Convention Report Double Feature! True Believers and Cardiff Anime & Gaming Con!

Over the past two Saturdays I’ve been to two very different conventions where I had two very different experiences, True Believers Comic Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse (3rd February) and Cardiff Anime and Gaming Con at the Mercure Hotel, Cardiff (yesterday 10th February). True Believers True Believers is a show I’ve tabled at before and was selling at again. Booking a table, receiving set up instructions, and getting into the event was extremely simple. This isn’t the team’s first rodeo, they’re familiar with the venue and their own processes so everything ran very smoothly. Stuart and Andy, the main men behind the operation, made sure to pop by everyone’s table to have a chat, make sure they were okay, ask if there were any issues, etc. I think what’s always been very apparent is that these guys put on this show so everyone can have a good time, it has a by the fans for the fans feel. There was a very strong presence of small press and indie comics and, while I only got away from my table for five to ten minutes at a time, it felt like the majority of tables were occupied by artists selling their self-published books. True Believers has come to have a very strong focus and the audience it attracts now expect, and get excited for, indie comics. It felt like every artist based in the South was in attendance. Sarah Millman, Dani Abram, Emily Owen, Rachael Smith, Attic Studios, Reckless Hero, the Awesome Comics Podcast, Big Punch Studios, Disconnected Press, Shaun Dobie, Matt Garvey… pretty much everyone you’d expect! From a trading...

What’s in store for 2018?

2017 is practically over. Sure, there’s a week and a half left, but in the UK we’re all winding down for Christmas and New Year. 2017 saw the release of Unfamiliar Skies issue 2 and I got to attend some fantastic conventions. I might write a proper “looking back” post about the year at some point, but this entry is all about looking forward to 2018. Comics Straight off the bat, we’ll get to the single most important thing, the comics themselves! Going one title at a time, you can look forward to: Unfamiliar Skies Claris’ story will continue with issue 3. An assassin has been sent to kill Claris and her father. Meanwhile, the colony ship Claris ran away from is also under attack, threatening the lives of everyone aboard – including her mother! There are going to be some serious consequences for Claris’ actions in issue 1 that will lead us into issues 4 and 5. The original plan was for the first arc to be five issues, however I think the story will benefit from slowing the pacing down a little and that could extend the arc beyond five issues. In terms of release, I’m torn between two options. The first is to release issue 3 as a digital first comic, bringing it to Comichaus and Comixology as soon as it’s finished, then setting some money aside each month (supplemented by any income from the digital releases) to print it. This may take some time as historic data on Comixology sales tell me that won’t bring in enough to fund a print run, while Comichaus is...

A break from conventions

I’m currently taking a break from conventions for a number of reasons, with Melksham Comic Con back in August being my last for what was planned to be a year out. There are a number of reasons for that including travel, health and, yes, money. In short, I can’t drive because my left eye is underdeveloped and I don’t really have any sense of depth perception, making driving extremely dangerous for me and everyone else on the road, so I’m reliant on public transport or my other half giving me a lift. The former is tricky due to living in a remote, rural, village and the latter became much more of an issue after we had kids. Health wise, since needing some time off work years ago for stress, anxiety and panic attacks I now get severe stomach cramps, short of breath and other unpleasant symptoms when I’m under significant stress. As much as I love conventions and the community, there can often be a pressure to sell enough to cover your costs, to be able to print the next book, to be able to attend the next show. I’m not a salesman, far from it. I’m a socially awkward high functioning autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) who often wears a paper-thin mask of staged confidence and bravado. Finally, money. I’ve covered some of it above and the rest I’ve talked about in detail in a previous article. In short, you have to treat self-publishing like gambling, yes there are wins and occasional jackpots but you should never spend money you can’t afford to lose. Right now, I need to rebuild...
Fan Art & Fair Use

Fan Art & Fair Use

Disclaimer: This is going to be quite a long post.  The creation of this article has taken quite some time due to the amount of research involved.  Whilst it was initially planned to be as objective as possible, I will be calling out certain practices I believe to be illegitimate.  I am not a legal professional and am presenting my limited understanding of the subject matter.  I will be presenting both facts and opinions. An Introduction Fan art is something that you’ll see on many artists’ Instagrams, Facebook pages and convention stalls.  At it’s core, fan art is arguably the ultimate expression of someone’s love and adoration of a particular series, franchise or Intellectual Property (IP).  There’s no doubt that fan art can come from a good, well-intentioned, place and be born of love, however it’s also fair to say that fan art can be damaging to an IP holder and there could be legal consequences, especially if the fan art’s being sold. A common response from the fan art community is that they’re legally protected by Fair Use.  I’ll be taking an in-depth look at Fair Use (sometimes referred to as Fair Dealing, Free Use or Fair Practice) to try and determine whether any protection does exist, or whether it’s a widespread misconception amongst the community. There are many arguments for and against fan art, as well as a number of different approaches employed by various companies to both tackle and support it.  The issue stretches across more than comics, covering movies, TV shows and video games to name but a few.  In addition to reviewing the law,...
Putting the Con in Comic Con

Putting the Con in Comic Con

How much comic content does an event need to have before it can call itself a “Comic Con” and what should count as “comic content”?  It’s a very heated discussion within the UK indie comic scene at the moment as we see more shows crop up than ever before. Some of these events have heavily advertised TV and movie guests, as well as replica Batmobiles, DeLoreans and Game of Thrones… thrones, while having very few, if any, comic creators, back issue sellers and actual comic books and graphic novels.  This has left a sour taste in the mouths of many creators who feel that the title “Comic Con” has become an umbrella term for nerd and geek culture events. I can’t help but wonder why that seems to be the current state of play and I’ve certainly seen frustrations from both convention organisers and artists.  Naturally, I am somewhat biased as a creator but I’m going to try and be as objective as possible. What’s Gotten People Angry? As previously mentioned, several events which have labelled themselves as Comic Cons have had very little to do with comics.  I’m going to show some specific examples, though I have obscured usernames, avatars, etc. as I have no intention of starting a witch hunt.  I must also stress that I am not commenting on the quality of these shows. Here’s a convention organiser admitting, on their Twitter account, that they don’t read comics apart from the Beano.  Their event has “Comic Con” in the title.  As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir, with the main question simply being “How can you run...

The Economics of Indie Comics

This is a post I debated putting up, however after thinking about it I think this information needs to be out there for the benefit of: Aspiring and existing indie comic artists, Consumers, fans and con-goers, Convention organisers and staff. This post will talk, very frankly, about the costs of creating and selling independent comic books in the UK.  Prices will be in GBP and based upon my personal experiences, as well as conversations I’ve had with other creators.  In the best interests of all involved there will be absolute anonymity.  Additionally, this posts aims to be positive, proactive and, where it does highlight problems, suggest solutions.  Let’s go! How much does it cost to sell at a convention? The cost of appearing at a convention varies wildly from show to show.  There are also multiple costs involved.  Below, I’ve broken down the common, recurring, costs that apply to pretty much every convention (yes, some conventions have costs unique to them) as well as the most and least I have ever personally spent on that item.  After talking about the costs, I’ll talk about how I decide whether those costs are reasonable. Table Most conventions supply a 6ft by 2ft table, though you need to bring your own tablecloth.  You’ll be charged for table hire and use of the space around your table.  The least I’ve ever paid was £0, yes I’ve had a ‘free’ table before although it was on a condition that I run 2 panels over the course of the convention lasting at least 1 hour each and appear on a 3rd panel which was basically...