Getting On A Panel At A Comic Con
March 2, 2005 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I have a presentation that I want to give at comic book and science fiction conventions. How do I become an official convention event, and what else do I need to know?

A superhero-themed book that I co-wrote is coming out in October, and my co-author and I have figured out a way to adapt it into a presentation that we think is entertaining, funny, and well suited for comic conventions. Our motivation is partly to generate PR for our book, and partly to have fun performing together (we originally met in an improv comedy troupe.)

Some of the questions I'm wondering about: What do convention organizers look for in putting together their schedule of events? Are there particular comic cons that seem especially likely to appreciate a comedic presentation? Can we expect a convention to help with travel and hotel expenses, or are we on our own? What else should we know to make this work?
posted by yankeefog to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suggest you contact these folks:

Comic-Con International
P.O. Box 128458,
San Diego, CA 92112-8458
Fax: 619-414-1022

Chances are, they can explain how to get on the program.
posted by SPrintF at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2005

It really will vary from convention to convention. Some have "panels" which would suit your described panel fine. Some pay guest, some just give guest table space to sell their own stuff.

Your best bet is to go to the websites for the local conventions and email whoever's listed there as guest relations. If there's nobody listed, try to find any friendly person on staff and ask them who to talk to. Conventions tend to be incestuous affairs and very often if you can get one contact for one con, they can tell you who the contacts are at others.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:19 AM on March 2, 2005

It's going to vary a lot by the particular convention. I would not expect that you could get any sort of expenses reimbursement for this. Cons do that kind of thing for their guests of honor, but you're not at that point yet.

I think that you'd have little trouble getting scheduled for a panel, especially since you have an actual book coming out. You'd just need to contact whoever's in charge of panels for a particular con. I think most cons are looking for events, since the more happening the more they can offer their attendees. Larger cons might be more sanguine. I don't know if the really big ones (like San Diego) have space issues, but most of the mid to minor cons should have plenty of room/time. Most cons would probably love to have you, although I would also suggest that you invest in the con by purchasing a table in the publisher's area.

So, expect to have to spend your own money to attend a con and also to get a table. Your event will probably be a good way to generate buzz, but if you have sample pages and an artist busy drawing sketches in the publishers room you can also benefit a lot from that, and you'll have time to talk to interested parties in detail. From what I've seen of a friend of mine who single handedly generated a lot of interest and respect for his self published RPG, a lot of energy and friendliness coupled with a good product can have good results, although it might not be quite the same with comics as it is with RPGs.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2005

I can tell you from first-hand experience, ursus_comiter speaks the truth.

Your ability to get on a panel with be driven by how "big" your book is, and it's a bit of a Catch-22. If it's published by a serious house- have them get in touch with the convention people. They have publicists (or, should) on staff to deal with this kind of thing. If you're small press or self-published, you're going to have to get over the "who are you again?" hurdle, especially because you have not established yourself on the circuit. If you have any connection to someone already on a panel, work that.

If you're looking for a solo performance, I think you're going to have a very, very hard time. Convention space is not cheap, and the organizers are going to be hard-pressed to devote a room to a presentation they don't know will draw anyone. You may get a very, very early slot and/or a lower-tier space.

The con will not pay for any of your expenses.

My baseline advice is this- unless your book is getting serious publisher-driven publicity behind it (which I have to assume it's not, since you're asking here), don't expect special treatment. To them, you're just another guy with something to sell. Make your first con or two a learning experience. Get a table. Work your schtick from there. Track down the organizers and talk to them in person to get your name out- gaming con organizers, at least, all know each other to some extent.
posted by mkultra at 7:58 AM on March 2, 2005

One more possibility if you're able to throw some money at the problem: at science fiction conventions, you could throw a party. Check with the convention for any rules (getting a room on a party floor, limits on what you can serve).
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:46 AM on March 2, 2005

If you're near the convention city, check with the local comic book shops/geek friendly stores about doing some inhouse signings. If you have the product and time before the con itself, this could help generate more buzz and cut down on the "who the hell are you?" factor.

Plus it could help you hone your act!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, all for the help!
posted by yankeefog at 11:47 PM on March 3, 2005

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