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  1. Getting fingerprinted at Six Flags?

    We have a finger print scanner attached to our network multifunction office machine at work. Because the machine tracks usage for the different clients in the building, the scanner was attached to make it quick and easy to log in. Instead of finding your user name and entering a password, you just press your finger to the console and voila - you're logged in. In some ways, a scanner like that could not only make entry for season pass holders safer and less likely to incur fraud (IE - others stealing your pass, or people buying a pass and subleasing it) but also faster since you just beep your finger, indicate any guests allowed on your pass that you've brought and go. The only downside is that the system can be buggy and some people have trouble getting it to consistently scan. However, I'm sure that Disney and Six Flags can afford better scanners than one that came with a used floor model office machine.
  2. Publishing Help Please

    Sorry I'm a bit late posting, but work has precluded me from stopping by here at all over the last year - but I wanted to comment and offer support and advice. For self publishing your comic, another huge suggestion I can make is to learn Adobe Creative Suite. You can use Photoshop for scanning, coloring and touch ups but you want to do your lettering and layouts in InDesign. If you take a college class on it, you can get a student copy cheap. Another tip I can offer, always scan your pages big and reduce down if necessary. What looks good on the computer won't always look good in print and scanning too small of a resolution is a common mistake that affects the quality of your work. Blambot has really good fonts for comic lettering, free to indy publishers so definitely check them out at www.blambot.com Digital lettering is usually less time consuming, looks neater and provides more flexibility for edits to your story. Other than that, where you go to print depends on a) how big your book is and B) how much of your book, if any of it, is in black and white vs. color. Books that are small enough to be stapled can often just be printed and put together cheaply right at home if you have a laser printer. If you have any technical questions, PM me and we can chat online and I can point you in a few additional directions. :)
  3. Feedback After Day One

    Just to give some perspective, my studio has been doing ACen since 2000 and during times when it was 24 hours. When we did that, the alley area would usually drain of people about 30 - 45 minutes before the Masquerade was due to start - at which point is when most artists do a quick dinner run. After that it wasn't uncommon to get some pick up sales about 20 minutes after the event started because people who couldn't get into Main Programming would then go looking for something else to do and find us. Generally, we stuck around until about 10pm - Midnight max if sales are good, and then packed up for the night. So staying open later is not necessarily a bad idea in general. Now, that being said, this was also back when the con was much smaller, the Alley was in the hotel - so there was no additional costs for keeping the alley open later and we were very close to main programming giving us easy access to the denied attendees - and there was less to do on Saturday night beyond the Masq. Closing up at 8 instead of 7 may not garner us additional sales because we wouldn't necessarily get the boredom shoppers like in the past - the alley would have to be open beyond at least an hour into the Masq to get that reliably. In addition, the following should also be considered. 1 - we're in the Convention Center now which allows us more security and space, but every hour that the center stays open is extra money the con has to pay and therefore the costs will probably be passed on to us. I would expect a minimum $5-$10 increase per table for every extra hour that we stay open. 2 - we are located in the exhibit hall with the dealers, which makes it a prime spot that nearly every attendee passes through. However, keeping the alley open means keeping the exhibit hall open as well. To keep attendees out of the dealers area while granting alley access would be impossible with the Masq going on. ACen just doesn't have the staff, so as it stands both groups open together and close together so the whole space can be locked down to keep everything secure. Therefore, we do have the needs and wants of those vendors to consider as well. 3 - 24 and late hour allies are more common fixtures in smaller cons where there's less traffic overall. Whereas, in big cons like ACen, we can get more sales in a shorter period and generally conduct more business in a given period of time. If we stay open until 8, will the alley drain anyway at 7:30 because we're not getting sales and everybody is exhausted and hungry from dealing with hordes of people earlier? Food for thought.
  4. Feedback After Day One

