Sequential artists are getting yet another leg up in the comics industry, as the fourth annual Mini-Comics Expo brings in editors to see not only students’ work, but how they work. The event has gotten bigger with each year, and each upgrade has provided students with more keys to success.
Eight editors from major comics publishing houses came to check out the event. They walked through the courtyard behind Norris Hall, which was lined with tables covered in comic pages, illustrations, character concepts, buttons, stickers, sketchbooks, business cards and more. Some stayed out in the sun, others hid under the tents covering most of the tables, but nearly everyone was mingling with the students and watching them sell their work.
Becca Hillburn, one of more than 40 vendors at the expo, said that she was glad to have a chance to show editors more than just her artwork. She could also demonstrate her skills in marketing. “You don’t get to do that, normally,” she shared.
In the past, these editors only came for Editors’ Day, an event where students could interview with the editors and show off their work. But now, after the two events have merged, students can share their marketing skills as well.
And the best part: The expo is free to not only the public, but also the vendors.
Ally Shwed, a graduate student, explained how nice it was to have a free table to sell her merchandise. Half-shielded from the sun by the shade of her tent, Shwed described her past experience with conventions, mainly the expenses she’d made for her art. “Tabling at Heroes Con costs about $300,” she said.
“Tabling” meaning: setting up a table in a trade room to sell artwork.
Take the $300 table fee and add the cost for materials and prints, and it’s difficult to earn much profit at a convention. “You go knowing that [you won’t make money].” But this expo is different. Because tabling is free, students gain exposure to editors and the convention environment and a little cash.
“Every year it gets a little bigger,” said David Allan Duncan, sequential art professor and organizer of the expo. The turnout, according to Duncan, Shwed, and Hillburn, was bigger than ever before, and the opportunities for students have never been greater.