Oh man I can’t believe we are 22 pages in already.  I just finished drawing page 44 today after losing a bunch of work on it the other night when my computer crashed.  I think ol’ faithful is dying, I have been using this same machine since Chumble Spuzz volume one.  I am trying to figure out a way to raise some funds for a new one here… I am thinking of doing a print or something.

Anyway, I like to blog here on Bearmageddon and it gives me a chance to give you a little more content than just the page.  My plan is, if something on the page inspires something I will write on that topic, but if not, then I will answer Comic Q&A mail.  Of course, if you want to send in questions that are not about comics, be my guest.

These two questions come from Grace.

Question #1:

1.  I immensely enjoy enjoy comics in all shapes and forms.  I dabble a little bit in comics, pencils, inking, and colors, but I am not very good at any of them.  I have no desire to make it big in comics, it’s just fun to play around with the medium and maybe show my friends.  I would, however, like to improve my skills.  Since it is just a fun hobby for me, are there any casual and/or inexpensive ways you suggest to create better comic art and stories?

 

Good ol’ pen and paper never hurt anyone.  There is the matter of posting the art online which requires a scanner, but those are relatively cheap these days.  If you can afford a Wacom tablet (like an Intuos) you can draw your comics in the basic version of Manga Studio, which is only $50 last I checked.  I’ve drawn this comic, Axe Cop and Chumble Spuzz all in Manga Studio.  I use Manga Studio EX which you can get for as low as $99 on sale (retails at $300 I think), but the only difference is tools.  You get all the basics on the 50 dollar version and it really is the best ink line I have found on any illustration software.

 

The main thing is just to find the medium you love, and can thrive in.  Since you are just doing it for fun, do what is fun for you.

 

Question #2:

2. I don’t know why, but I’m so nervous whenever I’m about to meet my favorite creators in person.  I actually had my copy of Bad Guy Earth #1 in hand at San Diego Comic Con, but you seemed so busy that I didn’t want to push past other fans just to get an autograph.  So, when you’re sitting at a booth, what do you hope for in a fan?  I’m sure you’ve heard “I love your work” a million times, so what different or exciting things can I talk with you (or any creator) about for the brief moment we are face to face?

 

This is a great question. I have so many thoughts on this.  I can totally relate to the feeling of meeting someone who makes something you love.  You have spent all these hours getting to know them and “interacting” with them that when you finally meet them it is really jarring that, up to that moment they had no idea you ever existed.  It’s surreal, and weird and uncomfortable.  We all want to walk into that situation and for the excitement to be mutual and it just can’t realistically be that way.  I’m only saying this to give some sympathy.  I have been in the exact situation, waiting in line to meet some artist I love, being afraid I will say something dumb.  I want to try to give my best “other side of the table” perspective here.

First, you totally should have said hi.  I feel bad that you didn’t.  I have been told I look really serious at cons.  That makes me feel bad because I really do enjoy conventions most of the time.  They are tiring, but the thing that is tiring is the monotony, not the people (well, most of them).  In general, the convention experience is the only time as a creator I actually get to meet people who read my work.  The internet has made comics more interactive, which is awesome… because it can be a very lonely profession, but when a fan of your work walks up and gives you a genuine compliment, it is a really good feeling.  Any creator who can’t appreciate that is not only a jerk, but I feel sorry for them that they have become so egotistical that they have placed themselves above such interaction.  It’s gotta be lonely up there.

Of course, there is the element of just being… busy.  This is new to me, since the last year and a half or so has been my first time being someone people really seek out at a con.  Sometimes people have to wait in a line, and you have to just focus on who is in front of you.  This is not a snub, it’s just management of mental energy.  I can say this (for me anyway), if you are standing in line at my booth, and I seem to be in a long conversation with someone, or doing a drawing for them, and you just want a signature, feel free to butt in and just ask for it.  I promise not to bite your head off.

