Learnings from Comicpalooza

Comicpalooza is one of my favorite events all year long. A convention in the style of Comic-Con, Comicpalooza has something for everyone. Like Avengers? Star Wars? Steampunk? It’s got it all. Booths fill all of the George R. Brown Convention Center’s first floor with everything from photo opportunities (“Oh, a picture with Darth Vader? Don’t mind if I do.”) to t-shirt vendors. I definitely walked away with one custom-made t-shirt and the website for another t-shirt I wanted (Princess Leia telling a campfire story about Darth Vader to the other Disney princesses. You can find the shirt here.).

They also have artists and authors selling and promoting their work. And famous people! Several celebrities had signing booths, and, though I didn’t get their autograph (extra $$$), I did see Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: Next Generation’s Deanna Troi) and Summer Glau (Firefly’s River Tam). Stan Lee and George Takei also made appearances over the weekend.

One of the other great things about Comicpalooza is the panels. The third floor of GRB has dozens of small rooms where they host panels, workshops, presentations, and demonstrations. And the topics vary just as much as the general floor does on the first floor.

I attended several (at least fifteen) of these. This year, my husband and I bought four-day passes, which was great, because we were there almost all day all four days. Some of the panels I went to included an origami workshop, a sword demonstration by the choreographer of Kill Bill, and several NASA panels discussing the reality of science fiction.

I also sat through a bunch of writing panels. Here are some of the things I learned while I was there:

    • Writing Unforgettable Characters
      • Twist the plot to enhance your characters
      • Use sharp, hooky words to make your reader wonder why you used that specific word
      • Write in easter eggs even if you don’t have the story fleshed out – you can figure them out later and your audience will think, “Wow, she had it planned out from the very beginning!”

  • Get Noticed Faster: Social Media for Artists
    • Most Facebook posts last about 20 minutes
    • 5% of all Facebook posts are seen by followers of your page
    • Twitter is for facts, data, and statistics; Facebook is for feelings and emotions
  • How to Get Your Fiction Noticed by an Editor
    • Focus on your elevator pitch
    • Focus on the first three chapters – needs to be a good hook and very polished
    • Pitch: lose all backstory and set-up – make it as simple as possible
    • Stand out with your professionalism – don’t use gimmicks

And my favorite panel of the weekend: Using Art to Help with PTSD (note that this was led by combat veterans, but the advice applies to all)

  • For veterans, it’s hard to face PTSD because it’s something you can’t physically fight, yet you’ve been able to fight in combat
  • Pro-tip: have a battle buddy – someone to connect with and help you through hard times
  • Have safe words to let people know they’ve gone too far
  • It was hard to share art at first, but helped with the healing by gradually sharing
  • Live vicariously through the art
  • Artwork benefited more than counselors and medicine
  • Art can be used either as a preventative measure or to deal with an attack

(P.S. Some of this may or may not show up in a book my husband and I have planned for later this year…)

Comicpalooza was such a fun time, and I was able to get a lot out of it. And you get a bonus picture for reading all the way to the end of this blog. 🙂 (Why yes, that is Darth Vader painted on the hood of a van.) 20150524_110303

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