Today I’m going to share two anecdotes from my years of schlepping my portfolio around comic conventions. I’ve been sharing these privately with various people in the past couple of days, and figured, “why not the world as well?” The only thing is slander and libel laws being what they are I’m not going to tell you the names of the people involved.
Anecdote 1: A number of years back, I was in line at a large comic convention in a major city (see how I leave out the details?) awaiting the arrival of an editor from one of the big two comics publishers at that time. This line contained probably 200 other artists who really wanted to get published by this big name company and we were hot, tired, and a bit grumpy that said editor had not shown up.
When he did finally arrive he apologized for the delay then explained that while he would be happy to review portfolios, he had just been informed that he was no longer in the employ of the publishing company and therefore would not have any assignments to offer.
At least 2/3 of the artists waiting in line walked away in disgust. I and a friend I’d made while standing in that line stayed to get this editor’s feedback on our samples.
Anecdote 2: A different show in a completely different major city. After scraping together every spare penny I had in order to drive to this show for the one day I had off from my day job at a screen printing company–I had spent several hours in pursuit of work from any and all publishers that were represented at that show. I somehow managed to get the attention of an assistant editor for a major publisher. He seemed genuinely interested in getting me work on one of the books he worked on, and told me to stick around while he flagged down his boss.
When his boss, the editor-in-chief of this major publishing company showed up, he took one look at my samples said it was all garbage and then threatened to fire the assistant editor if he ever brought another such “artist” up to meet him.
Admittedly, both were several years back. But this is how I explain myself to friends who ask why I’m a little “gun shy” when it comes to dealing with editors and art directors. In 30 years of doing this, those are just two of my stories.
If I gave you the names of the editors involved, you’d doubtless have heard of them (not the assistant editor, he’s probably long gone–one of the nameless rabble that big publisher has crushed during their existence) but the big guys–you’d know them. So I won’t tell you who they are.
But those two instances give a pretty good idea of what it has been like for me to show my portfolio to editors over the years. How I keep doing it is anyone’s guess.
It’s also one reason I try to be really nice when someone asks me to review their portfolio.