A day with “Junior”
So here Dawn and I are, having tucked away one convention last week, only to be moving on to the next starting this Friday. This plus being present and accounted for at our day jobs, and also making the decision to keep the comic rolling along. I guess you could see it as being “in training” for the future, where we’ll hopefully be able to expand our number of appearances without becoming sleepless zombies. Okay, perhaps that might be a selling point, but I’m not sure I could keep proper track of the cashbox if all I’m doing is hungering for brains.
Next up is Wizard World Anaheim, where Dawn and I are enjoying our first ever status as invited guests (scroll down and you’ll find our bios!). We also have some Disneyland passes left over from a family outing, and as the Anaheim Convention Center is right next to the Magic Kingdom, this should all work out grandly provided we can keep our energy going. I hope to see at least some of you there, since talking to fans is definitely one thing that keeps me peppy!
With that said, time to talk about last Saturday and the one-day Expo held by Long Beach Comic-Con. You can vidi a nice recap from the attendee/press side of things by our friend Amy Ratcliffe on her blog here. One thing she points out which I do believe bears repeating is that more still could be done to separate the brands of the Expo and the main show in October. The LBCC website, for example, still was tending to mingle the two in a confusing manner, and I’ve had difficulty explaining to friends that there are separate shows, especially when most conventions remain once a year events.
Until and unless it’s all sorted out, I think I’ll just call this Expo “Junior”, which was actually my off-the-cuff suggestion for a Twitter hashtag that the organizers approved and ran with this year after asking for fan input (#LBJr, to be precise).
I like Junior. Actually Dawn and I like the Long Beach cons in general, seeing as how we sort of grew up with them. LBCC ’09 was the first one, and also our first time ever exhibiting. LBCC ’10 was our first time ever hosting a panel, and Martha, Phil, Mike, and the rest of the crew have treated us exceptionally well on every outing despite us being, not to mince words, untested nobodies in the comics business. I just can’t imagine how all this would have gone had, for instance, our first con been that awful mess in Pasadena instead. If it weren’t for having LBCC ’09 and the first “Junior” under our belts by then, we might have been very disheartened.
The first Junior last year was an amazing thing, a small, intimate room that nonetheless had people like Stan Sakai, Tim Bradstreet and Mike Mignola manning tables. I think it was something like $10 for an attendee to get in. Alas, I suppose I was rather shy myself since I hardly took advantage of the rare opportunity to get some quality face time with these guys (Bradstreet being the exception). On our end, we had limited offerings beyond Dawn’s art prints and Bits of Nothing comics. I had a stack of postcards to hand out in hopes of getting people to the Zombie Ranch website, but hadn’t even finished the arc that would become our first print issue yet, nor did we have a Zombie Ranch-specific banner to catch the eye. So from that perspective, I think we’ve made some improvements in the last year.
The above picture was taken by head LBCC honcho Martha Donato herself, towards the end of the day, and stands uniquely as one of the only photos I can remember where I showed my teeth in a smile and didn’t end up looking either completely dorky or completely psychotic (or both). So kudos to the photography gods for that. We ended up selling a decent amount of Zombie Ranch #1 throughout the day, including a pair of copies to the organizers of the San Diego Zombie Walk, who confessed to being fans! I also attended the Webcomics Advocates panel, where I ended up talking almost as much as the gents running the show (Phil Vecchio and Brendan Creecy of Brax the Alien Rocker) and their guest of the day, Patrick Scullin of Super Siblings. Fortunately, they appreciated the input, although I was a little sad to see how few questions there were at the end despite all the people in the audience. Did we cover everything someone just starting out would want to know? I sincerely doubt it.
From my remembrance Junior had no panels last year, so this was a new feature, although having only had time to attend the one I can’t tell you how the experiment went overall. What I did appreciate was the decision to keep Junior in the same room as last year, a room just big enough to avoid being smothering at the height of the crowds, while still small enough so that it never felt abandoned — and this despite part of it being cordoned off to film The Guild.
My perspective? We still sell more comics than I ever expect to, and with every convention it seems like more and more people recognize us, or recognize our faces… or as a last resort, recognize our banners. Dawn and I are continuing to experiment and progress, in much the same way LBCC has been doing the same, and hopefully for the better.
I might be biased, though. One of my friends scooted up to me about halfway through the day and excitedly showed me the official flyer for the October con, and I confess, we’re still a bit giddy over it.
Last year we just sat next to Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti — this year, at least for one brief shining flier, we’re billed along with them as “awesome guests”.
I’m gonna give one of these to my mom, I think. She can stick it on the fridge, as prima facie evidence her son and daughter-in-law are awesome.