Fair warning here–we’re not really going to be conducting ritual acts of voodoo and black magic to charm our way into the ranks of comicdom. It’s more like an exercise to psychologically reinforce your positive “can do” attitude and exorcise the demons of negativity. Those of you that still think it would be better to just sneak your way in with the help of actual magic, just skip this article and contact me at iwannalearnpatiencenow@darkora.net (and wait for a response before taking any action).

Bad reviews, harsh critiques, rejection letters, overwhelming self-doubts, and obstacle after obstacle toss up the roadblocks on the road to your dreams. These things add up and can even rattle the best of us at times. To keep going, you need some thick skin, a positive attitude and enough knowledge in your craft to cull the useful commentary from the crap. The knowledge can be gained through study and training, but how can you get that thick skin and high-octane positive attitude? You could start early by writing essay papers on Norman Vincent Peale when you’re in fourth grade or you could get a job in a hostile verbal work environment…like working in customer service/tech support somewhere. That would give you a good start, but is there more you could do? Yep, you could train for it just like with your artwork.

Arts and crafts time! Here’s what you’ll need to construct your “Pessimism Voodoo Doll.”

–Cloth…two pieces cut into the same pattern (or you could just pick up a kit at a local crafts store). If you have or receive lots of negative thoughts and comments, make sure your patterns have lots of surface area. The actual pattern itself is up to you–square, skull, pyramid, teddy bear, Jigglypuff, or whatever shape makes you feel happy.
–Needle and thread
–regular paper
–a small notebook that’s easy to carry around with you

Now, sew those pieces of cloth together around the edges as if you’re turning it into a small pillow but make sure to leave an opening to add the stuffing. If you have a deadly allergy to needles, then you can take the easy route with construction paper and a stapler.

Next, get yourself a piece of paper and a comfy-grip writing implement of doom. Jot down as many negative and non-constructive comments you’ve heard (or even just thought) about yourself or your work. Fill that page up with every little negative thought that shows a glimmer of a chance of getting uppity one day and stopping your productivity in its tracks. Now, for the fun part. Take a good, long look at that sheet of paper, take a deep breath, and then tear it to shreds. Use this as your stuffing for your “doll.”

Ready for the next part? It gets a bit tricky here. Take that small notebook and write down three concise yet highly positive sentences about yourself. It could be a good quote from a review, a comment someone made about your appearance or personality, something you’re really good at, or any number of positive thoughts. As long as they instantly bring on feelings of happiness, pride, accomplishment, or hope, they’ll work. Take a deep breath, slowly release it, read those three sentences out loud, and then stab a pin into your “doll” to teach those nasty thoughts a lesson.

Keep your notebook handy, and every time you get a pessimistic thought or someone tells you something negative and non-constructive, put a mark in your notebook. Don’t write down the exact comment or action–just put a mark down, read one of your positive statements, and move on. When you get home, take a deep breath, slowly release it, read your three positive statements, and then stick another pin in the doll for each new mark in your notebook. And let all those negative thoughts go. Don’t give them a chance to hold you back from what you’re capable of.

When the path to your dreams is littered with criticisms, subjective likes and dislikes, frustrated people lashing out, and self-doubts, it can make it difficult to press on. Sometimes, it’s enough to make a person turn back and return to the easier life. The path to your dreams is definitely a tough one, so be sure to pack all the positive thinking you can carry with you…and lose all that unnecessary negative baggage.

With writing, there’s always something to learn…that’s one of my favorite parts of the job. Last year, I went to the Austin Film Festival with the goal of learning how to write a screenplay. This year, I went with the goal of figuring out what to do with the screenplays after I write them. I got to practice some pitching and realized my public speaking is a bit rusty…it was pretty apparent at times when I would tallk with some people and ramble on and on jumping from subject to subject every couple sentences (I need to take some theater classes or find a local Toastmasters group to get a little more comfortable with speaking again–use it or lose it). I did receive lots of great advice from too many people to list. It seemed like most of the people in attendance were more than happy to help out the newer writers, and that made things a lot of fun. Now, I need to take that advice and put it to good use.

