Time to choose conventions…


“The time has come” the Walrus said ” to talk of many things”

I’ll soon have a list of conventions to find me at this year.  So let’s talk Wizard World.  There’s been no bigger critic of these shows since I stopped going about 5 years ago. 

Actually, first let’s talk about my job and how it is different from most.  If you’re an electrician or an I.T. provider , for example, the more your skills increase, the more things you get certified in, the more value you have.  When this happens your salary and/or benefits increase. Same thing with my job in my industry, the more value you have, the higher your pay and benefits. The DIFFERENCE is in a normal job this happens after a conversation with ONE person.  You get a raise automatically, or you get a review from your boss and you ask for more.   In my job there is no one “boss” or even a boss and a head of payroll.  You have to have that conversation , about how your value has increased with dozens of entities, basically everyone you have dealt with in the past that you are still dealing with.  If your value has changed there isn’t really a certification to show, you just have to point out that change over and over and over.

Speaking of conversations about change, I had a conversation with someone last week and the point was made, that me continuing to criticize a show ( Wizard World) that I haven’t gone to in 5 years isn’t fair, nor is it “calling it like I see it” because I have not seen it.  New people are handling things and I should give them a chance.   I gave this some thought, It is true.  Companies do learn, people come and go, things do change.  Any criticism I have is outdated. Further more they are willing to dole out some perks to show they are serious about having me at their shows, and that they understand which rung of the ladder I am currently on.  This rung is obvious to most shows.  It is dawning on me lately that a few shows ( one’s that I have gone to since I was a piker) are still getting me there for the effort it took to get me there when I was a piker.  Just to review, since I started I have been nominated for the highest awards, been published nationally and internationally, did a 6 year sting on Mad Magazine and had work appear on Comedy central. My artwork sells for more now, my illustrations and writing are more valuable to companies, my commissions (if you can get one) are more…all this is more than justified by my track record, fan base, and frankly the quality of what I do is better as my skills have improved.  So why the in the BLUE HELL am I not demanding more from recognition of this from EVERY convention?!  This would be like an all-star first baseman working for league minimum and paying for his own uniforms.  I’ve had cartoons appear on Comedy Central for f*cks sake!  There’s a point where loyalty ends and flat out not standing up for yourself begins.

There is a stark line between the  shows I do.  Shows I started doing recently that treat me as fitting my hard earned place in the industry NOW, and shows I’ve always gone to that don’t do much of anything because they are used to my place in the industry back THEN.  WHY THE HELL AM I GOING TO THOSE SHOWS?! For all intents and purposes ,They are telling me to “go get your shine box”


I don’t NEED to go to ANY of these shows, except maybe SDCCI.  I could, drag my ass and a pallet of merch/display across the country and set up at a convention for three days…or I could spend three days working…or spend three days watching youtube for that matter.  I do think seeing the fans is important, not just for the sake of hearing how great I am, but also to gauge which of my projects are hitting the best cord with people.  Fan input matters and helps.  That, by itself however doesn’t justify going to a show that’s not going to do squat to have me there, even though me being there is putting more cash in their pocket.

I’ve said this before…once you have five or six guys who draw super hero comics, you have gotten all the attendees who care about that interested in going, and every super hero guy you get after that isn’t actually getting anyone new through the door.  Arsenic Lullaby brings in people you wouldn’t otherwise get, and the people who didn’t know about it before the show but see it…well the “new” things you see at a convention is what you end up talking about and really the whole reason to go to a con instead of just getting stuff on the internet. Half the reason you go is to find stuff you didn’t know about and when that “new” thing is a world class mindblowing book like Arsenic Lullaby, that gives your show much better odds of getting them back next year.  Aside from that, I am a personable and entertaining guy, much more so that the average illustrator, who are by nature introverted.  Meeting ME is actually a thrill, as opposed to blinking at someone while they hastily autograph your book.  Not to mention panles with me on them or MC ing them usually end with applause as opposed to the three people who managed to sit through the yawn fest slowly trickling out wondering why they didn’t wander off earlier with everyone else.  So me being at a show has considerable value. Remember, comiccons are businesses.  Their “product” is you being able to meet pros.  The better, the more in demand, and higher quality pros they have, the better the interaction with fans the pros they have are know for…the more people they get through the door and the more money they make.  

