Mark’s Remarks – Avengers #287 (January 1988)

This month’s topic was suggested by Adam Schultz of Satellite Beach, Florida. The topic…”Fan Tip for Talking to Pros at Conventions.” (Seeing as how I just got back from my third con of the summer, the topic is fresh in my sun-bleached mind.) In no particular order…

  1. If you see a pro sitting at a table and you don’t know who he or she is, check their nametag. If the name is still unfamiliar, it won’t win you any points to ask the pro, “What do you do? Are you a writer or an artist or what? Did you ever work on the X-MEN?”
  2. If you have a stack of books you want autographed by someone, open all of them up to the page you want signed. Signing more than one autograph for one person is above and beyond the call of duty so the least you can do is save him or her the extraneous action of taking your comics out of the plastic and opening them to the right page.
  3. Don’t give a pro  a book to sign that he or she hasn’t worked on. Most pros feel funny about putting their name on someone else’s work. It is far better to have us sign a scrap of paper, a program booklet, or a napkin.
  4. If you have art samples to show a pro, make certain they depict Marvel characters in a multi-page continuity. We can’t tell if you know how to draw a Marvel story from looking at pin-up shots, paintings, sketches, or multi-page continuities with your own or other people’s characters. You’re wasting your time by showing us something that doesn’t tell us what you want to know: that you’re ready for a professional assignment.
  5. If you have writing samples to show, make them one paragraph premises only. At a convention, an editor’s mind is usually blotto form overstimulus. While we can look at pages and pages of art and comment on what we see, to read pages and pages of writing takes concentration and different cognitive skills than those used in critiquing artwork. Don’t show us writing samples – we’re not looking to hire a writer. Show us story ideas – we are looking to buy stories. Your story idea should tell us what the exciting opening will be (the narrative hook), what the story is about, how it is different from a million other stories we’ve seen, and how it all resolves. If you story idea doesn’t have these four things in it, there’s insufficient information upon which to judge whether they story’s worth buying or not.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell the pros what you like and dislike about their work. The whole point of personal appearances is to gather feedback from the readership. If you just stick a book in front of our faces to sign and stand there without saying anything, you’ve lost a valuable opportunity to let your opinion be known to someone who wants to know it.

Hope this is helpful, you convention-goers.

–Mark Gruenwald­­