Getting ready for the CGS Supershow!
Another con right around the corner (tomorrow, actually), here’s Part 2 of some of the things I’ve learned over the hears on how to survive comic conventions: (you can find Part 1 here)
- Force Yourself to Mingle – This is something I’m particularly bad at. I’m fine when people approach me at my table. But having to walk over to someone else’s table and engage them in conversation is always horrifying to me. Especially if I’ve never met the person and am trying to compliment them/ask them a question/nerd-sweat all over them. After the show, there are usually comics mixers of some sort that you would benefit from getting around and talking to people, as well. I’m still struggling with this (I’d rather cut off my arm than try to approach people and engage them in conversation), but it’s definitely beneficial to get out and meet your cohorts in the realm of comic making. I’ve met so many amazing, pleasant, wonderful people at conventions that it’s worth all the awkward encounters and nasty people I’ve come across. It might make your skin want to shrink up and fall off but – definitely go talk to people. And remember – you’re ALL comickers, so there’s a pretty big chance you all have some social anxiety in common. After all, you like sitting in a room by yourself drawing all day.
- Preventing Powering Down – Making sure you’re eating and drinking throughout the day is key to keeping your energy level up. It may not look it, but sitting and standing in the same place for hours on end is surprisingly exhausting. (Possibly because it involves simultaneously being pleasant.) One thing that helps is to make yourself get up and walk around every now and again, even if it’s just to do a lap. Or offer to go get everyone coffee, just so you can see the sun and remember it’s still out there. It’s difficult to remember to eat regularly when food at conventions can be few/far between/only fried products, so you might want to pack snacks ahead of time. Even if you try to eat healthy, move, and drink lots of water, you’re still probably going to feel exhausted at the end of the day. And what happens next – the endless search for the post-convention restaurant – is going to take some energy (and some patience stopping yourself from tearing your fellow comickers apart from hunger). It helps me to stop by the hotel briefly and refresh right after the con but before PRE-dinner search. Just don’t flop down on that hotel bed. Ohhhh no.
- Take Inspiration Where You Can – When you do get up to walk around, you might be hit with what I like to call the Smack Down. You’ll see amazing work everywhere that will make you feel like crap and that you should no longer do comics. But the only thing to take away from this is admiration and a desire to do increasingly better work. I mean, there’s always going to be someone doing it better than you, right? So whatever. You’re already here, just keep on chugging. (And resist buying TOO many beautiful prints … so many to want ….)
- The People – This is the important part of the convention – the con-goers. These people paid good money to come in and look at comics (and maybe even your comics!). They are the true reason for going to these shows, the true meaning of Christmas. Treat them well and appreciate the fact that they love comics as much as you do (and may be as terrified of talking to people as you are). Having someone come up to you and tell you not only that they read your work but LIKE it is incredible, and makes it all worthwhile.
There you have it – now go out there and mingle! (I say, while shrinking into a corner …)
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Okay, okay … I added a BatGirl to the prints I’ll have for sale this weekend.
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… Which I started a wee while ago called Bonnie N. Collide. For a while I did it, then I had my friend Tim Fish do it, then I put off updating it because I had so much else to do … but …. buuuuutttt …
Now, recklessly, I’m updating it again! Starting NOW! Wooooo!
Hey Guys! Remember me?
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I’m skittering off to another comic convention this weekend – Comic Geek Speak SUPERSHOW in Reading PA, in fact. So I figure it’ll be a good time to debut some SOOPA PRINTS for sale! They’re little 4″x6″ ‘s, printed on glossy photo-type paper.
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In the aftermath of one convention, and about to embark on another one, I thought it was a good time to share a few things I’ve learned over the years about surviving conventions.
- Prepare Ahead of Time. No one likes going in to a presentation with their speech unwritten, right? It’s just the same when you find yourself packing your stapler and paper cutter to take along to a convention. Although sometimes this is hard to avoid (cut to me tying ribbons around Bonnie N. Collide triple packs at this year’s Stumptown), at least try to get all your books packed and ready to sell out of the box at the show. The last thing you want to worry about along with packing, traveling, jet-lag, and set-up, is having to assemble your books as well. And at the very least, it saves you dirty looks from your tablemate as you constantly wiggle the table with the loud KA-CHUNK of your stapler.
