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.