This weekend I went to Thought Bubble Comic Convention in Leeds, and, for my very first comic convention, it was fabulous. There was a really great atmosphere and the quality of tables was astonishing.
I think as a writer, writing being a lonely profession, it’s really important to get out there whenever you can and meet likeminded people. It helps to clear the cobwebs out and give you a fresh perspective on what it is you’re doing to give you a little burst of inspiration. If it’s getting a bit stale in your mind, go out and rethink. I’m not writing a lot at the moment so it was great getting new ideas. It doesn’t have to be as fancy as a convention; go to the library or your local bookshop and browse the titles, look at things you haven’t looked at before.
It’s also a very good way to check out the competition. It helps you see what’s popular, what’s getting stale, what people are buying and not buying, and how the writers and artists interact with their fans. It’s lovely to see artists doing commissions and chatting to people at their stalls. We saw a ridiculous amount of steampunk and zombies yesterday (thank God Son of Songs doesn’t have either of these things in…) and an emerging trend for things like ‘kid art’ – you know, line drawings. Also it’s good to see what you like and dislike, because it gives you a chance to really understand where your work is going and what you want it to be like.
There are often some interesting talks at conventions and I would highly recommend popping along to a few. You get high-flying people giving you really down to Earth advice about important things, and opinions from people who’ve already been there done that telling you how to do it, and info about the new technologies that are changing the game. I saw Kate Beaton talking about Webcomics, the writer of ‘Dead Space’ talking about videogames and comic books, and a guy who sells old comics for a living telling you all about comics and society – but mostly about sex. The things I learned at that convention really made me think about the direction the graphic novel is going to go in.
It’s not only a social visit; it’s a business trip too. And that’s good. I enjoy my hobby and I like my work, and I like learning. I only wish there were more of these things in England, because we need it.
Oh yeah. And I met Batman.