Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some kind of madness

I exhibited at 4 conventions this month! @__@ I am...very far behind on e-mails.  Here's a big ol' wrap-up post for the convention parade:
(I've tried, but it's not even possible to adequately thank all of the people who helped me out over the last month.  Bottom line is: I am able to do what I do because I have a great support system, and comics people rock.)

Kumoricon - Portland/Vancouver's premiere anime convention
I was generously invited to exhibit for free as a guest, which was a super nice perk.
This show was a little strange for me, because the last time I attended Kumoricon was 7+ years ago as a high school student.  The show has grown and matured a lot since have I.  I felt old more than once; I haven't been an active otaku in years and high school students today have grown up with shows and fandoms I'm not even aware of.  The median age of attendees is probably 15 or 16, versus the 30- and 40-something attendees I encounter at most other shows.  It was probably really, really good for me to interact with this younger crowd, because it showed me how out of touch I already am.  It takes upkeep to stay relevant!
Even with artist alley in a separate building from the main show, it had a healthy flow of attendees all weekend.  I will definitely be exhibiting again next year if at all possible, but I learned several things that I'd like to implement in the future:
  • Presentation matters!  At comic book conventions, I feel like I have a decent table display.  I'm middle of the pack.  But at Kumoricon, people had nice overhead displays and just really great, clear packaging and prices, as well as cute outfits and costumes.  I was way out-classed!  If I come back, I want to implement the advice that my awesome neighbors Cari Corene and Robin Robinson gave me.  Cari actually gave me a table makeover on Sunday morning--it was really sweet!  I need to put more thought into the flow of my display and where I'm directing people's eyes.
  • People do not care about original art; this isn't a show to bring it to.  People were flipping through my originals and asking, "Why are these coloring pages so expensive?"  I had 2 people tell me to my face how they would color my originals when they got home. *SILENT SCREAM*
  • On the other hand, maybe I should bring coloring pages next year. (Positive spin powers!)
  • Between Gears sold just fine here, thankfully, but what I needed more of were prints.  A variety of images and a variety of sizes.  This was a huge show for prints.
  • People recognize the sea monster image.  That should probably be prominent in my display wherever I go.  It pulled a ton of people over.  So did Toph! :P
  • Homestuck is a thing.  Like, a big thing.

Rose City Comic-Con - First annual comic book convention in Portland
I was also invited to be a guest at this show, along with almost twenty other comic book artists.  That was a really nice gesture on the part of the organizers, showing a commitment to local artists being a part of the show.  We got free tables all together in a prime spot on the floor.
Everyone I talked to loved this show, and was blown away by its solidity in its first year.  The fire marshal had to hold the entrance line 4 times on Saturday because the show was at capacity.  There were families, young people, old people, non-comics readers, costumes, and lots of first-time comic convention attendees.  Looking back, I am most amazed by how the convention got word out to such a wide variety of people, again, in the first year of the show.  If there's a secret, I really would like to know.  The whole thing just went extremely smoothly.  There were lots of volunteers, and they were happy and enthusiastic.  I got the impression that the people running the show had great common sense and had put a ton of thought into everything.
This is another con on my "repeat" list for next year!

Small Press Expo - Bethesda/D.C.'s independent comics mecca
I was told that Portland's own Stumptown Comics Fest was modeled after SPX, and I believe it.  SPX was another great show--well-organized, well-attended, in a sa-wanky hotel with gorgeous amenities and ATM machines that we wiped out several times over the weekend.  This was a particularly great show for me because I have not tabled on the east coast before (excluding TCAF), so I was pitching my wares to a fresh audience and felt like I could make a bigger splash than at the shows I repeat every year on the west coast.  I sold out of books on the first day!  Also, I got to meet artists and other industry professionals I wouldn't have an opportunity to on the west coast.
There was great variety at the show, with tables split between several first-time exhibitors giving away stapled minicomics, alongside tables of publishers and established artists.  I was tabling next to cool and nice people again (are comics people all cool and nice?!).  I would like to give special thanks to George Rohac, Eric Lee, Matthew J. Rainwater, and Christiann and Jim of Sticky Comics for inviting me to things and making a point to pull me into conversations after-hours, because, again, first time tabling on the east coast...I was not so much with the socializing and being popular and having things to do other than look around the room.  But thanks to the efforts of friends I met a ton of cool people!
I want to go back, but I don't know if it's in the cards next year.  East coast trips are pretty dang expensive; the odds are not in my favor financially and the only reason I do them is if I am getting something else out of the trip.  This time, I justified the trip by staying 3 extra nights and visiting my friend Mary in D.C., doing touristy stuff, etc
Hoooooly crap the Smithsonian museums were so cool.  Did you know that they're all free to attend?!  I bought a Smithsonian baseball cap and rocked it for the duration of my trip, I was so into that shiz.  Favorite photos from my touristimes:
 If I had it to do over, I would have rented a segway for the monument stuff.  There's a lot more walking to this than you might think!
The Lincoln Memorial was really gorgeous!  Probably my favorite.  Here's the view looking back at the Washington Monument.  It was pretty hilarious to get back from this trip and 2 days later watch the Parks and Recreation season 5 premiere, where Leslie and Andy visit all of these things. :P
 D.C. was just really pretty.  I loved all of the old buildings, stately architecture, and history.  Oregon is a baby by comparison.  I was shocked on the drive from Ronald Reagan Airport to Bethesda by how pretty the river and forested areas were.  (Prettier than Portland, and I'm biased.)
Vietnam Memorial.  This was really sad; there was a group of veterans visiting and crying.
I was doing all of this stuff alone while Mary was at work.  For a few hours I was walking around the memorials eating a popsicle, snapping the occasional photo, and crying.  It was a weird day.
 Overly-friendly squirrels D:
 I love these doors on the Justice Building. 12-foot-tall lion doors!
 NOPE. Prehistoric monster fish on display at The Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
Oh hey, Kai/Kui!
I saw a lot of inspiration for fantastic creatures in those exhibits.  I would love to go back with a sketchbook and spend the whole day there!

Jet City Comic Show - Third annual comic book convention in Seattle
First and foremost, I need to stress how awesome the JCCS organizers and volunteers were.  I've never been treated this well at a convention, and that bar has been set really, really high. (Comics people are the best!!)  Yet again, I had guest status (nothing for 24 years and then 3x in a month!).  Guest status is my new favorite thing.  Everything is better with guest status.
This show invited a lot of artists and writers to be guests, and had a wide variety of vendors.  Longboxes and toy venders are usually a sign that I'm in the wrong convention, but I had a really good time and would do this show again.  Probably the best thing about the show was that it was less crowded than most shows I do, and that allowed for leisurely conversations and meeting people more in-depth than usual.
I carpooled up to Seattle and back in a single day, and that was brutal.  I promised Emi Lenox I would help keep her awake on the way home, but I started nodding off halfway through the drive.  If I do this show again, I'll consider spending a night in Seattle.
Greg Hatcher wrote a thorough con report with photos; check it out!