I didn’t just decide one day I would become a comic artist. There was a long time where I didn’t really know what comics and manga were, let alone that I would become so heavily influenced by them. I figured a nice way to start off this blog would be to start with the beginnings of my relationship with comics.
When I was young (elementary school aged), I had difficulty reading, which lead to a long career of failing school— but still being pushed onto the next grade. I couldn't understand the words on the pages, walls of text would stress me out as I was asked to read in front of people, and it felt like I couldn't participate in the wonderful world of books I had heard so many great things about. One day while looking through the library, I stumbled upon the young adult section where all the comics were kept. My eyes were instantly opened to the wonderful world of graphic novels, and despite my inability to fully understand large blocks of text, I could read comics. My theory behind this is because comics break up text into smaller, more manageable chunks, and with the assistance of pictures and panels to help guide me through the pages— I instantly fell in love.
My struggles with reading started to ease the more I read comics. I would take weekly trips to the library to stock up on new volumes of comics, and with my sketchbook and pencils I would make up my own stories and alternate endings to comics I felt needed a more happier ending (let Wolverine have a girlfriend that doesn't die or turn evil!!!) and soon enough I was drawing my friends and I as super hero's out having our own adventures.
I had heard about these magical places that you can go to that had nothing but comics to buy called Comic Shops, so with the help of the internet I found the nearest one to me and begged my parents to take me to it when I had money to spend. While dad waited in the car, I went into the shop. I couldn't believe the amount of comics there were! I wondered around the shop trying to think of where to start, when the shop owner greeted me and asked what he could do to help. Bashfully, I told him I had never been to a comic shop before, and that I wanted to start collecting comics of my own.
I was expecting judgment or laughter from the shop owner, instead he beamed with excitement and walked out from behind his counter to help me find some comics to start my collection. After a few minutes of questioning me about my favorite series and genres, he managed to pick out a ton of options for me— mostly TMNT comics because I was obsessed at the time— and he led me to the register so I could pay for my new comics. When he rang up my total, I mentioned that he forgot to add in a few of the issues I wanted. He smiled at me and said that he’s giving me these to help build my collection, and that hopefully he’ll see me in his shop again soon. To my memory— that was the first act of kindness towards me as a comic fan. A year or two later, the shop closed its doors for the last time. I still drive by where the shop use to be (now it’s a laminate floor store), and remember that first day I walked into a comic shop.
In 2007, a friend of mine invited me to go with her and her grandmother to WonderCon in San Francisco. Surprisingly, my parents said I could go— having never been to a convention before, I was excited. I couldn’t believe what I had walked into, it felt like I had been invited to this secret event only comic and cartoon fans knew bout. I saw people dressed as characters from the very books that helped me learn to read, merchandise and apparel galore with images and symbols from books and movies, and my favorite part of all— the artists alley and small press zone. An entire area of the convention dedicated to people who drew comics and characters, most of them with their heads buried in their sketchbooks, just like me! My friend’s grandmother encouraged me and my friend to go and talk to these people. I couldn’t believe that people actually made money off of their drawing’s, this idea had never been presented to me as a job opportunity. Not only could you get hired to work for companies, but you could just do everything yourself. We only went to that show for a day, but it was the greatest day for me at that age. Not only were there others like me, but they had their own place to hang out and be themselves.
A year later my parents wouldn’t let me go back with my friend and her grandmother— they wanted to take a very unorthodox method of getting to the show that my parent’s didn’t feel comfortable with letting me participate in (curse you parents being protective and stuff.) Needless to say I was more than heart broken, I had found a place that made me happy, and I was told I couldn’t go back. Not really proud of myself for this, but I did throw a bit of a fit. My mom decided to take me and my sisters to the show (probably if anything to get me to shut up about it). It would be another 9 years until I would return to WonderCon (thanks to them moving to Anaheim). In Spring of 2017 I exhibited for the first time at WonderCon in Anaheim, bringing my mom along with me. She’s now designated herself as my official road trip buddy for WonderCon. Next year she’s hoping to get a tail to match the ears she got at the last show.
