The challenge of doing Toronto ComiCon became evident in the first half hour of being there - how do you sell a comic no one has heard of to people who are attending a Comic Convention. I am competing with established properties and all the other streams of fandom that gather at these events (videogames, cartoons, sci fi shows, etc.). It is going to be a difficult weekend, this con is not just about comics and it really isn't about independent comics at all, ComiCon is just the name of the convention.
Across from my table is Jason Loo a Toronto comic maker who self publishes a book called, "the Pitiful Human Lizard" which is set in Toronto, I've spoken to him online several times and make sure to introduce myself to him, he's a very nice guy, approachable and good company. To my left and right are some much younger folks who exclusively draw nintendo and pokemon characters - they are a huge draw and get lots of business, I realize that I am not part of the Pokemon or Mario Kart generation and that I am going to have a tough weekend selling books.
I read a very comforting essay by one of the writers at Comix Tribe about selling self published work he said, "the most comics I have ever sold at a Con is forty don't get discouraged if you don't sell 1000 books." So I know that my mark is to sell 40 books. I may not even pay for my table which cost $282.50, I start keeping track of every penny I spend at the con, I will have to tally up all of these costs and see how I do.
There were many artists that I respect at the event and I knew I had to get out of Artist's Alley where I was set up and talk to a bunch of them. I would get to the con at 9:30 and try to get to all of them before the event began at 10AM, I was able to give a copy of The Homeless G-Men or Crypto Zombic to Ken Lashley, Ben Templesmith, Ty Templeton (who critiqued my book for me and was a great help), Mike Rooth, Dan Parent, Mike Del Mundo, Nick Bradshaw (an incredibly nice guy and very helpful when talking about pens and tools of the trade), Jim Zub, Larry Hama, Gibson Quarter and one of my all time art heroes, Michael Golden. So I knew that at least these guys would take a look at my work and maybe I'd hear back from them at some point in the future, even if it was just an encouraging tweet.
I sold a few books that day but the crowd was mostly grazing around and seeing what was there, many vendors said they sold very little and it was a challenging day but Saturday and Sunday are the "real"l days of the con.
SATURDAY - This is the big nine hour haul, I could not believe how many people had come, I started to use my instagram account (madcraftyshay) to try to let people know where I was, snapping pics of cosplayers and my sketches and working hard to bring attention to the guy at table A125, I sold a few more comics and a couple of comic packs and one print - this was not going well. I was talking to folks as much as I could and trying to bring traffic to my table. If one person stops to browse it usually attracts three more and if something looks like a crowd, more people come to that area. There were many cool cosplayers and I made sure to complement them all. Normally on Saturday even the vendors dress up in costume, I totally forgot about this. I kept working on my pitch from, "Hi, how ya doing." to "Hey do you like comics." I was getting better at selling. It was a long and exhausting day I can tell you right now I did not enjoy it.
SUNDAY the last day of the con and I was determined to sell more books and get art from folks I like and pick up books from other local comic artists after all we are in this together.
I started to enjoy myself more because I gave myself permission on the last day to not give a shit. I started to sell more books, the Homeless G-Men was very popular. A kid brought me his sketchbook and had me critique it for him and give him drawing tips, one guy said, "You were on InnerSpace!" and my prints were popular and drew a bit of attention but no real sales. The last two hours were a bit of a drag, I was selling but my energy had bottomed out. I was very happy that my inlaws had been staying with us helping my wife with our one month child. I started chatting with more vendors and getting a sense of their weekend, it didn't seem that anyone had the best time of it with sales except the guys who do prints of video game characters, they were nice people and had done many cons they were great to have as a resource. I now have more concrete plans of how I would do it if I wanted to do it again, what to draw, what prints to make etc.
I thanked a lot of the staff, said my goodbyes to other vendors and went to the Cameron House and sold four comic packs in under ten minutes.
I tallied up my sales, I sold over 50 comics and one print, so I beat the 40 comic mark, I made about $275. so I didn't pay for my table entirely, but I didn't expect to, this was my first con and i just wanted to see if I would do another and I do, I signed up for next year's ComiCon before I left for home.
I am sure I will add more to this note, just wanted to get it all down. I'm taking a day to rest today and try not to succumb to a flu or cold and tomorrow I'll pick up my pens and get back to work on the second issues of the comics series. I did have fun, the less I thought about what I was doing, I'm sure what I've learned about setting up my booth and building up an audience over the next few months will serve me well later.
thanks for readin