Bendis on Cons

bendis convention
As we noted the other day, Brian Michael Bendis is a newly announced guest at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and it’s a very rare convention appearance for him. On his Tumblr he was asked if he’d be doing any other cons and his answer was pretty blunt:

Probably not. I know some people take offense to my convention retirement but I have four (FOUR!!) little children and very specific goals for what I want to achieve in my career and in my life. one of the reasons I’m able to produce the quality and quantity of material that I do is because I don’t spend 4 to 5 days every couple of weeks going to conventions.  some of my friends do and they have a blast and I honestly can’t remember ever not having a great time at a convention, and maybe when my kids are older I will find more time for it but with the access we have to each other via the Interwebs I think convention appearances aren’t as necessary as they may have been in the past.  if I’m a soapbox for a second- conventions are a big trap for many of my peers. you will notice some names popping up at many conventions and then you will notice their work either not coming in on time or at all. I think when all is said and done we will be remembered for our body of work and not our time at the convention bar.  and I’m right here if you need me- probably more than I should be :-)


Although it’s also true that some will undoubtedly be remembered more for the convention bar than a body of work among their peers, he’s got a point. With a half dozen shows a weekend, and easy supplemental money to be made setting up at them, more and more creators are becoming hardened road warriors—balancing work and promotion is one of the career skills that everyone at a certain level must negotiate these days.

Comments

  1. Chris Hero says:

    Back in the day, Brian was always very, very accessible and fun to talk to at cons. I can’t blame him for retiring; he put his time in, now he’s focusing on his work.

  2. Agreed Chris Hero, he was a fixture at the big Chicago shows for years and years. I remember people in line walking up with literally dozens of comics for him to sign. He would plop down the big stack of comics, smile and start shooting off his autograph over and over and over. He didn’t complain or whine or declare no more of that. I didn’t have any comics for him to sign but we chatted about POWERS and he signed my sketchbook (even drew his little bald-headed self portrait).

    He was always one of those guests that looked as happy to be there as the attendees. The epitome of class.

  3. Bendis has earned the life he has where he can comfortably skip years of cons in order to get work done and spend time with his family, but a majority of creators MUST go to cons in order to push their books and make valuable personal connections that simply can’t be fostered online.

    He has a point in that creators shouldn’t turn con season into slack season, but that’s an issue of time management and not a symptom of attending cons. If going to 10 cons a year puts you behind schedule, then cut back.

  4. yeah i kinda wonder with all the time and travel costs involved w/ cons if creators are better off investing that effort in a targeted social media campaign or investing in their own websites as a place to convert sales.

    Those things reach a global audience whereas a con is just a small sampling. I dunno…face to face is always good, but you have to wonder about the costs and time.

  5. Goofball814 says:

    Met him years ago at a WWChicago, and not only did he sign several books, he was sitting with Mark Millar, and he flipped through my issue of Ultimate TeamUp that Jim Magfood drew with the Fantastic Four. (someone was doing sketches or such, so the line moved really slow). Bendis was telling Mark who various background characters were (most were based on Marvel employees, administrative and clerical). As he was doing this, I asked him to write those names in the book! So my book has all these cool footnotes.

    By I agree, he has put in the time, he can pick and choose where and when he does appearances.

  6. Good for him and good for fans. His work has gotten better over the years, and I’m confident that part of it is due to his commitment to getting work out there, rather than signing comic after comic for mouthbreathers that lug their longboxes behind them. Compare him to guys like J. Scott Campbell and Adam Hughes, who hit up con after con, but have no body of work to speak of.

  7. I’m sure personal appearances are still important, but given his reputation and Marvel’s PR machine, I certainly can see why a convention appearance isn’t a priority for someone working at his level. My work is much more under-the-radar so such appearances are important, but if I didn’t have to go, I wouldn’t either, at least not every year. It’s a lot of work!

  8. Cory!! Strode says:

    I think another big peice of it is that for people on the rise of their career, they NEED to get out to promote their work, but once you have a certain level of cache, you don’t need to do conventions. Will a Convention appearance mean another sale for Alan Moore, Geoff Johns or even Bendis?

    Also, for artists, there are more opportunities for them to make money at a convention. With sketches, original art sales and commissions, a convention is not an insignificant portion of their income. Yes, Adam Hughes make make a lot of con appearances, but if he makes more money doing sketches and gathering commissions on a weekend at a con than penciling a book over a month, do you blame him for going where the money is? I sure don’t. It’s a business, especially if you are freelance.

  9. If he can make more money doing cons then he can drawing a comic, I certainly understand his decision. But calling yourself a comic artist when you draw a cover a month and never do interiors certainly sticks in my craw.

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