I gained a new kind of confidence when I would talk with people, I would mention my hobbies and it would move the conversation on to fun topics. Once I got to high school and found others who had the same love for comics as me, I only grew more. It was around that time I officially decided that I wanted to be a comic artist. After a few years of working on my craft, I finally got the opportunity to be a part of a convention— In January 2011 I won 2nd place in SacAnime’s Manga Contest and got to do a book signing at the convention.
Not only did I complete a short comic, but it won a contest. I was floored! The signing was awesome, not only did I sell a bunch of copies of the contest book, but I even had people coming up to me and asking for advice and wanting me to look through their portfolio. Shortly after that, I was offered my first artist alley table, and have now been regularly exhibiting and attending shows. It’s safe to say that comics and conventions have shaped the very person I am to this day— from the references I make, to the clothes I wear— they’ve influenced me in more ways than I can count. I’ve met some of the greatest people from our shared interest in comics and cartoons that I’m happy to call my friends. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, shared our successes, and worked through our hard times. I have friends and acquaintances outside of comics and conventions; and we’ve worked through the same things, but there is some things they can’t fully understand the way my comic and convention friends can (like the need for a pre con prep day and a post con rest day, or why I can draw all day and then “take a break” that results in more drawing.)
I guess a good way to end this novel would be with some sage advice:
Stay true to yourself, because no one can be as awesome of a you as you can be. You’ll find your clique faster this way.
Don’t let anyone tell you comics and cartoons aren't cool, little do they know their favorite PG-13 movies started off as a much better comic.
This month has been crazy with lots of distractions both good and bad; Lots of hospital visits (Not for me thank goodness),a depression episode that knocked back art production by a week and a half, Inktober, and life in general, so this review is coming a few weeks later than anticipated.
I managed to get a convention in at the beginning of the month of October called SNAFUCon! SNAFUCon is a convention held in Sparks, Nevada at the Nugget Casino on the first weekend of October, this years convention taking place October 6th-8th (with an optional Day 0 on Thursday Oct. 5th). This show is small compared to some of the shows I usually frequent, but it’s got a lot to offer attendees and is worth the trip to visit at least once if you’ve got the opportunity to. Now onto the fun info!
While this is my first review/recap of SNAFUCon, it’s actually my 3rd time attending the convention, with living about 3 hours away from Sparks, NV going to SNAFUCon is treated like a weekend getaway, only this time instead of just me and le boyfriend, we dragged along three friends and a service dog on the adventure to Nevada! And dear god was it an adventure, both getting there and getting back home. o_o
We had decided to attend the show sort of last minute, and even more last minute my friend-in-tow Simone and I decided to contact the convention and offer up some panels if they had any holes in programming (totally not expecting to get a slot), they ended up emailing me saying they wanted both of our panels, and scheduled mine on the day we were set to arrive. Despite taking every precaution to get there an hour before my panel started, the powers that be didn’t get us there until 20 minutes after my panel had started *cries*. On the bright side, we got there safely, I was keeping in contact with the staff of the con to the best of my ability to let them know that I wasn’t flaking on them, and I managed to do my hour panel in about 30 minutes!
This show continues to impress me every year that I make the trek out there, one of my favorite aspects of the show is its programming! SNAFUCon is a 24 hour convention, which means there is ALWAYS something to do at any point, even at the wee hours of the night. Not only do they have things to do, but they have VARIETY, which is amazing since most conventions usually have an overabundance of the same panels. Not only is there the anime convention staples of character Q&A panels, cosplay how to, and guest Q&A, but they also have panels ranging from cultural imagery of fictional universes, Improv, and comedy; there is something for everyone as far as programming goes. Bonus points for this convention, is they have a good mix of adult programming, so make sure to bring your ID. Some of the more adult themed events at this show include a wide range of Hentai viewings & a Hentai comedy panels, Convention Horror Stories, and an Erotic Twinky Eating Contest.