    A study done years ago indicated that a patron is 80% more likely to buy something if they're holding it already. Which is why a lot of retailers who price their items will do so on the back. As a rule, when I'm explaining our books to somebody, I will hand it to them during the pitch but I try to imply its so they can thumb through and review it. Sometimes con goers don't realize that they can flip through our binders and books and finger the wares. However, when it comes to prints, this is probably not a good practice simply because constant fingering of the items can cause excess ware and damage and make the prints unsuitable for sale. They should simply call out or inform that they have art for whomever you are cosplaying as and indicate the item - again for your review. Telling them specifically "this is for you" is misleading if it's not free. Regarding the layout, we were in a different hall this year which hindered the usual layout, but it could have been far worse. There were definitely some bad spots notably the far back wall and the isle facing away from the alley on the far left. However, I disagree with IcyPanther's statement that we were "in the back" of the dealer's hall. When you entered the hall, you could go right for the exhibitors, straight for industry and left for the artist alley. And you had to pass the AA to get outside the hall so all traffic did get exposure to the alley even if it was on the way out without forcing AA resistant con-goers into the space where they'd drive traffic out, which I saw happen one year when the AA was literally the path into the dealer's hall. Given the space they had, this was probably the most logical and ideal layout. For cutting back and jury the AA - given the size of the con I think the current size is just about right in relation to the event. From here out, it should probably grow but only as the con grows. 150 artists for 28,000 people just lends to too much competition amongst artists for tables - which promotes bad will - and juried allies lend too much to persona bias. What if Phil and his staff decided they liked comic artists best? Then the comic artists would fill and artists like Sapphy, Chainmail Guy and IcyPanther who don't do comic art wouldn't get as much consideration. Allies run in cycles as do the products you see in them. When a fad hits, everybody jumps on and then as it dies down the best and most dedicated of the lot remain. Last year it was perler beads, before that plush, before that cosplay, buttons, prints, what have you. It's only a natural and healthy progression of the AA commerce dynamic.
  5. Legal Issues

    I've been away for a while, dealing with the crazy that is my day job, but I think I can provide some info that you may find useful. First, please keep in mind that I am in no way a lawyer and anything I say shouldn't be taken as formal legal advise. Just food for thought as you negioate with your artist from a writer who frequently works with artists. Basically you need to look at how you and the artist best wish to colliborate. There are several common ways that artists and writers work together that determine how profits, ownership and selling works. In all cases, proper and mutal credits should be listed in the final product on who did what. The first and most straight forward is the Work for Hire. What this means is you are directly hiring the artist to draw for you. In this arrangement, you typically pay the artist directly for their work, either at an hourly rate or on a piece by piece/flat rate basis. Flat rate based on the number of finished pages/pieces is the most common form of payment, but you will want to have the right of final approval of the finished piece. I also recommend if you choose to do a Work for Hire contract that you make an arrangement for a partial payment upfront (perhaps dependant on delivery of peliminary sketches) and then the remainder on full delivery and approval of finished work. In terms of rights to the work, in your case you would retain all the rights to the story and the art though most generous contracts allow the artist to reproduce and sell the commissioned artwork as long as they don't continue to make additional works without permission or try to claim credit for the written work. They also don't have any right to reproduce and sell the finished product and production costs are assumed entirely by you. Royality based is similar to Work for Hire except that the payment is based on the number of units sold. For every book sold, the artist gets a cut of the profit. Usually the rights are the same as in Work for Hire. Sometimes you can negioate a smaller upfront/flat per piece rate coupled with a small royality to take the itch off, but the general rule of thumb is that the more you pay as a flat rate per piece, the less you pay out in royalities and vice versa. Next is consignment. I do a lot of consignment work with my Apprentice series where I hire artists to do illustrations and then I grant them the right to reproduce and sell the finished product, which is how they gain thier monitary compensation. They do not get any direct cash payment from you. Sometimes on consignment I will assume the costs of the first production run and then give a percentage of the final product to the artist. From there, they assume the costs of making further items for sale. They have the right to do this only with the product they contributed to and cannot alter the base file. They also cannot claim ownership of the overall series. Copyright on the pieces should be considered joint on the artwork. Finally, some artists and writers form formal studios. In this a partnership is formed in which all rights to both works are equally shared as are production expenses. To do a partnership like this, there must be a solid base of trust and an expectation that the individuals in question plan on having a good, long term working relationship. A mutal passion for the work in question is also critical if the partnership is to succeed. When forming such a group, there should be clear, written and agreed upon protocol of what happens to studio's intellectual property should the partnership be disolved. You should also discuss how much of each individuals creative work is considered studio property. Copyright is generally considered studio property and shared equally along with profits from the sale of studio products. Too often I've seen writers solicit artwork from artists with no intention or plan for how the artist should be compensated. "Come draw my awesome manga for free so I can sell it!" And that's not fair. Some artists may be willing to do consignment or even be inspired enough by the work to join you in an open partnership. However, you need to be direct, clear and open with your terms. In the end, you need to sit down and talk with your artist on what type of collaboration works best for you that allows both of you to reap the rewards of your work. If you can't find a mutually beneficial arrangement that you both can agree upon and gives you both reasonable compensation or chance to be compensated, then it's time to find a different artist.
  6. Horrible treatment at the Embassy

