Ah, convention season.

For some, going to Comic Con International in San Diego is something similar to a religious experience. An atmosphere rife with excitement, people clad in costume, the coolest characters in all of fiction at every turn and down every aisle — it’s like a literary amusement part. The euphoria of being amongst a sea of people who share a common passion is undeniable. Do you think people go to concerts for the musicians?

When I entered my serious comicking phase, the Pittsburgh Con offered a weekend of joy and adventure. The Pittsburgh show isn’t huge, and doesn’t draw top notch talent consistently, but it didn’t matter. Every April I had a beautiful sanctuary where acceptance for my hobby reigned. High school is not conducive to fanboy culture.

Conventions serve as an extremely important branch of the comics ecosystem. Crowds grow exponentially, as proven by the spectacle in Southern Cal, and showing support for comics on all levels and distribution is vital to a healthy industry. Most shows, like the one here, have a multitude of local and indy creators, people like me, and the two dozen other creators of webcomics you like. You don’t have to buy anything! Just stop by and let them know you think their stuff is cool. It really does help. Conventions help vendors too. Back in the day, I used to buy all my comics once a year, and saved significantly. Haggling at comicons is surprisingly easy. A lot of the times these guys just want to unload that stack of old Astonishing X-Men or Wanted trades and make room for new product. Buying via Con isn’t the most proficient way to help the direct market, but it’s a great method for the (patient) collector on a budget.

This weekend I will be returning to the Pittsburgh Comicon after a couple years of missing. I’m going to be wearing three different hats: fan, journalist and creator. I’ll be walking the floor, trying to fill out my Jonah Hex and Deadpool collections, striking up conversations with strangers and creators alike and actually doing a little fill-in work at a friend’s booth. Yes, you read that correctly! I will be working a booth!

The bigger news is my first printed material will be available at the Pittsburgh Comicon. ATTWZ will be printed in the Diamondgoat Media Greybook.

My friend Dave DeVera, creator of Ninjabitch and owner of Diamondgoat, put together the first ever anthology for Diamondgoat and I am ecstatic he asked Thije and I to contribute. The Greybook will be available at the Con, but also via the Diamondgoat Media website. It features stories from Jeremy Baum, Shawn Atkins, Jon Towers and yours truly. The ATTWZ portion will just be the first eight pages in black and white, so no new material, but please consider grabbing it. Strong interest in print might influence future decisions…

I’ll be at the Diamondgoat booth at undetermined times throughout the weekend, and although I know not many read this blog, and the comic is just learning to crawl, I’m hoping to meet some new fans and mingle with the average comic fan. Happy Conning!

-Jamil