My personal favorite programming was the Life Drawing Workshop! For those of you who have never taken a life drawing class before may not know this, but those classes are hella expensive, and for the price of admission to the convention you can get the experience of a life drawing session in a fun and relaxed environment. To my knowledge, this is the ONLY convention in the U.S.A. that has a workshop like this, so bonus points for rarity. Unlike a traditional life drawing class, this one has music and about 8+ models that start off fully clothed, but at the end of each 10 minute session, remove articles of clothing until they are fully nude. Each model has a unique body type (the first year I went they had a transgender model, never had someone who had gone through reassignment surgery as a model before!), costumes, and are super nice to talk to while drawing. What I love about this so much (besides the extra drawing practice) is how relaxed the room is, even if you’re uncomfortable with naked people, the atmosphere is so chill It’s easy to not get too overwhelmed. Nothing says fun like drawing naked models as everyone in the room belts out the lyrics to “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You”. If you’re an artist looking for practice and are able to go to this convention, this panel has to be on your list (it’s a late panel though, so take a nap before going)
Along side the amazing amount of programming, the convention also has awesome staff, every staff person I interacted with at this show was super nice and personable, never once did me or my friends feel uncomfortable, heck we even spent an unintended hour and a half chatting with some staff until 3am! Even the convention crowd was cool, we had a disabled attendee in our group who relies on a service dog, and most people were respectful of our friend and her working dog. Bonus points on this, my friend said she has never felt more welcomed at a convention than she did at SNAFUCON as far as accessibility for her and her dog, and she can’t wait to go back next year and bring some of her friends <3
Despite this conventions tiny size this con has a lot of heart and soul that makes it unique and worth a visit.
Now we get to the part of the recap where I gotta talk about stuff I wasn’t too impressed with.
SNAFUCon has a Dealers Room, however it’s really dinky. Like, 15 vendors dinky. The Artist Alley was about twice the size of the Dealers Room, so this may be both a positive and a negative depending on your view.
Badge pick up was a little cumbersome, despite pre-ordering badges, when I got there and inquired about pick up, it took about 20 minutes for them to get all of our badges and bags ready for us, as each badge was handwritten and laminated RIGHT THERE. I got there in a hurry so the added wait time stressed me out, but the staff was super nice about everything. Come to find out a day later, our badges weren’t “officiated” since they needed to have a foil sticker placed on the badge, and only 3 of our 5 badges got officiated and no one really noticed. I think this process could be sped up through having all the badges pre-printed and sorted in alphabetical order (if a group order, by the group leaders name).
This might just be nit picky on my part, but in the interest of filling up space and being critical, one of the unimpressive aspects of SNAFUCon, that has continued to remain the same for the past few years I’ve gone to this show, is the guest list. The convention has a habit of inviting the same few guests to the show every year, with maybe 1 or 2 new guests they’ve not had before; speaking honestly, the guest list doesn’t really peak my interest. I would love to see SNAFUCon expand their guest list with some more guests, maybe even throw in a few more artists, I really enjoyed getting to meet and talk with Faina Lorah, who was an oil painter that was a guest last year.
Despite SNAFUCon’s amazing programming, getting to the panel area is a little difficult if you haven’t been there before. I feel if the convention took over the entire 2nd floor of the casino hotel, it would add more venue space as well as make it a little less difficult to find the panels room on the 3rd floor of the East tower.
