I've been attending the annual Fan Expo at the Metro Convention Centre for about eight years straight, although certainly, I'm no stranger to comic book conventions, most of which have been modest meet-n-greets between local merchants and fans. But this event has exploded into an overstuffed pageant of PR and hoopla spanning film, television, video games, role-playing, and somewhere in the midst of the madness, the very thing that spawned the event in the first place.
Ordinarily, I dutifully attend to get a few photos or books signed, pick up some discounted trades and a cool t-shirt or two, and muster up some inspiration to finally pursue a career in a medium I've long-loved and fantasized working within, but for various reasons--most of them fear-based--never took the plunge. It's been hard enough to make a living in the thankless trenches of film and television--why pursue misery when I've got a full plate, thankyouverymuch?
This year was different. Thanks to my association with Bootcamp Comics, spearheaded by noted Marvel and DC artist/writer Ty Templeton, one of my many still-unrealized dreams became a bit more possible, as I was enlisted to work the Mr. Comics booth (right next to the Hoverboy Museum, and kitty corner to the heavy-hitters at Marvel) promoting our upcoming anthology. It was a soft launch as I pretty much expected, as I sketched for hours on a time for fans who were a little reluctant to approach--let alone embrace--new talent but seemed appreciative of the free sketches (which were pretty damned good if I can blow my own horn for a minute) all the same.
It was definitely odd, though, to have complete strangers ask me for autographs and even take my photo, even though I'm not even at footnote status at this point in my burgeoning comics career. Still, who knows? This year's unknown is next year's breakthrough overnight success, right? Right? I sure hope so, because sketching for free is fun, but you know what's better? Getting paid for it!