Trepidation Radiated from the Undergrad Labs as Students Rushed to FinishEvery year, SCAD's Sequential Art department hosts an event that inspires both terror and delight in the hearts of students. Editors' Day typically occurs on a beautiful spring weekend at the end of May, disturbingly close to finals, and weeks ahead of time the lamentations of the undergrads can be heard wafting down the halls. The general turnout for Editors' Day is quite impressive, with a wide variety o editors representing a several publishers, including
- :01 Second (Anya's Ghost, Koko Be Good, and Drawing Words and Writing Pictures)
- Oni Press (Super Pro K.O., Power Lunch, Sketch Monsters)
- Top Shelf (Too Cool, American Elf, Gingerbread Girl)
- Dark Horse
I spent my Editor's Day as a handler for Ms. Calista Brill Senior Editor at :01 Second, giving me a unique opportunity to see the nuts and bolts of SEQA's Editor's Day. As a handler, my responsibilities included corralling both grads and undergrads eager to have their portfolios reviewed, keeping events that involved Ms. Brill on time and on track, entertaining the editors whenever necessary, and trying NOT to fangirl or beg for a job.
My Own Preparation
This semester has been very busy for me- I've attended two conventions already (FLUKE and MoCCA), and I needed fresh stock. I ended up creating and co-creating several new minis- a new ashcan for 2012 full of a variety of art in various stages of finish, a minicomic version of Momotaro with a kraft paper cover, a mini comic anthology full of super short comics, and I participated in Rascals Rogues and Dames's Little Book of Monsters illustration anthology. These came in handy for Editor's Day, as I had lots of fresh mini comics to give out. I also finished an older autobiographical mini comic so that I'd have brand new pages to show editors, allowing me to solicit more timely critique than I would have received had Momotaro been my newest work. I limited my portfolio to the entirety of When I was 13 and the entirety of Momotaro, and the two pages from In the Dark that demonstrated my toning technique, and included copies of Momotaro, my Minis anthology, my newest ashcan, and my paperdoll set at the front of the portfolio.
The Sequential Art department has been experimenting with how Editor's Day is organized, and this year individual, 8 minute portfolio reviews were scheduled on Friday at Norris Hall, and longer, 45 minute group reviews (usually consisting of groups of 5-6) were scheduled on Saturday in SCADMOA's second floor classrooms.
Friday- Individual Critiques
Both days started early, and as the sleepy students slowly filtered in on Friday, I was stationed outside the Room 304, checking them off. Although anxious in the hall, most left their individual review with Ms. Brill quite happy, and there were no breakdowns in the vicinity of Norris Hall caused by :01 Second. Unfortunately, not all handlers were so fortunate, and there were a couple meltdowns. After some discussion amongst the handlers, it's been determined that it was not the fault of the editors, but merely students who could not handle honest criticism.
An older post about preparing for an editor review.
Tips for Taking Critique from Editors
1. Keep in mind that you'll probably get conflicting responses from different companies. Rebecca Taylor at Archaia felt like my work is far too anime, Traci Todd at Viz kept telling me they don't hire indie artists. These critiques were based on what those particular companies are looking for in new hires.
2. Don't get discouraged by negative critiques. If possible feel inspired- you've just been given new insight, and valuable insight at that. You can utilize it or ignore it, it's up to you. My favorite critiques usually feature lots of suggestions for improvement, after those, I know my art is going to become a lot stronger.
3. Write it all down. The good and the bad. Some people will walk out only remembering the good that was sad, and others will only hear the bad. Writing it all down keeps you objective.
4. Very few people get a job offer at Editor's Day. Aim for getting a business card and a "Keep in touch". Even that isn't a promise of work. This is no reason to feel discouraged, after all, it takes ten years to become an overnight success.
5. Ask questions for clarification, but don't be defensive or argumentative. You want to understand the critique, but arguing won't win you points.
6. Consider asking what YOU should do to be hired by that particular company, but only ask this if you're genuinely interested.
7. Follow up on this portfolio review. Try and show the same editors new work as often as possible, through email or at conventions.
My own critiques were scheduled for the end of the day, in the handler's block, and unfortunately, the schedule had fallen apart by that time. I was scheduled for portfolio reviews with :01 Second, Oni Press, Archaia, and Viz Media, and as the day progress, I became increasingly eager for my own review. Myself and a few other handlers were shorted time wise, and many of the editors were completely wiped from a very full day of critiquing portfolios, so for me, the first portion of Editors' Day was perhaps not as productive as it could have been. I still gained valuable insight into what the companies were looking for, and took notes as fast as my hand could write. A glance into my portfolio, as well as the notes from my critiques, will be posted shortly, so that you guys can learn from my mistakes.
Saturday was much smoother, and I managed to finish out my portfolio review with Ms. Brill before the group reviews started. For many, group reviews can provide information that would be overlooked during an individual review, and although I participated in no group reviews, I took pages of notes while I handled those performed by Ms. Brill. One thing that appeared time and again, in every single group review, were that 4 out of 6 participants in the :01 Second review had portfolios that were full of artwork strongly influenced by manga. My own feelings about this style aside, a warning: If 4 out of 6 of your peers have the same style influences as you, it's time to expand your circle of inspiration. Unfortunately during these reviews, I noticed quite a few sequential art students breaking the portfolio reviews set forth before Editor's Day, and I'll take a moment to reiterate these rules.
Editor Day's Rules
1. Dress appropriately and professionally.
2. Be early for your scheduled portfolio review. If portfolio reviews run back to back, let the handler of the second portfolio review know that you may be a moment late.
3. Prepare your portfolio ahead of time. Don't submit your damaged, dinged up work portfolio, instead use a fresh portfolio for Editor's Day.
4. Include only a LIMITED SELECTION of pieces (8-10). This should be your best work. Avoid including class assignments.
5. Be polite. Greet the editor, thank them for their time afterwards.
6. Do not draw during your portfolio review.
7. Take notes.
8. Do not interrupt the editor, and in group reviews, don't interrupt your peers.
9. Keep your voice down when you're in the halls outside the portfolio reviews.
10. Don't underestimate the power of the handler. We can kick you out should you break any of the above rules.
Before the lunch break, the Editors participated in a panel discussion, with questions from sequential students. I was a bit disappointed in this panel discussion, as the questions are the same year after year. For those of you interested, SEQAlab recorded the panel discussion. During the break for lunch, I was able to show Chris Staros of Top Shelf my portfolio, and got some useful feedback When I was 13. I plan to have a new story implementing the suggested style changes before Heroes Con.
Group reviews wrapped up around 4:00, and the editors were given the opportunity to take a break before the Editor/Faculty dinner. I took that opportunity to head home and change, and then Heidi and I headed out to Abe's on Lincoln to meet up with a couple of the editors for some downtime.
All in all, I would say that this Editors' Day ran smoother than the last, and it seemed like the majority of the students took whatever critiques they received better than the general population did last year. Editors' Day is always are rewarding experience for the students involved, even if it takes some time for that benefit to sink in. As a student, I would like to thank the editors involved for their generosity in sharing both their time and their knowledge to aid in the pursuit of our dreams.
Did you attend this or past Editors' Day (s)? What were your experiences? Share them in the comments section!