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.
These last couple of weeks have been bananas for travel, from personal vacation time to selling my work in artist alley at MatsuriCon. My first anime convention in over 5 years (as a seller).
First, I was in Philadelphia for a personal vacation with my mom. My 30th birthday is this month, so we wanted to celebrate by going to a city neither of us had been to. We had a blast!
After the train ride back home, there were a couple of days for me to get ready for the next thing, MatsuriCon over in Columbus, OH.
So the headline of this post might make it sound like I had a bad time. This is not true.
MatsuriCon was freaking GREAT! For an anime convention, I was surprised how many people wanted to see original stories and art. I was a bit concerned, because of my 20+ products, only 3 things on the table were fanart.
Ok, I’m going to have an aside about selling fanart, because this is a hot-button issue among creatives wanting to sell their work.
Here’s the thing: if you can do something new and put your own spin on the fanart, then by all means, do that. I actually did that with this piece, taking a Kingdom Hearts bad guy and drawing him as an incubus:
The problem with fanart is when an artist does something BORING and makes money at it. Portrait shots of a character would fall under the “Boring” category…for me, anyway. If you’re new to artist alley, a portrait rendition of your favorite character from another artist might be exciting for you. But go to enough artist alleys, and you’ll begin to appreciate the artists who do unique things.
(Also a few of the portrait artists/people who do boring fanart are actually plagiarists. So keep that in mind, too. I’m glad some artist alley organizers are catching on to this.)
MatsuriCon actually had a rule in their Artist Alley contract that fanart could only take up 50 percent or LESS of the table. Any more, and that was considered grounds for having your table revoked. So there was a refreshing amount of original stories, products, and ideas in artist alley, which is REALLY FREAKING NICE.
Here’s a peek at the stuff I found in Artist Alley. Keep in mind, these are just what I traded for/bought:
Regarding sales of my own work, I made back 3 times what it costs for a table…or rather, half of a table. I was splitting a table space with my comics buddy Ben. We also stayed at his house, so we didn’t have to spend on a hotel room. And the both of us packed lunches, ate breakfast at his place, and just in general shared food. So all of that kept costs down for us.
I can’t speak for Ben because I don’t know how much exactly he made, but it’s fair to say the both of us made it in the black.
Plus, nearly everyone at the con was just a LOT of fun and very cool.
10/10, would go again…except…
Here’s where the headline of the post becomes relevant: the thing about artist alleys at anime conventions is that applications fill up FAST.
As in, within half an hour of opening, all open table spots are filled.
So, by the time I find out about a convention and check for artist alley spots, none are available. You either have to have that shit bookmarked so you can jump on it the INSTANT the alley applications open, or know the organizers of the con personally in order to get a spot.
As much as I want to go back to MatsuriCon next year, I’m just not sure that I can. We’ll see what happens.
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 actually left for the show a day early: the organizers informed artists and vendors that the building had only one elevator. Because of that, the organizers suggested (pretty heavily) that we vendors and artists set up the day before the show, to prevent congestion on the morning of HerdCon.
Which is what I did. As expected, the Friday before the show was pretty congested for set-up. But it was still nice to take my sweet bippy time to get the table ready… instead of feeling the pressure to have everything all set up in an hour or less (which is what I’m used to with other shows).
On the day of the convention, I wasn’t sure what to expect for attendance or sales.
By the end of the day, it was the BEST sales day I’ve had at a one-day show since I started selling my work at conventions!
What helped with the sales, I think, were the following key points:
The organizers knew what they were doing. They approached the show as a non-profit community event (as events like these should be treated, in my honest opinion). Their communications with the organizers was quick, thorough, and to the point. Plus they made lunch available for vendors for an extra $10…which I took advantage of. I got the veggie sandwich lunch (admittedly, I should have ordered the ham sandwich. But hey – lesson for next time).
The show organizers promoted the HECK out of this show. They reached out to local press, updated their Facebook and Instagram accounts consistently, and offered freebies that would entice the audience they were looking for. I remember one Facebook post promoting a giveaway of free dice with the HerdCon logo as the highest roll number. If that’s not nerdy, I don’t know what is.
I talked a lot about the show on my email newsletter, and got some peeps from previous shows to show up to visit. Thanks for coming! And thanks for putting up with my incessant talking about it.
There were things on my table marked down for clearance. I know what it’s like to be a broke college student. Plus there’s a LOT of inventory that needed to be cleared out so I can make room for future books, prints, and stickers. So I marked all of my 8.5 x 11 prints down to $3 each – buy one get one free. And I had grab-bags. While grab bags didn’t sell as much, prints certainly did – I have only 4 designs left!
I also did caricatures on the spot. I was surprised at how well caricature sales took off at Marietta Comic and Creator Con last year, so I thought to bring it here. The sales of caricatures alone made up for the cost of the AirBNB and gas to get to HerdCon.
Would I go again next year? ABSOLUTELY.
Should you go as an attendee next year? DOUBLE-ABSOLUTELY. Everyone I chatted with had a fun time, enjoyed the Artist Alley, and got to go to fun panels and play tabletop games. Fun times were had by all!
I’m so tickled by how well this show did, especially since I mentioned in my previous post that I had been burned by inaugural shows before. So I’m happy to see HerdCon succeed! I hope it continues to do so.