Find Your Local Comic Creators
As a member of ShoutFyre, you’re likely looking to connect with and learn from fellow comic creators. Online is a great place to start, as it evaporates distance and eases accessibility to experienced experts and professionals. However, don’t overlook the creative community in your own backyard. With creating comics being as isolated an activity as it is, meeting other creators in your area is a great excuse to step away from the drawing board and get some face time and social interaction with like-minded people. The biggest factor is just knowing where to look!
Comic Book Stores
If your town (or one nearby) is lucky enough to have a comic shop, it’s an easy place to find others who share your love for sequential art. You may already have a shop you frequent as a regular—possibly (hopefully) with a pull-list or subscription—and have a good relationship with the staff or owner as a result. Take the opportunity to also meet their other customers, as they likely include others who share your ambitions to get create comics. Many projects have been born from comic book creators meeting at their local shop and becoming collaborators. Attend special events the store hosts, such as creator appearances, book release parties, or holiday sales. And if your community is really lucky and supports multiple stores, make the rounds and spread the love… and, ultimately, expand your network. To find stores near you, try Diamond Distributor’s Comic Shop Locator.
Comic conventions are another obvious place to meet other creators, but one that may require a road-trip. If there’s a con (or two) nearby, plan to attend. Depending on where your project is in its development cycle, cons are a great opportunity to show off your work as an exhibitor or fan alike. If you’re tabling in Artist Alley or as a vendor, your goal is to promote your product to potential fans, publishers, and professionals, and maybe make a few bucks—but that’s all a blog post for another day. However, even just walking the floor as an attendee enables you to mingle with fans and talk with experienced creators. Bring a portfolio to solicit feedback on your work-in-progress, and add any related special events—such as awards ceremonies, drink-and-draws, and afterparties—to your agenda. Again, it’s all about making connections and building relationships with other comic book creators and fans (and maybe discovering comics new and old to draw inspiration from along the way).
Less obvious a place to meet other artists and creators are special events centered around drawing. If you’re of the appropriate age, check Meetup and Facebook Local for things like a Drink & Draw or life-drawing session. These are likely to draw—excuse the pun—a variety of participants, including graphic or fashion designers, software user-experience designers, and yes, comic book artists. Given the overlap in design principles, these events are a good opportunity to meet fellow creatives, talk shop, and help develop your drawing skills (key for a comic artist, but good for the writer as well!). Similarly, consider other design-related events or meetups, such as design talks or share-outs, which often provide access to the same sort of attendees, conversations, and sources of inspiration.
Ultimately, regardless of where you find your local creators, take the time to cultivate relationships with them in real life in addition to online. From my experience, opportunity is often driven as much (if not more) by Who You Know as it is What You Know. The relationships you find and build could be your future collaborators, or even just those who keep you inspired and productive as you work on your project. So go, get out, and connect with the creators around you (in addition to those here at ShoutFyre)!