The argument in today’s comic is not one that has escaped me. Not that I’m unattractive – quite the opposite, in fact – but the fact that, especially with a photo comic, readers are more inclined to tune in every update if you or one of your main protagonists is an attractive woman.
Many online properties have figured this out, following the learnings garnered from television. People like watching attractive people, and more often than not they prefer women to men.
This was made even more abundantly clear when I have had female characters appear in the photo stories – namely, the sexy vet assistant, the crazy cat lady, or even most recently Amanda and Jess.
Some of the panels I give at conventions includes “The Dos and Don’ts of Photocomics,” and in there I say two things:
1) I recommend against putting yourself in the comic. Not you as an actor, but you as a person.
2) I recommend having some attractive friends be in the comic with you.
The first item up there is important because if, like @$$hole!, your comic has any guts or an opinion, you’re more likely to tick someone off. These readers tend to be ignorant to the entertainment process, and instead directly associate you with the negative aspects of whatever you’ve done or said that angers them. They do this even if you don’t cast yourself as yourself. Audiences have difficulty differentiating the character from the actor. Or they assume that, as the writer, the negative piece must reflect your true thoughts and ideals.
I say this to the later, “If I were to write Captain America, I would write a very patriotic character who put country before himself. However, I also have to write the villains. Say it’s a flashback and he’s fighting Nazis. Just because I write a character who’s a Nazi doesn’t automatically mean I sympathize, endorse, or appreciate that organization in any way. It just means that, if I make you hate that character, I’ve done my job as a writer portraying them as the villain.”
So why, if I know myself to be attractive, do I write self-depreciating humor strips like this? I took a note from Kevin Smith’s book that, when you write something with balls – something with an opinion – it’s better to attack yourself before someone else has the chance to.
Plus, let’s be honest – the bald head is an easy mark for when you need to poke fun at something on my person.
I woke up to the phone ringing at around 8:30am.
“This is your breakfast wake up call,” comes a familiar voice from the other end.
“Hi Russell,” I replied. “I set the alarm for 9 this morning…wanted to sleep in.”
I got up, took a shower, and headed off to grab breakfast real quick before our 10am panel for Reading with Pictures. By this time, my voice was really starting to disappear – and my Barry White impression was just about spot-on. Josh, Russell, and I were in the early morning panel with a sparse but involved group of people. Josh told the usual stories about how he learned how to read from comics. Russell told stories about the inspiration for his story in the anthology. And I told stories about the inspiration for Albert the Alien.
A few people from some of my earlier panels of the show were in attendance, which is always flattering. It shows that, since I was in such a variety of panels with many different topics, that people were interested in me. Things that were important to me, and that I spend my time working on. That’s a very humbling realization.
After the panel ended I headed out to the floor. It was the last day to sell, and I sold the crap out of everything I had. People from panels stopped by, people from earlier in the weekend who said they were going to buy something stopped by, complete strangers stopped by, and so did old and new friends.
I missed closing ceremonies because I wanted to sell everything I had, and I almost did. I walked the floor the last few minutes of the show to trade books with people, and then packed up my gear. The staffers invited me back to the green room for dinner with the amazing crew who made this weekend possible. After eating far too much food, I was invited to have some adult slushies with some of the convention organizers in the Presidential Suite. Man, what a room!
I didn’t take any pictures of it, but this room doubled as the green room a few years back. It’s got a kitchen, living room, office, bedroom, and a bathroom that would make rich people jealous. The shower was big enough for 5 people not touching. And I’m not exaggerating.
I left the show much later than expected, but having had the greatest weekend I’ve had in the longest time. Possibly ever.
I want to thank everyone responsible for putting that show together, and for making me a guest of the show. I can’t even begin to name them all, and trying to do so would not do it justice – because I know I would mis-spell someone’s name.
To the people who put on the show, the people who I met, and the people who made me a guest of the show – from the bottom of my heart I thank you.
Friday was the first official day of the convention, and I headed down to breakfast with Russell and Steve Horton (DC Holiday Special) at O’h (the restaurant at the Hyatt).
After breakfast, we headed out to the floor to set up the tables (which were right by the main entrance of the show – we couldn’t have asked for a better location). As people started filtering in, I was approached by several groups of people for pictures and autographs – which I’m always glad to give.
Our tables were over by the other comic guests including Misako Rocks! (Savage Love) and Fred Gallagher (MegaTokyo), and we were also joined by our good friend Josh Elder (Batman Strikes, Mail Order Ninja).
Around 1pm, I was escorted to the stage in the Hyatt for Opening Ceremonies. All of the guests are invited and encouraged to attend, even though the event tends to start a little late. Unfortunately because of that late start, Josh and Steve had to step out to get to a panel that they were both on, and since Russell wanted to stay on the floor to sell, it made me the resident comic guy at the show.
Behind the stage I met some cool people, including the band members of the Spoony Bards, many of their members being from Chicago. They even invited me to one of their shows this coming weekend, but I digress.
So while Vic Mignogna is on the stage, I’m told that I’ll be next. Suddenly a very cold sweat hits me – one of the most popular people at the show is on stage, and I have to follow his act. Thankfully, our speeches were separated by the announcements of the missing comic creators.