This more of a jab at the Nugget Casino more than SNAFUCon. The Nugget Casino is old, it’s one of the first casinos to be built in Sparks, NV, and went into renovation sometime last year to update the facility, sooooo it should be natural that we find some broken stuff here and there. There was one elevator that would refuse to work properly, causing us to avoid that particular elevator for the remainder of the weekend due to fear we’d get stuck in it <again>. Simone almost fell down some stairs because the railing she was balancing on came loose, but because of her Service dog keeping her balanced, the fall was avoided (but her arm was hurting from the endeavor), and the casino maintenance did a temporary fix to the rail with gorilla tape. And then on the last day of the show while getting ready to leave we got to see the roof leaking water ._.
I would be doing everyone a disservice if I did not mention the Fire Alarm incident that took place at this show, and I guess it would count as a negative, so here we go!
So around 3am Saturday morning of the convention, some jerk decided it’d be funny as hell to pull the casino fire alarm, so we got jolted awake by a loud alarm telling us to evacuate the hotel and go outside. Our entire room scrambled to get dressed enough to evacuate, some of us grabbed “essentials” we didn’t want left in the room in case there was an actual fire ( I grabbed my laptop bag, ID, and car keys), and we made our way out. Lucky for us we were on the 3rd floor, so we didn’t have too far to go to get out (I feel for anyone who may have been at the top floors and had to evacuate down the stairs), and we huddled for warmth out in 40 degree weather. We were allowed back in after about 20 minutes, and we had heard a few rumors about what had led to the fire alarm being pulled, but nothing conclusive. This is the second convention I’ve gone to this year where the fire alarm went off, so maybe it’s a 2017 thing?
Despite the few negatives, I recommend this show to anyone looking for a laid back convention. The added bonus of cheap hotel and tickets make it a great getaway for anyone looking to go to a show but don’t want to spend too much money.
Until next time!
Melissa M ♥
Want me to appear at a convention near you? Contact your local show and send them to my Guest Page!
For my birthday this year I decided to try doing my first ever out of state convention—about 3,000 miles away from home in South Portland, Maine. As a fan of the AnimeConsTV podcast, they’ve raved about PortConMaine for years about how it’s not like any show on the east or west coast— with the urge to go back to Rhode Island to visit family, it being mine and my aunts birthdays that weekend (June 23rd & June 24th), and the convention only being a 3 hour drive away— I hopped on a plane and headed east!
I tried to apply for an artist alley table back when they first opened in February, I unfortunately didn’t make it into the first round, but I still wanted to check out the show, so I figured I’d go as an attendee and drag my aunt around the convention. A few weeks before the show I got an email saying that a spot in the AA opened up if I wanted it, so I began trying to figure out how to pack my entire con set up into 2 carry-on bags (hint: I didn’t).
The convention started on Thursday June 22nd and ran until Sunday June 25th, however Thursday was more of an artist set up day than it was an actual sale day, and with my aunt having to work that evening, we decided to skip it and leave early the next day. On Friday morning we got up around 5:30am East Coast time—which is 2:30am west coast time, so I was a bit of a zombie until I fully regained consciousness— and headed north. We managed to make it to the convention about 2 hours before it officially opened, giving PLENTY of time for set up, and soon enough the convention opened and attendees started pouring in!
I’ve never done a show on the east coast, so my main focus was to pass out fliers for EC! and try to gain a few east coast fans— little did I know there was already some at the convention. I had two lovely peeps excitedly walk up to my table saying they’re fans of the comic and were so excited to see my table! Guys— I almost cried. I can’t handle amazing fans, you guys make me revert to stupid. (Seriously though, if I’m ever at a show and you’re feeling shy about visiting my table, VISIT MY TABLE! It’s one thing to read the comic, but I LOVE meeting you guys in person—put a face to the username. ♥)
The rest of the day was spent riding the high of meeting some east coast fans, having some friends stop by for hugs and chatting, and talking with all the awesome people who stopped by my table asking about my comic.
