Hey Factory Fans.  If you haven’t seen this hilarious video from Eric Powell, creator of the Goon, you should watch it now.  It’s awesome. DJ Coffman had a great response as well. You can see the video and read the response both here.  If you’re a comic guy, like yours truly, they are both worth your time.

I agree with 99% of what both said.  It’s what I’ve been saying for years.  The destruction of Print or the Direct Market or the “Era of Comics” we are leaving provides us with a unique opportunity to shape the era we are entering.  That moment is here, right now and it’s rapidly slipping by.  Here’s my suggestions for a plan:

For the Retailers: Understand that you are in trouble.  Your entire business is going to crumble beneath you unless you change with the times right now.  Monthly pamphlets will soon be a thing of the past the moment large comic book publishers realize they are no longer economically viable.  This doesn’t mean you have to stop selling monthly comics in your store today, but you should be prepared for the future when monthlies are only a portion of your sales and for when no new monthlies will enter your store.

Rethink your business model:  When monthlies stop you will need to be doing trades and act more like a bookstore or switch to collectibles shop and act more like an antique store.  The first might require a store front, the second, probably not.  You are either going to have to downsize or transition your sales to more trades, games, toys or whatever.  An online shop and doing conventions may be your only alternative.  Your customers are more likely to follow you if you are prepared to make this jump rather than finding you in the comic book store weeping the day you read Marvel and DC aren’t going to print anymore.

Push Creator-Owned Comics:  I’m not talking Image (although they have many fine comics) I’m talking guys who you can cut a deal with directly.  When Scud: The Disposable Assassin came out, I called the guys at Fireman Press directly and ordered some for the store I worked for at the time.  They went the extra mile and sent me a poster and I sold out of comics.  My customers enjoyed it because it was different.

When monthlies collapse, you don’t want all your eggs in the Marvel/DC basket.  You want your store to have a rep for interesting comics and things to read, so when the monthlies die, most of your customers won’t assume you’ll be out of stock next week.  Plus, small publishers are likely to fill in the gap of print to a small degree for some time.  Most weren’t making much money anyway and since most stores didn’t carry their product, they’ll be happy to sell some to you.

Also, print’s customers are shrinking, webcomic readers are growing.  Let that growing fan base know you’re going to stock printed collections of all the webcomics.  Sure, they can order them online, direct from the creator, but you provide the extra convenience and immediacy of having the collections on hand.  I know, you think this is shooting yourself in the foot, but it’s not.  Shooting yourself in the foot is going down with the monthly comics ship when it sinks.  Webcomic creators don’t want to spend their time boxing and shipping comics to each individual fan.  They’d rather ship large boxes of 10 and 20 copies to you.

Work with Creators:  Have a signing in your store and promote it.  Over the years, store owners have refused to have me show up to their stores for free signing.  (I even bring my own signs.)  They are just too lazy to do it even though it provides a free bonus to their customers.  Worse were the ones that agreed then didn’t tell anyone I was coming.  I mean, no one.  I showed up to a comic book store in North Jersey (after a 90 minute drive) only to have the clerk look at me and go, “Oh, was that today?”  The one thing your storefront can do is provide a meeting place, a nexus point for fans and creators to interact.  That is a reason for customers to come to your store, to see what’s happening each week.  If you don’t run events (for free!) you’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Even if the comic sucks, even if it’s a webcomic with no print comic available, the value is in the event.  Your customers know your store is a place where comic stuff happens.  That way, they won’t just sit in front of their computer all day looking at webcomics.  They’ll have a reason to come to the store.  If your store is dead and lifeless, fans might as well get their comics via computer.

Educate Your Customers:  It’s your business to know the Industry, so know it.  Don’t just let your customers blow their money on overpriced crossovers you know are going to end badly.  If your customers are grumbling about the comic series they are buying, give them other options.

A guy I worked for would routinely hold months of comics for subscribers in the store that had long checked out of comics.  I advised that we “ween” the overloaded customer off some titles, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  Eventually the subscription was over a year behind, the customer refused to come into the store and we got stuck with 200 comics we couldn’t sell.

I had an Avengers customer that was hardcore.  He had every Avengers issue published, but complained it was no longer exciting for him.  I eventually got him to try new comics.  He finally stopped buying Avengers.  What was the point?  It wasn’t making him happy.  By broadening his horizons, I kept a customer and I looked like the guy who knew what was happening in the world of comics.

