Here we are, the end of this three episode miniseries. It’s amazing how fast this event went by. I didn’t have much to do for the final day, but a lot of reflections came to me that I’ll note here. Upon entering the convention center for the last time in at least a year, the first thing I felt was honestly exhaustion. The whole experience really does take a lot out of you, and to grasp the idea that there are creators, vendors, and staff who will be doing the exact same thing in two weeks at ECCC is mind-boggling. They must literally be super-humans, and my respect goes out to them. Not only that, but it’s definitely even more exhausting selling yourself and your work at one of these conventions than it is covering them.
The very first lesson I learned is: Try to stay close to the convention. I stayed at my home this year, and while not paying for every meal and lodging is nice, transportation also took up three hours of my day every day, which did not help my ability to write articles or sleep. With how much is packed into these three days, time is worth more than money in this instance, I’ve decided.
As I walked artist alley for the last time that morning, it struck me how much I hadn’t seen yet over the previous two days, even in that one specific area, which brings me to my next tip: Attend the con with someone, preferably someone different than you. Here’s the thing, I met a ton of cool and amazing people at C2E2 this year. Meeting those people was amazing and probably changed my life to be honest, but meeting them and spending time with them is different than attending the con together. I was on a separate journey than the one they were on, and that’s okay, but after going on this journey solo this year, I think that sharing the C2E2 journey with someone allows for so much more meaning to be extracted from it. When I was wandering the convention in a daze, I gravitated toward what I knew. Every time. I think I would have learned and gained so much more if I had someone to constantly discuss things with and/or someone who could show me things that matched their interests and vice-versa. That would have only led to me meeting new people and having more amazing experiences. If I’m lucky enough to do this show next year, I hope I can find someone willing to do the whole thing by my side. Please note, that I am in no way diminishing the solo con experience. I think a lot can be learned from it, especially as a first-time experience, but I think the value of having someone who is not you in such a large, full, and diverse environment cannot be ignored.
Back to wandering artist alley for the last time, I was fortunate enough to talk to everyone I wanted to talk to, no matter how brief it was. I was able to set up five future interviews, which was an amazing feeling. I was kind of bummed at first about not being able to do more interviews at the convention, but I didn’t have anyone I really knew that attended. All the creators I’ve interacted most are attending ECCC, but that was okay. If anything, it increased my drive to do and network more so that the story will be a different one next year. Additionally, I had a secret agenda this con to find an artist for an 8-page series I want to do, and I became so busy and engulfed in everything that it didn’t work out, so that’s another goal for future conventions. I’m not really all that sure how creators find each other at these things, but I guess I’ll have to learn soon if I start accomplishing my goals.
The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe that the key to really networking with creators at conventions is to try and talk to them about anything but comics. Hear me out. If I approach their table and start talking to them about their own comics, that is the same thing they’ve been dealing with all day. If, however, I am able to strike up a conversation about anything else anywhere else, that’s a more memorable moment. Most creators were definitely very excited to be interacting with fans the entire show, and from what I’ve heard, it’s an awesome experience, but the excitement I saw when they were geeking out about wrestling, food, other people’s comics, or something much more casual was a whole other level. They weren’t “professional excited,” but rather, “personally excited,” and I think there’s a difference. Just my two cents though.
Also, and this should be obvious, try not to be sick. I had to get a lot of work done before and after the show, so my good health habits fell to the wayside, which was a mistake. Even though it was just a head-cold, I didn’t want to be around people for an extended period of time, I’m sure people didn’t want to be around me, and I didn’t blame them. It definitely contributed to me not having the confidence for extended conversations with creators, and to my increased exhaustion during the convention. Convention health prep and standards should start the week before, and that’s definitely something I’m going to follow next year. It’ll be a better time for everyone.
In terms of panel coverage, I was pretty proud of what I accomplished. I think there’s a definite balance there, as you could spend so much time worrying about covering them that you miss them on a more personal level. I think I struck a balance between picking which to cover live, which to cover as articles, and which to experience entirely on my own.
As a whole I’d like to thank everyone who made this possible and made my experience a great one. Whether it be my site editors and colleagues who encouraged me and helped me along the way such as David Brooke, J.J. Travers, Patrick Ross, Connor Christiansen, my friends and colleagues over at Xavier Files who I had a blast with like @RevZachary, @geneticghost, @arthurstacy, @christieddleman, @strictlyworse, and @xmenduh, and those who I got a chance to speak with who I definitely also see as creators or journalists who I look up to such as Frank Gogol, Kelley Williams, and Chris Arrant. It was a blast! See y’all next year!