I came out when my name was called, looking out at a good thousand plus people in the audience. The lights mostly obscured my vision, so I couldn’t count exactly, but I could tell that the room was filled. The amazing thing was that the clapping that welcomed me wasn’t just polite and sparse – but a roar from the crowd!
“So I guess they selected me to represent the comic creators at this show,” I said. “Which means we’re all in some kind of trouble.”
“Just kidding, the rest of the guys are at a panel right now.”
After informing the crowd about my panel schedule for the weekend, and why they should stop by and buy my stuff, I exited the stage and watched a few more presenters before returning to the floor.
I met fans and sold my heart out until my first panel of the weekend, Marketing and Advertising your Comic at 5pm. For what promised to be an education (and therefore less entertaining) panel, a good chunk of people showed up. Many were actually looking to promote something other than a comic – some even just looking to get into marketing or advertising as a career – and I tried to keep the panel as open as I could. Come Q&A time, the questions went flying. Thankfully, I was able to follow up with some of the people after the panel ended to make sure that they walked away with satisfying answers.
I went back to the floor with just enough time to pack up the table, and then the group of us went to dinner at the O’h restaurant again (at the behest of one of the convention coordinators). After dinner, we returned to the green room for relaxing and drinking. I met one of the con liaisons and we ended up playing DJ Hero (which I suck at), and then went to the rave (where we watched some 16 year olds in a sweaty “hump train”), and then back to the green room for one last drink of the evening before bed.
Saturday would be the big day, and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it!
To be continued…
Thursday night after work got out I grabbed my already packed (and very heavy luggage case), and headed out to the blue line to Rosemont. I was kind of beat after the long work day, but extremely excited for the weekend ahead because this was my first year as an official guest of one of my favorite conventions of the year: ACEN!
This was the 13th year of the show, and it’s grown by leaps and bounds. Last year they boasted 17,000 attendees – making them one of the largest conventions in the country. I was unofficially on their guest list last year, but didn’t have a table or any product to sell. Instead, I sat on several panels and helped spread education and entertaining stories to the masses. Apparently they liked me enough to invite me back as an official guest of the show this year – and for all of you who requested me, I humbly thank you.
Russell Lissau (The 29, Batman Strikes!), another guest of the show and my good friend, picked me up and took me to Target because I forgot my table cloth for the show. Then we headed into the Hyatt and went straight for the green room so I could get my room keys and badge from con ops.
Russell and I were then invited to a meet-and-greet with the con volunteers and the guests. Kind of a fun way to mingle with the people volunteering their weekend to making the show as awesome as possible! We chatted up one such staffer, and were joined by fellow guest Steve Yun (Robotech).
After the meet-and-greet, we went to go grab tickets to see Iron Man 2. Although I had already seen it (read the review here), Russell had not. When we got to the theater, I was amazed to see several of my friends from college (who attend the show every year) were already in the theater! We sat by them and enjoyed the flick together.
After the movie ended, Russell and I headed back up to the green room to hang out with the guests and staffers. Many of the Japanese guests were up there with their translators, as well as many of the American voice actors. I had met a few of them at previous cons, but this year they recognized me – probably because I was the only bald guest, and probably because my profile picture in the brochure had that blazing red background.
After a few drinks, I headed off to bed looking forward to the long weekend to come.
To be continued….
Oh oh, the magical memory-loss hat is finally on sale. What havoc can Amanda spread with it? Perhaps we’ll find out in another story down the road.
For now, I’m going to try for some funny short-form illustrated strips. Later, peeps!
Amanda’s timing couldn’t be any worse! Ah, the torment! Trevor was about to get the smoochies.
Also, that frog puppet on her hand is a toy that my mom got for Waffles so the cat would stop clawing the hell out of me. Unfortunately, the cat doesn’t like playing with the frog puppet.
We’re coming up on the end of this online romantic comedy. Then we’ll go back to some illustrated stories. See what the ol’ gang’s been up to on that front.
Also, the kickstarter campaign for Reading with Pictures has started – and it’s already well on its way to its goal. Be sure to check it out and pledge for the anthology! I’ll have an 8 page story in the book, and it’s going to have some awesome artwork by the very talented Gabriel Bautista! I’ll be posting some artwork examples and story teasers in the blog eventually.
Also, I’ll be attending ACEN this year in Chicago as a guest! The show’s May 14-16, and it’s always a great time. Be sure to tell your friends and attend the convention – it’s going to be a rockin’ time!
It’s so true – Jess deserves better than just average. So much for Trevor trying to pull his usual “slide through and get by” tactics. Amanda’s too smart for that.
Can he win her over so he can win over Jess?
This was tons of fun to shoot in Lincoln Square. While shouting in the middle of the sidewalk, “I’ve forgotten how to flirt…just like I never learned how to read!” a woman came strolling by laughing her ass off.
Always a fun time.
The podcast interview that I had a few weeks back has been mostly edited down. If you were not able to tune in live (talkshoe crashed about 20 minutes in), I spoke on writing techniques, working with artists, the comics industry – as well as talking about Temple – for about 6 hours.
Part 1 is located here.