It’s Sci-Fi on the Rock month! The tenth annual running of the province’s largest sci-fi convention will be held April 1st to 3rd, 2016, at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. If you’ve never been, the event runs on “by the fans, for the fans” ideals, and it’s attended by a crazily-diverse gathering of passionate fans, all proudly letting their geek flag fly.

When you’re reminded of all the creative energy and potential that exists right here, it’s easy to get motivated. So, let’s talk about comics publishing.

Conventions like Sci-Fi on the Rock and Atlanti-Con are all great opportunities to meet a number of professional artists and people (like you) that are nervous about starting a creative project.

“I have been working out of my studio since 2011,” says Kevin Kendall of Kendallight Studios Illustration. “I did grow up on comics, and still follow the industry today.” For artists like Kendall, these events are  opportunities to connect with fans and artists, while creating pop culture portraiture from sci-fi, fantasy and comic properties.

For anybody looking to network at cons, Kendall’s advice is to be prepared. “Physical handouts (business cards, brochures, etc.) are really effective,” says Kendall. “It is just a matter of finding the right location to distribute. Start small by selling work at craft shows or conventions, with work that you enjoy. Can’t stress it enough: if you are not having fun, portrait work gets old fast.”

Even when the creative work is done, there’s still the Herculean task of getting your work to the masses. Roger Keel took a do-it-yourself approach to publishing when he started Stone Island Comics.

Keel began by writing for comic zines in the late 1980s and early 90s, which opened an opportunity to try his hand at writing a short comic story for a small press company. From there, Keel got into self-publishing “by accident.” “I and an artist friend had done a story to be serialized in one of Main Enterprises books that ended up getting canceled. Since I had twenty-eight pages of story that was ready to print, I decided to self-publish.”

Just because superhero comics dominate the medium, that doesn’t mean that capes and tights are required for your comic. Keel’s first comic – The Adventure of Jack Banyon – is an adventure series set in the 1930s along the lines of Indiana Jones. Wallace Ryan released NLs first comic “Zeitgeist” in 1979 (a fantasy) with Gerry Porter, and later did “TOXIC” (a superhero satire) with Fox Lidstone in the late 80s.

Ryan co-founded the Breakdown Comic Jam with IDW artist Paul Tucker in 2010 and it happens the first Friday of every month from 7 to 9 pm at the Anna Templeton Centre. It’s free and a great place to meet other comic artists.

“If people want to get into comics, I suggest they try one of my courses at the Anna T.,” says Ryan. “I do a ‘Cartooning & Comics’ for beginning and advanced teens and a ‘Drawing for Grown Ups’ that’s great for the over eighteen set. I also teach figure drawing there which is essential to learning how to draw.”