Just because you turn your customers onto Penny Arcade or Sluggy Freelance doesn’t mean they’re going to stop buying Spiderman.  They are completely different genres and mediums.  Do you stop watching sci-fi television because you discovered a great action movie?  Of course not.  You need to be the guru of comics.  That’s half the reason your customers will come into the store.

To my Creator Friends:  Webcomics are the future, so stop wallowing in your paper and ink bunkers, planning to be the last hold out, get yourself a scanner and let’s do this:

Get a Website:  You need one.  DJ Coffman outlined the reason why, so I won’t go over them again.  Learn the basics of HTML and Word Press.  It’s a pain in the ass, I know.  (Believe me, I know.)  Get a webmaster friend to help you do the really hard stuff and keep his number handy for when your website suddenly disappears.  It happens.  Don’t panic.

And if you don’t think print is dead, think on this:  Wizard Magazine is gone.  Its circulation was once around 400K and it regularly outsold comics in the US by a wide margin.  If they can’t stay in print, why do you think you can?

Superheroes Aren’t New:  If you don’t have anything new to contribute to the superhero genre, then please, don’t do a superhero comic.  If you’re just recreating your childhood memories, that’s fine.  Keep it to your computer and fan fiction blogs where it belongs.  An alien flying around in a cape saving babies has been done.  A vigilante using his millions to fight crime has also been done.  Do your research and don’t reinvent the wheel or I will send Tony Destructo to your house to beat you to death with a copy of Marvel Masterworks.

It’s About the Fans:  Let’s make this new era in comics about the fans.  Everything you do should be to make them happy.  You don’t want to follow your fans’ directions creatively (as most will dare you to destroy your own universe just to see if you’ll do it), but you do want to make comics as convenient as possible for them.

Your website should be the central nexus point for information about you and your comic.  Also, assume that when you post something, you are posting it for a person who just discovered your site.  A “new readers” button can save you a lot of trouble if your comic has been on the web a few years.  Explain everything in plain English and have an easy site to navigate.  You can test this by finding someone that’s never been to your site and ask them to go to it.  If they are confused, you may need to redesign it.

Fuck Gimmicks:  You can stick those variant covers, chromium covers and hologram covers straight up your ass.  Webcomics may someday create the electronic equivalent.  If that happens, I will be the first in line to say, stick those collectibles up your virtual electronic ass.  Gimmicks are corporate bullshit.  If you want to sell me an idea, great.  If you want to sell the same comic twice, go fuck yourself.

Merchandise is not a gimmick, so that’s okay.  In fact, you may find that merchandise is the meat of your sales.  There is nothing wrong with plushies, T-shirts and whatnot.  Merchandise tends to be useful items with your characters and designs.

Collectibles and gimmicks are what destroyed print comic books the moment the Industry had money to actually broaden its appeal.  If you do collectibles and gimmicks with your comic, I will personally send Tony Destructo to your house to force feed you a limited edition bust of Spawn’s head.

Be Professional, Especially in Public:  Professionals dress nice, are well-groomed, polite and informed people.  They have patience and should be attentive.  If you’re going to sit at a convention and ignore people and sketch, why go?  Don’t badmouth your fans, your creative team or your competitors.  That kind of negativity might get you noticed in the short term, but in the long term petty rivalries hurt you more than they help.

Just like the retailers, you need to educate your customers.  Explain to them what a webcomic is and how print comics work.  Some of the fans don’t know and they may be too embarrassed to ask.  Don’t whine about the Industry, fans are not fellow creators.  Be positive.  If you can’t be happy in what you’re doing, then why would fans be happy in purchasing your comic?

Do the Comic and the Business:  You want to know why so many creators got screwed on the business end of things?  Most of them don’t want to do the boring business stuff they should do.  Read your contracts and don’t sign them until you understand them.  Make sure everything you want is in writing.  Do not trust the explanation of a contract from the guy that actually wrote it.  He wrote the contract for him, not you.

If you expect to live in a bubble of carefree creativity, then expect that you will be treated like pampered cattle until the guy making the money takes you to slaughter.  There’s nothing wrong with work for hire if you go into it with your eyes open.  Don’t give your work for hire publisher your best ideas.  Remember, you’re there for the money to fuel your creator-owned projects.  It’s all about the money for you in work for hire, so push for a raise, crank out the work and don’t let your employers overwork you.

Above all, don’t do a work for hire employer any favors.  Unless he invests you in the project with a serious percentage of the royalties, you should stay as loyal as your paycheck and not a penny more.  Remember, he’ll replace you or fire you in a heartbeat if it serves his needs.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act professional, just understand the business relationship.

