Comic-book Law School, 101 & 102: Two sessions on copyrights and trademarks, presented by a cheerful lawyer. Most important lessons: You can’t copyright ideas, only expressions of those ideas fixed in a reproducible form. Register your creative works. Unpublished materials can be bundled by year of creation. Published works may be bundled every three months (although your publisher may handle registration). No “Poor Man’s Copyright” arrangement does any good, but registering is only $45 per bundle. For more, Copyright.gov.
On Thursday, when my Posse was listening to Syd Mead, who worked on Blade Runner, I wandered the Exhibit Hall. Nobody was around the Studio Foglio booth as I went past, so I stopped and talked with Kaja Foglio (Girl Genius). She admired my “Everything’s better with Tentacles” button, so I gave it to her. She seemed quite pleased when I congratulated her on the WCCA award (I voted for them). While people had recommended my comic to her, she hadn’t read it yet. About that point, Phil Foglio wandered over, and I got to meet him. I’ve admired his work from “The Dragon” magazine and the Myth Adventure books ages ago, so that was quite a thrill.
I like to think I’m not too star-struck, but the speech center of my brain was not working quite up to par. I don’t think I came off as a gibbering idiot, but I did have a couple moments where part of my brain realized I was rambling and I wondered if I’m frightening them, but they were quite gracious and seemed happy to chat.
Riding on that wave, I then went to the “Unshelved” booth, and timed it just right for a few minutes talking to Bill Barnes. Not only had he read my comic, but he praised it. I tried to stay cool about it, but I probably was beaming like a lighthouse at that point. He did have a suggestion, which will be implemented soon. He declined a button, but took a card. I hope I mentioned to him that I was quite a fan of his work; I’ll be sure to say that in my follow-up email. I try to not have it be All About Me.
Because Comic-Con is so huge, one can have many significantly different experiences of it. You could go to all the big Media Events and see the hottest TV actors and movie previews, then get autographs afterward. But you’d spend most of your time waiting in line for each. One could spend the entire time at workshops, learning things. One could devote the weekend to the Exhibit Hall, going from booth to booth, gathering free stuff, playing with toys and watching a panoply of media. Then there’s the self-promotion scheme, where networks with producers, artists, marketers and writers, and then receives a series of reviews of one’s artist portfolio. One could even sit in a single spot and watch the constant flow of attendees, exhibitors, celebrities and film crews.
My experience was a mix of all of these. I mostly eschewed the Big Media, except for going to hear Neil Gaiman. He comes across as a charming, middle-aged British guy (with a voice reminiscent of both Michael Palin and Alan Rickman), who is just a bit befuddled by his rock-star status. His presentation was in one of the largest venues, and he began with “There’s nothing like looking out at 5,000 of you to make me really wish I had prepared something.” He wasn’t at a loss for words, though. The time went very quickly as he talked about upcoming projects, told anecdotes, including one about how Alan Moore gave him the nickname “Scary Trousers,” and answered questions. It was well worth being part of the mammoth crowd that jammed the hallway after it was over.
Which reminds me of what I was saying: The goals I want to achieve at a convention like this require me to work against my natural tendencies. For example, Three Things I Avoid: 1) Crowds, 2) Accosting Strangers and 3) Drawing Attention to Myself. If one attends a con for networking and self-promotion, it’s hard to avoid these things. There’s far too much competing stimuli if one merely sits and waits for people to come ask “So who are you and what do you do?”
I’m in debt to my friends for their assistance in this matter. Gilead and I agreed to introduce each other to the people we knew. Since he’s attended many SF/Fantasy cons for networking, I got introduced to a bunch of artists (including Larry Elmore). There were a few people there who I’d met at last year’s Stumptown Comics Fest, so I managed to return the favor a number of times.
For the people that we didn’t know, we had DrJ. Perhaps there are certain people that he won’t start a conversation with, but those sorts didn’t seem to be in attendance. He’d talk to pretty much anybody. And quite often during those conversations, he’d point at me and say “He does a really great webcomic!” That was my cue to give the quick promo and hand out a card. I gave out a bunch that way. If you can have a highly-gregarious Wingman for your self-promotion junkets, I recommend it.
This just scratches the surface of what I did. I mean, I haven’t even mentioned all the costumes we saw, or the parade of zombies, or what we did OUTSIDE of the convention, or how my costume boots wore patches of skin off my feet and legs (yes, that part really sucked). Well, I guess I just did. I suppose if you want to know more, ask me.
So, how would I sum up Comic-Con? It’s like an ordinary SF/F convention, but cranked up to 11. There’s MORE. OF. EVERYTHING. Which is good, if one is ready for a lot. I'll probably go again.