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My review of the Success in Comics weekend

This last weekend was the Success in Comics seminar hosted by Chad Carpenter and Bill Kellogg, the cartoonist and sales guy for the Tundra comics strip. The idea for this seminar was hatched over a year ago after many cartoonist approached Bill asking him how he was able to get Tundra into so many papers in such a small amount of time. The concept grew from a little show and tell gathering to a full seminar with multiple guests – each with their own success story on how they were able to successfully market and sell their cartoons to make a living wage.

I don’t know if this was a financial success for the organizers, but from the perspective as an observer, I’d call this seminar a success for several reasons. First, when cartoonists get together we typically spend a lot of time talking about pens, anecdotes and/or gripe about the current state of affairs. The business side of cartooning is discussed, but in smaller groups in hallways, lobbies and bars. This is the first seminar that I’m aware of that was specifically about the business side of the art. For that reason alone, I hope this becomes a reoccurring event – especially for those coming up who have the most to gain from the experience of those much further down the road.

Another aspect of its success was the opportunity to listen to the success stories of other cartoonists. Inspiration is very powerful force to move a cartoonist (or anyone) from one plateau to the next. The reality is not everyone in that room is going to be successful – even though we all heard the same presentations. The smart ones will take the concepts discussed and apply them to other areas of their life. I found many of the topics discussed had direct application to this blog and inspired me to think differently about ways to improve and market it better.

Because the environment was geared toward business, I’m not the only one who used the opportunity to network and discuss partnerships or deals. I overheard a few conversation end with agreements to discuss proposals in greater detail after the conference. One of the things that was emphasized by Mark Anderson was the importance of casting a lot of lines in the water (figuratively speaking) because even though most won’t yield a fish – one of them will.

And lastly, I think the line up of presenters was top notch. Each came well prepared to discuss the things that they learned that made them successful. I wouldn’t have taken seven pages of notes if I didn’t think the information was relevant and useful.

So that’s my take. In the interest of full disclosure, I had some hand in the seminar. I gave it free advertising and write-ups to help drum up interest and in return attended as their guest. As I spoke with various participants, I believe the consensus with positive. If you attended and feel differently please feel free to leave your own review in the comments. I know as Bill and Chad weigh whether to do this again, they would welcome any feedback positive or negative.

And lastly, kudos to the Carpenters, Bill, Zack the Flunky and all who organized this, it was done very well.

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
September/28/2009
@ 1:57 pm

“This is the first seminar that Iâ??m aware of that was specifically about the business side of the art.”

Have you attended an AAEC convention?

#2 Alan Gardner
September/28/2009
@ 2:35 pm

Sure I have, which is way I carefully worded the following sentence, “This is the first seminar that Iâ??m aware of that was specifically about the business side of the art.” (emphasis added).

I recognize that the AAEC does discuss the business side in panels (and a lot of informal discussions in the bars, etc.), but not nearly to the extend that this seminar did.

#3 Graham Nolan
September/29/2009
@ 4:43 am

This was a great seminar. Even after 25 years in the comic-book/comic-strip business, there is ALWAYS something new to learn. Sometimes it’s learning what not to do versus what to do.
Chad, Bill, Darrin and the gang put on a great seminar, but maybe we could consider a different host city next year…Las Vegas was not my cuppa tea.

#4 Ted Rall
September/29/2009
@ 8:18 am

Las Vegas is also a very expensive city in which to host a convention. And there are way too many distractions. We in the AAEC have found smaller cities like Lexington and Chattanooga to be the most rewarding experiences.

Although I did manage to “finance” my AAEC Vegas convention with a $20 investment at the poker table.

#5 Shawn Labadie
September/29/2009
@ 8:58 am

From the “wannabe” cartoonist.

Although I told Chad and Bill many times before I left, I AGAIN want to really thank them for putting this on.

The seminar was fantastic! I’ve been to many seminars on varied different subjects and this one was at the top of the list. Each speaker brought something new and informative to the table and there wasn’t a dull moment from my perspective.

There are really no manuals for becoming a cartoonist. If you are lucky you might meet a successful one who is willing to take a little time and mentor you, but otherwise you are on your own out here. It was nice to get the hard truth about what it’s like to be a cartoonist on a daily basis and what needs to be done to make a living at it.

I really hope they do it again next year. In my opinion it was well worth it.

SIDE NOTE: Alan, thanks for covering the event. It was great to meet you and I hope you are able to find a way to make this site work long term.

#6 Rich Diesslin
September/29/2009
@ 11:40 pm

Alan, well said. Very worthwhile event for me. I agree with Graham about LV. It was an interesting city to go to once, but not my cup of tea either – although I did have fun (mostly due to the folks I meet and got to know). However, I felt the costs (airfare, seminar, hotel, food) were reasonable relative to many other events I’ve noticed lately. I’m not familiar with recent AAEC rates, but NCS rates seem higher – but they seem to be big cities (not to raise that topic again ). LV did seem to be fun for others there, but I’m not sure that the venue mattered as much as rest of it, but just sayin’. Tundra did a good job keeping costs reasonable I think. Every penny saved helps though!

#7 Cam Millward
October/2/2009
@ 7:31 pm

Alan thanks for writing the great article on the seminar, It was a pleasure talking to you and all the artist. I hope my speech help out the artist on what really goes on in pagination of the comic pages in newspapers. Chad and Bill and all the gang from Tundra went out of their way to make sure everybody felt welcome and at home. I believe it great success.
Cheers
Cam Millward

#8 Dave Goldstein
October/16/2009
@ 7:39 pm

Alan , I was also an attendee at the conference and really
thought is was great ! The opportunity to network with other
artists who share a passion for their cartooning and get great
information from the line up of guest speakers made the
trip and cost worthwhile for me.

I currently have operated a local illustration and graphic art
business where I reside in Florida …but I feel that some of the
strategies shared at the conference may assist me in
expanding my scope of work . I have recently been posting
a panel cartoon on Sherpa /New Artists entitled “Hook Ups ” and always appreciate any feedback if anyone is interested .

A special thank you to Chad and Bill ! I hope that there will
be more to come in the future –

Thank you for your coverage of this seminar as well .

Dave Goldstein

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