Get Your Press Shit Together:  You need a press kit for your creation: a business card, a bio, an explanation of your comic and pictures of you and the comic.  It’s not rocket science, it’s a fucking press kit.  It will need to be updated regularly, but have a default one ready to go at a moment’s notice so you can send it out when you need it.

Spend a few hours a week contacting your local media outlets to see if they will do a story about you and your comic.  The “Local Man Makes Comic” story is one that media outlets run all the time.  If you hate doing this, too bad, it’s part of your business.  You need to get the word out about your comic.  When you’re famous or flush with cash, you can scale back or have someone else do it.

Newbies, Mind the Etiquette:  When you decide to make the jump from fan to creator, the rules are different.  Creators must answer their fans first and questions of new creators second.  So if you’re asking for advice at a con, step aside when a fan walks to the table, you’re hurting my sales.  Also, if I give you some free advice, buy a fucking comic book you cheapskate.  It’s the least you can do.

Be patient.  We all have ideas and yours might be great, but it takes time to develop your ideas and put together a comic or a webcomic.  Being pushy and demanding is a sure way to get you blacklisted in the Comics Community.  It’s a very small community where everyone knows each other, so be polite and very respectful.  Nothing annoys veteran comic creators like a new guy trying to throw his weight around.

You’ve got to prove yourself and that will take a while.  One of the things that has to happen is that you have to stay a creator for at least a year.  So many people jump into this business and then disappear in a year when they find it’s too much work or not what they wanted to do.  And it takes a few years to really be accepted into more of the inner circles of comic book creators.  Don’t barge in, we’re watching.  If you survive your first year someone will finally say to you at the end of a con, “Hey, dude.  We’re going to dinner.  Wanna come?”

Learn the ropes.  One of the great ways to do that is by volunteering to help another creator.  Be someone’s assistant for the day.  Load and unload his car, run errands during the con and generally be helpful.

Help Your Fellow Creator: We need to create a community that helps one another, just like the rap community.  In rap, if you’re famous, you help others out by rapping on a fellow rapper’s song.  It’s added value for the fans, more exposure for the rappers and more money for the rappers.

Webcomics already do this kind of crossover, but we need more.  Print comics couldn’t do this because the big corporate entities just wouldn’t help their competition.  The bigger you get, the more you need to do it.  If you can pluck some poor obscure webcomic and put it to the forefront fans will thank you, the creator will certainly thank you and you’ll be owed a favor should you need some help down the road.  Fame is fleeting, so be kind on your way up.  You’ll need it on the way back down.

Help the Community:  The Community of comics: Fans, Creators, Retailers, etc. needs to be a positive, helpful one.  We have to acknowledge talented people and shut the fuck up when you see a newbie who is not.  There is no reason to tear down a new guy because his comic sucks.  Say something constructive, not destructive and snide.  Maybe he doesn’t know that his comic is just like Ctrl+Alt+Del.  Nicely tell the new creator, “Look, I think this is way too similar to another comic.  Here, check it out this link.”  Would it kill you to send it in a private message instead of bombarding his comment bar with “You suck!  You ripped this from Ctrl+Alt+Del!”  With a little tweaking, it might be good.  The Walking Dead starts similarly to 28 Days and fans like both.

Acknowledge Writers as Well as Artists:  Print comics have been “stuck” in a mode where artists rule and writers drool for much of the last 30 years or so.  This is probably a result of corporate comics and art-driven sales.  However, there are plenty of comics that are well-written, but the art is only so-so.  This is especially true of webcomics where the bar for art is much lower.

Writers need to be elevated in the creator-owned comics community (says the writer).  I can’t really do it because I am a writer.  Artists need to reach across the aisle and say, “Hey, this is my writer and he’s awesome.”  Writers are vital because while the art will get the fans through the door, it’s the writing that will keep them there.

I’m not talking about the famous writers of Marvel and DC.  Obviously Brian Bendis and Warren Ellis and a handful of others don’t have the problem of recognition in the comics community.  I’m talking about people at the creator-owned level.  Comics as a whole needs better writers, but we can’t attract them until we start acknowledging the ones we have.

And yes, there are some artist/writers who are magnificent to be sure.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of really good artists who suck at writing a story.  You know who you are.  It can’t hurt an artist/creator to hire a writer as a writer/creator would hire an artist.

This is probably a broader topic for a later article.  More at some future date.

