#MeCAF 2013 report!

Shows

MeCAF was a few days ago and I still have the afterglow! It was my very first actual dedicated /comic/ festival (years of anime conventions just aren’t the same) and it was a lot awesomer than I was expecting. My experience with anime cons is that it’s hard to speak with artists, it’s crowded and noisy, and you’re basically just in a giant marketplace. MeCAF was the opposite of that in all the best ways possible – intimate, full of energy but not noisy, and a great way to connect with lots of artists one-on-one. I got to speak with so many talented folks who are incredibly passionate about making comics, it was a really inspirational trip for me. People were happy to share their work and talk to me about their process and their passions, which is something you don’t generally get to do at busier conventions. I am so freakin’ glad I went to MeCAF!

MeCAF 2013 was also my soft debut, and I was psyched to trade my minicomic with folks. I know Silent Fluency ain’t gonna shake the world, but it was my way of saying “hello” to the comics community so it meant a lot to me that people were happy to trade. Friends at Boston Comics Roundtable were kind enough to put my minicomic out on their table, which was totally unexpected and extremely generous. It was also exciting to speak with the folks at the Center for Comics Studies in Vermont, I’m hoping I can take a one-week intensive next summer (I’d go this year, but I’m getting married in the fall — too busy right now!)

I also was really happy to say hello to Cara Bean, an incredible artist and storyteller who I met a few months ago through a mutual friend, and Cara gave me a much-needed pep talk on creating comics when I was really not sure if I could move forward. She told me — “go to MeCAF!” — and had it not been for her encouragement, I wouldn’t have even known about MeCAF, let alone create a minicomic for it and attend. I owe her a huge thank you for that. Her encouragement for me for next year is to have a table at MeCAF, and that’s just what I’m going to do! Thank you Cara!

And of course, what would a comic festival be if I didn’t get TONS OF LEWTS? I went a little crazy buying comics, but can you blame me? Lots of works here that were new to me, and there were a number of artists I follow online who where there in person.

Combination of tons of loot plus tiny desk means… two loot photos! Here’s what came home with me:
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I’ll write out all the authors and titles shortly – there’s a lot of talent in these comics and, again, so happy that I got to speak with the creators themselves.

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That’s me at MeCAF*. Thank you MeCAF 2013 for being my very first comic festival and lighting a fire under my butt — you’ll see me next year, and I’ll be there with a little table of my own!

*hilariously(?) my purse got a lot of love from folks. It’s by Jump From Paper, and I like to bring it with me whenever I’m on sketching excursions. It definitely felt appropriate for a comic festival!

Silent Fluency – MECAF minicomic progress update

Comics

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I printed 40 copies of my minicomic (too many?) and folded them up this evening. Pretty painless when you zone out and watch some Arrested Development reruns while doing it.

Tomorrow it’s staple-and-trim day. And then, hopefully… I’ll have a nice photo of a stack of minicomics to show you! If you’re going to be at MECAF, I’ll be giving them away to anyone who’d like one.

Getting ready for MECAF – my first minicomic!

Comics, Shows

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I’m going to my first MeCAF this weekend, and though I’m not exhibiting at a table (still too much of a newbie for that I think), I don’t want to show up empty-handed. I was told that MeCAF was a great place to meet other newcomers in the scene, so the gears started turning on what I could to do basically introduce myself to other folks, especially since I’m a total unknown!
I posted this question on Twitter and someone had a great suggestion that, instead of business cards (ick, so formal!), that I should hand out a mini-comic instead. OF COURSE! Kind of ashamed I didn’t think of it. Comic convention! Minicomic!

I’d never attempted a minicomic before so everything was knew – from formatting to story pacing, this was a lot of new territory. The gallery above shows some process pictures I was posting on my Instagram account.

Here’s a bit more about what I learned during the beginning stages.

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What I did: I knew I wanted to make an 8 page minicomic printed in full on 8.5 by 11 paper (so each page would be a quarter of that). I had some template paper but it was Legal sized and not Letter, so I had to do a bit of ~**~*~ MATH MAGIC ~*~*~* to get the proportions right. Man, that took quite a while. But once it was done, I started pencils in photo blue.
What I’d do differently next time: The template was fine, but I created all the pages in the exact order needed to print and fold the paper into a minicomic, and not in the final reading order. This would make a lot of sense if I was just copying the template and printing directly, but I ended up doing a lot of digital post-processing and layout work. Putting the pages in the final reading layout would likely have helped panel and page flow a bit more (though, in the end, this is just a minicomic and it’s not going to shake the world).

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What I did: Inking directly over the photoblues on bristol.
What I’d do differently next time: I’d like to try to ink digitally to keep things a little neater, though right now I am still faster inking by hand than digitally.

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What I did: I scanned the inked pages into Photoshop, cleaned it up and added tones. Final step was lettering.
What I’d do differently next time: I need to get a lot better at understanding how exactly to use tones. I basically winged it, but some of them are very dark and others super light… for no real deliberate reason.

When it came to lettering, I did actually plan out where I’d place my lettering and I think that aided my compositions a lot. But it wasn’t perfect. I was also not really sure what font sizes to use that would still be legible shrunk down proportionally for the final deal. Thankfully my day job involves a lot of print work and I was able to make an educated guess past on past experience, but I’m still not a fan of the font I ended up using. The quest for a better, more legible font continues.

I also feel that I got lucky in terms of the amount of text I put into dialog and narration boxes. It seems like an art and science determining how much text is right when you’re in the scripting phrase. Of course, once it’s time to put that text in the boxes… more editing. That’s just part of the fun I guess 🙂

Printing the comics was interesting – lots of printing and reprinting until I figured out art bleed allowance. Hopefully this is one of those “learn it once and apply to all future projects” things…