The House that Patience Built

Back home from Comic-Con!

It felt like a very forward-looking Con to me, despite all the worries about impending doom in various markets.

Both Sky and Winter were among the thousand or so led by Edgar Wright out of Hall H on Thursday to see one of the first public screenings of you-know-what. Have yet to meet anyone who didn’t love it.

The four panels I was on went off without a hitch. After the fourth on Saturday, I talked for a long time to two teams of iPad comics creators about the challenges of that new platform, and was reminded of how young the mobile space still is.

Speaking of young, Ivy and I got to meet Juni Kibuishi for the first time (above—and yes, Ivy’s hair is purple again!). I watched his eyes watching everything and was reminded how unpredictable each generation of creative minds can be.

Raina Telgemeier’s terrific all-ages Smile sold out at the show. We talked at the First Second dinner about the dozen other subjects that deserved the comics treatment and what a difference Raina’s personal touch and wise storytelling choices made.

Of the hundred thousand plus who descended on San Diego last week, maybe a few hundred were aspiring young artists or writers making the journey for the first time.

It’s easy for a dedicated young artist to believe that if their work is good enough, it’ll rise and rise until they’re the ones at the Hall H microphones (or at least Ballroom 20) and it’s their characters being painted on the side of the Bayfront Hilton.

It’s also easy, after a few years of frustration, for even the best young cartoonists to believe that the system is rigged, and no matter how hard they work, there’ll be enormous obstacles put in their way that have nothing to do with the quality of their stories and art.

Both are true, of course. Good work will rise to its level AND the system is rigged. Which is why, if you want to find a common denominator among the success stories at San Diego, it’s patience.

For example, bookstore buyers don’t always understand Telgemeier’s Smile. The children’s comics market in bookstores is still immature and the obstacles for new authors are numerous and frustrating. But as soon as kids actually got their hands on the book (often through book fairs), it became a big hit. The book itself made all the difference.

One of the iPad hopefuls I talked to was Robert Berry whose Ulysses adaptation was originally rejected by Apple for nudity. It’s a smart, well-designed work that was nearly killed in the cradle, but its future actually looks pretty bright now that Apple was embarrassed into reversing their decision. Joyce’s legacy may deserve part credit for the reversal, but the quality of the work will carry it from here on.

And Scott Pilgrim for YEARS couldn’t get shelved in one of the biggest book chains in America. The “system” was truly rigged against it. Yet here we are.

Will Eisner insisted again and again that CONTENT would always drive the industry and the art form. No matter what happened at the retail, publishing, or distribution levels; it was what happened on the page and in the panels that would make all the difference.

I believe it more every year.

Discussion (10)¬

  1. Alberto says:

    This is the kind of post that motivates and encourages me to do comic books once again. With patience and determination (and maybe a little bit of luck) anything is possible…

  2. Beto says:

    These are encouraging words for all of us looking forward to make an eventual living on comics and/or publishing. There is no such thing as overnight success, and when the news make it seem so, they are just hiding from us the years of rejection and neglect most of those “overnight successes” had to deal with in the past to get there.

  3. Grabnorg says:

    Every time i leave comic-con im just happy to be off my aching feet, but the moment I wake up the next morning i feel sadness tugging at my heart. Instantly I’d give anything to see that crowd being herded across the tracks jowls dripping with longing for Warner Brothers’ signature bags and all the free swag that will soon fill them.
    If only they hadn’t been doing such good deals on sunday i might actually have had some money left over. But buy 1 get 2 free at Archaia, HOW DO YOU SAY NO?!
    Hopefully i’ll be able to financially recover before tickets are sold out again (within the next few breaths no doubt).

    Ah, what a wonderful weekend….

  4. Clint Wolf says:

    Very inspiring words from you (and Will Eisner). I came to Comic-Con this year with one of my main goals being to meet you and Kurt Busiek and at least get some signatures, but you took the time to talk with my wife and myself both before and after Kurt’s panel and that was immensely gracious of you. Also, not only accepting but asking if we would sign the copy of our comic I nervously offered you was hugely flattering. You definitely know how to keep newbies encouraged!

    That panel was also the most thought provoking one I attended all convention long, despite being on Thursday morning. So thank you. I can safely say I have chosen my inspirations well.

  5. YoungPrometheus says:

    Great post. True too. As a fifteen year old (turning sixteen in August) with a strong desire to be a fine cartoonist, but still polishing and improving his skills, and hoping that despite possibly crappy art, that the story and characters would capture peoples imagination, this post strikes a chord with me.

    So yeah, lurker turned commenter. 😛

  6. justJENN says:

    Very inspiring. It was great meeting you this weekend!

  7. THIS is what I need to hear right now. Here’s to working hard and finding a lucky break!

  8. Megan says:

    As a cartooning student heading into my least year of school and very anxious about the future, reading this was exactly what I needed to hear right now.
    Thank you.

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