To My Friends in Comic Book Journalism:  You guys present the “face” of comics and we really need to work better together.  My suggestions:

Be Professional:  Journalists report news first, not their opinions.  Your opinion is not fact.  You might hate Marvel and DC Comics, but lots of people don’t.  Don’t whine, rant and editorialize unless you clearly mark it as such.  And if you do, please limit your rants to something you’re really passionate about.

Be prepared to explain yourself and what you do.  Creators need to know who you are, what you’re doing, what medium you’re doing it in and how many people you reach.  If you’re doing a podcast no one listens to because you just started, just tell the creator.  He’ll probably do the interview anyway.  Dress nice, be groomed, don’t act like a fanboy and don’t assume the creator is going to give you free swag.  Above all, don’t claim to be a journalist just to get free swag and skip into conventions for free.

Cover the Comics and the Creator:  News stories are not just about things, they are ultimately about people.  Sure, the comic you’re talking about is awesome, but you need to also find out what’s awesome about the creator.

Do Your Research:  If you’re going to cover comics, you have to do some research.  Don’t just ask basic questions of the creator like “What’s your comic about?”.  Go to the creator’s site and check it out!  And when you write the article, include the research information as a wind up: “Tony DiGerolamo is a writer for Bongo Comics, the creator of Super Frat and the co-creator of The Webcomic Factory.”  There, was that so hard?  Two searches with Google can get you almost anything.

Quite frankly, if you can’t be bothered to spend a couple of hours researching your subject, then you’re not a journalist.

Don’t Just Cover Your Friends:  Nepotism in comics journalism is so rampant, I hardly need to explain it.  If you’re going to run a site and post nothing but stories about your good friends in comics, then please call your site “My Good Friends in Comics” not “Comic Book Website That Covers All Comics Equally”.

And here’s a newsflash, those “friends” are not your friends.  They are using you to get exposure, so wake up and start acting like a professional.  You need to follow a story, not a trend.  You’re getting invited to those parties after the comic book convention because those involved think you’re going to mention them on your site, not because you’re amazingly handsome.

Be a Journalist or Talent:  Make up your mind.  If you want to cover news in comics, cover it.  If you want to make comics, make them.  Stop trying to do both when you really only want to do one.  And, if you do both make a very careful distinction in your comics columns about who you know, who you are reviewing and when you have a conflict of interest.  I do it all the time in my comics review column for KODT and I stay away from reviewing my friends’ comics.  I also acknowledge who I know when I review something.

I know of at least one comics “pro” who reviewed his own comic in a column once.  Look, its one thing to pimp your stuff, but it’s another to use the faux credibility of a comic book “journalist” to further your career as a creator.

Seek Out Creator-Owned Comics:  Comic creators tend to be an introverted lot.  They are locked to their drawing table, dreaming the big dreams.  Your job is to find the ones that no one has found yet, so look for them.  Just once I’d like to get an email that said, “Hey, I found your site and like to do a piece on you” instead of scouring and emailing dozens of sites trying to find the email of a journalist who will interview me.

Get off your lazy ass and start looking for new talent.  Anyone can email the top ten players in comics and ask for an interview.  It’s your job to find out about new things too.

To my Friends in the Fan Community:  You guys have been through a lot and you’ve been burned more times than I can count by big publishers.  I have no doubt that you are sick of articles like these because they always end with blaming you for the Comics Industry’s problems to some degree.  You shouldn’t be blamed at all.  You’re the customer and you’re always right.

That being said, comic fans are often a passionate lot and I know many of you would like to help.  Here are some suggestions:

Read What You Want:  It’s nice that you support indie creators and creator-owned comics, but don’t force yourself to buy something out of guilt.  Keep an open mind when you see a comic that looks different, but buy it because you’ll read it, don’t buy it because you feel sorry for the creator.  You’re not doing the community a favor by buying an awful comic you don’t really want.

Don’t Be Embarrassed by Comics:  Comic books have a bad rep in the US, but don’t let it throw you.  If you can confidently say to someone, “Sure, I read comics, they’re good,” that will do way more to convince your friend to check them out than saying stuff like “Um, yeah, I like the art” or “Hey, this is also a movie!”

If you want to change your friends’ perception of comics, be an advocate, but not a crusader.  For some people, the direct approach never works, but they’ll come around once they see everyone reading them.  Don’t back down when someone talks about you being a comic fan, but also don’t get all up in their face about it.

And if you’re embarrassed by your comic purchases, maybe you’re buying the wrong comics.  I liked Spiderman too, but it’s over for me.  I’ve moved on to more mature fare.  Like my customer that kept buying Avengers, if you’re just buying to “keep your run” there’s something wrong.

