It was late 1993 and I was sitting alone at the San Diego Comic Con cafeteria after a round of portfolio reviews. Most of the feedback was positive. A few folks like Jim Shooter, Jim Salicrup and Joseph Naftali had even told me to call them when I moved to New York in a month so I was pretty excited. When all of sudden, Tom DeFalco, then Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, comes up with a bunch of Marvel folks holding food trays in their hands. He asked “Mind if we share this table?” I was in the middle of sipping my soda and I actually did what I call an “imploding spit take.” A desperate effort not to spray the great one with any fluids of any kind. DeFalco asked “You okay there buddy?” and I managed a weak and nose filled “Yeah, I’m good” and quickly inhaled the last bite of my food and left the table completely embarrassed.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have stayed and milked the moment. What I learned years later from running my own design company is that, in any business or industry, it’s all about who you know. It’s all about relationships. And how do you start a relationship? With a great or, in my case, memorable introduction. Almost spraying Tom DeFalco would have been a great way to be remembered. Maybe he still does.
So as I embark on resurrecting my career in the comic book industry, I’m making sure I network as much as I can with industry people. Gather resources and be a resource. Having talent is good, but all things being equal, people want to work with people they know… with friends. So take note fellow aspiring creators – don’t just sit the whole con in Artist’s Alley. Go Mingle!!