    Because of the nature of the suite rooms, Embassy has a major problem with room packing - essentially a group booking a room, claiming x number of people would be there and then letting more than the declared or even safely allowable amount. It's not safe to say 6 people are allowed in this room and then a big group lies and then packs in 10 or 12. Which I've seen almost every year. So while it's a touch inconvenient to those of us who don't engage in this behavior, listing the individuals who are allowed to stay in the room helps them maintain proper and safe per room allowances against those who do.
  7. Fire-Alarm Justice

    Last I heard, the guy who triggered the alarm was caught, arrested and is facing felony charges. Which, all things considered, is a far, far better, safer place for him to be lest the cosplayers whose skits got cut and the masquarade staff get hold of him. And that's before we factor in the attendees that had to stand out in the cold and then get disappointed that the main event got sheared down to the bare bones. Yeah, if he hasn't made bail, I believe he's safer in jail right now. As for the guy who broke the dome, if the person who said they knew who it was would be so kind as to send what they know to MAPS or upper convention management, they can still probably send him a bill through thier lawyer and perhaps start recovering damages.
  8. Post-Con

    When I was researching CC transaction places, I noticed that as well. I decided to go with Intuit. You still get a free reader, no monthly free for the basic package and the percentages are the same as Square, but they don't have the $0.15 surcharge against hand entered CC numbers. Plus, I liked their item feature, where you can pre-load items along with prices and just select the times being purchased right off the list for a total.
  9. 2012 Gripes thread

    Hi Ashori! I was running the copyright panel. I apologize for the last minute change. I was on schedule for two panels and originally they were both scheduled for evening hours, which meshed well with the hours my studio and I were keeping in the artist alley. Then there was a change and my other panel, which required one of my studio mates, was set right in the middle of our day in the alley. We didn't have the extra coverage of our third studio mate at that time, so I was forced to request a swap with our other panel at very last minute so we didn't have to shut down our table. I feel really bad about the changes and if you have any questions or want me to send you a copy of the powerpoint, I would be more than happy to. Go ahead and send me a PM. For my gripe, I would like to see slightly better communication between the panel programming and panelists when major changes to the schedule like this occur - even if it's just a general notice of "please check your panel schedule, times may have changed."
  10. Needs to be a juried show

