Andy's Art and Whatever

Monday, February 9, 2009

NYC COMIC CON!

I’m back! Wow... what a crazy weekend this was. I’m gonna try to talk about everything that came up, so this is probably going to be one super LONG journal...

DAY 1
The first setback was that I almost missed my flight. I arrived at the gate to my plane when the doors were already closed. Technically it’s illegal to re-open them (for security reasons), but they somehow were able to get me on board. I was very lucky. The next flight wouldn’t have left until 1pm, and the convention would’ve been half over by the time I got in. I made it onto the flight safe and sound, but my luggage wasn’t as lucky. My bag lost a wheel in the hurriness to get on the plane. Ugh.

After arriving in New York, it was quite easy to take a shuttle to the hotel. But from the hotel to the convention... the proved to be a bit more difficult. I asked around and everyone told me where to wait and said the shuttle came once every half hour. Well, I waited for 40 minutes outside in the cold before I found out that the shuttle actually STOPS briefly in the middle of the day. In desperation (because the comic con had started already) I was forced to take a cab. Lo and behold the cab ride only cost $6 plus tip. If I had known that I would’ve just taken the cab in the first place!

By the time I arrived at the convention the booth was already set up. It was a pretty small space. Maybe 8 x 8 feet? I set up my banner and we re-arranged the table to have a spot to put my books I brought. Then my banner broke. I guess the glue that was used to hold the banner onto the metal rod wasn’t the greatest and we had to perform surgery quickly to fix it. Now it’s got a big ugly black duct tape mark on the top holding it together. Sigh... but whatever.

Our booth was so small and there were so many of us, it was nearly impossible to stay with the booth the whole time. Including all of the creators, our publisher, and their wives/girlfriends... there were 9 of us total. I didn’t need to bring a chair like I thought I was going to have to, because there wasn’t any room to sit really.

Right away I had my first customer. And it was a bizarre encounter. A man walked up and pointed to our sign and said “Alterna Comics?” “Yes” we said. “Do you guys publish Formera!?” They all pointed to me and I beamed back “YES!” He approached the table and asked “When is book 2 coming out?” To which I pointed at the stack of book 2's and said “It’s out now!” Then the man promptly walked away! I think all of us were a little taken aback by that because of how odd it was, and it put a damper on my experience for the rest of the day.

By the end of the day I was beginning to get overstimulated from the convention and a little bit frustrated with our group. Formera was the only “all ages” title on sale amongst a bunch of more dark humor, violent, psychologically charged stories, making it really hard to convince people who were my target audience to come up and look at mine specifically. Also, the other guys were so enthusiastic and would jump immediately on someone if they started looking at the table, and I’m so quiet and meek sounding, it was hard to compete with them. I am not great at selling myself.

The man who wrote “Jesus Hates Zombies” was such a celebrity at our booth. He was shaking hands, chatting it up, looking at portfolios, and selling copies left and right. Of course if you hear the name of a comic book called “Jesus Hates Zombies” you automatically know exactly what it’s about. Whereas if you hear the name “Formera” you have no idea, and I have to explain it and by the time I’m done setting it up, they have no interest. BTW: “Jesus Hates Zombies” sold out. It’s one of our best sellers (which is awesome for the guy who wrote it and the company) but it kinda made me a little depressed because of how great it was doing and how sucky I was doing.

As the day wrapped up, we closed the booth down and I took a shuttle back to the hotel to meet my mom and aunt. We went down to the hotel restaurant and ate a very expensive meal. And then I tried to sleep. Which was hard because my aunt is getting over a cold and she snores really loudly (plus I’m in NYC and there’s cars honking, people yelling, and sirens wailing at all times of the night too).

DAY 2
I woke up a little late and after getting ready I arrived at the convention just as the doors were opening. Luckily with a creator badge I can walk right up the steps without having to wait. My mom and aunt weren’t as lucky and they had to wait for 40 minutes in line before they got inside the convention.

