Friday, April 24, 2009

Why I don't do conventions

With the summer convention season coming up I've been getting some e-mails from fans asking about which cons I was going to attend, and I have to tell them how I really don't do cons. I have to explain how it isn't that I have something personally against conventions. I find myself feeling I have to defend my reasoning for not attending conventions and fear that fans will get the wrong idea.

SO, I figured it's about time I give my specific reasons for not doing cons.

First off, no I am not antisocial. In fact, I'm very social. I just don't socialize with comic folk often - which again is nothing personal against them. I think fans understand this, but to my comic creator friends this is odd. One friend went so far as to say that I only had my kids to hang out with (he was joking...I think), which made me laugh. It seems the thinking is that if they don't see me hanging out with them then I must not be hanging out ever. Or if I'm not online with them playing a video game (I wouldn't know how to if I wanted to anyway) I must not have any friends. Or that if I don't attend a lot of conventions I must not know many people.

I think to many comic creators, their friends are mostly other creators. Most of their conversations are about comics. I know that's a broad generalization, and I don't mean to insult anyone. it's completely fine by me. God knows that if I'm talking to a comic friend more often then not our conversations are primarily about comics, or rather the business of comics.

However, most of my life is lived outside of comics. And assuming that if I don't have many comic friends then I must not have any friends is a huge stretch of logic, and kind of insulting.

Not going to every comic convention is good for my state of mind. Believe it or not, most of my days are spent thinking about and immersing myself in the ART of MAKING comics - not so much the comics themselves. The little bit of time I have to spend thinking about comics or continuity or "pimping" a comic makes me tired and so I keep it to a minimum.

Second, I am NOT anti-fan. I do NOT have any fan horror stories from cons that have scared me off. No one has ever been really creepy, or weird, or whatever, to me. Honestly, I've always been treated great by fans! Every con I go to I'm praised, and complimented. Fans give me money for drawings and comics. Really, how can I complain about that?

However, no matter how much I like fans I kinda' like my family better (Sorry, nothing personal :)

I work a lot. I mean, tons. My family is really patient with me, especially around deadline time, so when I DO have free time (like a weekend) I'd rather spend it running around with them. We're extremely active and are constantly doing something.

I also just like my free time to be free, you know? If I have a free night, I can go have a cigar with a friend and hang out. Can't do that at cons. Trust me, I went to many more cons before all bars went with the no smoking ban then I have after! ;)

Anyway, fans are fantastic. They really are. I actually like to do store events more then cons because you can get to know people better. My last event, the Comic Creator Cookout at Comix Connection (say that five times fast!) was fantastic. I cooked for a few dozen fans, raised a bunch of money for the Hero's Initiative, chatted and hung out. That's how I'd always meet fans, if I could. Not from behind a table, but face to face - over Bar-B-Q!

Third, I don't have any problems with traveling. Another comic friend of mine said once how I have to "suck it up", ditch the family, and just go to a con in Europe. Now, I love this dude and I know what he meant. Truth is I should go see these cons overseas. However, if I travel overseas I want my family with me. I want my kids to experience other counties (Especially since my wife and her family are from Europe). Working a convention is not what i want to be doing overseas.

Again, just cause you may not see me traveling from one con to the next doesn't mean I'm not traveling. We're all going to Europe (second time for the kids!) this summer (where I will start a new book), but no cons will be visited. We're also thinking of taking a trip to Puerto Rico soonish. We're taking a mini-trip to New York next week, and DC in a few weeks. We just went to Florida in November. We take trips all the time, just not to cons. See, I like traveling. Just not traveling, then sitting in a convention hall. I'm not knocking, nor am I against any cons anywhere. But again, if I have a choice I'd rather visit a PLACE, not a CONVENTION.

Now, with this all said I'm not unilaterally writing off all conventions. I occasionally do Baltimore or Philadelphia because they're so close to home. I may do more in the future, especially with my new Vertigo graphic novel coming out in a few years which I'll have to promote.

But cons are work, and while I can I choose to play ;)

There you go.



Craig Zablo said...

Makes sense to me. I'm a family man myself. Although I do go to a few cons, they were all either within an hour's drive or part of a larger family vacation. I hit the show with my sons and my wife hit the pool or local sights. And of course I don't work in the comic business so the shows didn't seem like more work.

Samax said...

so basicly you're saying people who go to cons are losers..?
just kidding. i do more art shows than conventions, but i'm getting back into the con game. clearly, the folks you're talking about are on a different level with it (i don't know if i'm ever going to Europe for a con appearance...).

that said, combining travel with cons is a tax write-off.

my wife is a big traveler, so i anticipate doing it more now that i'm married. i'm more of a homebody.

Bill at Comix Connection said...

Well I still hope to see you at Baltimore this year. Wouldn't be the same without you. And we gotta figure out when to do the Comic Creator Cookout again this year with Brian and whoever else!

Mike Hawthorne said...

Craig, we did the family split thing in Philly one year. Wifey did all the historical tours while I laid it down at the con, we hung out in the evening and had dinner, then when the kids went to bed I hung out till 3am or so. Nice set up, but I always wanted to run outta' the con and hang out.

Samax, nah! People at cons have been, in my experience, the opposite! Fans were always cool, and seriously normal. Not at all what people painted them out to be. I'm not saying there wasn't the occasional odd ball, but you see that anywhere you know? ;)

Bill, I want to do another cook out asap! Maybe after my trip? Late July, or August? Might be too hot tho, so maybe later? Up to you.


John G said...

This is way better than my reason: I'M FUCKIN' PISS POOR!

Mike Hawthorne said...

HA HA!!!


PatrickWedge said...

First off, that's cool of you to just come out and state your view, regardless of if it is received well or not. It is out there and no one can question your motives. That cookout idea is pretty damn cool honestly. I wish I lived near a convention that organized something like that but tis not the case, oh well, maybe some other time.

But I don't blame you at all for enjoying your family, because well, they are your family. They sacrifice things for you and you do the same. Plain and simple.

Mike Hawthorne said...

Thanks dude! Do you live anywhere near Central PA? We're going to do another cookout sometime this summer. I think you may have mentioned where you live, but for the life of me I can't recall it.

Doesn't help I've only slept 6 hours the last 2 days trying to finish ORIGINS #4 - which is gonna be crazy awesome and worth all this suffering...almost ;)