This is a brief (hopefully) recap of my experiences at Indy Pop Con. They may not reflect your own experiences and that’s okay, I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me. Indy Pop Con is the 3rd large con where I’ve had an Artists’ Alley table and I learn new things every time. I have also done the local INDYpendent Show three times and I must say that I learned more about table display and selling at cons from the first INDYpendent Show than I did at any of the other cons combined. I highly recommend this show if you are a Midwest based artist or writer who wants to get into creating comics, children’s books, or books. The advice you will receive from people who have already “been there, done that” will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. But I digress (and will throughout as that is how my mind works…or doesn’t work).
To assist those not familiar with Pop Con I will provide an overview. Pop Con is not exactly a comic book con, or a sci-fi con, or a horror movie con, or any other of a multitude of con types. Pop Con is an amalgam of all the cons. The eclectic guests included YouTube celebrities, professional wrestlers, video game voice actors, movie/TV stars, tabletop game creators, and so on and so on. A pop culture zeitgeist if you will. This means that the people attending and their particular interests were vast and varied as well which is nice. I found a lot there that captured my attention as well as some stuff that I had no clue about and, honestly, am probably better off not knowing about.
The con itself was great. I would have liked to see more comic books being sold at rock bottom prices but that’s always my complaint about cons. I am always looking for cheap graphic novels. I have discovered a lot of my favorite artists and writers buying cheap graphic novels from Half-Price Books and cons. It’s much easier to take a chance on something when it’s $5 compared to when it’s $15-$20. I even spent some money buying my little bro Jesse some books that I thought he would enjoy simply because there was little risk in doing so. The con can’t force people to have a booth selling cheap comics so that’s no fault of theirs. To the credit of the organizers this was a well thought out show. They chose guests that had mass appeal, even if I didn’t know who they were but I’m an old dude so whatever, they organized fun and entertaining events, and the results were seen in the massive crowds that filled the convention hall all three days. There were, of course, celebrities and creators there that I recognized and liked but, as previously stated, there was pretty much something for everyone. Great job ladies and gentlemen.
Also, and I know this isn’t everyone’s bag, but the cosplay game was great at this con. From the popular to the obscure to the absolutely ingenious filled the hall. I enjoyed watching the parade of characters pass by my table and I am always in awe of the lengths people go to in recreating their favorites. Some shout outs in particular: To the woman who cosplayed at the Notorious RGB (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), you won the con hands down, especially on that historic weekend. Great job. I also liked the guy who showed up as John Candy’s security guard character from National Lampoon’s Vacation and the couple who showed up as Clark and Ellen from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. You don’t see that kind of stuff often enough at cons. I prefer the unique and obscure though. Finally to the young lady who cosplayed as Flapjack, you were so adorable you won my heart and to the guy who cosplayed as Phil Coulson from Agents of SHIELD who looked EXACTLY like him I salute you. Way to embrace the visual similarities between yourself and a character to nail a cosplay.
Another part of the con that I really enjoyed was seeing old friends and meeting new ones. To all of the INDYpendent Show kids and all of my old friends from Game Stop, it was awesome seeing you again! I do apologize to anyone that I “bothered” at the show lol. I do have some social anxieties that I try to hide but sometimes I’m just awkward and weird. I always feel as though I’m bothering people by standing at their booth talking to them. After about two minutes I start to wonder if they’re just being polite or if they really want to be having a conversation with me. I also find it awkward just walking away and always try to find a way to gracefully exit a conversation without seeming like I’m desperately trying to get away. I also find it weird to give people praise for their work because I want it to seem genuine but it always feels creepy in a way. Maybe I should just buy their stuff quietly and when it comes to the end of the transaction yell out, “I LOVE YOUR STUFF!” and run away. The big targets of my gushing fanboy adoration this weekend were Jackie Crofts, G. Pike, Chris and Gin Ludden, and Tony Moore so I apologize if it got weird. You’re all fantastic creators!
Wow, so much for “brief” right? I warned you though. So maybe we should move on to my experiences as a creator/salesman at the show. First, as a person with social anxieties (see the previous paragraph) I understand shyness and how hard social interactions can be at times but I make an effort to say hello to people who pass by my table and at times it seems as though they feel if they look at me or respond then they will be sucked into buying something. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am just that kind of person. I spent too many years in retail sales, saying hello to people is ingrained into my psyche. I’m just being nice, you can say hello back without any obligation to spend money at my table. Yes, it draws attention to my table but it’s not a ploy to make you come over, a simple nod or hello would be nice. That being said, apropos of nothing, I did okay at the con financially. I didn’t make my table fee, food and parking fees, or pay for my purchase at the con but I did okay. I sold a few prints, a few comics, an original drawing, and a buttload of buttons. One could easily surmise from this that I should sell more buttons if I want to make money but, to me, that’s not the point of being at the shows. Yes, I want to make money, but I want the focus to be on the comics. The more I add to my table the less attention the comics get. The comics provide the lowest amount of revenue I make at shows. They cost more to make than the buttons or prints and I sell less of them. I really want the comics to sell and that may pick up once I finish the first arc of Wastes of Space and put out a graphic novel but I also want to make money so I can continue to attend these shows. I will admit that I need to pick up my sales game at shows. People stop at the table, we engage in conversation, and then I remember to pitch the comics as they’re walking away. I don’t know what the solution is but I continue to tweak my table and my pitch so maybe it will improve over time. I also want to do more sketches and original art and get into projects with higher visibility like getting work published by someone other than myself lol. When I do my next show, Cincy Comic Con in September, I will definitely have more buttons to sell as I don’t think I can justify NOT having more and a greater variety of them on a better display. I am also thinking of giving away the Internet Meme Coloring Book I was selling at Indy Pop Con to attract more people to my table. I will need to work on a killer pitch to go with the freebie or it’s just a waste of time so that’s something I will need to work on. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. It’s just me working out my thoughts on how to sell more comics in a public forum and not really pertinent to the overall discussion.
Let me just say for the final record that I did have a lot of fun at the show and know that I need to do more as a small publisher to promote my work. I recommend this show for next year and will probably attend again to sell my comics and other trifles. I’m sorry that you actually read all of this. Don’t you have anything better to do? LOL, Thanks!