Our essay writing of the last few days has been reqarding but time consuming, and we didn’t get a chance to post a bunch of convention links we have had sitting around. So before they are TOO stale
§ [email protected] has a nice report on Kids Love Comics Day in PA. We need more of these!
§ STAPLE down in Austin has been widely lauded as a good old fashioned Indy show. We hear Chris Staros of Top Shelf was saying it had the energy and spirit of the old SPX shows. SOme links:
Walking between the rooms, you could feel the indy vibe of camaraderie between pros, publishers and fans alike that I hadn’t experienced since the first MOCCA show back in 2002. And that’s probably why Jad and Alex gladly skipped the maze of Spandex publishers in San Francisco for the indy press circuit in Austin…
The con itself was in the Red Oak Ballroom (whose name had me wondering if it held old folks’ swing classes on other nights), and even with 60+ tables and 400-something attendees, sales seemed surprisingly brisk and shoppers were pretty enthusiastic. I was my usual carnival barker/salesman self, which I hope wasn’t too annoying to my table-neighbors. I couldn’t have been that bad, as I sold a decent chunk of STYX TAXIs, more copies of EVERYMAN than I expected (despite a dirty look I got from an old man over it early on), and even a few copies of Leslie’s minicomic SHHHH!. I didn’t have tons of time to shop for goodies or rub elbows, but I did get to trade with my friend Litsa (comics for one of her pretty prints) and nabbed copies of Viper’s series THE MIDDLEMAN (by Javier of LOST fame).
•Guest Brian Keene
Had a wonderful time at Staple. Spent the weekend hanging out with my old friends Lee Thomas and Nate Southard, new friends like Dean Haspiel, the folks from Top Shelf, Dan and Zan of Frequency Press, and Nate’s girlfriend Shawna. Finally got to meet online friends like Chris Fulbright, Angelina Hawkes, fellow TODPers Michael Lovell and OTFW, and many other fine people. Dean echoed what Tommy Castillo and Mike Hawethorne and all my other comic-industry friends have said. “Keene, you must be fucking crazy–wanting to go from a secure career writing novels into a swine-filled mire like comics.”
MEANWHILE, there are a lot of WonderCon links everywhere, and Tom has a characteristically thorough memories page. Just a few that struck us.
•Tech site CNET has a small but telling slideshow that manages to capture the entire spirit of “CON” — celebrities waving and smiling, cartoonists gaze down, sketching away.
•Indy Blog The Daily Cross Hatch has a refreshing positive, energetic look:
Elbows were rubbed with up-and-coming comics talent as well as established vets who, for the most part, were engaging, insightful, and willing to chat it up (in between the hundreds of autographs doled out per hour).
I have to say I am often left very confused by WonderCon. The SF Bay Area is home to a good number of manga publishers. Viz, Infinity, Last Gasp and DrMaster are from the region. And only Last Gasp had a booth at the event. CMX and Dark Horse had manga on display and Viz did have a panel at the con. However given the fact that there are numerous manga and anime retailers in this area (many of them with booths at the event) and the large number of manga readers in this area I would have thought the industry would try to have more of a presence here.
WonderCon is really a media con now. The number of people who turn out for screen-writing panels come close to the number of people who show up for artist alley. Movies premiere here. TV producers and directors hold lectures here and the anime room goes on from the opening rush to the closing bell. There ought to be room for manga at an event like this… Right?
Getting back to my point about diversifying. It seems to me that if we are just selling back issues, then we are not fully taking advantage of the twenty thousand or so people that come to these shows. We are paying a high premium for tables, the fancy facility and the great marquee guest stars. Those amenities will not help us sell any more old comics. The fact is that twenty thousand people may have attended the show, but perhaps 200 of them collect vintage back issues. That’s why I decided to, but to put the back issues at the back of my booth. The front of the booth contains items that may be of interest to the crowds. That way, I have a bunch of people shopping at the booth at all times. I don’t have to sit around and wait for the occasional back issue buyer. Now I’m actually making a profit at this!
•HUZZAH! Steve Lieber is back con-blogging!
My cabbie is enthusiastic and friendly with no English vocabulary I can discern. He looks at the printed hotel address I show him. Light dawns! Aha! Yes! We take off and he drives like a maniac. Worse, when I glance in the mirror, I notice something truly scary. I think he’s closing his eyes when he changes lanes. Christ. I’m the last guy to tell anyone how to drive, but that’s fucked up. I know I’ll never get it across to him that he shouldn’t do that, so what can I do? I close mine, and hope to god it really does take two to make an accident. When my eyes open, we’ve arrived safely at the Chancellor Hotel.