Sketches from my table at Fan Expo 2011. (Click an image to see the gallery.)
Today I left Pembroke, Ontario—wait, no, I did that already. Today I left Fan Expo 2010. It wasn’t really with satisfaction or relief or trepidation or regret or anything—I just left.
I arrived home ten minutes after I exited the Metro Toronto Convention Centre; a lovely benefit of living downtown. I quickly unpacked all my gear, stowed away my books and convention materials, and then took a prompt nap with the cat on the couch. That nap was the best 20 minutes of the whole weekend, and I was grateful for it.
Thanks to Ilana and Sam for bringing me chili, and for letting me see SNOW on the new Kindle device. It looks lovely, don’t you think? Get used to it—we’sa gonna be e-publishing alll ova da place!
As well, a big thank-you to everyone who stopped by to say hello, including Hyein Lee, Robert Haines, Michael Cho, Juan Carlos Solon, Andrew Webster, the RGB Filter lads, and everyone else.
A big Imperial Officer thumbs-up to you.
If you didn’t check it out at the show, I can’t recommend Uyugomiak’s Chubby Bounty Hunter series enough. A lot of you will be put off by the format; don’t be. Uyu’s writing is snappy and descriptive, and his reality-fantasy-fusion storyline about an alternate, dystopian future set in the Ottawa Valley is expansive, original and entirely captivating.
You know how excited you were when you noticed a downed spinner from Blade Runner in the back of a shot in that fromage-friendly Kurt Russell film, Soldier? Or when you spotted R2-D2 in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek? The Chubby Bounty Hunter gives you that every few pages, particularly if you are at all familiar with the Ottawa Valley or Canadian culture in general. Seriously, go read it.
With luck, I’ll be exhibiting again at this year’s Canzine on Sunday, October 24. Hope to see you there.
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.
Woo boy! Only one day down and already I’m exhausted. It’s amazing what sitting behind a table for a whole day can do to you. In truth, you aren’t doing much, but you feel so damn beat at the end of the day.
Fan Expo is bigger than ever this year, and so far it’s been fun. At the end of a Friday, it always feels like you’re just getting started—Saturday is the longest day, and Friday is but a taste of what’s to come.
This is my tenth—my tenth, for Pete’s sake—Fan Expo. My ever-present tablemate Uyugomiak and I have seen dozens of Artists’ Alley casualties over the years; people who always mean well, but never seem to have the stamina to keep producing stuff. (Sometimes, they don’t even produce anything at all, which is too bad.) But we are back again, still at it. Whether that means we’re good, or persistent, or just foolhardy, I’m not sure.
We are side-by-side again this year, eating not-great pepperoni pizza and talking about all manner of things. Between bites, I picked up several great books from Artists’ Alley:
The Gentlemen by Kristi McConnell
Trigger Happy by Frances Lee
Action Satisfaction Supreme #3 by the always-delightful Zen Rankin
Cat and Cat 2 by Juhyun Daniel Lee (god, it’s so cute)
And, of course, the new Chubby Bounty Hunter and Uyugomiak Miniatures issues by aforementioned Uyugomiak
Lots of familiar faces came by today, and some new ones as well. As usual, everyone looked a little overwhelmed as they tried to take everything in. On Saturday, people get more decisive—here’s hoping they do so in our direction.
Uyu gave me so many good ideas for new work, I can’t wait to start drawing and writing again. More tomorrow!