The majority of people involved in comics are highly creative types, which can lead to some odd behavior when it comes to a “business” culture. For many of the smaller companies involved, conventions are basically the “office”, so that should give you an idea of how different it is from most jobs.
With such a wacky workplace I guess it should not be a surprise that the people involved are often unreliable and the events can be very unorganized. And in the past I’ve talked a little about this.
Here’s a few examples you might remember.
A small publishing company called Shot in the Dark Comics was interested in publishing Black Snow and having us rewrite one of their comics. Great, exciting stuff, right? Not so much. The more we dealt with them the more obvious it became that they were not going to work out. They were often unresponsive, taking far too long to get back to us. The script they wanted us to rewrite was almost unreadable, and as talks continued it became apparent that they were more interested in us fixing up their title (Brix) than promoting ours. Also, they had no kind of publishing plan that I could see for our book, and wanted us to start on theirs without getting paid first. Things seemed shady.
Last year Big Wow! Comic Fest messed up my table assignment and had me listed at two different tables. The bigger problem was that they also had other people listed at those same tables. And despite the fact that I submitted my application well in advance, showed up early for registration and set up my table before the show started I had to move at the last minute to accommodate some guy who acted like a big shot just because he was there as part of IDW. So I wasn’t even set up when the show started. And the table they moved me to was much worse, with a neighbor that hogged a big part of my background area to display his prints. And someone fairly well known was originally supposed to be at my new table, so I had to deal with disappointed people asking me what happened to him. What did happen to him? He wondered over halfway through the second day (of a two day show) and asked me where he was supposed to set up. I tell ya…
Similarly, I had a long drawn out negotiation will SLG when they showed interest in publishing Black Snow. Mostly it was long because there was poor communication and indecision on there side. Then there’s APE, which was run by the Comic-Con organization, who you would think would be the best at this type of thing since they run the biggest show of the year. They lost my check, so I had to pay again at the show and hope that someone else didn’t find my first check and cash it. And Big Wow! this year lost my application, took forever to respond when I was asked multiple times what was happening, and only squeezed me in at the last minute so I was too late to be part of any of the promotional materials.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Well, yesterday I witnessed the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever seen. It involved Wizard World, who puts on about two conventions every month, making them the most prolific of the convention companies that I know of. They were pretty organized when I dealt with them earlier this year, so I was pretty shocked by what happened.
I got an email letting me know there were still some artist alley tables open for this weekend’s show in San Jose. I never requested any info on this, but it was probably sent to me since I was part of their Sacramento show a couple months ago. I have no idea how many people this email went out to, possibly all their past exhibitors, which would mean thousands of people. Attached to that email was a pdf application for the show.
A couple minutes later I got a follow up email that started with “MY APOLOGIES FOLKS…” then explained that this email had the correct application attached, and please delete the first one because it had an artist’s info on there! The email was short and had spelling errors, as it was obviously rushed out in a panic. So I took a look at the first email’s attachment and it had all of a small company’s info on it. Not just their contact info, but ALL THEIR CREDIT CARD INFO. Security code, signature and all.
Holy crap. How the hell does a blunder like that happen? In an age where we live in fear of security leaks and have to constantly put our trust in companies to protect us, this kind of mistake is inexcusable. How safe do I feel knowing I paid these people in the past and they have my info? Think I want to apply to any of their future shows?
And what a great way to fix it. A “my bad” follow up and hoping everyone will just delete it and not take advantage. Awesome.
I understand that a lot of people that get into comics don’t want a “real job”, and putting on a suit and tie to work the 9 to 5 is a soul crushing prospect, but there really should be some standards of decorum. It really isn’t that hard to achieve a bare minimum of professional expectations. So get it together comic industry!