Written by Christian Beranek and Tony DiGerolamo
**NOTE: Christian Beranek and Tony DiGerolamo will be attending Wizard World Philly June 19 – 21. In addition to being at table 154 all weekend, CB and Tony D will be doing a “Hollywood and the Graphic Novel” panel the Sunday of the show. Check http://www.wizardworld.com for more details. Now, onto the column!**
Imagination is a dangerous thing.
I never realized how dangerous it was until I started doing comic book conventions, especially the ones I did with my pal, CB. Now you might look at us behind the SJRP/Silent Devil/Lead Pipe or other publisher table, imagine what it’s like and say, “Damn! Look at those guys! They are living the dream! I wish I had that today! I wish I was hanging easy at a comic book convention. Relaxing.”
But comic book conventions, for those of us on the other side of the table, are anything but relaxing. Sure, there are moments of repast, but in a larger sense the comic book convention is a delicate balance of fan interaction, promotion, and hopefully… sales. Every show is a battle that each and every comic book publisher fights for to survive. Because if you “lose” enough comic book conventions, you’re out of business, out of the game and back to the front side of the table staring at guys going, “Man, I wish I was hanging easy at a comic book convention.”
Now, I’m an iced tea kinda guy. Always have been. What gets me through a con are gallons of it. And I hold it in like a camel. I hold the line at the table. I’m the Rock of Gibraltar. That’s how I make it look easy.
CB, he’s a salesman, but like any good promoter, he has to fuel his creativity via vices. Sometimes it’s a glass of rhubarb soda. Sometime it’s another type of carbonated beverage. He’s the schmoozer. The guy that’s wheeling and dealing for our next gig, while I’m trying to unload the previous ones. That’s how we operate. All of it for one thing and one thing alone:
To get paid to use our imaginations. See? Told you it was dangerous.
Because getting paid for your brain juice means that your brain must be in tip top form. Like a shark, it must be in constant motion: Creating, moving, thinking upon the next thing and hopefully the next BIG thing.
There are only two kinds of people at convention; those that are helping us and speed bumps. Helpers are nurtured, rewarded and thanked. Speed bumps must be destroyed quietly, discreetly.
Fans are the biggest helpers. Without them, you are pissing into the wind. Most fans are honest, hardworking people that want nothing more than to meet the people whose brain juice they have sipped. They chat and most importantly, they buy. Buying is helpful. That buying helps remove copies from our basements, spreads the word of our great brain juice and gives us money to buy iced tea and carbonated rhubarb. Even fans that are speed bumps can be won over with time and patience.
But there are some people that are just determined speed bumps. Conceited, selfish a-holes without the balls to put their own money and time on the line to get behind the table. They want answers. Easy answers on how to get behind the table and they don’t care how they get it. They don’t care if they spend 20 minutes jabbering away about their awful idea to you. They monopolize your time or block sales. CB and I have had to do some terrible things to these people. To wit:
INT. COMIC BOOK CONVENTION-DAY
TONY D and CB are at their table having a great day selling comic books. CB makes another sale to a FAN and graciously signs a copy of Dracula vs. King Arthur for him. Tony D hands over some incentive comics to seal the deal, takes the money and hands back the change. A hot girl in a kitty cat costume walks by. All is well, until SPEED BUMP arrives…
Hi, we’re Lead Pipe Studios, these are
our comics. What sort of stuff do you
like to read?
Oh, lots of things, let’s see. (long awkward
pause) Marvel and DC mostly. I’m working
on a comic.
Cool. This one is mine. It’s called Super Frat.
Can I show you my comic? It’s pretty
Before answering, Speed Bump takes off his backpack and slams it on the table on top of our pristine piles of comics. Some of them are now askew, almost un-sellable. Tony D and CB exchange an annoyed glance.
Make it quick. I still have to sell—
This is Speed Man. His powers are speed.
Speed Bump hands Tony D a pile of mismatched papers. They contain poorly done illustrations of Speed Man and hand written script pages and notes. They are extremely confusing.
Speed Man sounds like the Flash.
I know, I know, I know, but he’s different.
Just read that. No, wait, not that. That.
Also, this is an earlier draft, I forgot the
current one. I changed some things.
As Speed Bump talks, Tony D spots ANOTHER FAN nearly stop by the table. He’s holding a twenty dollar bill and is clearly looking to spend. Speed Bump’s rant drives him away. CB tries to call after the fan, but it’s too late.
Hey there, feel free to peruse the books.
Look, dude, this is not the thing to
bring to a con. This is a mess. You
need to get your act together before—
I know, I know, I know, but it’s really
cool the way Speed Man flies faster than
Wait, he flies?
Runs, really fast. That’s technically flying.
No, flying is technically flying. See in
Super Frat, I have a superfast guy—
That’s my idea.
Uh, no. Not really.
I’ve been working on Speed Man for like
Super Frat has been out for like six years,
okay? Will you just listen to me?! You
understand, we’re trying to sell you our
I just want to know how to get published. Can
you just tell me?
Tony D looks a back at CB. CB looks over at the closed men’s room near the west end of the convention hall. Tony D and CB begin to lead Speed Bump to the closed bathroom.
You really want to know? Follow me.
Why? Where are we going?
We have to talk in private.
Yeah, you wouldn’t want everyone to hear
the “great idea” of Speed Man.
Okay. But could you hurry the process?
I’d like to be published so I can quit my job.
Tony D and CB shove Speed Bump inside the closed bathroom. CB checks for anyone watching as they go inside. Speed Bump backs himself into a corner. As the door flutters and slowly begins to shut, just like in the Watchman movie, CB and Tony D advance on Speed Bump.
Uh, hello? I said I would like to be published.
When are you going to start paying me? And
what’s the benefits package like?
The door finally shuts. There is the sound of a struggle, muffle screams, the tearing of paper and many, many flushes. Tony D and CB come out of the bathroom drying their hands on paper towels. There is a little blood on the towels as they throw them away. They get back to the table.
(to the crowd)
Okay. Check out Lead Pipe studios!
We got it all! Comedy, action, adventure!
SPEED BUMP #2
Are you guys looking at comics? Can you
look at my stuff?
Tony D and CB gets a grim look on their faces.
TONY D & CB
Make it quick.
Christian Beranek co-founded and runs Disney’s Kingdom Comics with Ahmet Zappa. CB has a first look film/tv deal with Disney/ABC via his Lead Pipe Entertainment banner. He has several projects in development around town including Dracula vs. King Arthur, based on the graphic novel he co-created. He is currently working on his first novel and an album. CB is never late for dinner and invites you to add him on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/beranek
Tony DiGerolamo is a writer for the Simpsons and the Bart Simpson comic books. He is the creator of The Travelers and webcomic Super Frat, posted at www.superfrat.com. Don’t miss his monthly comics column in KODT magazine called Lookin’ at Comics and his other deranged projects at www.thefixsite.com. Twitter him at http://twitter.com/TonyDiGerolamo. Tony D is never late for twitter and invites you to dinner.