Off I Go to C2E2

I often think back to my young adult years and become horrified remembering words I had spoken, actions I performed, and choices that I made. I imagine it happens to the best of us. One very regrettable notion I had as a teenager was to become a comic book writer. I would often fantasize about what it would be like to manage the tales of Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Superman, or Batman, along with a myriad of other established fantasy characters. What makes it most regrettable, at the age of 40, is I continue to dream of the possibility of writing a Marvel or DC comic. I just have never been able to abandon the comic book geek in me.

The first comic book convention I attended was way back in July of 1994, at the Chicago Comic Convention, before it was usurped by Wizard Magazine. I was promoting my own independent book, The Unseen, and I was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed rookie of the chaos that is a comic convention. My plan was to publish a comic at the age of 20, show all the big-wigs at Marvel or DC my acumen, and come away with at least two or three viable contracts to write the characters I loved throughout my youth.

Silly, silly naïve little lad.

I set up my table in the retail section instead of the artist alley section, losing tons of potential customers and confusing quite a few attendees. I had little idea how to sell the product, as I was a bit shy and awkward (as I remain, as a salesman). I did not anticipate the sheer magnitude of the convention, and I ended up walking around like a shell-shocked gawker more than a professional comic creator. I invited too many artists along with me, and what little profit I could manage was blown by the end of that first weekend.

As for my mission to impress the professionals, I remember being lightly scolded by William Tucci, creator of Shi: “How do you expect to make any money without advertising? You need to invest in your product, son.” I remember being roundly insulted for being an arrogant, pesky kid by one Rob Schrab, who had succeeded with Scud, the Disposable Assassin (I see he is directing episodes of Community now, after a solid career in movies and television…good for him). I remember handing Peter David a copy of my book in the restroom, before “fan-boy stalker” even entered into our lexicon. I recall the long lines of young, eager comic wannabes at the Marvel booth for portfolio review, impenetrable lest I wanted to wait three hours for a rejection.

Twenty years later, I have attended over thirty conventions, and I have had little luck breaking through to comic-book success. Recently, I was chided by a DC comic editor for including short stories in my portfolio; apparently, diversified creative writing is not valued by comic veterans. Joe Quesada, chief muckity-muck at Marvel, flipped through my portfolio, stated “nope,” and proceeded to twiddle his thumbs and look over my shoulder until I went away (This was not entirely unanticipated). Multiple tours of artist alleys all over the country confirm that there are armies of poor (as in broke!) creators looking to land the big gig, and the big dogs at Marvel and DC have pretty much closed their doors to independent creators.

I realize it is a hopeless endeavor to attend a comic convention and preserve hope for landing a profitable writing job. Yet, here I am, prepping for another trip to C2E2, excited for another go at that idealized writing career…wide-eyed and bushy-tailed…ready to make waves…hoping to land that scripting contract that will allow me to implement the fantastical scenarios I retain from my youth.

Silly, silly naïve old man. I will never learn.

{At least I can promote the blog at C2E2! Hope to see you there!

If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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5 comments

  1. This may be my favorite thing you’ve written here. As an aside, stop trying to write for Marvel or DC. Find yourself an artist and self publish. It’s so much more affordable today than it was ten years ago. Plus, Kickstarter, man. Kickstarter.

    1. Thanks, Ryan. I do have some small-press credits under Legion Studios (legionsden.com…Not for kids!…or adults who are easily offended). The difficulty with self-publishing remains appealling to comic book readers in order to make it profitable. It’s hard to sell books when Marvel and DC glut the market with over-priced books…the patrons of conventions usually hesitate to buy independent books when celebrity autographs and mainstream products eat hundreds out of the wallet. I know it’s impossible to land a Marvel gig unless you are already established (check out how many unpaid interns actually operate the publishing side!), but I can’t help but dream of the “easy route.” Thanks again, Ryan…I miss our little creative writing projects…they helped inspire my aspirations as a comic book writer.

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