artists’ Alley and the Small Press Area. It will be somewhat calmer than the DC or VIZ Media booths but the quality of the work inhabiting those lanes is on par with its big budget brethren. Take your time as you peruse because nothing is better than being the person in your group to discover the next big thing.
Once you’ve spent all your galleons in Artist Alley and the Small Press Area, there are sessions designed to help you become the next Stan Lee. While there is a healthy amount of emphasis placed on the visual, as evidenced by Disney’s Master Teachers’ Life Drawing for Animation panel, there are a number of sessions focused on how to tell a story effectively and the importance of diverse worlds. Between finding your muse and honing your craft, there is plenty to prepare you for next year’s Comic-Con, where hopefully you may be able submit your portfolio for review.
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