By LARRY GAURANO
Fans who attend comic conventions can expect to watch films, meet favorite artists, participate in discussion panels, take pictures of people dressed as comic characters and enjoy a unique shopping experience.
But not everyone attends a comic-con for pleasure. Companies set up booths to show off their newest products, while artists and celebrities use the conventions to connect with fans.
Those who are just getting started in the comic book industry participate to launch their careers.
Mariah Wall, a Pima Community College graphic design major, shared a booth with a group of independent artists at the Phoenix Comic-Con last May.
She debuted her comic “Anonimous” while trying to establish contacts in the industry.
Wall does all of the writing and illustrations for “Anonimous.” The comic tells the story of a young vigilante hero working against an evil pharmaceutical company bent on taking over the city.
“I’m aspiring to one day maybe get into DC or Marvel, one of the upper professional ones… but right now it’s just mostly about trying to get my own comic going,” she said.
The convention provided opportunities to meet artists she respects. Many were
willing to give advice and tips about both her artistic technique and about the business side of the comic book industry.
“It is tough when you are a student,” Wall said. “You have to juggle work and a social life, while still being able to take the time to finish the comic.”
She challenged herself to “at least finish this one story and see where I go from there.”
Although she attended the comic-con to further her career, Wall credits PCC instructors with helping her establish the foundation required to advance to the next level.
“They really care about making sure you succeed,” she said.
Aspiring artists can’t completely learn on their own, she added. “You’ve got to have someone there to teach you, give you curriculum and give you structure.”
Once she finds success, she hopes to help aspiring artists in the same way that the comic-con professionals helped her.
“It’s great seeing all the people here happy and passionate about the stories you can create,” she said. “I would totally do this again and keep going.”