This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day – and I’m making a guest appearance!
See, the fine folks at Superscript Comics & Games liked having me at the Genghis Con Mini Pop Up Event last month. (Me and a bunch of others, to be fair). They liked us SO much that they invited us to once again showcase at their Free Comic Book Day Event.
So Saturday, August 14, from 3 to 8 pm EDT, I’ll be showcasing my work! And lots of other folks will showcase there, too! (Superscript has been giving creator shout-outs on their Instagram. Go check it out).
Now, this event is SO big that the artists and vendors will be in Bottlehouse Lakewood across the street from Superscript. So keep that in mind if you’re able to be there in person. Also, masks will be available and encouraged, as well as social distancing guidelines.
If you’re a reader who met me through the Genghis Con Pop Up event – or you’re just local to Lakewood/Cleveland – I have a special surprise for you. I’m announcing it in a special edition Thursday email newsletter. So if you’re not on the newsletter yet, be sure to sign up. It’s free and I don’t sell your email to anybody.
As a gentle reminder, Friday is the LAST DAY for my Ko-Fi Clearance Event. Anything not sold will go with me to Free Comic Book Day – but the show is the FINAL day to get the clearance items. Anything marked for clearance will not be at any show after Saturday.
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!