WOW. This is truly groundbreaking information. Mirthful culture Magazine The Devastator recently ran a poll asking exhibitors at various comics shows—from San Diego to SPX—how much money they made, where they exhibited and many other things. The results have been put into a fascinating infographic which we’ve only excerpted below. Go to the link to see ALL the info, including which shows made the most money, which are in decline and so on.

Among the findings:

• Exhibiting as an exhibitor as opposed to Artist Alley is more expensive but more lucrative over all.

• The more years you exhibit, the more money you make (maybe due ot having more product?)

• My takeaway from the above…PAY YOUR DUES AND HANG IN THERE.

• Although often thought of as a money spout show, SPX wasn’t that lucrative for the respondents.

• New shows Phoenix and Denver are definitely money makers for those who went there.

I’m sure there is much more to be gleaned—and argued about this—the comments there and here are open…GO.


  1. 46 people is an extremely low sample size, but it’s still interesting information presented in an extremely fun way. A similar study of 460 people would be even more revealing.

  2. @ John Platt – I agree. A larger sample would be nice. I like that they’ve started here, but I’d like to see the study go further into depth (and yes, I went to the link and looked at the other information).

  3. Guys, it’s a SURVEY, so it’s only as good as the people participating.

    That said, I find that pioneering efforts like this usually shake the tree and get more info out there.

  4. Yes, I’ve often asked exhibitors (mainly back issue dealers) how shows were doing for them. You get a mix of responses. Sometimes you get the impression people are telling you they did well (or okay) for ego purposes or others afraid to any anything negative in case it gets back to them somehow.

    Dealers have different reasons for selling too. Some just want to dump their back stock and aren’t concerned about maximizing their sales. Most are actively trying to make a living from it in terms of sales vs convention costs. Also to factor in is that many dealers are in it for the long haul and don’t mind if they loose money at a show if they bought a nice collection of books they know they can sell quickly.

    I strongly suspect those dealers that’s been around longer make more money because they pick up regular customers. They might make sales after the convention if the customer is willing to pay shipping and come closer to the convention, a want list will be given to the dealer and the customer will come to the show to pick up their books, plus anything else they find in the boxes.

    Artists are the similar too, most are actively looking to make money. Newer artists often see the shows as a promotional expense, knowing full well they and their work is not known enough to have sizable fanbase. They use the show to network and get themselves more work. Plus they very much like the social aspect of meeting other artists and they find the show invigorating.

  5. I would kill to have made anywhere close to $300 my first years of exhibiting. I’m hoping this is a survey of wildly successful people. Otherwise this is the most depressing thing I’ve read lately.

  6. These trends match my experiences. My average sales have risen annually as I made more products did more shows , built a fan base and earned better table placement as my reputation grew. Doing panels at shows helps a lot, too. So does promoting the heck out of a show before you go. If the organizer sees you are actively promoting it and thus crestingc us timers for the event, you may be rewarded with better placement.

    Conversely, bad table placement is death. A few years back, I was placed in a WEDDING TENT BEHIND THE HOTEL with a few other guests and vendors. Everyone else was inside. Tumbleweeds. I told the organizer to move me or I was leaving. Likewise, I know top artists who have been placed in corners or facing blank walls at cons and got no sales because of it.

  7. Where’s the percentile chart for type of exhibitor: Artist/Small Press/Dealer ?

    Do “veterans” move up in exhibition space as they gain years of experience? A few years in Artists Alley, then collect a few books and move into Small Press, then collect a few awards, build a website, move into the Dealers Room?

  8. Hi guys! We’re the ones who put the survey together. Thanks for the comments. If you’re an exhibitor, we really hope you participate next year!

    @John Platt – We certainly asked a lot more than 46 exhibitors to take the survey. Hopefully more awareness will increase our data pool next year. Our feeling is that it’s better to have some data than none. One thing to keep in mind: while there were 46 respondents, each person averaged 2-4 shows per year, so we had well over 100 individual convention sales totals to use.

    @Torsten – We didn’t include dealers or retailers in the survey at all, because their data would look quite different from indie creators/publishers. As far as differences between “individual creators” and “small press publishers,” the survey revealed such a nominal difference that it didn’t make sense to separate the data.

    The survey data does seem to support your hypothesis that veteran exhibitors tend to “upgrade” to more expensive booths with better placement.

  9. Geoffrey & Amanda,

    You should do a survey of dealers / retailers, because we are very interested in how & which shows do better / worse, and your information is helpful for everyone. We’re MUTEKI SALES, an online retailer of Japanese new & vintage toys & model kits and we do a lot of the East Coast shows, mainly NYCC, since it’s inception. We’re at http://www.mutekisales.com

    We’ve seen rapid growth from 2005-2012 in terms of our sales at NYCC, expanding our booth size from 100 feet to 200 feet+ depending on location in the Exhibitor’s Hall. Of course, with larger space comes larger fees, but our open-booth “U”-styled shape allowing customers to come in and touch stuff is a large draw.

    However, in 2013, we plateaued at the same level as 2012, and although we didn’t lose any money, we didn’t quite gain either, and perhaps a new survey from you for dealers / vendors / retailers might give us some fresh & new insight on why it didn’t grow and how to improve based on which shows to do and such. SDCC is out because it is nearly impossible to find dealers that will leave to open a space, but the other shows might give us some thought.

    Otherwise, your survey for artists / indie publishers also interests me, being a huge comic book fan since the 1970s. Seeing which shows work for them gives me insight on what classic artists & writers will consider attending what shows, rather than seeing someone like Arthur Sudyam, who will appear at any show so as long as he has a table.

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