The table layout was changed again. This time for the better. I think the craziness that was Friday made it hard to figure out the best way to set up the booth. Saturday we had a much better idea of how to make it look, and the layout complimented everything nicely.

However, it was still hard to sell books for me for the same reasons I already talked about. After a couple of hours of struggling I got fed up and went away with my sketch pad to take a break. There was no place to sit behind the booth and I would’ve felt unproductive just sitting there while everyone continued to be aggressive about their books. So I found a nice quiet corner and started to make some doodles about the comic con and about how I was feeling. (Those will be posted soon)

While doodling, I started talking with a girl who was seated nearby. We chatted about the convention, and I explained my lamentations about my situation. After describing Formera to her, she became interested (plus she had seen how I draw) and it ended up having me lead her back to the booth and she bought both copies. That made me feel very good, mostly because I was able to sell a book without being so forceful and energetic. I was just being myself.

I think if I ever go to another convention, I’m just going to sit in Artist Alley. In Artist Alley I can just be myself and talk with people about stuff and promote my book without having to be so “in your face” about everything. I like talking with people about comics and art and I really didn’t get to do that during this show. I also wouldn’t have to compete against anyone else either. I liked the guys I was with and it felt to me like backstabbing if I tried to take a sale away from them. I don’t like competing like that, and I think Artist Alley is just more in-tune with my personality.

Ths show ended much like the first day, but I was so worn out and exhausted that I left a little bit early. The first thing I realized when I got back to the hotel was that I was missing a sweater. I had brought 2 sweaters to wear and for some reason I was missing one. Then I realized what happened. When I went to bed the night before, I took my sweater off and left it on the sheets. In the middle of the night I tossed and turned so much that it got mixed up with them. So when the maids came in during the day to give us new sheets, they took the old ones (with my sweater) away with them. Sigh. We called the managers and if they find my sweater they’ll FedEx it to my parents. I have a feeling I’ll never see it again, which is a real shame cuz I liked that sweater and I don’t exactly have a huge wardrobe.

That night we walked around trying to find someplace to eat. Our hotel is very close to Time Square, so there were humongous animated lights everywhere. We eventually settled on T.G.I. Fridays, which also was expensive (Cuz we’re in NYC). We ate, walked back to the hotel, and again I had a hard time sleeping.

DAY 3
In the morning I packed up everything I had brought with me and put it in my giant blue duffle bag that’s missing a wheel. I dragged it to the shuttle bus and for the last time took the shuttle to the convention.

This time I arrived VERY early. I was there a good hour early and the booth was still closed when I arrived. It was also really refreshing to be able to walk so freely around the convention floor. I haven’t really talked about this, but the convention floor itself was humongous! And when there were millions of people going to and for, it was nearly impossible to stop and relax. You were constantly moving and being herded along like cattle or sheep. It was insane. So to be able to wander around without that fuss was very refreshing. It even ended up with me finding a new Indiana Jones hat and buying it!

By the time the doors opened, my group was still not here. I had uncovered some of the table, but not all of it because I didn’t know what to do with the money or ledger or anything. At 10 minutes past, they finally showed up. Turned out to be a problem with the trains and traffic making them delayed. We quickly set up shop and so began our final day.

Day 3 was “Kids Day” and my last opportunity to really try to sell my books to my target audience. Feeling a bit more confident with my Indiana Jones hat, I started to be a bit more aggressive about selling my book. I had brought along a huge pile of postcards with my book info, contact info, and other stuff on it and for the past 3 days I had been handing them out in stacks. I finished giving away my cards right away, which gave me a handicap because now I couldn’t give people a card of my book if they were interested but didn’t have money to buy right then and there.

For the past 2 days I had sold a grand total of 7 books, while titles like “Jesus Hates Zombies” flew away like wildfire. My mom and aunt helped me out by buying a huge chunk of my inventory so they could promote my new book to all their friends and their kids and stuff. On one hand I was definitely happy because I sold a lot of books, but on the other hand I felt a little like I didn’t really do the work selling like I should have. So I felt kinda conflicted. If my mom and aunt hadn’t been there, I would’ve been one of the 3 bottom selling books on our list.

