They changed the dates this year and that affected attendance HARD. Had a great time, saw cool peeps, and got to hang out with table buddies whom I would totally have a corner booth with again. Also, corner booths are where it’s at.
8/10, PLEASE get the old dates back!
SMALL PRESS EXPO
HOLY BANANA PANTS a dream come true for me. Had the best table neighbor and assistant, KickStarter gave me incredible freebies, and everyone was AWESOME. But got a case of the con crud after.
11/10, sales were worth the sickness. Wanna’ go again.
FLAMING RIVER CON
Oh good lord I can’t sum up my feelings about this show in a short paragraph. I need a full-on review.
Spoilers: it was emotional chaos.
I can’t number this/10, most likely not going back next year, sorry.
PARKERSBURG POP CON
While tables were REALLY affordable at this show, low attendance was a concern. At least I shared a table with Ben Wright-Heuman again, and our table neighbor helped out by lending me an extra card table for the event.
meh/10, I might actually skip this next year. We’ll see.
I’ve been to RathaCon many a year before. It was one of my first shows as a vendor, and has since become one of my anchor shows. Because of that, I do my best to go every year. I even turned down the offer to go to Awesome Con in Washington, DC again to get to RathaCon instead.
(Mostly because both shows were happening on the same weekend… but RathaCon is physically closer to me and lasts only one day. So I could just drive down, show off, and drive back home without paying for a hotel. Very nice.)
However, this year, RathaCon had a couple of things working against it.
See, Awesome Con wasn’t the only other show happening the same weekend: there was also Gem City Comic Con, and two other shows in West Virginia that I can’t remember the names of. So RathaCon had to work extra hard to get folks to come in.
To my understanding, they ran radio ads, because there were a few attendees who mentioned, “I didn’t know this show was a thing until I heard about it on the radio yesterday! So I HAD to check it out!” So, kudos to the RathaCon staff for getting the word out.
That said, the crowd this year was about the same size as last year’s audience, but they thinned out WAY sooner towards the end of the day. Partly because of the rain, I think.
I’m not sure how many attendees were current students of Ohio University, though.
One of the reasons the convention staff picked the day they did was to try and entice the local college crowd to come and attend.
But here is where another factor worked against them: April 27, the day of RathaCon, was a week before finals. No sane college student is leaving campus the day before finals week hits, unless they are Sherlock Holmes’-level of confident about their work.
When I talked about it with the staff, we mentioned the idea of offering discounted attendance to people who brought a valid OU ID. Hopefully they do that next year.
Another thing I hope they do next year: get volunteers who check in with the artists more often throughout the day. I was the only person at my table and, aside from the one or two times I could see another neighbor’s table, I could not leave my spot. I’m glad I packed a lunch.
This is a grievance I’ve already discussed with the staff, and they’re working to resolve the issue for next year. I’m confident they’ll fix it, because RathaCon is VERY good at accepting constructive criticism and working to improve year after year. That is one of the reasons they are my anchor show.
In conclusion: was this the best ever RathaCon so far? No. It wasn’t awful or even bad. But there will be changes next year. Hopefully for the better.
And hey! I booked another appearance before 3 Rivers Comicon!
If you’re in the Saint Clairsville, OH area on May 4, stop at New Dimension Comics in the Ohio Valley Mall. They’re running Free Comic Book Day, and they gave the OK for me to showcase and sell my work. Also, there will be a GhostBusters division there. (I talked to some GhostBusters at RathaCon and they mentioned they were appearing at FCBD at the comic shop.)
I returned once again to Comicon Erie, and was surprised by a couple of things this year.
First, I brought a table buddy this year. This is Mack.
While not an artist, he helped a lot with carrying my gear in, setting up the table, and tracking sales.
I brought him with me because last year’s Comicon Erie was ABSOLUTELY PACKED on Saturday. People had a hard time moving up and down the aisle, even with the ample amount of space given.
