Hello Kate, kinda random, but I was curious how you felt about people recognizing/approaching you to say hello in a non-con, non-comic environment? I ask because I've seen comic industry folk at bars and such after a con and always felt they were kinda "off duty" and decided to just let them be. I'm not asking you to speak for all industry people, but I'd like to get your opinion on the matter. Thanks, and I hope to see you at Emerald City again next year!
Hey! Okay. So let me preface this by saying this is just MY experience and preferences, and not everyone’s.
Here are the things it feels okay to do, when you see someone you admire in a social setting:
- Walk up and introduce yourself, briefly, and say something nice like “Hey, I don’t mean to bother you, but I’m ________. I really love your comics.” In most situations, the person will say something like, “Oh, thank you so much!” If they respond and seem open to conversation, continue. If they seem busy or not in a good headspace, you can always say something like “That’s all, just wanted to say hi.” Nice. Simple!
- Ask “Excuse me, are you _______?” If they say yes, and seem open to conversation, go from there. But, again, keep it simple. “I’m a big fan,” or “I loved your book,” or “I read your blog,” etc.
- "Hey, _______? You’re awesome, just wanted to say hi." Short, sweet, leaves the possibility for conversation but also a polite cut-off if it’s a bad time.
Things it is not okay to do:
- Insert yourself into a private conversation when you do not know any of the participants in it.
- Watch someone from across the room/bus/shop and tweet at them that you’re in the same room/bus/shop as them. I can’t stress enough how creepy it is to pick up my phone with a notification like “oh my god @kateleth is sitting right across from me” and then look up to see someone holding a phone and staring at me. It’s so weird! Don’t do that! Where do I go from there? People tell me all the time that it’s okay to do this because they have anxiety, but if it causes ME anxiety, that doesn’t seem like a reasonable excuse. I would way prefer you just say hello in real life.
- Rush someone when they’re eating. Especially if they’re alone. Eating is a sacred, private time, moreso at shows. Peeing and eating are, for me, are the only real moments at conventions or signings where I get to just relax and not be trying to impress anyone.
- Corner someone and talk AT them for extended periods of time, especially when they put up walls or seem uncomfortable.
Just use common sense, really. Meeting a fan or even someone just aware of your work means you have to be “on,” so to speak, and some days you just got dumped or your bus was late or your grandma’s sick and you can’t be your best self. I’ve been short with people who’ve overstepped boundaries, I’ve been short with perfectly wonderful people because I was having an awful day. More often than not, I like to think I’m pretty nice.
I know there are plenty of reasons for people to be bad at reading body language or signals, but the best course of action is brevity and politeness. It’s scary, and I get that, but we’re all just people. 99% of the time I’m thrilled to be approached or recognized at all, haha.