    As a member of one of ACen's longest attending art studios, I feel compelled to reply to this. I have been in the alley since 2001 and attending ACen in general since the first year. We also run the starving artist panel every year that coaches people on good business practice. So I like to think I have a fairly long term and experienced view on the issues you appear to be having. Let's look at your critiques point by point. Where to begin with this. First, "art" is a highly subjective term. Under the current ACen rules, any artist can display in the alley as long as the item is not a duplicate of the merchandise in the dealer's hall and is a product of the artist's own creation. I believe this is fair. A seamstress puts as much work into producing a unique hat as an illustrator does into a good piece and a comic creator into their book. Also, a HEALTHY artist alley should have as much variety as possible. In the Starving Artist panel, we're regularly asked our opinion on the presence of crafts, fan art, what have you in the alley. Even though we do only original work, we always advocate that fan work and variety is good for the alley because it draws in the most attendees. Somebody looking for a plushie may cross paths with an independent comic they weren't looking for and find something unique and fantastic they love but wouldn't have found otherwise. Beginners can learn from their experiences and long time attendees such as ourselves can build a solid fanbase and get reliable exposure. While I see your point on the issue of something things being repetitive, I would comment that this is mostly an issue of trends and supply vs. demand. Yes, there were a lot of crocheted octopi and chibi key chains this year. Those were popular sellers last year and this year many artists made an effort to bring them. But last year the alley had a lot of fuzzy hats and several years ago we were flooded with cosplay costumers. Many artists follow trends and when an artist's personal idiom is in vogue, you tend to get a lot of them attending the alley. When the trend dies, production becomes less lucrative and many of the less dedicated or focused artists move on while the really dedicated ones continue. This is perfectly normal and healthy and there's nothing wrong with it. I will admit that there are artists that don't always give 100% to their craft. Also, there are some artists who I feel on a personal level may have benefited from waiting and honing their skills before joining artist alley. HOWEVER, I do not presume to dictate if an art piece is worthy of artist alley. I do not presume to judge if an artist is ready for the alley. And just because I don't feel that something is worthy of my purchase, doesn't mean it's not worthy of anybody's purchase. The attendees show their likes and dislikes with their purchases and those who don't cut it don't sell and will either adjust, learn and improve until they do start selling or drop out. And again, this is normal and healthy and expected. First off, if an artist is sketching, I would hardly call that being bored. Please bear in mind, especially if you like artists and want to support them, that when an artist is drawing, they often become completely absorbed in what they are doing and don't notice what's around them. When interrupted while absorbed in something, it's a very common and human reaction to instinctively frown or scowl over the unexpected interruption until the individual assess what that interruption is. It's nothing personal and if this offends or upsets you, it appears that it's not the artist that's the special snowflake here. Also, bear in mind that sitting at that table, with few breaks is tedious and difficult and often boring if you're not that into taking pictures of cosplay or people watching. For awhile one of my studio mates and I were singing the ManaMana song. If an artist is not inspired to engage in a piece, then, yes, they are going to look bored. If that affects their sales, then they need to own that themselves - there's nothing reducing the number of sketch artists could do for that. I once had a conversation with a middle aged man in a poofy dress, carrying a teddy bear over this. The fact is that artists need to get work out to those who would be their fan base. While my artist's art style is not what one would call "anime", the way she lays pages, the inking and toning my other artist does and the overall story lines I write has a high appeal to the anime fandom. Therefore, we promote our work at Anime Central. Furthermore, there are many crossovers within genres, and again, artists have to go where their fanbase is and will often follow the trends. Steampunk is currently in, it has a high crossover rate with anime fandom, therefore you will be seeing steampunk in the ACen alley until the trend declines. The same goes for Dr. Who. This is simple supply/demand. With an attendance of over 20,000 people - bigger than the populations of some towns - Anime Central cannot control who attends their convention, nor can they dictate what those individuals purchase. In our Starving Artist panel, we strongly encourage artists to stay the full length of the alley, open to close each day. We do ourselves and wait it out until the bitter end each day. However, many of the artists in the alley have day jobs and many of them need to catch their transport, which may mean that they have to leave early to catch a flight or their carpool back to home in order to be at work or school the next day. For those who arbitrarily pack up and leave early, well that's more last minute sales for those who stay. Typically, juried artist alleys experience fewer sales than first come/first serve alleys due to lack of variety. The juries that do the selection process are human and therefor subject to personal opinion, bias and subjectivity. At it's best, juried artist alleys will reflect the personal aesthetics of the jury which selects who gets in - which alienates any attendee that does not share those personal aesthetics, and therefor reduce traffic and sales. However, juried alleys have also gained a reputation for being juried in such a way that allows for bias, nepotism and giving the jury the ability to weed out what they deem as "undesirable" such as fan art or artists that are better than the friends of the jury. First come/first serve with the staff basing any removals, bans or refusal of tables off of objective issues such as failure to pay or follow rules is the only real way to ensure a fair process that allows for the best variety. In short, it appears you seem to want the Anime Central artist alley to go back to the same alley it was in the late 90's, with few tables consisting of a bunch of artists with sketchbooks. But with ACen being as big as it is, alley space is in high demand and it's not fair to ask a bunch of hardworking artists to have to duke it out. I remember those days at ACen, when tables were first come/first serve with NO preregistration. I remember the table jumping, I remember the poor relations between artists, I remember the uncertainty of having to plan for a convention you weren't sure you could get into, I remember the cliques and accusations of nepotism and gossip. It was awful. The current staff has done an excellent job of taking care of the artists, making sure we knew if we had a table or not and ensuring that the most number of artists have the ability to get in, without discrimination. I applaud them. This year's artist alley had some of the best variety I have seen in years and I had a great time shopping and purchasing from my fellow artists.
  11. AA Setup Checklist