Highlights from the AFF:

… Getting a chance one night to chat with Shane Black (writer of the Lethal Weapon series) and Sean Bridges (an Austin-area screenwriter)
… The Up-Close-And-Personal panel with Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2 director)
… Hanging out at the Driskill Bar with Kyle, Trace, Diana, Cathy and Victor
… Chatting briefly with Ted Elliot (writer for Shrek and Pirates of the Carribean)
… Meeting Renee O’Connor, Helena Beaven, and Dawn Higginbotham, who are working on their new movie, Diamonds and Guns
… Meeting lots of other second-rounders as well as semifinalists and finalists from the screenwriting competition
… Having a producer ask me to send them something

And the other side of the fence:

… Seeing Bryan Singer get mobbed by tons of people even when he was trying to leave to go somewhere else (and just walking away without getting a chance to talk to him…didn’t want to add to the mobbage)
… Sobering up for that long drive home after hanging out at the Driskill Bar
… Not having a non-comedy screenplay to send to that producer

Met a lot of people….learned a lot…and had a lot of fun. I’ll write up more about the festival a little later (after I spend some extra time with the family). If you’re not familiar with the Austin Film Festival, you can find out more about it here.

Gearing up for Halloween is fun…especially with all the dark and horror-inspired comics showing up tomorrow. Look at the titles listed from Diamond for this week:

Sword of Dracula
Vampire the Masquerade: Isabel
Drawing On Your Nightmares
Dark Days
R. A. Salvatore’s Demon Wars
DC’s Demon: Driven Out
Frankenstein Mobster
Walking Dead
AP Chillers

And my favorite title from this week’s listing…Little Vampire Does Kung Fu

He did the mash. He did the monster mash.
The monster mash. It was a graveyard smash.
He did the mash. It caught on in a flash.
He did the mash. He did the monster mash.

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?'”
–George Bernard Shaw

The smell of beer and party sweat still lingered in the air of that old dayroom. The chill morning air and the glimmer of sunrise danced through the open window–both passing by with barely an acknowledgment from me. Focused. Determined. I poured myself into my work. Well, “play” would actually be a better term for it, and therapy would be a close second. I pressed on and didn’t even notice when the Chief entered the room.

He settled his massive frame into a chair near the television and propped his head back against the wall. A sigh spilled forth from his huge lungs. I glanced up from my work as he rolled his eyes over in my direction. A few more weeks until he retired, and you could see the change creeping into his body…and drowning his spirit.

“Son, do you have a dream?”

A simple question. I had a small window of opportunity coming up soon–a second chance at one of my dreams. A few weeks from now would be a test of strength, speed and endurance that stood between me and the career I longed for. I peeked over at the crutches propped up against the wall beside me. Then I glanced to the swollen, blue-green tinted flesh that used to be a perfectly good ankle. I could feel how trampled my hopes were deep inside. I hung my head and just let the feelings overwhelm me for a moment.

But something grabbed hold of my hope and pulled it to safety. My work…my play…my therapy. On my lap sat a notebook filled with scribbles and blurbs of text. I flipped through it to see character descriptions, story ideas, sketches, poems, song lyrics, one-liners, memorable bits of dialogue I’d heard…and more. It was all right there, and it was something I’d always gone to for fun and to escape the stress of the day. I remembered telling campfire stories to my friends as a kid. I cherished a few memories of sitting with my friends and putting together our own comic book stories. I thought back about how eager I always was to do writing assignments in school. I recalled the day I was forced into making some kind of career decision and giving up on struggling down the path of writing. But I never really gave it up, did I?

I looked over to the Chief. “Yeah, I have a dream.”

“Good. Don’t ever let it die. See it through and don’t be one of those guys looking back on their lives and wondering what the hell happened to all their dreams.”


You’re a dreamer. You know it, and I know it. You have to be…it’s part of the job. Whether you dream up stories, envision the shapes and lines of exotic locales and people, walk through all the lights and shadows of a scene, or dance through color schemes in your mind, you bring to life dreams on a regular basis. You probably also dream of making a career out of this, but that can be a struggle most of the time.

Any number of obstacles can stand in your way, but you can reach your goal…as long as you don’t let your dream die. If you dream of creating entertaining stories, it needs to consume you and be the motivating factor to carry you through the troublesome times. But some people hold back on their dreams. Maybe they’re embarrassed by what they enjoy working on–afraid of what others might think. Maybe the fear turns another way, and they constantly wonder if they’re good enough. Maybe they can’t deal with rejection or criticism or all the work involved with promoting themselves and their work. Maybe…just maybe…they don’t really want it at all, and they’re doing it just because they think it would be neat or cool. Writers, do you sit there at a restaurant having dinner with family or friends and suddenly turn a misheard phrase into some crazy story about Viking fish? And do you immediately share it with the people around it or do you hide it? Artists, do you find yourself compelled to sketch all the time? Do you find yourself filling sketchbooks, book margins, napkins, old bill envelopes, walls, and anything that could pass for a writing surface with line after line whenever you don’t have to be working on something else?

