Comic Con International 2017 – Small Press, Panels and Cosplay!

From the minds of the Dark Productions staff, come recap SDCC with us and learn what the convention had in store for us.


After going to Comic Con for so many years, I’m still learning new things.  This year I saw a lot of foreign comic exhibitors. This is good for diversity and representation overall.  Unfortunately Mile High stopped vending because the cost of the space increased too much.  I went to a panel about how to incorporate history into narratives.  I’m glad that there is a movement that encourages more research and educational value to be put into comics.  Leen Isabel, Selena Jones, and Cordell Falk were super helpful crew mates.  I’m glad that they were able to help run our booth.

This year I put a lot of effort to create a cohesive table design so that each intellectual property and project look like they belong under one umbrella.  I made sure that each display was clean and signage was clear and easy to read.  Colors were made to pop and stand out on both of our banners and table cloth.  We had custom T-Shirts made.  It was all fun work to make us look very well united.  Everything turned out looking nice and professional.

It’s sad when, “Do you read comics?” is a legit question at Comic Con.  Based on our visitors, I would say that probably less than 20% of the attendees I asked actually read comics.  The rest seemed to attend for the rest of the pop culture.  Sunday is consistently the most busy day for sales but there are much more people who buy art prints than those who buy comics.  This is disappointing to me because I love making comics more than art prints.  I made a few new friends, and got a several new books that look very nice.  I even bought some art.  Check out these titles and artists if you haven’t.  Thank you for every one of you who came by to see us.  It was a pleasure to meet every one of you.  Overall, this year was definitely our best year yet.


Leen Isabel

Another SDCC has come and gone and this year, I’m sad that it’s over. Last year, I had a rough experience getting through the event due to health complications with severe anemia and fatigue and it was the first time I couldn’t physically get through Comic-Con. This year, however, I decided to change that. I would have a great time, be mindful of my health leading up to the event and focus on not stressing out so much.

Mission accomplished!
Overall, I think we did much better than last year sales wise, but I also made time to see more friends, and experience more of the con than I did last year. I made it a point to meet more indie creators and shop only indie titles. It was fun connecting with like-minded, hard-working creators. I think as a group, Dark Productions really re-connected this year and we’re more focused on embarking together on our upcoming titles and meeting deadlines. It’s tough being full-time workers and part-time creatives. Each of us have busy lives filled with kids, pets, caretaking duties and the like. But when your passion also includes writing and drawing — we have to honor that. So we’ll be hunkering down to get that done. Stay tuned.
I had the lovely opportunity again this year to participate on a panel with members from Women in Comics Collective NYC International. Our topic was “Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium.” The discussion was amazingly positive and enlightening and I have to hand it to Vanee, Jules and Jay for being incredibly passionate and outspoken speakers. ^_^ It was an honor to share the floor with everyone, including the talented Alice Li and Jewels Smith. The panel also received coverage on news outlets online and you can see the links here:
The panelist information were as follows: Moderated by Regine L. Sawyer (WinC founder) along with guests Jewels Smith ([H]afrocentric), Vanee Smith-Matsalia (writer, educator), Jay Justice (cosplayer, activist), Alice Meichi Li (comic book artist), Leen Isabel (Pole Dancing Adventures), and Jules Rivera (comic book artist).


It was fun bringing my two Pole Dancing Adventures books to SDCC again. I was honored to meet new and old fans and turn a few skeptics into readers as well. (And hopefully one day, they’ll turn into dancers. ^_^) One fan came all the way from New Zealand! That blows my mind. =) I’m glad to hear that people still love PDA and I do have new plans coming up later this year for it. Thank you to everyone who visited us and to those who stopped by my appearance at the Girls Drawin’ Girls table as well! Always a joy.

On the cosplay end of things, rather than strutting about in latex cosplay like I did in 2016, I purposely picked two comfortable cosplays of characters I’m really passionate about and that really helped my mood soar. =) (For the record, I was Moana and Mulan/Ping. I had a blast.) I chose Moana to celebrate my multiple Austronesian ancestry (and because I didn’t have to comb my hair.) And Mulan because I wielded the weights to honor the BEST SCENE EVER.

I participated in a fun cosplay “music video.” I’m pretty sure you can see my happy-to-be-healthy-joy as Ping here. ^_^

Last but not least, SDCC is famous for SHOPPING and NETWORKING!

So here’s a list of things I books I picked up and artists I visited and LOVED! Reviews will come soon!