    Ditto on that. In locked halls like with ACen, general display racks, table coverings and simple signage are usually safe, but always cover the bulk of your display, keep the stock stored someplace out of sight and always, always, always take your cashbox with you. In open and 24 hour alleys like you see at smaller cons, we always tear all the way down and pack it out with us.
  12. It's a touch late in the game, but I figure I'd post and pimp my two artist focused panels since I have a few moments. Plus, the closer proximity to the con date means this'll less likely to get lost in the shuffle. Kumate Works Studio has been approved to return with our signature How Not to Starve as a Starving Artist Panel. In addition to basic arist alley and business information, this year focuses on how to make your product marketable in the artist alley. We'll go over what you need to examine and do to make sure your comic, trinket, art or other handiwork sells in the alley while offering helpful hints to improve quality without spending lots extra. The other panel will be Copyright 101. I'll be covering the basics of copyright law, common terms you should know, how copyright relates to fan work, how to protect your work from infringement and what to do if you've been accused of a violation. Questions will be saved for the end on this one and I expect to address SOPA briefly during Q&A since I'm sure somebody will ask. Copyright 101 starts at 4:15pm on Friday and Starving Artist follows after starting at 6:00pm, both currently scheduled in rooms at the DoubleTree.
  13. Power Drop around Table 35?

    Photoshop is the power drag. Have you though about investing in a portable battery backup/charger?
  14. Pimp Your Table

    Kumate Works Studio is returning for the ::EGADS:: 11th year? This year we'll have a new issue of The Apprentice featuring art from artist Darrick Chen from Panda Rage Productions. We also hope to have a preview book of some major upcoming projects to show off. In addition to that, we'll have the first The Apprentice collected edition, back issues, handmade plushies, prints of original art and more. We're also leading two Artist Alley oriented panels this year: Copyright 101 - This will be an introduction to basic copyright including information on how copyright relates to fanwork and how to protect yourself and your work. Currently scheduled for Medallion (Doubletree) at 4:15pm - 5:45pm Friday. How Not to Starve as a Starving Artist: Making Your Product Marketable - The Starving Artist series is focused on practical business advice for artists and artist alley participants. This session we'll focus on the product and how to build it so it sells. General topics will include quality control, pricing, pros/cons of original vs. fanart, and identifying your target audiance. Currently Scheduled for Mr. Linclon (Doubletree) at 6:00pm - 8:00pm Friday. Hope to see everybody there! www.kumateworks.com
  15. Cosplays/Outfits

    To cosplay or not to cosplay--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The attention and constant photos of the public Or to allow the work to stand with no embellishments And by not dressing up, be normal. To sit, to draw-- No more--and by simply working at the table to say we are artists The attention, and the thousand photographs That costumes bring to the table. 'Tis a draw Devoutly to be wished. To sit, to draw-- To do commissions--perchance in peace: ay, there's the rub, For in that time of creativity, what ideas may come When we have closed our booths for the day, Must give us pause. There's the respect For the artistic self we crave. For who would bear the pen and ink in creation, Th' plagiarizer's wrong, the true artistic vision The pangs of writer's block, the inkers effort, The insolent ignorant fanboys, and the spurns That artists receive of those who would judge our craft, When he himself might his make his comics With lesser skill? Who would seek the attention, To grunt and sweat under a sewing machine, But that the dread of a blocked table, The undiscovered talent, from whose bourn No artist returns, puzzles the character, And makes us rather bear those creations we made Than fly to cosplay as something that exists not on our table? Thus fandom doth make us stop and think, And thus the native culture of the convention Is contemplated o'er with the the idea of cosplay, And enterprise of needle and thread With this regard their actions turn to sewing And lose the name of a professional. -- Soft you now, Fair character! -- Naruto, in thy versions Be all my sins remembered.