- Pack Your Goods Among Pillows. Having a devil-may-care approach to your packing is all fine and dandy until you get to the show and realize certain customers aren’t interested in books with the corners all bent and prints all folded and ripped. I try to avoid this by wrapping my books in plastic wrap, bubble wrap, and adding scarves for cushion. It’s not a fool-proof system, but at least it tries to account for various weather conditions. Whatever your method, realize that if you’re flying, the luggage you’ve stored all your books in will be beaten, ravaged, squished, jostled, thrown into immovable objects, and left out to get drenched in the rain. So remember that your goal at this convention will be trying to sell books. Not the most durable creatures.
- Sprinkle Happy Traditions Into Your Traveling. I’m not a big fan of flying, but I am a fan of my flying foods – in other words, foods that I almost only get at airports or on planes. For me, these are Bloody Marys and bagels. True, I could eat both of these things every day for the duration of my life and be very content. However, if I restrict them only to travel days, I remain excited every time I get to eat/drink them again. Plus, I stay a little thinner. (Now, this rule does not extend to when I visit New Orleans, in which case I drink only Bloody Mary’s at every meal).
- Care and Feeding When Dragging Along Your Significant Other. At one point or another, some of us have managed to trick our significant others into going with us to conventions. “Look, Honey! You’ve always wanted to go to Austin – now here’s our chance!” Although this makes the trip infinitely more fun for us comickers behind the con table, we must remember that it is hour after hour of thankless torture for them. They are doing this solely out of love, and will never (unless they’re comickers themselves) understand our constant drive/need/ambition/delusion to want to create and sell comics in the first place. For them, it is a lost weekend spent sitting and amusing themselves until the battery on their iPhone wears out. Sprinkled amongst awkward comickers mixers, hurried introductions of who’s who “OMG it’s so-and-so who wrote that comic I was obsessed with and told you all about 14 months ago!!”, and relentless whining/screaming with excitement about your profit or loss that day. So my advice is – take care of your significant others. Remember that they’re there to actually experience the city they’re in, not just its convention hall. Make sure to carve out some time to spend with them alone, and not at a restaurant you’re picking just so you can overhear the conversation of your favorite comicker at the next table over.
- Choose Tablemates/Hotelmates Wisely. This one won’t take you that long to figure out – it kind of happens organically. It only takes a couple times of sitting next to someone all day who does nothing but criticize everything about comics and the industry (while desperately trying to sell theirs) or sharing a hotel room with someone who never, ever lets you have the bathroom before you realize you might want to pick people you gel with. I lucked out and met amazing people the first couple of shows I went to who happened to share my love of quoting Christina Applegate movies, dancing embarrassingly when bored, and choosing (sometimes) to stay in and watch movies in the hotel room even though there was comic shmoozing to be had.
- Beware the Alter Ego. This is an extension of #5 – there is something to be watchful of in comickers you’ve just met and have decided to maybe table with. Sure, they’re awesome and funny in social situations, and you get along with them swimmingly one-on-one. BUT! Get them behind a table and they are no holds barred don’t look at anyone’s crap but mine SELLING MACHINES. They will stop at nothing to get a sale, and this includes stepping in front of you to interrupt your conversation with a potential customer to hand them their book. Beware of these people. They will do it every time, no matter how nice they are once the con whistle blows at the end of each day. As soon as they punch in at that convention, it’s ON.
… more to come tomorrow!
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Some little drawings of BatGirl, CatWoman, and Nona that I amused myself with during Stumptown …
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So after all that careful measuring and planning …. I discovered that I actually had 4′ x 2′ of room to play with for my display, instead of 2′ x 2′. Which worked out perfectly, since I had too much stuff for my puny 2′ x 2′ space anyway. Hooray for inaccurate planning! Here’s the finished display at this year’s Stumptown:
It worked out really well – and I was able to keep switching things around and adjusting as the con went on.
I used these new book holders that came in different sizes and weren’t as unwieldy as ones I’ve bought in the past:
To get my signs hanging up over the top of the books, I used a couple of things – photo cubes (with my logo added to the inside):
And wire holders to sit on the photo cubes and hold my name and website signs:
I had to tape everything down with masking tape and add some cardboard to the back of the signs to keep them from flopping over, but in the end – success! They even withstood the steady draft of the air conditioning that pelted us throughout the convention.
And now – Lipstick & Malice Triple Pack is available in my Etsy store, woot!
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