My second year at West Virginia Pop Culture Con went SUPER FREAKING WELL.
Somehow Dave (my table buddy and Patreon patron) and I managed to get TWO table spots (don’t ask me how. I’m still baffled). I wasn’t prepared for the extra long table space, but now I’m getting ideas for how I want to do a two-table spread at future cons, if that ever happens again. Or even better – a corner spot.
This year was awesome, not just for me but for Dave, as well. It also went really well for Cheyenne, another art buddy! WV Pop Con is really the place to go as an indie creator, because the show focuses a lot on the creative talent. I don’t think there were any celebrities at this show, except (arguably) for the guy who’s currently working on the art for Scooby Apocalypse, Patrick Olliffe.
There was only one thing that did not turn out well at WV Pop Con, and that was the silent auction I had for the framed original inks and lines for “God.”
For one thing, I forgot the jar to slip bids into. Oops.
Not that it would have mattered, because there were only two bids placed on this baby – one bid was for $5. The other was for $7.
My minimum bid was $50.
So, not going to do the silent auction again. I kept the framed art piece because I am NOT selling off an original art piece measuring 11 by 17 inches WITH A FRAME for $7.
Just gonna’ mark it to $150 as a flat rate and take it to Comicon Erie (unless someone in Saint Clairsville, OH, Wheeling, WV, or Youngstown, OH REALLY wants it. In which case, leave a comment. Let me know).
On the more positive side of things, my profit margin was higher than last year because I lowered my cost on one major thing – a place to crash.
Last year I stayed at a hotel (La Quinta). This year I stayed at an AirBnB and saved myself an EASY $100.
Another thing – having a table buddy lowered my table cost. And it got Dave a place to showcase his work… which is good because it turned out that this was his best show as an exhibitor EVER.
Win-wins all around!
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. The AirBnB I stayed at had a 15-year-old cat named Splash. She is the sweetest ball of fluff I ever had the joy of holding and petting.
I meditate every morning after breakfast. It’s what I do before I sit down in my studio space to work, to clear my mind.
Today, I had a realization during meditation.
See, I started this year with a major, singular goal – all of my other goals were made with this one priority in mind.
That priority was to be able to not need a “day job” by the end of the year, and make all of my earnings through Fantasyville Productions.
My realization during the meditation was this:
“Fantasyville Productions is paying my bills. I have a sizeable savings cushion thanks to my hard work last year. I’m living on my own for the time being. And I’m on track to not needing to work at the comic shop – they only have me there for 4 or 5 hours a week now as the Facebook page manager.
“And for a while, I was actually scared because of losing my hours. But this was what I set out to do this year!”
I was scared because I was succeeding.
Neil Gaiman was right – everyone talks about the fear of failure, but no one talks about the fear of success.
The fear of success is very real. And it’s something I was not prepared for.
The fear of success, as I’m experiencing it right now, is realizing, “Holy banana pants! My plans are actually working! What do I do now? I didn’t think this would actually work!”
There’s also the very real fear that this success will be short-lived. To me, this fear is the most real, especially given the work I do: comic convention season only runs for so long, you know. And by the time Christmas rolls around, there’s no freelance work, and there’s no comicons (aside from quarterly trade shows, which I admit, I haven’t tried yet).
So I think that will be my next step – to face the fear of success and say, “How can I make this last?”
How do I make this success extend all year long, and not keep it seasonal?
I’ll be at the drawing board, of course – not just to draw, but to cook up some new plans.
The Marietta Comic and Creator Convention sprang up (at least partially) as a result of River City Comic Con getting canceled this year – the organizer of River City fell ill. This is, in fact, the first year that the Marietta Comic and Creator Convention even exists!
The show will be at the Lafayette Hotel on August 12. The show will run from 10 am to 5 pm. And I’ll be there showcasing my work! (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page for more info.)
There’s some new things to keep an eye out for:
There’s a new Mr. Dino & Friends print! (It’s also available on Storenvy)
Sketch cards are marked down to $1 – I’m trying to clear these babies out!
The Box of Clearance Original Art debuted at the Pop Culture Buy Sell Trade Show in Vienna, WV, and will make another appearance at this Marietta Show. Everything in the box is marked to $5.
There will be crafts on the table – wrist cuffs, a tablet case, and paper bead bracelets are included. The tablet case is $10, the other crafts are $7.
I will draw caricatures (if you ask) – they’re $5 for each person and take less than 5 minutes to do. (Due to space, I cannot offer group caricatures.)
Usually this is where I offer free sketch cards to those who attend the show, but I’m not going to this time. The reason I have sketch cards marked down to $1 is because there were folks who didn’t show up to claim their card at previous shows. These cards need new homes.
However, for the next few days, Charlie & Clow is out of stock.
Why? Well, I made a consignment deal with New Dimension Comics and they cleared out my current stock of Charlie & Clow. I placed the rush-order in to get more copies, so hopefully they’ll arrive before Marietta Comic and Creator Con happens.