Saturday was a bit slower, which I’ve been told is strange for this show, despite this though I had some great conversations with the people who did stop by, and during the slow hours I’d get to talk with my table neighbors. I had a couple of people who stopped by and read through the entirety of chapter 1 at my booth (rarely happens since people are often afraid to linger at my table), and once they got to the last page, would look up at me and panic “WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???”— music to my ears XD. The artist alley was opened from 11am-8pm, I don’t know how I did it ya’ll, once I got back to the hotel I passed out for about 9 hours of precious sleep.
Sunday was bitter sweet, as most Sundays at conventions are, since it was the last day of the show meaning soon enough I got to go back to my aunts house and sleep, but it also meant the awesome convention was done. Holy crap was Sunday slow, with the exception of a few newly converted fans coming by to talk, there wasn’t really a whole lot going on. With the lack of attendees I got to BS with Linez about convention horror stories, and he introduced me to the most terrible convention advertisement I have ever seen.
Convention Breakdown & Highlights
Positives: way too many to list, so I’ll pick my top 5
-The staff were all amazing! I’ve never been to a convention where the staff was all so helpful and concerned about the well-being of their exhibiting artists, I wish I could give every one of them a hug ♥
-The PortCon NPC. OMG guys more conventions need an NPC! She would walk around asking people if they would like to go on quests, and when they finished they would be rewarded (starbursts FTW), the quests were engaging and fun, my quest was to attempt to sing the opening to my favorite anime and when I thought I could do that— my mind went blank. So I blurted out the first 2 seconds of Ouran High School Host Club “KISS KISS FALL IN LOVE!”….I was given candy for my attempt. My favorite quest was people were running up to my table to get an autograph because their quest was to get an autograph from an artist in the artists alley, ya’ll I damn near cried with each quest and the person saying “you’re one of my favorite artist here so I wanted to get this signed!”
-There was space between each exhibiting table. You guys have NO IDEA how helpful that is so emergency bathroom breaks. Most shows you have to walk down the end of the aisle to get out, or crawl under your table and hope you don’t terrify some poor attendee. Bravo, PortConMaine.
-The convention had $10 shirts! I wish more cons would have shirts at a lower price like this, I would collect more con t-shirts that way. Most conventions I’ve been to sell shirts for $20+, which I can’t really afford after all of my expenses just to get to the show
-Everyone was so friendly! I think this has to do more with the environment than the convention itself, but I couldn’t get over how nice and talkative everyone was at this show. I’ve never felt so welcomed before at a convention ♥♥♥
-The artist alley was kept at a frigid temperature, I was so cold the whole weekend, however I was told that the exhibitor hall next door was almost an oven.
- The program book was very difficult to read, and I wasn’t really a fan of the paper choice for the books either (printed on newspaper stock?). I prefer the books to have a huge layout for the convention map, but the map in this book was a tiny thumbnail in the corner of a page, I also had a real hard time reading through the panels since they were all squished onto the page by day, and the convention had a MASSIVE program for the weekend, so I think they could benefit from a few more pages to their book. Also there was no artist alley listing in the book that I could find :/
-As an vendor/artist alley participant, it makes it so much easier when conventions have a separate registration for vendor/artist badges vs having to get a regular attendee badge. Personally, I’m a fan of there being an option for helper badges when registering for tables.
Table Neighbor Spotlight!
Here are the awesome people I was sitting next to the whole weekend, thanks for the fun conversation! Check out their links :3
Want me to appear at a convention near you?
Contact your local show and send them to my Guest Page!
Today I’m going to tell you about my favorite artist alley staple— Con Kits!
Unfortunately, con kits are so rarely talked about when it comes to exhibiting at shows, but they are ESSENTIAL to having a successful convention. They can be as big or small as you want them to be, are completely customizable, easy to make, and super cheap to put together— ‘specially since you probably have all the basic items in your residence already!
If you exhibit at conventions/trade shows/etc. you should have one of these kits with you wherever you go.
Keep it with your con gear and never again will you exclaim “WHERE IS THE TAPE???”
"WHAT IS A CON KIT AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?"
A con kit is an emergency tool box of common supplies needed when exhibiting at shows.
