New York Comic-Con 2007
What happened to the Black History Month thing? The New York Comic-Con happened. Throw in some pithy sayings about the best-laid plans of vermin and humans, and you have my month of February in a nutshell. The Negro Leagues of Webcomics will resume in March.
So we were at the New York Comic-Con again last weekend.
Personally, I didn’t like being at the con last year, and I didn’t want to go this year. We don’t do well at comic book-themed conventions, even ‘New Media’ conventions like Wizard World, and something calling itself a ‘Comic-Con’ can’t really be anything but.
We don’t (yet) have what the consumers are most likely to buy or identify with, those being first and foremost physical comics. Physical comics or other paraphernalia featuring characters that they already knew and loved (although this year, the fact that we did webcomics did not put off as many people as it did last year,) are a close second. Instead we have merchandise like t-shirts and buttons of characters, who while they are very slick and well-designed (if I may be so vain,) are still largely unknown.
However, the rest of the SE crew wanted to go (among other things, not only is it a convention in our hometown, it’s a big convention in our hometown), so we got the booth (on the highly-touted second floor, more on that in a moment), and started preparing.
Despite all our preparations, the convention still seemed to sneak up on us (cries of ‘who holds a convention in February?’ could be heard ringing throughout Brooklyn during the recent weeks). But, through the worst, we prevailed, and had a pretty swanky booth, featuring the wares from our new t-shirt shop, The Skin You’re In, along with a new suite of Sapo Entertainment stuff. I was dressed in my top hat and tails, because I look darn good in it, and with the addition of a long-stemmed cigarette holder and umbrella, I become the (black) Penguin.
Remember the second floor that I mentioned? It contained several points of interest: The Artist’s Alley although why it was referred to in all the NYCC materials as such is beyond me, considering that there were three other things:
There was the Gaming Tournament area, the Autograph area, and a row of exhibitor-sized (10′ x 10′) spaces. We were in one of the latter, about four to six booths from the entrance to the second floor, if that. (We were diagonally across from Rob Liefield, if that matters to anyone)
Now for those of you who didn’t know, Friday is essentially Press Day. As far as I understand it, anyone who represents an at least moderately reputable press outlet gets to come in early, under the pretenses of interviewing the presenters and bringing the people what they want, and so on.
The first half of Friday (10AM-4PM) is nothing but press, then the doors open to the doors open to the general public for another five hours. To put it simply, the second floor saw very little action. Neither the press nor the unwashed masses were particularly interested in seeing what the second floor had to offer, in fact, some of our neighbors did not even bother to show up until around 3PM.
Despite the general disinterest, we did see some interesting (and interested) persons; we did an interview with some folk from F&W Publications, and traded comics with another press person. I myself (hopefully) got some leads from art-director types who liked the look of the stuff at the booth. I’m waiting for some calls.
Even after 4, pickings were slow at best, because most of the public wasn’t there to see the Artist’s Alley; they were there to see what the latest big thing was. Nevertheless, we pressed on, with the assistance of Omar, one of our new Minions, we set up the booth, and peppered the crowds with postcards. A fair number of people came in, may of them impressed with the things that we had forecasted they would be impressed by, some of them even being brave enough to vote with their wallets and make it worth the trip for us. (Interestingly enough, Friday would be our best day for sales.)
Finally, when all was said and done, we packed it in for the night, and made our way over to Club Sutra, for our after-party.
Our after-party that no one came to.
So, tired and slightly thankful (but we could have partied hard if the need arose, because that’s how we do,) we went home, and prepared for the already sold-out Saturday.
Saturday came, and brought with it our next set of Minions, a lovely pair of girls who both happened to be named Melissa. (For nomenclature’s sake, one is ‘Loud Melissa,’ the other is ‘kiwi’) Omar disappeared for the bulk of the day, sucked away by a Heroclix tournament where he would claim an agonizing second place in a tournament for the newly unveiled Fing Fang Foom figure.
Meanwhile, the ladyminions did a remarkable job of drawing in the people, where Sapo, MegMan, or myself worked to explain to them just what exactly was going on here, and why they should buy things.
With our expanded staff cluttering up the booth, (even though Loud Melissa took some time off to get autographs from the ‘Buffy’ cast and talk to Chuck D of Public Enemy, and Kiwi had some intrepid, albeit less star-studded, wanderings of her own) there was not quite enough room for passerby to get into it. Worse yet, much of the time, it was difficult for them to see our wares with all the bodies. So, I wandered off, and watched most of the screening of the Hellboy animated series with a friend.
