With ambition and vision that borders on the superheroic, comic book fan Everett Watford, 17, of Chicago nears the end of a project five years in the making: Vert Con, an independent comic book convention that kicks off this Saturday, June 23, 2012 at the All Saints Church located at 1757 W. Wilson Avenue (between Ashland and Ravenswood) in Chicago, Illinois. Brought to life by a combination of old fashioned relationship building and the latest in crowd-sourced online funding and promoting, Watford’s new show has attracted both some of the industry’s largest names and biggest up-and comers to an event that he refused to let remain a pipe dream. Newsarama recently caught up to the young man to ask what it took to make it possible.Newsarama: Needless to say it’s clear that you are a fan of the comic book medium, do you have a background in the industry?
Everett Watford: I have been in the comic book industry for about five years. I started working at the Comic Vault in Chicago putting away back issues and making the bags and boards. Sadly in August 2011 the Comic Vault closed its doors. During the closure of the Comic Vault I began to intern at Four Star Studios, also in Chicago, with Tim Seeley, Sean Dove, Josh Emmons and Mike Norton. At Four Star I did things like take out the trash, put books away and shipped out art. At the end of August 2011 I began to work at Evil Squirrel Comics which unfortunately closed their physical store a few weeks ago but started a delivery service similar to Peapod. I occasionally help out behind the table at comic book conventions.
Nrama: How’d you get the idea for Vert Con?
Watford: I first got the idea for Vert Con after [other local comics show] Dan Con and decided that I wanted a convention named after myself, at that time Vert Con was called Everett Con. When Windy City Comic Con ceased to occur I decided that now was an excellent time to launch my own comic book convention, this was about 2007. However I hit a roadblock because I had no money. This year in December I had talked about bringing back Everett Con and discovered that there was still some interest. I launched a fundraiser through Kickstarter to cover the cost of renting the venue. The Kickstarter was over 300% funded [interviewer’s note: of his goal of $300, Everett raised just over eleven hundred dollars] and I began to promote my convention.
Nrama: Other than Kickstarter, what other resources did you call upon to promote Vert Con?
Watford: I have gone to several comic book stores to put up posters and flyers. I went to several conventions to promote my convention. I have a twitter @thevertcon, Facebook (facebook.com/vertcon) and tumblr accounts. I talked to everyone about comic book convention including random people on the bus.
Nrama: What do you have planned for the show?
Watford: During Vert Con there will be artists and some dealers selling their merchandise. I will most likely be running around the con like a crazy man.
Nrama: Do you have any special guests lined up and how’d you convince them to come?
Watford: The Guest of honor are Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, The Boys, HAPPY! ), Brian J. Crowley (Hamster Rage), Brandon Thomas (Voltron, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury), Mike Norton (Eisner nominated Battle Pug, It-Girl, Revival, Xevious), Tim Seeley (Bloodstrike, Ex-Sanguine, Hack/Slash, Witchblade) and Chris Burnham (Batman Inc. , Nixon’s Pals, Officer Downe). To book everyone I contacted some of the local creators that I knew to find out who would be interested in attending. With Darick Robertson, however, I partnered with G-Mart Comics in Chicago to acquire him for my con. Vert Con is also having a pre-party this Friday June 22 from 7pm to 11pm at G-Mart Comics. There will be two rappers performing; Chance The Rapper and Cochise Soulstar both whom I know personally so they were easy to book.
Nrama: Are you charging for the event and if so, where is the money going?
Watford: Admission to Vert Con is $5, cash only at the door. Credit cards can be used online only. Money raised will be used for Vert Con 2.
Nrama: When it is all said and done, what has to have happened for you to consider the event a success?
Watford: For me to consider Vert Con a success I would like to have a few thousand people attend, the vendors to make a profit and for everyone to have fun.