Acknowledge the Line:  The great thing about the comics industry is that the retailers, fans and creators get to interact.  If you’re a fan and you cross the line to retailer, comic book journalist or creator, understand that you’ve got to learn a new set of rules (see the things I outlined before).  If you don’t, being a fan is great.  As creators, we bend over backwards for you, but please understand the line between you and us.

If you stay a fan understand that as creators we are vulnerable.  We put ourselves and our work out there for you to sample and enjoy.  That means, tossing back our latest comic with a casual sneer and saying, “Dude, what happened?  You used to be good,” isn’t appropriate.  If it’s your buddy and you’re sitting in a room together, that’s different, but a fan vs. creator public spat is not cool.  If you don’t like something, shut your pie hole and move along.  You’re not doing anyone a favor by blathering your opinion in a public space.  It’s rude and it’s not fair to the creator who put himself on public display.

Conversely, fawning all over a creator in such a sickening sweet way that you give everyone at the con diabetes is also inappropriate.  We know you’re excited and we’re glad, but we’re not going to hang out.  Creators are working at a convention and we’re trying to see as many customers as possible, so please try to understand.  Be patient, as we are busy, and be polite to your fellow fans.  They want to see and talk to creators as well.

Be Nice to Fellow Fans:  Just because another fan hates the comics you like and likes the comics you hate doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, he just has different tastes.  Be respectful, polite, positive and friendly.  We’re all fans, there’s no sense in putting down one another.

Shower, bathe and groom.  Don’t roll out of bed and come to a convention reeking of rotten Cheetohs and dried Mountain Dew.

Watch where you’re walking.  If you stop at a con booth, move to the side so people can still get by.  Be aware of your giant backpack or costume or don’t come to the con with one on.  And if you have a costume and people want to take a picture, move to an area away from the action.  Don’t cause a logjam in the middle of the con.

Don’t finger the merchandise.  Wash your hands if you do.  Don’t eat over the merchandise.  Get off your cellphone or go off into a corner to make your call.

Talk to people.  Say “Hello”.  Help educate your fellow fan.  Explain to new fans how things work.

Be nice on message boards.  Don’t be an anonymous asshole.  Share your links.  Praise what you like and shut your pie hole about what you don’t.  No one cares about your fanboy rants.  If you want someone to care, cross the line into comic book journalism and then earn enough respect that people will care.  Because if you’re a comic book journalist, you should have at least done some research.

It’s About You as a Fan, Not You as an Individual:  Creators are all about their fans.  We work for you.  But we’re not about you as an individual because we don’t know you.  It’s not personal, so don’t take it as an insult.  If you forget your book bag at my table at a con, I will keep an eye out for you and flag you down if I see you.  I would do that for anyone that stopped at my table.  If we make eye contact outside the con after it’s over, don’t ask for a ride.  It’s weird.  I don’t know you well enough to put you inside my car.  It doesn’t mean you can’t make friends with a creator, but don’t make assumptions, we’re working.  Waitresses are nice too, it doesn’t mean they want to go to the movies with you.

Spread the Word:  One of the great things you can do as a fan is spread the word about comics, webcoimcs, stores and websites you like.  Post a link in a message board or on sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter or whatever.  Your personal recommendation can help creators get hits and retailers get sales.  If you discuss a comic, try to be positive about it and don’t get caught up in another’s negativity.

Stop Buying Comics You Don’t Like:  If you are a self-hating fanboy that complains about every comic that comes out, here’s a thought, “Why are you reading comics?”  Get lost.  Got buy something you like or shut up you miserable fuck.

Stop Complaining, Vote with Your Wallet: Is Superman not living up to your expectations?  Stop buying it.  Do you hate the newest Spiderman artist?  Stop buying it.  Do you really wish the original Robin would return to Batman and can’t stand the new one?  Stop buying it.  Don’t like your comics store and they way they do business?  Stop shopping there.  Did you find that a website covering comics covers nothing but fluff?  Unbookmark it.

If you are only buying a comic hoping that it will get better or going to a comic book store that has bad service, that’s like going to a restaurant with terrible service and food hoping it will get better.  Why would it?  You still keep buying.  When sales go down, companies make changes.  They have to.

Just because you’re part of the fan community doesn’t mean you’re obligated to buy anything.  We won’t kick you out of the club.  Not buying the comic that’s pissing you off gives you more money to try something new.  Not going to a comic book store with a terrible record means you may find one that’s better.

Start a Fan Club:  If you want to be part of the comics scene, but still maintain your fan status start a fan club.  Retailers like them because it’s another reason to have customers in the store.  Creators like them because you will almost never get a negative reaction when you make an appearance at a fan club.  As a fan, you get extra attention and as a retailer or creator, we have a concentrated place to push our wares.  Win-win-win.

To my Friends that organize Comic Book Conventions:  The next future years are going to be tough.  We are transitioning into something new and you will need to change your business model as well.  My suggestions:

Promote:  I’ve gone to a surprising number of conventions where the organizers did little or no promotion.  I realize organizing the con is a tremendous headache, but if no one shows it’s an even bigger headache financially.  Social networking, websites, message boards and using fan clubs are just some of the ways.  The more grassroots your con is, the more volunteers you can get.

Media outlets are important so contact them.  TV people love the costumes because they are a good visual.  They love celebrity guests even more.  Once you get them in, prepare a list of your most “camera ready” guests, including guys like yours truly.  (I used to host a TV show and I do improv comedy, so I talk clearly, look presentable and I’m funny on camera.)  That requires that you know about your guests ahead of time.  You don’t want to volunteer some troll-like creator who will mumble through the interview.

Promotion requires prep work ahead of time.  It doesn’t hurt to flyer the surrounding area where you con will be held a few weeks ahead of time.  Get the comic book stores involved.  If you have a staff, have someone in charge of just promotion.

Create Visuals:  Get someone to take pictures and video of your con if you plan to have it again.  You need these positive visuals on your site for next year.

Keep the Door Cheap:  The more people, the better.  If you’re going to ding fans $50 a pop, there’d better be some cool events or a few free comics.  Something!  If you drain the fans of money, they won’t have anything by the time they reach the rest of us back in Artists’ Alley.

Publishers are usually overloaded with back stock, especially these days, take advantage of that.  Ask them for a box and give it away to fans.  You won’t get them if you don’t ask.

Have Panels About Things That Fans Want:  I can promote in any panel.  I don’t need a “Publisher Promotional Panel” and if you call it that, no one will come.  They, will, however, come to “How to Do Webcomics” or “How to Make Money in Comics”.  Fans are not interested in sitting through a one-hour commercial unless there is a prize at the end or movie clips.

Don’t have too many panels.  Make the panels proportionate to the number of fans that will show up.  Remember, they have to go to the convention too.  And it is pointless to schedule panels late on the last day.

Big Guests Should be in the Back:  Your big guests should always be the longest walk.  No one is going to come all the way to a con and not see your biggest guests, so make them at least walk past your little ones.

I went to one con where the organizers placed three big guests right off the escalator.  It was a disaster.  The room jammed up and no one came to the rest of the convention.

Conventions Can’t Be All About Money:  Look, I know you have to make the door, but if there’s no fun and you shake every fan until all the money falls out of his pockets, they won’t come back.  You have to book fun events.  The bigger the convention, the more fun free stuff you need.

Fan clubs can provide free stuff: people in costumes to take pictures with, props for fans to play with and interesting, fan-based panels.  Games are always good because they just need space and it gives fans something to do.  Contests are a must, whether they be for costumes or art or even doing a 24 hour comic.

Webcomics are the Future:  The creator for Questionable Content was at the Emerald City Con in 2010.  His line wrapped around his booth and went out the door.  And, while other creators, even big name Marvel and DC guys had large lines that eventually died down, his was busy all day, every day.  I guess that’s what happen when a quarter of million or so people visit your site every day.

Now is the time to be nice to webcomic creators.  Now, while they still need you.  The guys from Penny Arcade don’t need to come to your con.  They have their own con and it’s quite huge and I wouldn’t blame them if they never set foot in a comic book convention again.

We are creators and we remember the people who helped us and we especially remember the organizers who didn’t.  In five years, the entire playing field of comics is likely to change.  Get a foothold in the future now before some entrepreneur buries you with a webcomic convention of his own.

Finally, we all need to work together.  Creators, journalists, fans, retailers and con organizers.  Assume the positive and not the negative, because we are all comic fans.  (Like maybe assume that I am a well intentioned guy by posting this, even though you may disagree with my suggestions.)  We can either be a community, like the rap community, and say to ourselves, “There is room enough for everyone in this boat.  Join us on the journey.”  Or, we can be like a mini-Wall Street, consumed by competition and petty rivalries, spending precious time tearing each other down.

Either way, it will be a struggle.  I say, let’s be positive.  Who out there would like to be our friend in this journey?