Do you hold onto your dream to create comics because you love to create comics…or do you hold onto the dream thinking you’ll get a little prestige one day if you keep at it? Search deep down inside yourself and find out what you really want to do…and then do it! The only thing stopping you is…you. If the dream consumes you, you’ll practice and train and hone your abilities. You’ll keep at it day after day no matter what…because you love to do it. Find your dream…and don’t ever let it die.

Well, we had that big article on portfolios for artists, so let’s take a moment to discuss a technique for writers. I call this my “conversational” portfolio technique because it’s designed to enhance a writer’s discussions with fans, editors, other creators, passersby, kittens, sushi, or whatever else they feel like talking to at the time. It is NOT a portfolio designed to be brought up to someone to request an analysis of your writing. It is just a sampling of your published or finished work.

If you don’t have any kind of finished work…get some! Volunteer to write some portfolio stories for some artists in exchange for copies of the artwork to letter and show off to editors (the “I’ll be a walking advertisement for you” technique), collaborate with an artist to help bring his or her stories to life (the “I’ll help you if you’ll let me ride your coattails” technique), or just hire someone to pencil some pages from your own stories (the “I’m light-headed from my ramen noodle diet and constant plasma donations” technique). There are a lot more options than that out there–you’re a writer…just be creative and have some fun.

Now, you have some artwork to put into your portfolio. What else can you add to it? Let’s see…I’m thinking of something… it’s on the tip of my tongue now… oh yeah, writing! Articles, reviews, flash fiction, tutorials, interviews, short scenes from screenplays, excerpts from a novel. The key is to make sure the writing is something simple, creative, and concise enough for them to digest in a quick glance. Or it could be something that you can just point them to for reading at a later time.

“Here’s a scene from my screenplay, I have the rest of it available at my website.”

“I wrote an article on that very subject. Here’s a sample of one of my articles from my column at the so-and-so website. I’d be happy to email you a link to the article after the convention.”

For my online articles, I like to print out a copy from the actual website to show off the site logo (which also gives the person glancing through it a feel for all the different places you’ve dealt with in the past). If you don’t have any articles or reviews or anything like that out there… just write some up! Find some place looking for some help and jump on in, or just write up some more content for your website (which makes a good marketing tool for your work anyways).

Artwork and samples of your writing… anything else? I threw in copies of letters from screenwriting contests I entered to show where my writing placed in the competitions. If you have similar writing accomplishments, throw them in the stack (we’ll sort it all out later). You can also put together a list of quotes from reviews of your work. You can write up a page with a listing of your published credits. You could toss a page in there with nothing more than “Damn you, four-layer chocolate cheesecakes! Damn you and your accursed, tasty calories!” in super-large, bold font. Well, you should find your own phrase for that… but just think of a quick attention-getter that causes them to pause and think about the portfolio for a second (and maybe get a good chuckle out of them).

We have some material and we’re ready to jam on that portfolio now. The biggest thing to remember here is that you want a single item that you can carry around easily with you and show off samples anytime anyone asks about them (or refer to at opportune moments in a conversation). For my portfolio, I use a single three-ring binder with plastic sheet protectors to hold the pages (and to ward off coke, queso, and chocolate).

As you work out the placement of your portfolio pieces, keep in mind a very basic principle used in your craft… hook them from the beginning, keep them moving forward, and then finish big. Since this is for comic book work, you should start right off with comic book work. Use some sample pages from one of your finished stories or a short story and make sure it’s something that will grab the viewers attention right away. Continue with the comic pages and throw in some of your other writing here and there. Here’s a sample of what my binder looks like:

Outside of binder: Color cover by Ryan Ottley from my Arazel & Xarenia submission
… 10 pages from Jim Valentino’s Task Force 1
… 10 pages from the Brat-halla webcomic
… a quick mock interview–the Devil interviewing me as we barter for my soul
… 5 pages from the published Dungeon Bears story
… 5 pages from the published Bob the Battleship story
… a Breaking Out! article
… 5 pages from Spook’d (webcomic and published pieces)
… letter from the Nicholl Fellowship stating that my Arazel & Xarenia screenplay placed in the top 6%
… letter from the Austin Film Festival stating my screenplay made it to the quarterfinals
… opening pages of my screenplay
… published Arazel & Xarenia comic short stories

And that’s all I take around with me. I use the binder to refer to my works during a conversation. It also helps when I’m talking with someone that’s familiar with a project I’ve contributed to, so I can easily point out what I worked on. In essence, it’s a tool to help out when you meet new people and also provides a way to promote yourself and your work. You’ll still need to be proficient in public speaking to make an impression, but you’ll at least have a visual aid to give people you meet an extra little something to remember you by. “Oh yeah, you’re that parody Care Bears guy!”