A friend from College who is now living in NYC arrived to the convention, and I left the booth to go hang out with her. We reminisced about old times and she took me around and introduced me to a lot of people she knew from the comics world. Half the time I had no idea who they were and unfortunately with my selective memory I can’t remember any of them anymore either. After roaming around for a while, it started getting late and I had to head back to my booth to pack up.

The show wasn’t ending for another 40 minutes, but my mom and aunt were picking me up and driving through NYC to get to the airport and who knows how long that was going to take. So with some brief words I dismantled my banner, packed up the remaining books, and headed out to the street.

We used my little phone GPS system to help us find the best way to the La Guardia airport, got lost, found a new way, and eventually got there. After getting checked through TSA, I was at my gate about an hour early (which isn’t THAT bad). The plane was late though, so I ended up sitting there for almost 2 hours before I got to board the plane and fly home to Milwaukee.

RETROSPECT
Overall, I think it was a good comic con. It was extremely overwhelming and I don’t think that I want to do another show quite like that for a LONG time. As I’ve already said, my quiet personality was in strange contrast to how loud and forceful you have to be to really get peoples attentions and sell our books. I think also one of our hindrance is that we were a booth and not individual artist tables. We were lumped right between a bunch of other publishing companies and they would just let people come up and look through what books they had for sale. But since we were all individuals trying to sell our books at this tiny booth, we were constantly competing with each other and I think that kinda hurt us a bit.

For the next con that I’m going to attend, I’m definitely going to go alone and be in the Artist Alley area. It’s just much more congenial to me. I’m the type of person who likes to talk and develop a friendship before I try selling you something. I can’t just sell right off the bat. It makes me feel cheap and unethical. Lol.

The show was so huge and insane, and I wish I could’ve seen more of it. There was a 50 minute preview of the new Pixar movie “UP” which I missed. There were tons of new video games to try out. A 25 year TMNT celebration show. There was a big Ghostbuster section previewing the new game (complete with an ice sculpture of Slimer). Rockstar, Nintendo, and Microsoft were all there in some shape or form. It was so HUGE I don’t know if I can accurately describe it without showing you all pictures. But don’t worry, pictures are coming. I’m gonna post some sketches I drew and some pictures I took while there. So keep a lookout.

Oh and I can’t begin to describe how many people were there in costumes. They were trying to break the Guinness world book of records for number of people dressed up in video game costumes at one time. I think the record stands around 400 something... I dunno if they broke it on Saturday or not, but either way there were some very creative costumes too. Sometimes going to comic cons is just fun to look and point at costumes and say “I actually GET that obscure comic/game reference!”

Maybe next year I’ll dress as Mezteck....

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1 Comments:

  • Hey Andy!

    My name's Nana Kumi-Amankwah, and reading this post sorta reminds me of the time I had shown some of my work to kids (I used to work with Alterna, using my project "Lil' Hero Artists"). I didn't think Hero Artists would be very interesting to kids these days, who like gory, extremely violent works as opposed to more lighthearted wholesome work like Formera and my Lil' Hero Artists. But boy, was I wrong! Like you, as I was being more of myself instead of a salesperson, kids wanted copies.

    I'm glad you were able to get some people interested in your work, I can only imagine how hard it musta been with the other guys stacked up against you. Formera is awesome, and I will be ordering Vol. 2 soon. Thank you for being an inspiration! If you want, you can check my work out at DrunkDuck.com, it's called "Lil' Hero Artists Manga Edition".
    I also have a DeviantART page @ http://silvipera.deviantart.com/

    Thanks again,

    Nana Kumi-Amankwah

    By Anonymous Nana Kumi-Amankwah, At February 9, 2009 at 2:44 PM  

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