Ron Marz sent me a link to this Blog @ Newsarama article in which Scott Allie briefly recounts his NYCC '09 experiences. Well, my name shows up a few times, and... Just READ IT.
Just to clarify a bit, Top Cow doesn't find all of their talent from shows, but they do find quite a bit between shows and submissions. Not all are hired on the spot, but often the second time we see them at a con (Jon Buran) or after they've done some samples with our characters. I know it has happened where things go on the spot with brand new talent, but it's rare. Work ethic and professionalism have to count for something.
From cold submissions I know we hired Michael Broussard (who had never submitted or been published anywhere), Kenneth Rocafort (who had done some Spanish-language work and covers for an Image book), Sheldon Mitchell (who we later found out had colored professionally), and I'm sure the list goes on. It's rare, but if you take the time to look through everything, you find that needle in the haystack.
Phil Smith deserves a lot of the credit as he's been the go-to guy for submissions the last 4-5 years and really has the eye. The list of guys we haven't hired that have gone on to big things would gut you if you knew. He's got skills to pay the bills. However, I can't remember what his take was on Jorge Molina, who is one my favorite new artists out there and did Urban Myths with Jay Faerber for me. He forwarded me Jorge's submission email and links because they were very professional and showed promise. But he either said he wasn't quite ready or wasn't right for TC. Well, I was blown away (by THIS IMAGE in particular) and began a dialogue that led to him working on UM.
In terms of cons, I remember being blown away by Nelson Blake II at NYCC last year and hiring him on the spot. He had done some G.I. Joe a ways back, but had largely been out of comics except for working on the Orphan OGN with my boy Bryan Hill. My best show was probably Wizard World Chicago 2006. Man, the talent was rolling deep at that show:
There were probably more, but normally you're lucky if you find one guy with promise at a show. Luckier still if you get one a quarter via cold submissions. I dunno, there was just something in the water this trip. Jon's the only one that's done books for TC proper, but the others have all been in the circle and are talked to often.
The one advantage Top Cow has over most other publishers is the bullpen, and company founder Marc Silvestri taking the time to work with all of the new artists who come in house. With the exception of Stjepan and Kenneth, the vast majority of guys who have started at Top Cow and been there for any decent chunk of time all worked with Marc and in the studio for at least a couple of years. The list is long, but doing a google or looking at the art books will show the depth and breadth of his influence. So we can have the luxury of bringing a guy into the studio, having him do backgrounds and assistant work until he's ready. We rarely hire a guy on the spot and give him full work, but... It does happen. So when you get the call (I'm talking to you Deviant Artists...), be ready. You may only get the one shot. Big, small, or in between. If this is what you want to do, time to show us what you're made of.
Vince over at Aspen and I had a brief exchange opening night of Chicago last year. We talked about how you can get a sense whether someone is going to be good by the vibe they give off when they come up for a review. I thought it was just me, but then he confirmed it, so it's gospel. The editing panel in NY that Scott mentioned ended with final thoughts from each of the editors. They're all much smarter and more experienced than me, so I couldn't really think of much to add. I spoke anyway. I said that they needed to remember that this is a job, and you're being judged on you. Comics may be fun, and the line between pro and fan is so slight, but it's still a professional enterprise. Represent yourself as best you can, because someone else is always going to try and outshine you. And then I lost track of what I was saying and told people to dress better. It was weird.
To bring it all back home, while Scott may think I've got some knack for spotting the next big thing, or that I even have a clue what I'm doing... Well, maybe. But he's been at this for 14 years, editing a ton of great books and writing some very cool stuff as well. If you haven't checked out The Devil's Footprints, be sure to snag a copy. And I need to read the copy of Solomon Kane #1 I have somewhere, but I'd imagine he's doing a great job on it as well. So listen to Scott, not me. Unless you want the secret to all things, in which case the truck full of money can be dropped off at my place in exchange for it.