Saturday, 16 November 2013

2013 C4 Comic Con Experience

Two weekends ago I attended Winnipeg’s C4 Comic Con with my lovely girlfriend, and fellow comic enthusiast, Cassandra. We’ve gone together every year since we’ve been together, I’ve gone almost every year since I was ten, and each year has been a new, and always enjoyable experience.

Next year will be a departure from my regular attendance as I plan (I like this word because, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, things don’t always work out exactly how you hope) on having my own table in Artist’s Alley with copies of LEGACY and New Guard books for sale, as well as some prints and maybe some t-shirts and other stuff. It’s still a work in progress but I feel pretty confident in it working out quite well. Hope to see you all there.


So this year was special for a number of reasons beyond it being (in a way hopefully) my last Con as a regular attendee. This year we got a hotel room right next door to the Con (a GREAT move, though a tad pricey even with the break in pricing for the Con), I commissioned a piece of original art featuring Paragon from LEGACY, there were a few dozen people I knew that were going (beyond the small handful in previous years) and I attended a self-publishing panel put on by A.P Fuchs; not only the creator of Winnipeg’s very own superhero, Axiom-Man, but also one of the reasons I ended up doing a comic book in the first place.

A.P Fuchs, first name Adam, is someone who’s work I first came across back in 2006 when the first Axiom-Man novel came out. I was in Chapters, the St. Vital location, and spotted his book on the shelf under local interest. The first thing that caught my eye was the image of Axiom-Man on the cover; classic superhero pose on top of a building, his cape flapping in the wind and the second thing that really drew me in was that it was under the Local section. I was too curious not to pick it up.

Reading over the back cover and flipping through the first few pages, I was excited to see that it was indeed written by someone from Winnipeg (some stores seem to believe that “local” is open to interpretation and anyone from the same country applies) and that, even better, so was Axiom-Man. I quickly read a couple pages, thought it was pretty good stuff and headed over to the counter to purchase it.

Never in a million years would I ever expect to meet not only the author of the books, but also the cover artist of them, Justin Shauf. And unlike the stereotype that you hear about; stand-offish creators who can barely be bothered to acknowledge their fans, both of these guys were incredibly friendly and nice; happy to answer any questions and engage in conversation.

That’s actually something that I’d like to mention: almost every single creator that was there; whether artist, writer t-shirt seller, or pro wrestler, was very friendly and open- and considering how long of a day they put in, it’s even more remarkable. You might think it’s easy sitting there all day selling your stuff, but just put yourself in their shoes for a moment- having to smile, answer the same questions over and over, rarely taking a break… As much fun as I’ll have next year having my own table, I know it will be just as much work. Excited and a little anxious about it.

Back to Adam Fuchs for a moment. His Axiom-Man series has grown since 2006 (and I’m very glad to hear he plans on doing even more with it in the near future) and among the books that I always look forward to buying. The hero, whose real name is Gabriel Garrison, is much more human than your standard superhero; more Spider-Man than Superman, and Fuchs manages to tell a big story while never losing sight of the human aspect of the story and hero.
Adam himself is a hero of sorts, having become quite successful in the field of self-publishing through a combination of hard work, willpower, talent, and, having met him, I can safely say, a HUGE passion for self-publishing.

The panel he put on for self-publishing, as well as the book he wrote regarding the subject, are EXTREMELY informative and useful for anyone considering going at it themselves. I’ve been working on my own comics now for nearly two years and was amazed at how much stuff I learned from it. I cannot recommend it enough. Even if you don’t plan on self-publishing, it gives you a lot of insight into how the publishing game works- a friend of mine, Christine, attended it with me and as a published author herself, she found much of it to be eye-opening as well.

Not only is Mr. Fuchs what I would consider an expert on self-publishing, he’s also a great guy to talk to, in the little time I spoke to him, I quite enjoyed it- he’s obviously a very thoughtful person- he genuinely listens and engages people in conversation; even about things other than writing, and I found him to be in many ways the sort of independent businessman that I would like to be. He was nearly zealous in making sure that I got all that was coming to me; both through the book deal that he had going on at his table and during the course of his panel. You can tell he cares about the quality of his work and that the people who are paying for it get what they’re paying for. Both are very admirable qualities, to me.

I was very excited that he had asked me to bring copies of LEGACY and New Guard with me and we ended up trading for one of his novels. After he had a chance to read them later on, he sent me a tweet to let me know that he “really enjoyed all three” books- a very cool thing for me considering how long I’ve enjoyed his work and looked up to his example as a self-published local writer.

As I mentioned, I had commissioned an artist to do some art, and it was none other than the Axiom-Man cover artist, Justin Shauf. I was excited to meet Justin when I went- I’ve always enjoyed the Axiom-Man covers and when I flipped through his portfolio, I saw a lot of other work that I liked of his. But, in my extremely biased opinion, the best HAS to be his work on the Paragon piece that he did for me. It’s the first piece of original art I have featuring one of my own characters, all of my artists have worked digitally so far (necessary considering most of us live in different countries) and I could not have asked for a better piece to start off.

DC Comics really should look into throwing a Hawkman book Justin’s way; his take on the character is excellent. He did a JSA piece that was awesome and his Hawkman and Fate were my favorites on it. Better yet, DC, throw him a Dr. Fate book too.

Talking to Justin was a lot of fun too- another really nice guy who is obviously a fan of comics and the superhero genre but also an artist who has some good thoughts on the industry and art in general. I’ll be getting some more work done by him down the road and look forward to talking to him again.

As always there was the cool parade of costumes, Cass dressed up as a female Gambit this year, previously having been Wonder Woman and Rogue, and it was good to see the folks from Galaxy Comics, from whom I pick up my DC and Marvel comics every month (usually more regularly but it’s been all about making my own books lately).

But for me, the neatest thing of the Con wasn’t seeing my friends in the wrestling league doing their thing (sorry Peter, Matt and Corey) or hanging out all weekend at the Con (though it’s pretty great being able to come and go and every day see new stuff), but meeting one of, if not THE biggest, my fans.

I’ve only had books out for a few months now, and while everyone has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic about the books, I don’t think until that weekend that I had met anyhow as excited about my books until I met a young lad by the name of Kyle. Kyle is the nephew of one of my closest friends and she had bought him a Collector’s Edition of LEGACY #1 for his birthday.

By all accounts he loved it.

So when she told him that I was going to be at the Con, apparently he was so jazzed about it that he had trouble sleeping the night before. Flattering, I’ll admit. I was quite glad to meet him, and gave him my “proof” copy of New Guard which I had signed, shook his hand and happily answered the few questions that he had. He had to ask his aunt’s boyfriend to ask me to sign his copy of LEGACY #2 that she had bought for him, declaring that he was too shy to ask himself.

I recalled meeting Stan Lee at a store signing when I was roughly the same age and, not comparing myself to Stan The Man, merely the experience, it felt like in some ways I had come full circle. Very fulfilling as a fan of comics and if I managed to add another one to the club, then mission accomplished.
Happy to have you as a reader, Kyle, maybe one day I’ll be reading YOUR book.

So for me, this year, the Con was everything that makes comics great; adventure, friends, discovery and heroes. See you all there next year.