Fantasyville Productions, LLC is my business that I filed into existence back in February.
It will now be my label for the books I make and publish. In the near future I intend for Fantasyville Productions to be the publisher of fantasy-themed stories made by other creators, as well as me.
There’s also a podcast in the works, and when it’s ready to go, Fantasyville Productions will be its home.
I have realized that freelancing and having day jobs just isn’t for me. They have helped me get a financial cushion for sure! But I’m at the stage in my life where I’m ready to jump full-time into making Fantasyville Productions (meaning my comics and art) actually pay my bills and get me sandwiches.
It took me a while to realize this, but here’s the thing…
Kia (my little sister and co-creator of Seeing Him) and I are not only back to speaking with each other, but she made me realize a truth I was denying myself:
The truth is I don’t really want to freelance.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to collaborate with folks to make comics. I want to make art in collaboration with folks that resonates with an audience, and get paid for my skill.
The life of a freelancer, though, is based a LOT on multiple gigs – and not just finding multiple illustration gigs.
Freelancing is a lot of skill juggling. For example:
“Ok, Monday and Tuesday I’m cleaning these folks’ homes, Wednesday I’m drawing caricatures at this business party, Thursday and Friday I’m working behind the desk at this store, and Saturday I’m playing ukulele solos at this bar.”
I’ve never really been good at this freelancing thing. It stresses me the f@$k out.
What I AM good at, though, is making stories.
I make my own, I collaborate with folks on theirs, and I find folks to help me with mine.
I’m also very good at going to conventions and selling these stories.
And on Monday, I was talking with Kia about out respective careers, and I was asking for an outside opinion: I needed to know if I should just go full-time on my own pursuits or keep my current “day job.”
I said, “Well, back in April, I managed to make enough money through KickStarter, convention sales, and Patreon to pay off $1000 on my credit card – “
“HOLY SH*T Just do THAT,” said Kia.
Because holy banana pants, she helped me realize that at the rate I’m at now – and the rate I’ve been at for the last year – I’m making more doing my comics than I am working at a “day job.”
(It doesn’t really help much that the only “day jobs” available to me around here are part-time, minimum wage jobs.)
The truth, though, was that I was second-guessing my own ability to make Fantasyville Productions, LLC a feasible full-time endeavor.
I have realized that, especially in the last year, I’m second-guessing myself WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.
I think, too, at a deep level I fear failure. “Yeah we all do,” you might say, but for me it’s different…
I grew up in a family where my mom and dad ran and owned their own business. However, if dad was employed elsewhere, the business would slump. If the business was ok, dad was unemployed. As mom often said, if both dad and the business did well, things would have been a lot better.
When my parents got divorced, mom then got the business. But through a combination of encroaching competitors (coughWalMartcough), the death of one of our suppliers, and just plain old sexism against a single mom running a business and raising 3 kids on her own, the business closed before I was 13 years old.
I saw that failure early, and it left an impression on me that instilled in me the Voice of Professional Doubt.
The Voice of Professional Doubt is the voice in my head that says things like:
“This business will never get off the ground. Keep your day job.”
“You need this day job. Your fantasy business won’t pay all of the bills.”
“You will never have a good day job and a thriving side business if you live here.”
I have realized that by listening to this voice, I was suffocating Fantasyville Productions. I was denying this creation the chance to grow into something that could not only pay for itself, but pay me.
I’m not saying, “Quit your day job and do your own thing!”
Everyone’s situation is different. If you have a side gig, it may not be ready to support you full-time yet.
But Fantasyville Productions is ready to support me. So I need to be ready to support it.
I took a mini-vacation (or “staycation,” since I didn’t travel) from Sunday to Wednesday. During that time, I meditated on these fears, realized what I was doing to sabotage myself, and made vows to myself to make this thing work.
Today, I’ve been working on comics I’m making for clients, plus I finished a new Mr. Dino print, AND I emailed a handful of zine distributors asking if they would like to carry any of my work.
I also heard back from Genghis Con – I’ll be exhibiting there again this year!
I hope to keep this momentum going! I want Fantasyville Productions to succeed! I want more and more people to have my comics in their hands and my art in their hearts.
This was a surprisingly long weekend, even though it was only two days. I had multiple stops over the two-day span, which is why.
The first stop was Copacetic Comics Company, on Dobson Street in Pittsburgh. I was worried that I would have to pay for parking (because city life), but I found a space around the corner.
A while back I had called Copacetic to ask some questions about author appearances and consignments, and somehow I forgot that Bill (the man on the phone) said the store was on the 3rd floor of the building. So I was a bit surprised to see Kaibur Coffee on the ground floor. I had to approach the building to be sure I found the right space.
Turns out – yep, I found it. So I went up the narrow blue staircase, past posters of indie bands, local theater productions, and guest lectures, and found THIS: