June Updates: Torchbearer updates and how to sell your work at comic cons.
Apologies for the long bout of silence. Aside from the long hours the “day job” has required from us, we’ve been busy this past week with PhillyCon, from which we’ve returned (with an interesting story to tell). Thankfully, we can rest easy (for a little bit) and write out what we’ve been up to.
First, Torchbearer. Torchbearer 3 has been colored and we’re undergoing revisions on a few pages (along with the covers). If all goes well, we should start lettering by this Friday, making the issue available for next week. Realistically, with WWDC (Apple’s developer conference) around the corner, there’s going to be some delays not only in us submitting the comic book for approval, but in also getting the issue processed by Amazon, Apple, Comixology and everyone else we submit to. So, I feel confident in saying that for Apple and everyone else (except Comixology), we can expect Torchbearer #3 to be released by June 19th. Unfortunately, we have no control over when Comixology will release Torchbearer #3, so that can be at the same time, or at a later time.
As promised, for you die-hard fans who’ve been so patient with us, we will make this issue available for free. Next week we’ll have a sign-up sheet so we can provide you with a download code for the marketplace of your choice.
Issue 4 is, thankfully, progressing smoothly. We’ve already started inking the pages and, so far, little corrections have been necessary. We are confident with this issue we’ll publish in July, bringing us back to a bi-monthly schedule. More updates (with pictures) on these next week.
As for the other projects, they are still progressing. We’ve finished the outline for the graphic novel and are writing it, along with Issue 5. Our goal is to start a first draft in 2 weeks and a final version by the first week of July. After which, we’ll be recruiting another artist team so this will not interfere with Torchbearer.
One last thing before going on to our weekly topic: Our intern, Ron, has finally started working here at Odd Truth! He’s introduced himself here and he’ll be taking over Tuesdays for us, providing an in-depth look at both Odd Truth and his journey into
manhood the comic book industry. Should be a fun ride, I think.
Now, onto our week’s story.
Last week at Philadelphia Comic Con, we sold some of our remaining issues of Torchbearer #1. This is our third con where we’ve introduced Torchbearer and so far we’ve had a decent showing. We weren’t show stoppers, sure (it’s a #1 issue of an unknown series) but we haven’t really suffered a loss for attending a comic con. From conversations we’ve had with other comic professionals, it seems that this is not the norm. We’ve been on the main floor on a major comic con (NYCC), artist alley on a smaller one (C2E2) and had a booth partially obstructed by toys with no clear line of sight to general foot traffic (PhillyCon), yet our results have been similar, when compared to the number of attendees at the cons.
So, what are we doing different that is bringing in people to see Torchbearer?
More importantly, how the hell did we get Gina Torres (from Firefly, Alias and a lot of other amazing work) to show up and pick up a copy of Torchbearer?
It really comes down to three things:
1) Getting people into your booth
2) The pitch
3) Being yourself
1) Getting people to your booth: This may be the hardest part of any convention, especially when breaking in and no one knows who you are. You can employ a number of different strategies. For example, you can hire professional actresses and/or models to come by your booth and encourage passerby’s to stop by. Frankly, while I’ve seen this work (and at one point considered it myself), it doesn’t seem to be as effective at comic cons. My experience has seen that it’s better to have people knowledgeable and eager to share information about whatever you’re promoting, be it a new comic book, service, fragrance, etc, out there doing the work and exuding their enthusiasm onto others. People pick up on that and the comic-con audience appears to be receptive to the honesty and eagerness of people.
Remember that word: honesty. We’ll come back to that in a bit.
Even if you can’t convince your friends and you’re all on your own at artist alley, there’s still things you can do. If you’re an artist, the best thing you can do is let your art speak for you.Lay it out for people to see and browse, put up banners with your work and try to maximize the space that you have so that it shows off your work. Remember: you have three dimensions you can utilize to display your work: use them! What also seems to work best is having artwork that feature recognizable characters, but re-imagined into your style. Even if you don’t sell this artwork, people will be drawn to your booth by this artwork. From here, you can encourage them to look at other pieces of your work. It benefits you to be proactive in engaging those who stop by. Sometimes, they don’t know what they want and you can guide them as they discover just what you can offer them.
Writers and new companies are trickier, but the goal is the same. Unfortunately, you can’t leverage the recognition of any of your characters or products as, well, they are unknown. Your best bet is to approach people the old fashion way: talking to them. Be friendly, say hi, wave at them, be friendly. Ask them to come in and see your comic book/etc. Egg them on (but be friendly about it). The general idea is that people come to comic cons to see new things and a lot of the time they have no idea how to find them. We can provide them that little nudge towards our direction. 🙂
Once at your booth, you can’t waste their time. You are one of hundreds of other booths vying for their attention (and money), so you must be quick about it. Which leads us to
2) The pitch: You have 20-30 seconds to tell me about your product, why it’s interesting and why should I even invest my X amount of dollars into reading your story.
This is known as an elevator pitch, and you need one if you plan to sell your work at a convention, cause you really have just 30 seconds to convince a passerby to become a customer (or even better, a fan). If you know how to make one, great! Practice it. You’ll be repeating it for 8 hours a day at every con you attend. If you don’t know how, there are a number of sources out there that you can use to create your elevator pitch. We’re not going to go over it here. Except for one thing, which is really the most important thing to remember:
3) Be yourself: Everywhere, and most importantly at comic cons, people react to honesty and those who are comfortable in their own skin. So, the best thing to do is to use the best in yourself and show that off to people. Do you tell great jokes? Hell, tell a joke to a passerby: make him laugh and encourage him to stop by your booth. Do you enjoy those cheesy car ad commercials and love taking on that persona when promoting your work? Go on ahead, man (or woman)! People react to honesty and will gravitate towards that enthusiasm, even if just to “humor you”.
And that is how we got Gina Torres a copy of Torchbearer #1. She was looking around for something from the toy vendors around us and we (Victoria and I) spotted her. We decided to go for it and get her to come to our booth, knowing that once there we’d have her with our pitch. So, we did our best to make eye contact. Once we did, we waved hello.
And she waved back.
There was no turning back. We encouraged her to come see our comic book, pointed to it, flailed our hands in the air, convincing her that she should stop by.
And come by she did.
Her first words to us were: “All right, all right. I couldn’t resist your siren song”.
And then we did our pitch.
And then we talked for a bit and she went on her merry way, with a copy of Torchbearer.
And then we melted after she left.
So, that’s it, everyone. I hope this helps you next time you go come to a comic con as a creator. And always keep an eye out for those opportunities that come by.
‘Cause remember: Fortune favors the bold.
See you next week.