Why would I go to any shows that are not offering up any perks to compensate for the increase in value I bring to their show by being there?    I would say it is an insult to my hard work and success to not offer more as my value increases, but business is business and if I don’t demand it, why give it to me…you know …other than out of respect.  

When you look at it from my standpoint, who’s  wearing the white hat here?  Wizard World is running a business ,charging what they can and delivering what is advertised, and trying to eliminate the competition.  What are the locally run shows doing differently, other than treating me as though I am a rookie in artist alley despite the fact that I am now internationally published and have had work appear on cable t.v.?!

What the F*CK am I doing?!  Why am I out here beating the drum about the sanctity of certain local shows that are either complete cheapskates, haven’t bothered to check my resume for 10 years , or are just taking advantage of my good nature?

And how, as I sit here and bitch that people can’t get their head around 2010 being 6 years ago, can I justify without being a hypocrite, look at an offer to a WW show, that understands who I am, what I bring to the table, wants me there, and is willing to make it worth my while to be there…. and turn it down because of some crap that happened 5 years ago between me and people who don’t even work there anymore?!

To make a long story short, there will be a few Wizard World shows on my list this year, because they are serious about me being there, and we’ll see how it goes.  I’m even going to be cautiously optimistic.  As always, I’ll call it like I see it.  For the time being I’ll stay away from WW shows that are close to locally run cons that I know are run by good people, but even that has it’s limits…if a show will fork out to get some guy who inked spider-man once upon a time, I’m not trying to hear about how their budget is tight, they can have me there or they can have spider man Inker no.7 that no one actually cares about enough for it to have an impact on their decision to go to the show or skip it.  

I sh*t you not, I have gone to shows for no other reason than loyalty, driving for hours to get there, spending days at the show, signing, sketching, being on panels, entertaining the crowd, adding to the show, and getting jack squat in return from the promoters because their budget is tight and they are a small show and blah blah blah…and finding out some dork who had a breif stint on the Punisher 15 years ago…who had NO LINE to see him, barely looked up from the table for three days got a stipend and his entire weekend and travel paid for.  F*ck That. That’s not me being loyal, that’s me being taken advantage of.

Oh…and why do things like that happen at local shows?  and here is the one big knock on them….they are put on out of “love” which often means they are run by the inner 10 year old of the person in charge. That person’s inner tell year old no doubt had a big ole’ chubby because the dork who was on a book he liked back in the day is at his show….zippity doo daa…no one else gave a sh*t, it was a complete waste of the show’s money.  In truth, that wasn’t a show put on for “love of comic books” it was put on for “the love of the comic books he loved”.  That’s just one example.  Franchise shows and larger shows run by people who are serious, choose guests based on their value to attendees , not the value to their own inner ten year old.  

I will be at Wizard World Madison, and a few others to be announced.  There is of course a Wizard World in St.Paul, and regular readers know I was less than thrilled with the new management of my previously beloved MNCBA comic-con…I haven’t made up my mind on that one.  It sure would come across as spite if I went, since I had been going to MNCBA for over a decade and have build up a big fan base in the area,and WW St.Paul is only weeks away from that show….even though it wouldn’t be spite, it would look like it.  I have a lot of readers in that town, it would be flat out foolish to not go back to any show there (and a little sad) and at this point I can’t even fathom the scenario where I would return or even be asked.  Of course there is a horror convention or tow in St.Paul…I dunno, I’m mulling it over.

By the way, if you’d like to ensure I am at a show in your area the process goes like this…

1-tell them, go to the website find the email and send tell them you want me there.  My Bio page might help.  http://www.arseniclullabies.com/proport.html

2- tell me, you did this and I, or my rep at Comic Art House will follow up.

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