Two years ago, almost exactly, I went to C2E2, a brand new convention in Chicago, where Wizard World had reigned supreme since it bought out the old Chicago Comicon. It was almost literally a last-minute decision, something I was talked into by An Editor I Can't Name Yet Because The Book STILL Hasn't Been Completed Or Announced. I went, trying to break in like, y'know, a lot of people do, and I also wrote about it for this very website.
As you may have read earlier this weekend, it's two years on and I was at a table at C2E2 for the second year in a row, only THIS time KEEPER artist Jeff Simpson and I managed to do what we never would have dreamed of: sold out of our printed Issue 1s we had done up for the occasion. And, yeah, wow. How do you top that, exactly?
Of course, I'd be lying if I said it was all cash on the nail for these comics. Indeed, copies of Issues 0 & 1 ended up in Scott Snyder's hands, in exchange for a SEVERED hardcover. Hardly the fairest trade to make, but hey, Mama didn't raise no fool. Later on, I told Brian Azzarello in the Becoming-More-Famous-By-The-Minute Hyatt bar that I had a copy of Issue 1 with his name on it if he wanted it. After asking that I had actually had it printed, I replied yes, and there were less than ten copies left (by Saturday night, that was the case). He said screw it, sell them. I'll get him a PDF at his request. Point is, two years ago, I don't think this would have happened in a million and a half years. Two years later, I'm talking to artists who may or may not be coming off contracts and commitments, and getting them to say they'd maybe at least hear me out. (Not AT the show, either, mind.) No commitments in any way shape or form, but yeah, shoot me an email. OK. Funny how times change, even slightly.
Little tip: if you're selling a comic to the people, and it doesn't even vaguely resemble either a Marvel or DC book, or whatever anime/manga is hot at the moment, chances are you probably won't sell it to cosplayers of most stripes (Hell, nowhere to stick a wallet in most skintight lycra suits anyway). Not to say you WON'T make a sale 100% of the time, but you're more likely to sell to street-clothed persons. But, this is only my experiences, so your mileage may vary. And KEEPER did get into the hands of some cosplayers anyway. (And if you're reading this, thank you.)
Towards the end of Saturday, we realized that the Issue 0 we had remaining (that were printed a year ago) had a printing error, and there were more of those than Issue 1. So, we gave them away with purchase. Which went gangbusters – an indie self-published book, going for less than your average Marvel or DC book anymore ($3.50), coming with an EXTRA comic book? Yeah we were sold out by 1pm Sunday. Any wonders? The rest of the misprints were left on the table. Free, Take One. And they did. Later, as I walked the floor with my son, I bumped into a gentleman wearing a Barcelona jersey. I handed him one of the cards I made up for KEEPER, and he said he already knew the comic, he just picked one up. That's advertising money CAN'T buy.
This year, I have to say the Webcomic Pavilion did more business than last from what I could see, but I think this is true for Artist Alley in general. It certainly was a busier show. I expect next year's to be even busier.
Lastly, the Hyatt bar didn't have too much going on from my perspective. It was lively, but everyone was more or less well-behaved and cordial and friendly. There was someone Saturday night throwing a glass onto a side table, shattering the glass, and storming off in a huff. Moments later someone mentioned a woman crying down the hall, in the general direction our glasser marched off to. And Saturday was more packed, and louder, than Friday, but I attribute that more to the Chicago Blackhawks playoff hockey game going on that night.
Great show overall, can't wait for next April. Failing that, everyone should hit VertCon in June. Should be loads of fun. I'll be there. With more comics. Promise.