Books from Indie Publishers:
Haunting Refrain

Penelope Gaylord

Books from Large Publishers:
Soupy Leaves Home
Birthright (Vols. 1-5)


Comic-Con 2017 – Choose Your Own Adventure

With a second year of SDCC exhibition under my belt, I am amazed at how varied each person’s con experience can be. Some people spend 4 days at Movie-Con – hunting new shows, the trailers, the cast panels. Some people go for Cosplay-Con – spending lots of time in the entry halls, posing out front of the convention center, or stalking the outer walkway of the exhibit hall, looking for photo ops.

I feel like this year I had a Creator-Con. When not working the booth I made it to 8 amazing panels on creating content, writing for comics, editing for scripts and for Hollywood, and practical management of creative time.

Most inspirational was a workshop with Mark Siegel from :01FirstSecond about the creative life and staying balanced and true to the craft in a busy world. I scored a huge stack of FirstSecond books at con that I can’t wait to work through and share with the kids.

Best eye-opener panel was WRITING FOR COMICS offered by Andy Schmidt, founder of the Comics Experience online school ( who gave a well-paced and interactive talk (complete with smart assed audience members!) about writing and working with artists. Panel member Erica Schultz ( wins my award for the industry professional I most want to go get a beer with.  Snark and wisdom are always appreciated!

Happy Finds of the Show

Finally got to score the book for Stabbity Bunny, a fun and creative comic series (which I backed on Kickstarter) about a stuffed animal, the little girl he needs to protect, and supernatural evil. Writer Richard Rivera was great in person and their booth in Small Press was simple but eyecatching. Being in the vein of my next novel Craftlings, I can’t wait to read it and will drop a review.

Scored a few books from Humanoids, a publisher of European-style oversized books that are beautifully designed and highly detailed. Can’t wait to break those down and soak up the creativity on these expanded pages.

Finally, my biggest score was on Thursday evening – I won the daily content at the Insight Editions booth ( which had a drawing for a Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters movie prop collectible and a stack of TPB and hardcover books, which is so awesome that I still haven’t been able to process fully. But they do have high quality stuff – if you like well-made collectibles, I highly recommend you check out their site.

Final Thoughts

One final note for creatives – Kickstarter is still a significant path to greatness. So many booths had quality hardback titles printed from the spoils of their KS success and MOST IMPORTANTLY they seemed to offer lower prices on content or had more flexibility for discounts (just to get more readers) since the Kickstarter likely helped build a pre-paid seed stock. People that paid top dollar for 50-100 comic-con copies of a new book straight up had higher prices and did not seem to be doing the same volume of business.  And MERCHANDISE SELLS!!! Shirts, Cups, Toys, and (to a lesser extent) prints, are now the draw for comic-con attendees.  Sadly, people don’t want a book, but they do want clever, funny, or awesome knick-knacks and collectables.

Onward to 2018….



A few Comic-Con thoughts from an addled mind:

I have to admit that my favorite part of San Diego Comic-Con is the cosplay. I love being in character. Even better is being in character at the booth! There’s something freeing about being in costume while talking to people about our projects. It’s possible that stems from the enjoyment I get talking to people about the creative endeavors of the other DP creators, while being nervous to talk about my own projects. It’s something I spent a lot of this year’s con trying to work on.

To that aim, I went to several panels that dealt with marketing and PR, led by people in the industry who know their business: Comicsbeat, Hollywood Gone Geek, Scoop, Fathom Fandom and others. Not surprisingly, these panels only reinforced what I know I should do but tend to shy away from. Even still it helped hear it reiterated so many times and from so many different sources. The takeaways from those few hours are as follows:

Talk about your work at every opportunity because you’ll never know who is listening

Make friends with members of the press to help you promote your projects.

With our booth neighbor, Committed Comics

Start reviewing comics or comic-related materials on your own pages as a way to get involved in the community.

Always carry your business card and hand it out whenever an opportunity presents itself (or maybe even sometimes when it doesn’t-you have to be able to read the room here).

Yes to all of the above!

The other panels I attended involved editing comics, which is not something I am too familiar with. The panels consisted of editors from BOOM! Studios, :01FirstSecond, and more. While I understood that editors have a place in comics, I didn’t know exactly what it was the editors did. It was inspiring to see the projects they’d taken from a basic story synopsis with roughly-sketched boards through the painstaking work of creating a cohesive whole, to the finished piece. Though I will remain a writer, this is part of what I aspire to in my work with Dark Productions. I now feel like I have a jumping-off place.

The next year should be a big one for Dark Productions as we work on honing our creative skills while expanding our online presence and building our audience. As the members of DP free up the many obstacles to creativity in our schedules, I’m excited to get started on all of the projects we have waiting in the wings.

Here we go!