Lots of unedited rambling!!!
So I have been procrastinating on writing up my experience of MangaNext. The task seemed a bit daunting because I have so much to say about a great experience! I have been shut up in my own little world and pretty isolated from fandom and industry for awhile now. I think I used to use the whole publishing debacle with Tokyopop as an excuse to give up on making comics. Why else would I go from being a creator to working retail? Well i think there was a whole other subconscious level that I simply wasn't ready to put myself out there.
I have been getting back to my roots when I first was drawing comics. I had no scanner or internet to speak of, and only one other friend that drew. Yet I was still drawing hundreds of pages of comics in my spare time. Like, you know, for the FUN of it. When did the comics go from being pure joy to angst? I think they were more fun in some way when no one was reading them. I was drawing them for myself without any fear of story telling rules, anatomy, perspective...flat out REJECTION. Now I know I should be a pro at taking criticism by now. I mean they try to whack you with the "YOU SUCK" stick the moment you apply for art school. As if I wasn't already bludgeoning myself with it before. The thing is, when I enjoy creating comics, it's when I'm really expressing something that is close to my heart. Not analyze-this-character-because-he/she-is-a-direct-reflection-of-my-entire-moral-compass kind of self expression. No,it's not that deep or preachy. more like, here's something from my perspective and experiences with life and people. Here's something I would have liked to read.
So yes rejection hurts. Creating the comic became the same as dealing with people IRL. worrisome about presentation. How are people going to see me through this? What assumptions are they going to make about me as a creator? Will I end up being misunderstood and afraid of putting myself out there, in the same tiresome way I am in person. Labels, genres, manga vs. comics...I've spent my whole life being asked if I'm Japanese, Chinese, Korean. I'm American, whatever the hell that means. Well I'm okay with that now. I'm going to embrace having my feeling occasionally hurt and it's a damn good thing that I'm still afraid to show my family my comics. The day I stop feeling this way, I've joined the ranks of watered down homogenous story tripe that I've grown bored of reading.
I figured out a lot about myself as a creator when I was getting myself prepared to "return" to the internet. MangaNext pretty much affirmed all of my feelings the entire weekend so I left New Jersey on a euphoric high. I'd like to thank all the staff at MangaNext. They truly made me feel at home and just flat out spoiled me! Some of the nicest, most sincere, and hospitable people I've ever had the honor of getting to know a bit. They are a great mix of personalities and you can really tell they do what they for the love of it all.
Friday the high light of the convention was definitely my Q&A panel. I was nervous. I've never considered myself decent at public speaking but now I am going to speak about myself as an artist? I figured I'd bore everyone out of the room within the first 15 minutes with lame apologies. I mean assuming there was anyone who might accidentally wandered in. Outside the internet, no one has actually read my comic anyway, right?! But yeah insecurities aside, there was actually people who all read off*beat at my Q&A! and I actually had so much fun talking to everyone, that I totally spaced out on coloring my picture and had to finish it that evening. LOL!
Saturday's story bible panel was a bit more intimidating. I don't think I couldn't have counted all the people there on my fingers, so it was the largest audience I've ever had. I gave everyone a copy of my bibles and an outlined guide and figured they could read pretty well. Then I proceeded to rant on about how they need to make GOOD stories, good characters...stories that mean something to them. Screw what other people want. You know stuff that is probably the exact opposite of something someone who is actually certified to give instruction would say.
Sunday was pretty relaxed. I was ready to go home and start drawing and writing up a storm. I loved talking with the other creators at the convention. I've been trying to take the time to stay in touch with people a bit more and keep all that positive energy flowing. Sunday there was a staff after party. One thing I notice from being someone who basically didn't drink at all for the first 30 years of my life to someone who can get a little tipsy at parties, is that everyone is super eager to get you drinking. They don't even know your name and they are ready to fix you something strong. Why? well maybe for all kinds of potentially shifty reasons, but I think most people just want to see you relax. They want to see you mingle with others, without giving a shit what others think of you. So I take that little lesson to my comics. I'm going to strive to be uninhibited. Not obnoxiously screaming for attention like that guy who has had 5 drinks too many. Just tipsy enough to be honestly unapologetic. Not for integrity reasons, or for any moral lessons. Just because it makes the party more interesting
This turned out to be more a comics blab then anything but that's what made MangaNext so incredible for me. When I think about it, I want to draw my ass off! Which I'm going to do right now. Even though my suitcases are still sitting in the hallway. DAMN.