As a lifelong comic fan from Queens, I couldn’t be happier when the New York Comic-Con opens its doors. Year after year, each and every time I arrive at the Javits Center for Comic-Con my eyes open wide in wonder like a kid in a toy store. It really is an amazing fan experience.
And then something new happened.
I started publishing comics in 2011, and that year I qualified for my first pro pass. That pass didn’t change my profession, I still had to get up and grind every day in a corporate career… but looking back, I can see how important that milestone was for me and how it represented a significant transition period in my life.
Can making a comic really be that profound? For me, it was because before that point it felt like something inside of me was slowly dying.
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I would beg, borrow and steal to get the paper I needed to draw on and roll into my grandmother’s typewriter. Nothing could stop me from capturing and sharing the dragons, superheroes, and spies leaping out of my imagination. It was great. I grew up on a block of geeks (before geeks were cool) so there was always a willing audience for my musings and even friends to play out my crazy adventures.
“It’s not who I am underneath. But what I do that defines me”
– Batman –
The writing never stopped, but in the fast-forward of life other pursuits took center stage and until late 2010 I subscribed to every excuse not to share my stories. Somewhere along the way, I became afraid to share that part of me. Maybe I was scared to fail at it, or perhaps I was worried about how I would be perceived… Whatever it was, it was real, it was oppressive, and it was frustrating.
I had a demanding career, like many of us, my day job was what I did to pay the bills, but it wasn’t who I was. I tried to channel my creativity into my corporate projects, but in my profession, that expression could only go so far. I’ve had years of great managers and co-workers, but damn if, along the way, I let soulless work define me. I was winning in that game but losing an essential part of me.
Slowly, I was starting to understand that my rational mind wasn’t getting it done. I needed to let go and let my curiosity and imagination lead the way. I accepted that my creativity was part of my purpose. I had stories to tell, visions to birth and ideas that I needed to share. No one would do it for me.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”
– Toni Morrison –
But there was still the fear to deal with.
Overcoming the Fear
So that pro pass meant that I had to overcome the fear, overcome the distractions it amplifies, and overcome everything inside of me that made dreaming seem silly. I don’t believe that everything you want is on the other side of fear, but I do believe that on the other side of fear is purpose. Our stories are a part of our mission in life and worth overcoming our fear for.
So what got me past my fears? What was the catalyst?
The 2010 New York Comic Con.
The people, Small press creators, and the Panel participants.
In my past visits, I’d attend the Con focused on the big blue-chip publishing machines. But in 2010, I knew I had something to share and found myself instinctively drawn to people sharing their passions… Creators.
I wanted to know the steps, so I found a panel of indie creators, and to my surprise, the room was packed with people like me. People looking for the best way to tell their story. Learning editing from editors, writing from writers and insights on sequential art from artists… You get the picture.
Buddy Scalera ran a series back then for aspiring creators, and I ate it up. Front of the room, taking notes like a desperate college student. I spent at least a half a day in panels for all four days of the convention. I was enabled.
The rest of the day was spent meeting new people in the Small Press Indie area. I spent hours talking with dozens of brave creators, and it was beautiful.
From writers with a single black and white ashcan to indie publishers with half a dozen full-color books. Booth after booth of women and men of every color and creed, straight and gay – people sharing everything – From Christian comics to horror.
These creators didn’t need anyone’s permission… They had a story to tell, and they told it. I made a lot of new friends and left inspired.
Go and Get Busy
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
– Dale Carnegie –
A few days later I started forming a business (LLC), a few weeks later I finished my first script, and a few months later I kickstarted my first book. I did it, and it changed my life for the better.
The ride hasn’t been perfect. I’d love to say, I’m fearless, but I’m not. But I have a ton of new friends, some awesome comics and most importantly I found a part of me that was almost lost. That’s winning to me.
Today was the last day of New York Comic Con, and it’s inspired me again. I’ve set a new goal on this journey. In 2018, I’ll have a booth at NY Comic-Con, and I hope to see you there.
I’ll spend the next year sharing my road to NY Comic Con 2018, and I hope that my experiences will help someone tell their story.