Convention Report: Wizard World Minneapolis 2016 (part 3)

 In conventions

Saturday’s always come far too early for my taste, especially when 1) recovering from jet lag, and 2) having stayed up late the previous night at a con, and you have to get up early to set up and sell. Alas, this is the reality of the dream that is selling comics. But hey, at least it’s fun work. 😉

After a quick shower and breakfast, I headed over to the convention center for a full day of sales and panels. I did a quick inventory, set up, and before I knew it the hall had attendees in it. Eventually, my good pal John Bivens showed up for some art demonstrations he was doing on the main stage. And without warning – because the day was flying past – I found myself attending some panels.

Ready for another day of sales and panels

Dean Haspiel takes an artsy picture of Danny Fingeroth, while I sell comics in the background

Hanging with my good buddy, John Bivens

The first panel of the day was about Making Indie Comics, and was moderated by former Spider-Man editor Danny Fingeroth. On the panel were Danny, Victor Dandridge (Wondercare), Dean Hapsiel, another guy (who was very much the definition of “indie artist”), and myself. We all talked about our various projects and experiences, and how we define indie creator and where we think the indie world of comics is going. It was interesting to see each person’s unique perspective on the topic, and how they funneled that definition into their art, writing, and projects. Even Danny had a few indie projects in the works, which were fascinating.

I went back for more selling, but then a little while later had my solo-panel for the day about Making Webcomics. Since it was just me (and about 20-30 attendees), I kept it pretty informal and mostly answered their questions. It was a fun time, and we had some great engagement from the group. When the panel did conclude, however, I went back to the table and continued to answer any leftover questions – and also to get back to selling, of course.

As the evening came to a close, we started to discuss dinner plans. Being the local among us, John recommended some great places within walking distance of the hotel, and we all met in the lobby and walked over to the pub.

Dinner with the guys. On the left: Dean Haspiel (front), John Bivens (back); on the right: Trevor Mueller (front) and Danny Fingeroth (back)

Dean and I shared some delicious ribs and penne, and all of us enjoyed some tasty adult beverages. We talked about comics, projects past and present, and goals and ambitions for the weekend. Dean talked about how much of a Prince fan he was, and that he had gone to some Prince locations around the city throughout the weekend.

As dinner wined down, we eventually went our separate ways – except for Dean and I, who headed over to the Wizard after party a few blocks away. Dean had some meetings set up with the owner of Heavy Metal Magazine, and I just wanted to chat with some creators (and maybe some of the TV celebrities). We figured there would be a private room set aside for the guests of the con, but that wasn’t exactly the case. When we arrived to the club, a trendy place with (loud) live music and a very youthful group (including a bachelorette party of women with phalluses on their heads, dancing with cosplayers ranging from Spider-Man to Dot Matrix – the C3PO character from Spaceballs). The VIP section was roped off, but in the main room above the stage – so the music was too loud to hear anyone, even if you were screaming into their ears. The drinks were flowing and the conversation (when you could hear anything) was pleasant, so we stayed for a few hours before calling it a night.

And by calling it a night, I mean we went back to the hotel so I could show Dean and Jeff what this whole anime convention was all about. I took them to the rave. Greg Ayres was DJing, and the place was filled with people dancing all over the place. I kept getting invited to dance on stage, but that’s not really my scene anymore. Plus, I had to keep an eye on Dean and Jeff. They stuck around for a few songs before it finally did get too late for the lot of us and we went our separate ways.

What kind of fun things do you typically do at a con on Saturday night? Do you rave, and if so do you stay the whole time or just for a bit of it?

Either my alarm didn’t go off, or I slept through it – because I looked over and it was 9am (an hour after my alarm was supposed to go off, and an hour before opening). I quickly got ready, packed up, and checked out. I skipped breakfast, because there wasn’t time, and set up for the final day of the show. The con was slow, as it often is on Sundays, with people having stayed up too late the night before and being sluggish on the final day of the show. I was no exception.

Eventually, we broke to do our Writing Comics panel with Danny, Dean, myself, and Dan Jurgens (The Death of Superman). The panel was quite interesting, as Dan – a veteran in the comic space – was giving advice on his creative preferences that contradicted what my experience had taught me in some cases. However, even though our approach was quite different, the message was the same: partner with your creators in order to tell the best story possible. Forcing your artists to follow your scripts leads to stiff comics – give them freedom to put their best work on the page so long as it helps strengthen the story. He also touched on how many writers write comics like they’re writing movie scripts, which is a big no-no in comics. Movies allow for motion, but comics are a series of still images that readers have to animate in their minds to get the visual narrative to flow.

All in all, it was a fantastic discussion. At the end of the panel, I went back to the table to break down for the weekend and – after a short hiccup where I lost my coat in the hotel – Dean and I shared a cab to the airport to catch our flights. We enjoyed some quick lunch, and then went our separate ways.

All in all, Wizard World Minneapolis is a smaller but very fun convention – in a gorgeous space, and in a nice town. There’s plenty of night life, lots of culture, and great talent coming to the show. New friends were made, old friends were seen, and a fun weekend was had by all.

Thank you to Wizard and all of the attendees for a fantastic weekend.

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