Personally, I prefer a nicely stocked kit so that I can help out other creators who may have forgotten to pack essentials, so my Con Kit is a tackle box.
Tackle boxes make great con kit cases because it’s meant to organize and store things already— a typical tackle box has a lockable latch, a handle for easy carrying, and has layered shelving for more optimal storage. Tackle boxes also come in SO MANY SIZES— from itty bitty, to GINORMOUS.
Naturally, the smaller boxes are typically cheaper than the super deluxe pro fisherman tackle boxes, so pick a box that fits your needs. You can find tackle boxes at most big box stores and outdoor retailers.
You a thrifty artist looking for a deal or cheaper alternative? Check out thrift stores and garage sales! You can usually find tackle boxes for ridiculously cheap— just make sure to soak the box in bleach or vinegar and water to remove any fishy smells and stains. (your AA neighbors will thank you)
I know that some of you are thinking— “But Melissa, I am an ARTIST. Why can’t I just buy an art storage box from ?”
Nothing is stopping you from doing that! I suggest tackle boxes because they are easier to find than most art storage supplies, and they’re usually a lot cheaper too.
All that matters is that you get a storage container that works for you.
Most people like paying less money for things, so make sure to sign up for those store cards and look for coupons so you can get a good deal.
Don’t have a tackle box, or only need a tiny storage container? Plastic food containers work great too. Save those Chick-fil-a plastic containers for +5 Thrift!
"WHAT GOES INTO A CON KIT?"
Whatever you want!
"THAT DOESN’T HELP!"
Ok— Here is a master list of things you can potentially put into your kits
Feel free to download this list and print it out to use!
You can add or leave out whatever you want for your kit, this list is to help you get a head start on prepping your kit to work for you.
Have any tips you want to add? There a topic you would like Melissa to talk about?
Leave a comment!
I will be a panelist at Hydra Comic Con June 17th and 18th in Santa Clara, CA!
For those of you going to the convention my panel schedule is:
"Let Me Tell You About Webcomics"
Saturday 06/17/2017 @ 2:45pm-3:45pm in the Great America Meeting Room 3
"The Wonders of Markers"
Sunday 06/18/2017 @ 12:15pm-1:15pm in the Great America Meeting Room 3
"Developing Awesome Characters"
Sunday 06/18/2017 @ 2:45pm-3:45pm in Great America Meeting Room 1
A day after Hydra Comic Con, I will be hopping on a plane and flying about 3,000 miles away to Rhode Island~ I'll be visiting family and then driving up to Maine to exhibit at PortConMaine June 23rd-25th! I will be at Artist Alley Table #4 with a ton of new merch :D
Nothing says "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELISSA!!!" like a trip to the East Coast to exhibit at my first out of state convention :D
Oh yeah— It's my birthday on June 23rd!
Gonna spend it eating Maine lobster and enjoying a tiny convention <3
Over and Out!
Melissa M. ~♥
Finally, after years of wanting to make a proper artist site and a blog— I did it! :D
WOOT! *happy dance*
Now I have a place to post my random musings about art supplies, conventions, and whatever else my little brain can come up with!
Now I'm sure there are a few of you thinking "But Melissa— Why is your blog called 'Non-Sequential'?"
Since I draw comics (Sequential Art), I wanted to play around with that for blog topics, BUT— I don't just talk about comics! I'm also a huge art supply buff, convention goer, and avid fan of things (like cats and baking), so I have A BUNCH of different topics I want to blog about! Since most of it has nothing to do with comics— and I don't always stick to one topic— it would be NON-SEQUENTIAL :D
........You'll learn to appreciate it. OTZ
I guess this concludes my welcome post? Maybe?
I'll have a blog update schedule at some point so you can check back here for specific posts!
Now to make more artwork so my portfolio site doesn't look so sad! *cries artist tears*
Thanks for stopping by!
~Melissa M ♥