When Malachai is at the booth it really does turn into a frenzy.  He is not trying to make his way through the line, he is just having fun, so some people really have to wait while he interacts and scribbles on everybody’s individual book.  Sometimes he will draw an elaborate killer robot for them and spend 10 minutes, sometimes he will just mark “M” and say “NEXT!”.  So if you are not there to get Malachai’s signature, and he is there… come back in an hour or so.  He is usually only around for an hour or two per day if he is at the con.

Here is some other tips for con interaction with creators (from my perspective):

– Geeky technical questions about the intricate workings of your comic universe are generally annoying.  If I didn’t put an idea in my book, I didn’t care to dig into it.  I don’t mean observations or sharing your favorite part, that’s fine. I mean something like “hey you know how this character has the power of fire but he swims in episode 133 and the wetness seems to have no effect on him, but then in episode 172 he has to fight the water demon and it extinguishes his water gun…?”.

– I think the best compliment I get is usually when someone simply thanks me.  It means a lot.  I also really love when parents tell me about reading the comic with their kids or just general stories people tell me.  I enjoy hearing about people enjoying my work.  It makes me feel really good.

-If you want to show me your work, or have a conversation that is longer than 10 seconds… try to show up at lower traffic times, like first thing in the morning, especially on Sunday.  Better yet, send me an email.  I try to be pretty good about replying to them.  If I don’t answer an email, give me a couple weeks then send a reminder.  Sometimes they get lost in the mix.

-if you want a creator to draw you something for free… buy something from them and they will most likely draw better.  I don’t turn people down for a quick free sketch, but it can be annoying when they obviously have no idea what my work is and they just want something just in case my work becomes eBay worthy.

-There is nothing wrong with saying “I love your work”.  It may be a standard thing to say, so just as long you as you are cool with the standard response of “thanks” then we are all good.  It is the people who say “I love your work” who expect the response “well I love you too, let’s go have a beer” that are going to be let down.

I can’t speak for the guys who have insane crowds and have been doing this for years… but these are my thoughts.  If a creator goes to a convention and doesn’t want to talk to fans, he or she is a fool.  If that is the case, they deserve to be annoyed and miserable.

What it all comes down to is this… I literally am just some guy who likes to draw, who has been very blessed with some success and the feeling I get from people complimenting my work at conventions today is just as thrilling as it was when I was 12 years old.  I really enjoy people who are down to earth, friendly and appreciative.  There are annoying people at conventions, but you have already cancelled yourself out as being one of them by asking the question in the first place.  The annoying ones never think “hey is this annoying? Am I wasting this guy’s time?”.  When you become a “celebrity” even in the very tiny sense that I could be called one in very limited situations, all that means is that there are people are talking to you because of your work.  It is different than general interaction in life.  It is true that it is hard to become friends with someone you are a fan of.  One thing I have learned though is that creators do not owe their fans friendship.  Some fans seem to think they do, and they simply do not.  It’s impossible for a creator to be genuine friends with every person that loves their work if they have had any amount of success.  It’s also a weird way to start a friendship, but it CAN happen.    It took me YEARS to feel comfortable around Doug TenNapel.  I was such a huge fan of his, that divide of fan and celebrity just took a long time to crumble for me.  The whole topic of fan/friendship relationships is a huge one I have a lot of thoughts on but I need to leave it at that for now.

Anyway… next time say hi.  Even if you are a few people back in line, say hi.  I may be busy, it may take me a bit to respond (depending on the convention) but I genuinely enjoy the interaction and am very thankful for it.  Also, if you live in the Los Angeles area I will be doing two cons in this are soon… Long Beach Comic Con and Comikaze Expo.  These are both conventions that are much smaller than SDCC and interaction should be a lot easier.  The best place to meet a creator is at a small con.  San Diego is the worst.

Ok I think I answered the hell out of that one.  Thanks for asking!

Alright, on we go.  Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting Bearmageddon.

 

Ethan