May 19, 2014

Comic Pros: The Correlation Between Being Cool and Making Money

Comic Pros: The Correlation Between Being Cool and Making Money
Back Issue Ben
Ben Smith

I’ve only been to a handful of comic book conventions in my lifetime, all within the past 6 years, but they’ve been a great experience. I haven’t had anything I would consider a bad experience with a professional, at worst I’ve walked away feeling like yet another face in the line. However, I have had more than a few interactions that pretty much guaranteed my undying loyalty to that creator for the rest of my comic-reading days.

It’s a pretty simple concept. If you’re great with fans, a lot of them will appreciate it, and more than likely will spend their money on any books you make in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are lot of basement dwelling arrested development man children that are comic book fanatics too, always unappreciative, with unrealistic expectations of the generosity of professionals, and always with a hand out looking for free stuff. Always. “I know you spent an untold amount of time and hard work on this book you made, but can I get it for free?” Free is for the giver to determine, not the receiver. (The one that annoys me the most is standing in a long line to meet a comic pro, and one of the guys ahead of you pulls out a stack of fifty books he all wants signed. Be considerate!) But I’d like to believe there are a lot of us that are decent human beings, and behave in an appropriate manner.

Within the past few months, I’ve had fantastic experiences with Howard Chaykin and Dan Slott in London, and Walt Simonson via social media. I was been a big fan of all three prior to these experiences, but the interactions I had with them have guaranteed my financial support in all their future endeavors. The conversation I had with Chaykin at the London Super Comic Convention is one I will remember forever, and anyone that has met Dan Slott knows he is just a force of exuberance and generosity. (Coincidentally enough, having bought and read Howard Chaykin’s art book since meeting him, he and Walt Simonson used to share a studio together in the ‘80s. If only I could time travel back and be a fly on that wall. [Duy's note: They shared that studio with Frank Miller, and I always thought those three kind of resembled each other — Miller and Chaykin more so, but still.]) I did Walt a simple and easy favor, and he responded with a beautifully drawn Karnilla out of the goodness of his own heart. There’s no way he could have known Karnilla is by far my favorite Thor character, but that’s what he randomly did for me, because he’s Walt Simonson, and Walt Simonson is God.

To circle back around to my main point, I’ve made quite a few purchases since that time. Besides the aforementioned Chaykin art book, I got all the way caught up on Satellite Sam, his current Image series with Matt Fraction, which I recommend. I already had American Flagg (completely underrated considering how ahead of its time it was) but I checked my digital apps to see what was available, and purchased his Shadow miniseries (which I haven’t finished yet), Avengers 1959, and the recent run he had on Wolverine. (Which contained the most plausible explanation for Wolverine’s out of control healing factor I’ve heard yet, which is that it has gotten stronger the longer he’s lived.) I also picked up the infamous Black Kiss, the sexual content of which I’ll never be able to fully recover from.

There wasn’t much else to get from Dan Slott since I own pretty much everything he’s ever done. All the way back to Arkham Asylum, to She-Hulk, to Avengers Initiative, to Mighty Avengers, to Amazing Spider-Man, to Superior Spider-Man, and now Amazing Spider-Man (again) and Silver Surfer. It’s all great, go buy it from your preferred retailer or provider of products.

From Walt Simonson, I obviously already owned his legendary run on Thor, but I made sure to overpay for the out-of-print Omnibus edition, because I am a sucker for oversized hardcovers. I had already purchased his recent stints on Avengers, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Hulk. So I looked to see what else was available on the digital apps, and bought all that was available of his work on X-Factor, and started reading his Fantastic Four run on the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited library. His FF is about as good as the FF can get for me, so I’m sure it’s great stuff to anyone else, I’ve just never had an affinity for them. A lot of this I had already gotten even before the Karnilla, but the art only solidified my resolve to buy all things Walt, because Walt is God.

Simonson has been working on his upcoming Ragnarok book from IDW, sharing progress of the pages of such on social media, and I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. It looks gorgeous. I’ll be purchasing the issues digitally, and then probably getting the hardcover collection when it is released as well.

All of this is to say, is that being a decent person can pay real dividends for you in life, just in general. I’ve never been much of a people person, to put it mildly, so that might be why I appreciate it when a professional is great with their fans, no matter the medium. It’s not an easy thing to do. You have a line of fans waiting to see you, all of various temperaments and expectations, and I am positive it can be a taxing experience. The ones that can not only weather it with a smile on their face, but also make it memorable for each and every single person, that’s where legends belong. It’s no place I could ever reach.

Simonson, Chaykin, and Slott? Check out some of their stuff here.

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