Selling My Little Pony (Ish) At A Small Press DanCon

Pete G. writes for Bleeding Cool:

Well, here we are in Orland Park, Illinois, for the latest DanCon indie comic creator convention. A time that is always good regardless of how you do, and a microcosm of the indie field. So how did this year go? Well, aside from one incident that I can't talk about just yet due to an embargo (I'll get to it soon), it was fun and frolic as always.


How did I do? I made table and a nice little kitty, enough for a self-congratulatory hoagie. Last year, I actually made over $100, and was hoping to repeat this year. But not even close. In fact, if it weren't for a quirk of my creative mind, I wouldn't have done anything. Last year, the Hannah Singer books carried the day. The year before, it was the Sound Waves comics. But I didn't move a single one of any of them this time. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The big goose egg.

What carried it? My Little Pony stuff.


When I did KokomoCon last year, nothing at my table got as much interest as the Doctor Whooves fan comics I brought with. Afterwards, I was thinking to myself, if only there was a way to monetize the books, I'd do okay. But they are fan comics. I know there are plenty of people who do fan comics and sell them at cons and such, some at break even pricing, some to turn a profit. And that's up to them, if they can do it, more power to them. But me? I can't help thinking I shouldn't charge money for them. It also creates a problem because there are times when, someone hears I'm giving the comics away for free, and I'm deluged with people who pretty much clean me out. Which means later customers who would love to have a little something can't get them. It's the primary reason I tied them to sales of other items — buy regular stuff and I'll give you a Whooves book for free.


I can't make money FROM the fan comics, so I have to make money AROUND them. But how? I was already offering pony sketches dirt cheap, maybe tie the books into that…then, it hit me. With the new Garden Of The Daleks story ready, I printed up two versions of the comic — a regular edition, and a blank sketch cover. People would buy a sketch from me on the cover of the blank, and I'd throw in the regular edition for free. Honor is served.


So I went in with my usual stuff and a bunch of the comics. They were literally the only things that saw action. No regular sketches (one near commission, which I will get to in a minute), no books sold. The only thing that moved were those books. Without them, the day would have been a total bust. A family came by, with three of their four daughters very interested (the first one requested Fluttershy, and then, the last did. For her, I drew Fluttershy sprinting across the page saying, "Oh my goodness, I need to appear on two covers at once!"). I gleefully did sketches, having fun with the characters. Others came by, and I'm frankly expecting to see some of these CGC'ed before too long.


The near-miss commission came from a guy who asked how much it would be for two ponies. I asked what kind of scene he had in mind. He requested Flutterdash. For those that don't know, that's basically romantic pairing of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. I politely declined him, saying I didn't do that stuff. Cost me some cash, but I don't have it in me to do that.

CIMG0432 Most of the show, however, was networking. Just last year, there were three people making their way around the show floor to recruit people for their shows. This year? Double-handfuls of local shows, some of which I'm very keen to check out and see what they are like, and they are all within casual driving distance of where I live, an hour away at the worst. It is the first sign that comics readership is genuinely expanding. Some of them even were inspired by DanCon to try their own (not like iCon did, they still had their own identity), and to make it an indie showcase for creators — no dealers, just a bunch of people spinning yarns. Maybe there is hope for the industry yet.


Most amusing of all was J.M. Hunter, who was a few tables down from me. Hunter is a writer for The Outhousers. When we talked casually, we established our bonafides, and suddenly, music from West Side Story started playing in my head. I wasn't worried — Dirk Manning was there on the other side of the hall, so I could have easily outnumbered him if I had to. (I'm just kidding, he's a great guy, I just liked the Jets vs. Sharks analogy that popped into my mind.)


Things moved pretty well. I was able to catch up with the always dapper Mister Manning and take a quick spin. But once the doors opened, the crowd was steady and I barely had a chance to slip away for a hot dog. From a networking perspective, it was an awesome day.


Financially? Thank God for those ponies….

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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