It was largely unremarkable, except for the fact that it featured a lot of naked, nipple-free boobies. Visually, it could have been any other show currently on the air, by the WB or even Cartoon Network. I haven’t read the Hellboy comic, but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t feature quite such a square-jawed cast.
At any rate, I returned to the booth, and resumed my duties. A young man (who despite my writing his name down, shall be referred to by the unfortunate handle of ‘Jujube,’as I can’t find where I wrote it,) got corralled into the booth. Shortly after the initial cognitive dissonance wore off, Jujube realized that he had seen us last year at Comic-Con. He had been reading CottonFluff Hollow ever since; and actually pestered the girl he was there with about the comic on occasion.
Shortly after that, a medium-sized, stocky fellow came by the booth.
‘Which one of you is CottonFluff?’
‘That’d be me.’
‘I just wanted to say that I like what you do. I do The Devil and Ted, I found you through the Webcomic List’s board.’ He extended his hand.
I shook his hand, and drew a blank, but only because I hadn’t read the webcomic yet. ‘Devil and Ted’ Devil and Ted’
‘I’m logosmonkey over there.’
The name clicked; somewhat. ‘Oh, okay. Thanks for stopping in!’
And with that, he disappeared into the depths of the convention, never to be seen again.
A goodly amount of people that I knew showed up, some of them knew that I would be there, some did not. Most of them were there on Saturday; some came by on Friday. The Sapo Entertainment Crew skipped the official after party, and all the other parties for that matter, as we all had real-life engagements or responsibilities for the evening. I was supposed to go to the NYCC Saturday get-together that Comic Geek Speak was having, but I just couldn’t make it.
Sunday rolled around, bringing a wave of malaise with it. The SE crew was mostly tired and out of it, I didn’t even feel like putting on my tuxedo, which led MegMan to point out that this con had to be bad, if I wasn’t in the mood.
The minions were in good spirits though; which was fine, as we let them run things for most of the morning. Omar brought in some secondary minions, and they were great at selling raffle tickets, but not quite as good as the Melissas at drawing people in. Kiwi was there too, but she had time to meander around the con and get stuff, because of these helpful secondary minions.) Still, sales were brisk (as brisk as they really could be,) with people showing up from days previous and making those last-day-of-con purchases that the dealers learn to expect.
Sunday was largely unremarkable; the only thing that happened out of the ordinary was that I had my portfolio reviewed by Wizards of the Coast. *
Anyhoo, amidst all the hubbub, I managed to pick up a comic or two: Sean Wang’s ‘The Runners,’ (in graphic novel form) and Issue 2 of Jim Su’s ‘Crozonia.’ I haven’t had time to read them yet. I was mulling over picking up an issue or two of ‘The Perhapanauts,’ but they packed it up before I was able to get away from the booth on Sunday.
So in all, we didn’t do as well as we theoretically should have, considering the sheer number of people that went through. On the other hand, a lot of people came through, and saw us, furthermore, in a number of cases, remembered whom we were. So on the whole, it was a bit of a mixed bag.
A very expensive, poorly advertised mixed bag, and I’m not the only one who felt that way. The Artist’s Alley was tucked away from the rest of the convention for a reason, the same way that a lot of the retailers on the lower level were grouped together roughly by type, and those of us who were (un)fortunate enough to end up on the second level were tucked away with the other things that the bulk of consumership was not in the mood to see.
Some people suffered because of it, some of the convention goers might have appreciated it; I know I overheard (and corrected) at least one person who felt that this was a good thing, as opposed to the mishandling of the space from last year that some of you might have heard about.
I don’t know what the New York Comic-Con will be like next year, but I will say this: If I have my way, I won’t be a part of it; I’d like to get some sleep during the month of January.
*It didn’t go well, and it didn’t go badly. I’d had my stuff looked at before, by a different art director, and they’d liked what I had. Not for any of their flagship stuff, but for something that may or may not be trickling down the pipe. This time around, it didn’t go over that way. The Ads (there were two of them,) recommended that I ply my wares with another company whose style I matched more closely, like Cartoon Network. They did like my stuff; it just wasn’t suitable, as far as they saw it.