The zombies have been banished and the superheroes returned to their lairs, a week after the 14th annual Phoenix Comicon drew to a close. Amazingly, 78,000 people attended the June 5-8 convention. There were obviously economic benefits for the Phoenix Convention Center, downtown hotels, restaurants and trade show vendors. But Comicon, also, provides long-term benefits by hosting educational workshops for attendees trying to start their own businesses.
Of course, there were workshops on how “cosplay like a pro” or “how to get your zombie on.” While Phoenix Comicon is very entertaining, one of its most valuable contributions are the tips provided by successful role models about how to successfully start or grow a business, skills that elude, but are needed by, many creative people. For example, Paul Roman Martinez discussed his success during The Phoenix Comicon Film School’s “Screenwriting” workshop.
The “Before You Start Your Kickstarter” panel provided advice on how to finance projects. Scheduled panelists included Charles Sellner, Jason Brubaker, Jon Schnepp and Travis Hanson. Attendees were encouraged to build one’s fan base before starting a campaign; run Kickstarter campaigns for 30 days, create exclusives for sponsors; launch campaigns at comic conventions; encourage friends to share on their networks; and learn from others’ successful campaigns.
As importantly, were the negative lessons they learned, including overpromising sponsors; not including shipping costs in the budget; not providing comments and updates; and failing to use all social media outlets.
Another business-oriented class was “Creating a Professional Comic from the Ground Up.” The real-life challenges and lessons learned from panelists Benjamin Glendenning, Charles Sellner, Eric Schock and Derrick Tipton were invaluable to the attentive attendees. They advised the artists to have the full story arc in mind, target a specific audience (print or digital), learn all aspects of the comic production, use techniques like Kickstarter to finance projects; aim at four-issue mini-series to start; always use contracts; and work with people you like and trust. They also encouraged comic artists to be patient; it took five years to find a publisher for Superman.
“You have to have a business and an artistic side,” said Glendenning, creator of Skulljammer. “Take criticism as a positive and learn from it.”
In summary, the annual Phoenix Comicon not only showcases current successful professionals and benefits current affiliated businesses; it is also helps develop successful comic-related businesses of the future.