Last weekend I was lucky enough to be one of the presenters at Tundra Comics‘ 3rd Sorta Annual Success in Comics Seminar. (I also presented at the first seminar back in 2009.) Other speakers included Tom Gammill, Tom Richmond, Amy Lago, Jeff Keane, Stephen Silver, Ed Steckley, Mark Simon, Tim Brennan, and, of course, Bill Kellogg & Chad Carpenter.
If you want a great full accounting of the entire weekend you should totally check out the Daily Cartoonist’s coverage, but I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite moments:
Chad and Bill started things off talking about self-syndicating Tundra into over 500 newspapers. (I mean, come on, that’s amazing!) I think the thing here that most bears repeating is the idea that you shouldn’t wait for success. Not syndicated? Can’t get into the New Yorker? No one wants to publish your book? Don’t wait, do it yourself.
Also, be professional. Be nice, hit your deadlines, it’s a business.
I was surprised by Amy Lago‘s presentation. I know people are concerned about what kids might read in a newspaper comic (are kids even reading newspaper comics?) but “bite me” isn’t allowed? And it sounds like syndicates basically aren’t launching new strips currently. So if you’re pinning your hopes on a syndicate contract, see Tundra’s advice above.
Tom Gammill was all kinds of entertaining, and I thought his technique of using cartoons to pitch ideas was pure genius. And keeping an informal journal of little things that make you happy/sad/angry/anything is a great idea for generating material later.
Here’s just a bit of Tom’s TV writing:
Isn’t that great?
Mark Simon has some really good ideas for self-promotion. One thing that I was glad to have confirmed was sending links to your material instead of attachments.
The next day began with Mad’s Tom Richmond who was, I think, the only one there who actually went to an art school. Unfortunately they frowned on cartooning so he paid his cartoon dues doing live caricatures. More good reminders from Tom on being professional and making yourself easy to work with.
Unfortunately the last person I was able to see was Stephen Silver who gave a really inspirational talk. The part I liked best was if you figure you really get started career-wise at around 30, and you’d like to retire at 65, you’ve got just over 10,000 days to work within. Make every day count! (And a huge thanks to Stephen for the advice on my brush pen nibs!)
I wanted to take a moment to say thanks again to Chad & Bill for having me. This is something I wish I could have attended when I was starting out. Also, a big thanks to Mark for making my presentation work. And thank you so much to all of the attendees I met! I hope I gave you a good talk, and I had a great time chatting with all of you!!