What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I was filled with cautious optimism and the usual August excitement—and today I am certainly not.
Thanks to HobbyStar overbooking the show—really, to the point where fire marshals cracked down and wouldn’t let people in—con-goers had three-hour waits to look forward to, as well as a hall well beyond capacity.
Because of this, people were packed, overwhelmed, and choosy. I think some folks in the Arists’ Alley did well today, but I was not one of them. Sales were, put simply, abysmal.
Things were so slow, I had several chances to brave the crushing crowds and wander away from my table and out into the con. It was nice to actually see the show for once, but despite the freedom to roam, I didn’t buy anything today.
I did see some pretty nifty stuff such as this:
And while I was at my table, I had two DSes—mine, and a friend’s—set to “canvass” for friends in Dragon Quest IX. I managed to ping three other systems, which was a neat and nerdy surprise at the end of the day.
But back to work, and the show. All comic artists looking to get into Fan Expo’s Artist Alley need to know this: Fan Expo attendees, by and large, are not looking for indie comics. They want to buy fan art of characters they know and love. They want to buy plushies of said characters.
I only say this because as Fan Expo’s exhibitor rates increase at a steady and significant percentage each year, you have to ask; is it worth it?
For me, I think the answer is finally “no.” After ten years of Fan Expo, I will likely be making this my last. In 2011, a single artists’ table will cost $300. Since my work seems to have limited appeal, this is no longer a smart financial decision.
No, going forward, I doubt much of what I do will see the light of day—on paper, at least. I imagine most of my comic works will be released as SNOW has been, and Empty Words will be as well—digitally, as eBooks or PDFs or other similar files, which people can (and do) read on their iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Kobos—what-have-you.
The internet provides a free distribution system and a great way to litmus-test your books. People who’ve downloaded and read the eBook versions of my comics have purchased physical copies at shows. The question becomes, when is it worth it (or not) to support these customers?
At Canzine, or similar, inexpensive venues, having small runs of printed-on-demand books is a great idea. But places like Fan Expo are no place for indie comics artists—indeed they are increasingly hostile towards them. Too expensive, too little potential marketshare, too little interest, too hard to turn a profit.
Plus, you know, all the stupid costumes.