Weekly Reports

Baltimore Comic-Con 2018 Part 2

Before getting into the week's comics, let's wrap up Baltimore Comic-Con! It was a bit of a weird show because Diamond wasn't hosing a retailer summit this year and with New York Comic-Con the next weekend, a lot of publishers and pros didn't show up. Luckily, that made more room for the up-and-comers, and it was nice to see smaller publishers like Aftershock able to take center stage.

I went all three days this year which was a little weird. There was plenty to see and do all three days, but it meant that there were a lot of awkward interactions. Once you've decided not to buy somebody's comic, you remember them, but they're not going to remember you and will just keep asking each time you walk by. At some point I was pretty stressed out and some nice exhibitor asked me if I liked table-top gaming and I said "no" as though she had accused me of murder.

With three days to fill I had to divide up my time: I spent Friday finding all the local comics people, buying their latest work, and getting a feel for the layout of the con, Saturday was getting some commissions (more on that below) and buying comics, and Sunday was collecting commissions and tying up loose ends. I didn’t spend any time this year chasing signatures on comics, and only talked to two of the people over at the fancy tables: Meredith Finch and Marguerite Bennet. If you know their work you won’t be surprised, and if you don’t, what are you doing with your life?

On Saturday I attended a panel on diversity hosted by the people behind Pop Culture Uncovered, which was really great. They discussed the current sorry state of representation in nerdy pop culture and share their personal experiences growing up in the even less diverse bad old days. Funny, smart, knowledgeable and engaging - I’d recommend their podcasts wholeheartedly.

Saturday was also the day that I wore my Mockingbird Volume 1 memorial “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” t-shirt, and over a dozen people took me up on that. It was great telling people my political agenda, the actions I take, the causes I support, as well as my comics agenda of supporting women and members of marginalized groups. The best part is asking them if they have a feminist agenda - not too pointedly, mind you. It was a lot of fun!

Okay, on to commissions, and speaking of Marguerite Bennet (it was only two paragraphs ago), I got this sweet DC Bombshells-style Kate Kane Batwoman commission by Kit Steele, somebody I’ve been trying to get some original art from for years:

Batwoman in an Art Nouveau frame with a 40s nosecone style

I also have 2 sketchbooks that I take to cons. The first is around the theme of “Superhero Dance Party” and this year I got Emily Swan to draw a hilarious Kamala Khan. The other is one where I ask female creators to draw their original characters, and Jade Feng Lee drew me her titular Half Moon Heroes:

Kamala Khan with her fist embiggened and her legs twisted up. Two women dressed as Chinese adventurers

I love getting commissions on sketch covers. What I do is buy a whole bunch of blanks, take notes on my phone of what characters I’d like drawn on each, and then head to Artist Alley and get a good look at the art style of people doing commissions and ask them to draw something I’d like to see in their style. I also have a patented 5-step process for pricing:

  1. Look for artists who are young or from marginalized groups - they’re usually charging less than they ought to for commissions.
  2. Strike up a conversation! Learn something about them! See if they seem like a jerk. Look through the work they have on display - is it something you like? Or is it something really exploitative that you can’t stomach?  If the latter, walk away slowly.
  3. From your pile of comics, find something that would work with their style and, ignoring the sign they have up, ask them for a price. Express disbelief. (That part is easy because again, they’re usually selling themselves short.) Assume that they’re just talking about pencils. Ask how much extra for inks. Ask how much extra for color. 
  4. Come to an agreement on a price, pay them and leave your blank comic with them along with your phone number so they can text you when they’re done. Add a note on your phone with their name, their table number, and what you’re having drawn.
  5. While you walk around the con, enjoy some art until you get the text message. Consult your note and head to their table. Praise their work highly (very easy to do because you almost always get something amazing) and tell them that they should really raise their prices.

How well does it work? Well, as far as pricing goes I was glad to see that one young man had priced himself right out of my budget since last year. As for the art, see for yourself:

Catwoman's head Gwenpool with sword drawn Viv Vision in a very cute line art style Captain Marvel with her glowing fist raised Spider-Gwen climbing a web line up a building from above in a city scene Shuri drawn in a style like the Black Panther movie with her power gauntlets Gabby AKA Honey Badger washing her wolverine Jonathan Head shot of Wonder Woman styled like Lynda Carter Captain America with his shield Jean Grey as dark phoenix with gold highlights Scarlet Witch in her traditional costume Doctor Aphra holding a blaster raised in readiness to shoot

So what was good in comics this week?

  • Redlands is back and wherever you though this story was coming from, you’re sure to be surprised. I met Vanessa Del Rey at SPX and she did not warn me how wild things were going to get!
  • Jook Joint #1 came out and it’s a “sisters are doing it for themselves” sort of story about a club out in the bayou where consent is strictly enforced. So strictly that the book comes with a strenuous trigger warning and some phone numbers to call if you need help. Heed the warning!
  • Blackbird #1 has Jen Bartel on art so you don’t need me to tell you that it’s beautiful and magical. Sam Humphries knows how to pick collaborators and write to their strengths.

And what was bad?

  • Doctor Strange is back from space and it looks like he’s disappointed another woman who has it in for him. There are some twists, but the all-male team is making some weird decisions.
  • Batman #56 continues Tom King’s run of stories about fathers and the sons they disappoint, but I’m disappointed that there aren’t any women on the book.

That’s enough for this week - hopefully I will get next week’s post up on a more timely basis.

This Week's Books

Titles in bold are new #1s and a 👍 indicates a book with a least one non-cis-male creator. Numbers in parentheses are the total non-cis-male and total cis-male creators.

This Week's Stats

  10/3/2018 All Time
Gender-diverse Books 15 (48%) 4032 (53%)
All Books 31 7550
Non-cis-male Creators 29 (21%) 7157 (20%)
All Creators 136 35805

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