This year, though… Saturday had a lower turnout than I expected. And the cosplay contest wrapped up at 5 pm but the show floor stayed open until 7. Not a lot happened once the cosplay contest was over. (I mean, there’s a reason a lot of shows have the cosplay contest be the last thing that happens in a day. Did it change because they got overwhelmed last year?)
Sunday had more attendees this year than last year. Plus there were some vendors and artists who said they did better sales on Sunday than on the previous two days. That makes sense, since there are some con goers who wait until the end, after scoping everything out, to go back to the artists and vendors they liked.
But this year, I’ll be honest, I was expecting more out of Comicon Erie than what was there.
I don’t know if there was another event happening at the same time, but attendance was not what I expected it to be. And that affected my sales. I earned less this year compared to last year.
On top of that… well, I need to preface this: at large shows like this one or Phoenix Comicon, etc, on Day 3 there will be a form on your table asking, “Hey! Would you like to reserve this same spot next year? Just fill out this form and include a deposit, and we’ll reserve this for you next year!”
This year the convention was asking for a larger deposit than what they asked for last year.
I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say, “Well, the convention center is likely raising the rates on everything.” (Convention centers do that. A LOT.)
But look – I did so well last year I decided to reserve the spot and come back this year. But this year actually earned me less in sales. And now the center wants a LARGER deposit out of me?
What if sales just keep going down every year and the deposit gets increasingly larger and larger? I’m not interested.
Plus, it’s not cheap for me to go to this con- I’m not local. So I would have to pay for hotel (or at least an AirBnB), food, the convention floor spot, and gas to get there.
Also, chairs were not provided with the table this year. Somehow I missed that detail on the application, but I thought that (like MOST OTHER comic conventions), chairs would be provided with your table space. But not here!
I asked one of the con organizers to bring me a chair – which I would need to pay to rent out. But they never got back to me. So I was on my feet ALL THREE DAYS of the show. Thankfully I didn’t give my money before they took my request and ditched me – and I had a table neighbor who lent me his chair once in a while. (And now’s a good time to give a shout-out to Keith Cunningham – on Instagram @cartoonkeith. Check out his comics! He lent me his chair.)
So, Comicon Erie, I love you, but I won’t be going back next year.
That said, I saw some posts from folks I follow on Instagram – turns out, there WAS a convention happening the same weekend, but in Maryland. Small Press Expo (or SPX).
I’ve always wanted to go to this show, so I plan on going to SPX in lieu of Comicon Erie next year.
I hear that SPX is harder to get into, though. So I’ll have to do my best!
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.
This past Sunday, June 17, was not just Father’s Day, but also Kennywood Comicon. Yep, a comicon was held in an amusement park.
It was pretty cool, not gonna lie.
The way the show was set up this year, though, had the artists situated in a picnic pavilion tucked behind the elephant ear booth. It was great to get shade and the occasional breeze. However, we were just tucked away enough that cosplayers by the lagoon had to direct traffic back to us.
Which, holy banana pants, kudos to those cosplayers. It was sunny, humid, and over 90 degrees, and the cosplayers were in full Star Wars and Spiderman/Deadpool get-up. How they did NOT die is a testament to how well con staff treats folks.
I also need to give a big shout-out to my comics buddy and patron on Patreon, Dave. He helped cover for food and helped me carry my con gear back to my car at the end of the day. Thank you so much, Dave!
(I’ll go ahead and take this time to let you know that Dave now has a Patreon page of his own. If you like data graphs showing the methods of dying in the Star Trek original show, or illuminated manuscripts of the Holy Hand Grenade speech from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, get thee to his Patreon page!)
On the upside, sales from Kennywood Comicon DID help make up for the loss I took from Put-N-Play the weekend before. The downside is, not by a whole lot.
That’s partially why I have commission pre-orders open. For folks who are attending my next show on June 24, Feminist Zine Fest Pittsburgh, I’ll draw a black-and-white, full-body commission of a character of your choice for $25. You just need to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get started. If you’re on my email list, you already know all about this, because I just sent an email out yesterday announcing this pre-order sale.
There’s also a couple of appearances I’m set to do on June 23, the day before the zine fest!