Earlier this year, I wrote my first screenplay–a fantasy-genre comedic adventure story, Arazel & Xarenia. I decided to send it out to a few screenwriting contests to put it to use while I worked on more screenplays. Well, today I recieved this letter from the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting (one of the higher profile contests out there). My screenplay wasn’t among the 320 that advanced to the quarterfinals, but the note at the bottom of the letter stated that it was “among the next 50 scripts.” In the top 370 out of 6048 entries…with a comedy…in the fantasy-genre…that’s something I can be really proud of.

As soon as I started work on coding something, someone sends me a link to a program that might work. I’m running it through its paces though. The program is PostNuke, and it looks like it might be flexible enough to handle what I’m looking for…with a little tweaking that is. ^_^

On Friday, July 25th, the Alamo Draft House will be featuring a Dracula Night hosted by Jason Henderson, writer of the new Image Comics series, Sword of Dracula. If you’re in Austin, and you like vampires and comics, this will be an event to check out.

Bob the battleship.
The very friendly battleship.
He does backflips.
He takes us on trips.
He’s Booooo-oooooob…the battleship.

And my crazy comic story about a battleship kiddie show host that loses it on the set one day will be in stores in August (via Digital Webbing Presents #10).

Finally…since I’m still working on getting my current scripts section updated (and adding my new screenplays section), here’s a little sample–the opening sequence of my Arazel & Xarenia screenplay (it’s in pdf format). Enjoy!

column_breakout.gifEtiquette? What is this…a Mister Manners column now? Nope…still just discussing ways to help aspiring creators get the most out of a convention. These are just some things to keep in mind at the convention. I’m not expecting anyone to dump their personalities and become all goodie-two-shoes because of these. So, let’s get to it!

Honesty. No personality change here. Especially not when I’m kicking this off by telling people to just be themselves. And when you’re out there representing yourself in public…there’s no need to be anything but yourself. When you meet new people, you want to be honest with them, so they get to know who you really are. When you learn knew things, you want to be honest with yourself and get the most out of what’s offered to you. When you’re promoting your current or upcoming work, you want to be honest with potential buyers and fans, so they get the real story to get excited over.

So, just be yourself. People constantly remind the aspiring types that this is a small industry, so it’s always good to make sure the information spreading around about you is accurate (especially if the source of that info is you). Let people know who you really are and what you’re really capable of accomplishing. Wouldn’t you want the person working with you on a project to be trustworthy and upfront about what they can do? Editors and publishers like those kinds of people as well…it makes it easier for them to manage their schedules and deadlines when they know what to expect from someone.

Treat them like people. They truly are real people. They have real needs, desires, passions, frustrations, and dreams. They have family and friends. They lead lives with bills, taxes, traffic, and health problems. Like many other people at the convention, they’ll probably get tired, bored or even hungover. And if they start showing a little attitude or grouchiness, just think about how you might feel if you had people stopping to gush about your latest work and just ramble on and on and on about the same thing that hundreds of other people talked about all day long. Think about how you might feel if people kept interrupting you while you tried to eat or what it might be like to have people trying to strike up a conversation with you while you’re using the restroom. People following you around…sharing crazy dreams that they had about you…reciting your own life story to you…reciting their life story to you. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? Well, creators deal with those kinds of things because there are some fanatics that treat them like objects to be idolized and praised. Be different. Be professional and treat them like real people.

…but show some respect. No need to deify them, but you do want to show them a little respect. Even if you absolutely despise their art or writing, they did make it into the comics industry, and as many of you know, that’s not an easy task. So, they might produce mediocre or fair work, but many other factors play into working in the industry. Timeliness in getting work done (good work ethics), professionalism, flexibility in dealing with editorial demands, working well with other members of the team…and they didn’t choke when they were given their big break. It’s an incredible accomplishment, so just remember that when you run into a creator that you’re not a fan of. You might be able to draw/write/ink/color/letter rings around them, but you can still learn a lot about all the other aspects of the industry from them.

Be helpful. My past catches up with me here. Early on in my life, my mom taught me about helping others. I took it to heart and tried to help everyone I knew. That didn’t work out too well though…there’s just not enough time to help everyone. But I did what I could, and I felt good about myself. Then I noticed a few occassional perks–people remembered me better after helping them, and when I needed some help with something, volunteers were usually easy to find. All for just donating some time and some hard work to give people a hand.

As with all things, there are no guarantees, so don’t count on those small benefits. People still might forget you…people might not be able to help you out in return due to busy schedules…people might get a touch paranoid and think you’re just helping them to get something from them. So, help out because you want to help out…because it makes you feel good. That alone makes it worthwhile…whatever else you get out of it is just Karma saying thanks.

But how do you help people at a convention though? People looking for directions–point them in the right direction. An artist wandering the crowd looking for another creator to review his/her portfolio–help them out with a few leads. Some aspiring artists and writers stopping by your table in Artist’s Alley–share some tips, advice and experiences with them. All little things…but a lot of times, people appreciate the little things others do to help them out.


That wasn’t so bad, was it? No discussion of what fork to use for different courses of the meal. No pinky lifts. No list of proper ways to address royalty throughout the world. Just some helpful little tidbits that can help you display a good attitude and a show of professionalism…and just might help someone remember your name after the con…or maybe make someone feel more inclined to teach you a few tricks of the trade…or possibly make some people more willing to check out your work.

column_breakout.gifPrima D’s Con Diary — Day One

… Stood in line to impress Somebig Artist with my portfolio, and it was horrible. These guys in front of me just kept talking and talking and talking the whole time we were in the line. They even started showing each other their portfolios. But the big thing is…they wouldn’t shut up! The others even stood around and watched and asked more questions as he reviewed each portfolio. After my review, I encountered them down the hall a ways as they talked about their portfolios even more. I wanted to take a baseball bat and pummel some silence out of them. It was probably because of them that Somebig Artist slammed my portfolio.

… What’s up with these so-called professional artists? I got 3 reviews in before lunch, and they’re all picking on my perspective and page layouts. I bet they saw the commercial potential of my style and got scared that they might lose their jobs. I’m obviously doing something right.

… Well, my lunch was ruined. Those “artists” (using that term really loosely) from Somebig Artist’s line were at the same restaurant as me. And they brought friends…about six of them all together. They had their portfolios, and they kept talking about all the bad things the artists had to say when they got feedback. They’d even point out specific pieces of work and let everyone else know what each artist thought about it. One of them even told another that he should go see Penciller Elite and ask him if there’s any good practice techniques for getting figures to look right in his backgrounds. Losers. Like he’s gonna share his secrets with them. Stupid wannabes are driving me crazy…they think they’re in art class or something. Well, I bet they’ll wanna go back to art class when I walk out of here with a job, and they don’t.

… Stupid editor’s gonna be sorry he didn’t offer me work. I didn’t want to work on his small-time crap books anyway. When I’m cranking out books for the big two and selling millions of copies, he’ll be crying in his beer cause he had his chance.

… Hahahahaha. Some dumbasses were getting their portfolios reviewed at some small press booth…by a writer! What the hell would a writer know about art? Man, if this is my competition for breaking in, I’m so gonna own this industry.

… Wow, I must really have these pros scared cause it looks like they’re all talking to each other. I guess they figure if they all tell me close to the same thing that I’ll change my style, and then I wouldn’t be a threat to them anymore. I bet they even threatened some of the editors that they’d miss deadlines if they don’t tell me the same old crap. These conventions are just a big conspiracy to keep the kick ass artists down so these jokers can keep their damn jobs. I can outdraw at least half these jerks anyways. Well, I’ll show them!

With an attitude like that, there’s not much point in bringing a portfolio to a convention, is there? As I mentioned in the previous article, there are benefits to conventions for up-and-coming creators–learning something new, meeting new people, and getting word out about your work. Let’s look at how to use the portfolio to maximize those benefits.

Learning something new. This one’s easy. Take the portfolio up to a professional creator that happens to be doing portfolio reviews and let them have at it. If you pay attention, you’ll probably learn something new. But there’s more you could do…especially with a little preparation.

You could go over your work before the convention and write down your weaknesses (and be honest with yourself). From that list, you could whittle it down to the top three problems you struggle with the most. With those three weaknesses in mind, take a look at the guests for the convention and find the artists that are really strong in those areas. This gives you a focused set of professionals to start with to help learn how to strengthen these aspects. When you get to these portfolio reviews, ask the guest about those specific things. And then listen carefully to what they have to say and see if the guests have any specific drills or tips for practicing and improving on these weak points. Be sure to bring a notebook with you and write down what they said when your portfolio review is over. This makes it easier to focus all your attention on the next review (and have something to refresh your memory on what that creator said later on).

Plus, you don’t have to stop there. Plenty of other artists will be there with their portfolios. Every time a guest comments on a portfolio, you have the potential to learn something new. With their comments and a physical example you can actually see, you can learn about things you might not run into with the few samples in your portfolio. I notice a number of people tend to stick to just what’s in their portfolio and what the guests have to say about just their work…but if you think about it, a convention is like a big open classroom with people handing out lessons all over the place. Just listen in on a few and see what helpful tips you can pick up.

Meeting new people. You’re walking through the convention with your portfolio, and you see someone else there with a portfolio…think there’s a common connection you could both chat about? You could take a look at each other’s portfolio. You could discuss what kind of feedback you’ve been getting from the different guests. And you can even discuss artwork in general. That portfolio opens up a lot of different possibilities for meeting people and possibly making new friends.

Now, if you did your research for speaking, you have an opportunity for double bonus time. In storytelling, it’s effective to get the audience’s attention early and pull them into the story. You can do the same thing with your portfolio…especially if you managed to find out about some of the likes and hobbies for the creators that will be there. If an artist really enjoyed surfing and your portfolio starts out with two or three sequential pages dealing with the beach and surfing, do you think they’ll have a little more fun reviewing your work? Think it might get them talking about the subject? Think it will give them a nice change of pace from the common comic book characters they might be going through all day long? Think it will help them remember you after the con’s over? And all it takes is two or three sequential pages that you can add to your portfolio as examples of everyday people doing everyday things (and just swap those pages to the front before you meet that guest).

And don’t forget the small press publishers/creators in Artist’s Alley. Showing your portfolio around there will definitely help you meet new people…and you might even learn something in the process. Some small press creators know a lot about creating comics. As with any endeavor, not every bit of feedback will be helpful though…some might be bad or way out there, and you’ll just need to trust your instincts to know which is which. Of course, if the same comment occurs over and over, then there’s a good chance it’s something you need to look into. Overall, the small press area is a good place to meet and chat with other creators. It’s also the place where people might contact you later on about small jobs or where you could find a great story to work on with someone to try to get published (and possibly have a comic book sitting in your portfolio the next time you attend this convention).

Your portfolio also presents a good chance to meet writers. Surprisingly enough, some writers actually know a lot about the artwork side of things as well…from working with a variety of artists and small press people on different projects or from studying to be an editor (because comic book editors also need to have a good eye for art as well as handling the writing side of things). Even without an in-depth knowledge of perspective, anatomy, shading, and other artistic basics, a number of writers can still judge how well sequentials flow from a storytelling perspective. New artists to the realm of comics also get the chance to discuss comic creation with writers and learn about some expectations writers have when dealing with artists. Better to discover those kinds of things before jumping into a project and finding yourself overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Getting the word out. Got a new project coming up or a submission getting ready to go out to publishers? Include some pages from the project in your portfolio. This let’s people get a preview of the book and meet one of the creators, so they have more than just a name to associate with the work. It can also get people asking questions about it and talking about it. In fact, you could work with the writer to develop a small pitch, so when people ask you about it, you can give them the quick “hook” for the storyline.

And if you have work already published, put some sample pages from that project in your portfolio along with a copy of the book. Let them see the story and see how much effort you’ve put into creating comics. Let the other small press people know about the book as well (especially if you have more issues on the way). Advertising works, and a portfolio is a great way to advertise your book at a convention.

… Remember, that portfolio of yours carries some advantages. It gives you opportunities for education, networking, and advertising all in one fell swoop. And you can get so much more out of it if you take a little extra time to prepare and focus your efforts.

Now, I know the writers out there might feel a little neglected in the realm of portfolios. There are ways to put together a decent portfolio to showcase a writer’s work, but that’ll require a future article of its own. Right now, my best recommendation for writers in lieu of a portfolio is to work on those speaking skills and know your stories inside and out (with pitches ready to go)…because convincing storytellers should be able to work in any medium (with a little practice).