Well, I rocked up with the intention of getting feedback on my work (taking four sequences and some pinup stuff) to basically find out if it's worth me pursuing this whole comic art thing as a profession or if I should be doing it as a hobby. There was some momentary panic as I only found out recently that you needed to register for portfolio reviews, something only indicated recently. Still, apart from missing out on the chance to speak to Garry Leach again and Mark Chiarello (DC's art director effectively), I managed to get what I came for.
First up, I had a portfolio review with Harry Markos, MD of Markosia, an independent British publisher with the licence for properties such as King Kong and Starship Trooper. After a flick through and a chat about the industry and how Markosia works, he gave me his card and asked me to drop him a line and we'll discuss things. Excellent! It's not definite work, but it's at least an indicator that I'm not completely rubbish.
Next up, I approached Mike Collins and asked if he'd be able to give some tips. He was very helpful, pointing out examples of things he was discussing by using his own pages and thumbnails. He said there's very little wrong with the basic with the basic drawing but that I should watch my storytelling. That was something that I'd always worked on, trying to ease panels into each other but he said that pages should be a series of jumpcuts as the reader will fill in the gaps. He advised the use of thumbnails (as the skrull and MaryJane I drew sequences were devised entirely on the pages, while the Spidey pages were only loosely laid out) and showed me the differences between Marvel and DC art styles. He also pointed out a few compositional tips that were really useful so overall this was one of the best reviews as it actually pointed out a few quick things that are simple but effective tools.
I then got to talking to the reprint editor at Panini when this guy came up to us and asked if he could show his samples. Not only were they good, they were REALLY good, imagine a slightly less cluttered David Finch. The editor pointed out that he doesn't really solicit much material but that he would forward the guy's details to editors that may do, although he advised the artist to skew his work to a slightly younger audience. I took the opportunity to show my stuff and was also given the editor's card, who added that occasionally he gets the chance to solicit new covers and that if I sent him some stuff he would pass them on to the relevant editors as well as possibly keeping me in mind for cover work. No promises there and to be honest, it's unlikely but I'm gonna work up a Captain Britain cover to accompany the samples I send off. (Good news: the next Cap Britain reprint volume will start the Black Knight reprints, with the next volume composed entirely of the remainder of the Black Knight strip).
My final feedback came from DC editor Michael Wright, who remembered me from last year. He said I need to work on my anatomy a bit (there are some wonky shots so that's good advice) but that my layouts were exciting and dynamic and everything he'd want to see in layouts. He said he thinks I'm certainly good enough to approach 2000Ad (I'm doubtful there, if only because I don't really have the craggy style usually associated with them) or some of the indies but if I want to work for the majors, I still have some way to go as you don't just have to be good, you have to be better than artists they already employ. He didn't like my inking (I've always hated inking so I'm not cut up about that, although it's something I'm looking to improve on) but advising to keep my hand in it as it gives you another set of eyes to draw through. He left me with the words "I'll be back here next year, so I want you to come back and dazzle me".
So where has this left me? Well, enthused for one: there's always a buzz after a con. I'm a bit intimidated by the quality of some of the other art I saw from aspiring artists but all you can do is focus on your own work and try to make it as good as you can. I think after getting back into the swing of drawing over the last 18 months and locking up recently over what to draw, now I just want to loosen up, knuckle down and try and get some killer art done over the upcoming months to show in my samples.