Expectations and surprises
If you’ve been paying attention to our comings and goings, you’ll know that this past weekend Dawn and I made our journey to Phoenix Comicon. If you haven’t? Uh, well… this past weekend Dawn and I made our journey to Phoenix Comicon.
How did it go? Well, in my blog on WonderCon 2013 a couple months back I mentioned how I’ve adopted a degree of low expectations where conventions are concerned, in hopes of being pleasantly surprised. WonderCon then indeed turned out to be shockingly good for us, especially given that we didn’t have to spend much in terms of getting there. Given the mess of WonderCon 2012, it really took me by surprise, and some of my exhibitor friends who didn’t come back had to just ponder what might have been.
Our situation with Phoenix could be said to be a reversal of that. All our exhibitor friends who’d been there in previous years talked it up so high that (as another first-timer stated) “it sounded like the aisles were paved with gold”. It’s a four day convention, which does imply a certain amount of bigness… San Diego lasts for five days, while I’d consider the average to be three… but it doesn’t matter how long a convention lasts if the sales aren’t there. Phoenix Comicon 2012 was reportedly such a money maker that one small creator-owned operation we know made over $1500 by the halfway mark. That’s probably a drop in the bucket to a vendor like BOOM! Studios, but it’s the kind of numbers that would put stars in the eyes of most people on our level.
How would we have done last year? Dawn and I will never know. This year, the aisles lacked their golden sheen and most everyone I talked to both new and old had to admit to some disappointment. Thursday and Friday were very slow for the exhibitors, seemingly across the board. It was definitely true for us. Saturday picked up, and after a desolate first few hours on Sunday things picked up so much Sunday actually became our best day, even with the drama of a fire alarm evacuation towards the end. Fortunately the convention did not burn down at that time, even if it might have been interesting to see if it would rise from the ashes like its namesake.
When all was said and done, we made more than we have at any convention aside from WonderCon, but the costs of going long distance still swallowed that, even though we avoided flying/shipping things and got a no frills hotel stay. The logistics were probably the smoothest we’ve ever had on one of these trips, so I have no complaints there… but it didn’t do anything to change our minds about scaling back to local shows for the foreseeable future. I’m not bitching and moaning here, because the fact is that here’s a situation where my tendency towards low expectations helped out. I listened to all the hype, and though of course it would have been great had we caught the wave of those previous years, I wasn’t devastated at not breaking even, much less the failure to rake in thousands of dollars. We didn’t put ourselves in a position where that was necessary.
Anyhow, it just goes to show that there are always surprises, whether you’re trying out a new show or even returning to a previous one. I had an idea that heading out to Arizona might be a place where our comic might find some traction, what with the Western themes, but it seemed like we found more people in Anaheim that were into the ranching and farming angle. Maybe there’s a lesson there in comics as escapism, where if you live in a desert, you’d rather read something set elsewhere. Maybe it was the position and size of our table. Maybe it was the phase of the moon. Trying to figure these things out seems like a great way to go nuts. The only sane expectation to have is the unexpected.
Speaking of which, before I wrap up for the week I did want to gush about a few cool things I could say made the trip worthwhile beyond the mere monetary aspects. We got to meet at least a few people who were fans of the comic that we hadn’t met before, including Laura Knatt who will be debuting a new webcomic of her own quite soon, titled CMYK. Sarrah Wilkinson of Red Nebula Studios, who drew that wonderful Popcorn fan art, personally presented a print of it that she had made up just for us (and you should’ve seen her stunning cosplay of Garrus from Mass Effect… wow!). We also got to be chatty neighbors with Jennie Breeden of The Devil’s Panties and Dusty of Scuttlebutt Ink, who were both very fun to nerd out with. I found Andrew Hussie of Homestuck standing alone at the Topataco booth on Thursday night and got him all to myself for several minutes of questions and admiration, which was pretty great because Homestuck is freaking amazing.
But I must give special thanks to Arizona-based artist Keith Decesare, who caught our eyes with his work and before the con ended was generous enough to agree to an art trade despite never meeting us before. I’m really glad I asked him because as far as I can tell this particular print isn’t even available on his online store:
You can click the image for the larger version based at his site, http://www.kadcreations.com . In fact, hell, click that link and browse around, he’s got several gorgeous pieces on display… this one is just the one that spoke most to me. What can I say? I have a weakness for tough ladies that look like they’re truly striving against the odds, and while this knight isn’t hard on the eyes, she’s not there to just be cheesecake… she’s got a monster to slay or die trying… perhaps both.
But as Keith himself admits, the image started as a doodle of something completely different. The direction it went in for him was a surprise. As far as I’m concerned, it was one of my happiest surprises of the show.