Comic book conventions are wondrous opportunities for fans to find rare goodies, play dress up, attend panels and workshops, hangout with friends, discover something new, and meet the creators of the comics they love to read. We often get to see conventions from the fan perspectives, but what are these events like from the other side of the table?
Gathering up an eclectic collection of comic book professionals, Hope Nicholson has put together another unique look into the geeky side with Pros and (Comic) Cons, an exploration of the “the mad world of comic conventions and the funny, sad, sweet, embarrassing, and heartfelt stories that go along with them.” From advice, to malfunctions, to life-changing fan encounters, “Pros and (Comic) Cons paints a picture of the geek culture life that shapes us, encourages us, and exhausts us every summer.”
Like many of us, Nicholson looks forward to convention season. “But it’s a mix of really intense experiences—both good and bad,” she explains in an interview with WWAC. Nicholson has always attended conventions as a professional. “But when I was producing our documentary on Canadian comics and first started going to conventions, that was as close to a regular fan experience as I have had. I remember it was so exciting to be able to go to panels and listen to really interesting people talk about the parts of comic creation they were passionate about. And it blew my mind that for less than a $100 I could get incredibly talented artists to just draw whatever I asked of them! The freedom and excitement was exhilarating. I still go to cons sometimes without tabling, like SDCC, and sometimes ECCC, but I no longer have that time to be able to run around and get convention sketches, as I’m busy doing panels, events, signings etc. And tabling is a whole other story, it’s created an atmosphere where you can have a really great time—if people like your work and show enthusiasm, or a really awful time—if you end up in debt after the show and people turn their noses up at your work. It’s all part and parcel, but sometimes I think it would be fun to just go to a con where I wasn’t working in any capacity.”
Being able to meet other creators at conventions is a highlight that she looks forward to, and being able to share their convention experiences is the hook for Pros and (Comic) Cons.
“Since this is such a unique, strange world, I thought that a collection of experiences to showcase it would be really fun to read about.”
Nicholson has a few anecdotes of her own, but the one she shares is from her initially naive, innocent days of traveling to conventions like VanCAF.
“I didn’t know what to do with all my leftover books, so I just started going up and down the aisles trading them with other people. From this I met a lot of people I would grow to know quite well, Johnnie Christmas, Ed Brisson, Kurtis Wiebe, Kris Straub. I would be too embarrassed now to try that! Sometimes going into cons with a fresh set of eyes can open you up to more opportunities and encounters than when you get bitter and cranky!”
With so many comic conventions and festivals filling up the calendar each year, the convention circuit can be both and exhausting and rewarding affair. I asked Nicholson and several of the contributors of Pros and (Comic) Cons to share their “Three Stars and a Wish” for comic conventions—that is, what are the three things they love about conventions and one thing they wish would change. Stay tuned to find out what they have to say!
Pros and (Comic) Cons will be available May 29, 2019. In the mean time, you can pre-order the TPB now through Amazon or your local comic book store.