Short answer: no.
Faith Erin Hicks has a far more informative and entertaining longer version, which includes anecdotes and concrete evidence of how she broke in while living in relatively remote, Halifax, NS.
A few years ago I was at a dinner with a bunch of people I knew casually. They all worked in the arts, mostly in animation. I was the only one who worked full time in comics, although other people did comics in their spare time. One guy who I didn’t know started talking about how he went to the Joe Kubert comics school in New York, but that it never lead to any paying work in comics.
“You have to live in New York to work in comics,” he said. I was like, no, you don’t. I work in comics full time and I don’t live in New York. I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 2005-2015 (I just moved to Vancouver for my boyfriend’s work last month). During those 10 years, I started getting comics published. I had 10 books published in about 8 years. For the most part, I’ve found publishers don’t care where you live. If your work is good, they’ll hire you.
The internet won out, Hicks notes: “So I focused instead on making a lot of comics and putting them online. That turned out to be the right thing for me, and eventually publishers noticed and started hiring me.” On the subject of whether convention attendance is mandatory for the establishment and continuing health of a comics career, Mike Lynch has a whole post on that and says for him the answer is, no.
That said, I think renting a table at a comic convention is wrong in the long term. It is for me. Two reasons.
YOUR CLIENTS ARE NOT WALKING BY THAT EXPENSIVE COMIC CON TABLE YOU RENTED
Who will be across the table from you? It’s going to be fans. Fans of Batman, Dr. Who, manga, cosplayers, etc. These people are not looking to hire you. A few out of a hundred might buy your book. But that rarely even covers costs, unless you are working on a recognizable character that people are willing to spend money on.
To find the other reason YOU MUST CICK THE LINK! OO, suspense.
I’ll end this with the reminder that here at The Beat we have a whole resource page for links and books and whatnot related to breaking into comics and survival tips. It’s updated frequently but if you have any more tips or links leave ’em in the comments.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.