On the last day of Rose City Comic Con 2019, creators gathered for the Oni Press “Tales from The Long Con” panel, including the series writers and some of their friends. Since the panel was mostly centered around anecdotes from conventions in years past, there were rules set at the start of the panel: for example, names were changed to protect friends of the panelists and anything personal said in the panel stayed in the panel. No bummer stories were allowed! There was also no Q+A.
Creators on the panel included Dylan Meconis, who has been working in comics for nearly 20 years, as well as Ben Coleman, Meconis’ co-writer on The Long Con. (The pair initially met in a Star Trek play.) Also included on the panel were Midnight Furies creator J.P. Herron and animator, game artist, and colorist Allyson Willsey. Oni Press and Lion Forge PR rep Jeremy Atkins moderated.
Since The Long Con is a post-apocalyptic con story, Meconis and Coleman are often asked what booth they would first raid for supplies if the apocalypse did strike at a convention. Meconis said that rather than going for the weapons booths, it would be smart to go for the snacks — “Imagine if I controlled all of the Pocky at the convention for five years,” Meconis said. “I would be queen.”
On writing The Long Con, Meconis said the pair pulled from the appearance of San Diego Comic-Con, but there are also pieces of other cons in the story — including RCCC. Likewise, they pulled elements of con culture to incorporate. For example, even as people are trapped in the Long Con, they still care about the fact that cosplay is not consent.
Over the course of the panelists’ (and Atkins’) time going to conventions, non-men have become far more visible in these spaces. Herron also noted that webcomics have seen an explosion, which allows independent creators to get their work seen through non-traditional publishing channels. Tabling at cons is a wholly different experience, as well — Herron said that although their fan art at their RCCC table draws attention, each time someone wants to buy original art, she feels surprised.
Meconis said that frequently, people assume she isn’t the creator of her work; Coleman noted that sometimes, “Being a man within 20 feet of a booth makes people assume you are the creator.” He said he’s been thanked many times for others’ work.
Later in the panel, all four panelists said that having fans freak out at their booths because of how much they love their work feels good, but there are also downsides to trying to network or pitch to creators at a con. Coleman and Meconis noted that the bathroom is not a great place to pitch, and if someone like Stan Lee is eating breakfast, that’s not the right time to approach.
“Sometimes I run into creators at conventions and I didn’t know they were going to be there and it’s like suddenly meeting Santa Claus, or David Bowie is in the elevator,” Meconis said.
Another oddity of being at conventions is the dichotomy between booths that are placed together — such as placing “sexy zombie booths” around a creator who writes historical fiction with female protagonists, or a My Little Pony radio station playing music and audio commentary placed next to a Star Trek table. Conventions also introduce people to new fandoms simply through osmosis.
To wrap up, the panelists offered some advice for con-goers who want unique takeaways from meeting creators. One great piece of advice: if you plan to bring a sketchbook around to artists, try to have a theme that’s unique — and fun!
The Long Con, Vol. 2 hits shelves Oct. 22, 2019.
Disclosure: The Beat is owned by Polarity, which also owns Oni Press.