A Webcomic’s (or anyone else’s) Guide to Not Getting the Con Crud

If you attend a lot of conventions or simply leave your house, you might find that you get sick every once in awhile. Conventions are huge petri dishes of sickness because there are so many people in a small space. I used to get almost every time after a con. One time, I got such a severe bout of stomach flu, I literally thought I was going to die. All I remember is lying in bed being unable to even dial 911. It traumatized me so much that I made some changes in how I do things. I haven’t gotten sick yet since making those changes, so I’m here to share with you my tricks to reducing the chance that you will catch the con crud.

Stop Relying on Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer cleans your hands, right? Well…kind of. It doesn’t kill viruses. I used to be a hand sanitizer devotee. I used hand sanitizer religiously before I got the stomach flu from hell. I still got the stomach flu because it didn’t kill everything that was on my hands when I went to eat. Since then I haven’t even bothered carrying hand sanitizer. It does help somewhat, but it doesn’t do enough.

Consciously Wash Your Hands: This is a no-brainer, but I do not want to go into how many people I see at the con ROLL ON OUT OF THE BATHROOM WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. It’s nasty. I thought we learned this in Sesame Street, but geez, a lot of people do this at cons! Wash your hands every time you use the bathroom. Use a paper towel to open the door on your way out so you don’t touch the doorknob where the non-handwashing people have touched – especially if you are about to eat.

Don’t Touch Your Face: Don’t rub your eyes or mouth without immediately washing your hands before doing so. Disease can enter the body via your eyes and mouth. Don’t put the germs inside you!

Don’t Share Communal Bags of Unwrapped Snacks: It’s always the people reaching into the communal bags of chips or pretzels that seem to get the con crud. Guess why? It’s because people who haven’t washed their hands have stuck their hands in there and contaminated everything. Bring wrapped snacks to your con table so that you can open one and eat it without putting your hand on the food before doing so.

Don’t Touch Your Food: Like I said above, bring wrapped snacks. You could also use a napkin to pick up and eat the food. Basically, don’t touch anything you are about to eat before washing your hands.

What I am saying is – don’t rely on hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face, don’t touch food you are about to eat, don’t share communal snacks, and make sure to wash your hands really well before you eat. Doing all of these things are annoying, but it works. Imagine you are doing surgery and your orifices are open wounds. Sure, that’s a bit extreme, but I have not gotten sick at all since I started doing this. The less sick you are, the more comics you can make and the more cons you can go to.
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The Trouble with Social Media and the New Internet

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else that is popular this second are pretty awesome. However, the very thing that makes it awesome can also cause some issues for the modern day webcomic professional. There is now a higher amount of information available to us than before. This means that there are more avenues for us to get our brand recognized. YAY!

Unfortunately, the thing that makes social media such a great tool is also burying many new creators. The noise on the internet is so high that I believe it is harder for a new creator to be heard today than it was 10 years ago. Back when there were only a handful of creators online, it was a no brainer to run into everyone at least once. Now, it is not the case. I have met rabid webcomics fans who have never heard of Penny Arcade.

Today, readers like for information to come to them, rather than checking physical sites every day. We have reached information overload. A high number of people I speak with have told me that they and most of their friends now use RSS aggregators or get their information from Facebook and Twitter. I have fans who read my site every single day that missed the GIANT banner on the top of the page and frequent blog posts about the fact that their favorite creator is running AN ENTIRE WEBCOMICS CONVENTION.

Following this relevation, I conducted an informal experiment where I would post happenings on my Facebook and Twitter. Later that month I would strike up conversation with specific people who were very big fans of my work to see how much they had engaged with the information. I had found that most people would ignore the passive postings and almost all of them would engage, support, and spread the word about things that I spoke to them directly about.

The catch, is, you can't be fake about it. You have to love what you do and care about who you are speaking to. I always ignore automatic and sterile messages. I will always reply to people who are genuinely saying "hello".

The best way is to really believe in what you are doing and to treat everyone like you would want to be treated. This in itself stands out in stark contrast to the firehose of information that is today's internet. As corny as it sounds, it seems that today's best weapon is to love the journey, make some new friends, network with your peers, and never give up. I wish I could give an easier recipe for success. The unfortunate truth is that it is not easy, but it will happen if you don't give up! 😀

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Guest Blogger Introduction: Oni Hartstein

Oni Hartstein

Hi all,

I'm Oni. I'll be guest blogging this week. I founded the Webcomic / Indie Creator-Centric convention Intervention. You should register now. I draw Stupid and Insane Defenders Against Chaos. I post Art Tutorials and other fun things over at Onezumiverse

My favorite color is all of them. My favorite music is metal. My favorite food is anything inside the Magic Kingdom. My favorite movie is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. People keep thinking I'm a dude because of my name so I have provided photographic evidence to the contrary.

Nice to meet you. If there are any tutorials or business questions that you have questions about, ask away. I'm your man…errr…

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Onezumi and Harknell Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

Onezumi.com announced the winner of its third contest – the winner took home a 30 gig external hard drive. (Click here to see the top entries in the contest).

Previously they have given away tickets to the LOTR Experience in Boston, various Anime T Shirts, and a flatbed scanner. The next contest will be announced very soon, and it will have an even better prize than this one.

Is there a catch? Nope. All you have to do is to be creative. Continue Reading