[image from CNet]
by Matt Maxwell

Take it away, Lift to Experience. “Hear the train a-comin’” indeed. Saturday was a runaway train, full tilt roto, unstoppable on the tracks without a Superman in sight to slow it down. But even runaway trains lose momentum over time.

And that was Sunday. Now, in reality, at least for me, Sunday was better than Friday, which is a little screwy it seems. I guess more people come down for just a Sunday visit than I thought, or they finally made up their minds to spend money that they’d been holding on to all weekend.

The quiet of before the show opening never quite shook off, though people did start to filter down in larger numbers after noon. I spent the extra hour before show opening (incredulously having to wait until 10am to be let in, just like every other exhibitor who seemed just as incredulous) picking up a couple things for the kids. Oh, and a nice copy of TOTH: BLACK AND WHITE for myself, as well as the last couple CRIMINAL books. Bought ‘em from a guy who hailed from my home town, such as it is, of Dana Point. Okay, so I’m really from Laguna Niguel, but close enough. I went to high school in Dana Point. So it’s like a home town.

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And I didn’t even eat up most of my profits in the doing so. I’m going to count that as a win (particularly since I’d seen the book going for twice what I paid for it.) Though with my luck, someone will be putting out a bargain reprint of it in six months.


Though things were a bit slow, the folks around my aisle didn’t seem particularly perturbed by things, having hit their self-established benchmarks sometime on Saturday, by and large. The ladies selling leather and PVC-wear seemed pretty happy, particularly since this show didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get into and they were actually moving merchandise (some of it not cheap, having looked at the pricetags. Purely informationally, mind you. I don’t have the build to pull off most of the fashions they were selling. Though a corset might be a good idea…)

Funny, but if you have to repeatedly announce over the PA that you’re having a panel for your syndicated sci-fi show, and that there are real-life celebrities upstairs now, then you might have something of an audience identification problem. Or you need to get the word out better.

Saw David Gerrold pace up and down the aisle in front of me a couple times. I wondered idly if he was going to buy a semi-mechanical tribble from the vendor a couple booths down from me.

Handed out many more postcards and even sold a few books. Nobody left empty-handed, not if I had something to say about it. I’m generally not the most outgoing sort, but I’m beginning to get the hang of things. Hit the major points: self-contained story, interesting genre combination, free samples for those inclined, outstanding artwork and better-than-average writing. And if all else fails, “cowboys and werewolves” often will get you a look at the very least.

Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to get a feel for how the show went for retailers selling more traditional Direct Market offerings, as opposed to the outside the ordinary publishers or creators. And really, I should have hit the webcomicer/smaller press aisle. Not that I’m a large press, mind you, but I try to put up a front.

During the quieter moments, I’d watch the pigeons that somehow had gotten into the hall, soaring in and out of the concrete pillars painted institutional off-white. Maybe they lived their whole lives there, eating discarded pretzels and dropped snack foods, drinking out of the urinals at night when nobody was around to stop them. Maybe there was an entire ecosystem within the convention hall, alive with possibilities that I’d just barely tapped. And then again, maybe I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

The parade of costumes beginning to subside, leaving only shellshocked hall-wanderers, I began to pack up my booth. Not that there was a lot to pack up. I’d brought too many books down from the hotel room, hoping vainly for another day like yesterday, in which I did indeed sell more books than entire weekends in places like Baltimore and Seattle. It was a nice idea, but unlikely given my experience at weekend shows.

Over at the DC booth, the WATCHMEN posters were coming down, which seemingly meant everything was coming down. During a quick break earlier in the day, I’d seen Brian Azzarello over there and wanted to say hello, but the little voice at the back of my brain was saying “Dude, you’re missing sales. Jeff’s a good guy, but he’s just not a closer. Get back to that booth!” And I always listen to my lizard brain. There’ll be other times.

I said my farewells to the folks over at Boom! as well as anyone else I’d managed to catch on the way out the door as they were rolling up the carpet. Jim Lee’s slot in artist’s alley was still totally mobbed by people, some twenty minutes after all non-exhibitors were supposed to be hustled out of the hall. There wasn’t time to tarry, as Jim Demonakos had pointed out, there were just over four weeks until Emerald City, and two weeks until Stumptown after that. The stops on the circuit keep stacking up.

As I rolled the contents of my booth up Fourth street, I saw the kind of thing that keeps me coming back to these things. Cobra Commander held Baroness tenderly in his arms, rubbing hers to keep the misty chill away. Only in comics, kids. Only in comics.