Guest post by CE founder and instructor Andy Schmidt.
In my 13th San Diego Comic Con in a row, I found myself struck by how much changed in the industry from last year to this year. I gave four talks with several awesome guests including Comics Experience alumni and our faculty and staff. A special shout out to both writer Fred Van Lente and artist Phillip Sevy (both staff) for being on THREE panels each. We all had a blast!
Here are three big shifts I’ve seen lately that were highlighted at the show!
1. Comic creators have largely shifted from wanting to work on their favorite childhood super-heroes to wanting to create their own stories and invent their own characters and worlds. It’s a powerful testament to how far creator-owned and creator-driven comics have come since the 1980s that the golden ticket is now inventing and creating one’s own work rather than having a lauded and high-selling run on a popular Marvel or DC Comics franchise.
2. My generation of editors and staff are ascending. I started work as an editor at Marvel Comics in early 2002, and within the last two years, editors that started around that time who have stayed in the rat-race, have finally really started breaking through. The new Editor In Chief at Marvel as well as the Executive Editor overseeing the Spider-Man line were “in my class;” the new Executive Editor at Valiant Entertainment was across town at DC around that time, the new Editor In Chief at IDW Publishing started at Marvel shortly after I did, and we’ve risen through the ranks at other companies such as LucasFilm and Hasbro and more. What that means is that our sensibilities are now driving more and more content, and that means, among other things, that there is more of a call for new creators now than in recent memory. Most of us are actively looking for new talent and new voices and that’s a good thing for up and coming creators!
3. Fans are as obsessive as ever! Not really a shift, so much as an important thing that hasn’t shifted. The above shifts could have great impacts on the industry or negative ones, but one key factor in getting a read on that is how engaged fans are. And I have to say, fans are as rabid as ever. From the amount of effort and artistry put into the elaborate cos-play costumes, to the amount of prints, sketchbooks and commissions being bought and sold, to the in-depth conversations between creators and fans about the work. It was very apparent that fan engagement is as strong as ever. This is also really important in the market because it is a strong indicator that despite what you may be hearing, the overall comics market is still healthy and that there’s plenty of work still to come.
My personal thanks goes out to Comic-Con International for having me out and asking me to host four panels, giving me access to such great new talent and people starting out on the comic book journey. It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people who are ready to start creating their own characters and stories.
Our Introduction to Comics Writing course starts this week, and there are still a few slots left! From what I’ve seen this past week, now is a great time to get started! There are good things ahead!
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!