STUNNED BY THE CONS? THE CONVENTION BUSINESS PART N+2

Even with Comic Book Conventions, there’s a Yang to the Yin, light to darkness. In just a month, Will Torres and myself have been featured at three different cons. I described in detail what happened at the Great Philly Expo (here). Then, two weeks later, we were at the Flemington Comic Show, a tiny con in the middle of (almost) nowhere… Well, in New Jersey. Then this past week-end, we were at East Coast Comic Con. Three different experiences. Let’s take a closer look at all this.

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Flemington Comic Expo: Small world
April 23rd. As our GPS sends us on Route 31 in Flemington, a little town in New Jersey, we have hard time finding the place hosting the Flemington Comic Expo. A little banner standing on the little yard on the right side of the road. We nearly missed it. As we go in, we realize how small this show is. Not that it’s a problem, but we’re doing shows to meet people, to share our work, our stories. And, by experience, a comic book show taking place too far from a city or transportation (bus, train, airport) rarely draws huge crowds. You have to be very motivated to get there. And as expected, attendance was light. We met very nice people, but we won’t be able to come back there if the show stays as it is. Nobody is the business of losing money. And at Flemington, we lost some. A lot of people don’t get it, but going from Brooklyn, where I live, to a place like Flemington takes almost Fichier_001 (2)3 hours of commuting. Double that up and you get the idea. It’s not cheap either. Don’t get me wrong, Flemington Comic Expo organizers are very nice. They offered free table and even a $5 coupon to get a discount at the food truck outside. But it’s simply not enough to justify our presence there. Especially with so little time on site (the show was 10AM to 4PM). We clearly lost money going to such a show. It reminded me of some shows I did in France where I was sitting in halls, selling very few comics and not seeing anyone for hours. Next…

East Coast Comic Con: great little show
Well, we’re not talking “Flemington Little”. But the Meadowlands Expo Center in Seacaucus, New Jersey is far from being as big as the Javits Center in Manhattan or even the Great Philly Expo Center in Philadelphia. But its treasures are anywhere but in its concrete very 80s carpeted old fashion location. I have to give 100% credit to Will Torres for getting me there. East Coast Con has been on my radar for a while and I vaguely attempted to make contact, but Will found the way in by dealing with the Hero Initiative. This non for profit organization is a blessing in our industry. It helps creators in need. As many can imagine, most creators are freelancers. Most don’t have access to decent health insurance or retirement plans. And when something bad happens to them, their family often can’t face the costs. The Hero Initiative shows how much our industry takes care of its own. So when Will told me we’d be welcomed to sign and sketch at the Hero Initiative booth, I was thrilled. Great charity with great spirit and great business: a perfect match! Kudos to Kevin, our Hero Initiative host and Jim Mc Laughlin, the organization honcho, for giving us this opportunity.

The Spider-Man Noir effect
I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. When I first thought about the Spider-Man Noir concept, 10 years ago, I didn’t think it would be as popular as it is AND that I would be drawing him all the time! But clearly, there’s an appetite for Spidey Noir. And I couldn’t be prouder. For years, I asked myself: “You co-created this character, how do you capitalize on this?”. Well, now I know. Even if Marvel doesn’t seem to be interested in doing more (or if they are, they sure never told me about it), so many fans love it. And now that I can draw almost properly, I can deliver decent Spidey Noirs to fans. As a result, the character was in high demand all week-end. The only time I didn’t draw him was when I drew on the Hero Initiative books for them to sell (it was the X-Men, if you’re interested). That said, I’m never tired of drawing Spidey Noir. As I always mention, thanks to Marko Djurdjevic, Carmine DiGiandomenico, Pat Zircher, Dennis Calero and Richard Isanove for giving life to that little concept Dave Hine and I wrote. Best moments were when variant cover specialists Scorpion Comics asked me to draw a cover and when a fan asked for a recreation of Pat Zircher’s cover to Spider-Man Noir#3 (both inked by Will).

Number crunching
East Coast Comicon delivered. Big time. First, the trip there wasn’t too much of a burden. Subway to Port Authority, then NJ Transit bus: 90 mn transit time each way, for a total of $22 for the whole weekend! Food options were plenty for lunch, limiting our budget and helping us eat healthier. We raised lots of money for the Hero Initiative and almost as much for ourselves. Overall, a wonderful experience. We got to share booth with comic legend Denny O’Neill. We were across the aisle from another legend (and Stan Lee brother), Larry Lieber. I was also thrilled to see my bestie Ramon Gil, coming back to convention after serious health issues prevented him to come to recent shows. My only regret: not finding time to spend more time with my buddy Yanick Paquette (always a pleasure to see him). Bravo East Coast Comic Con. I’ll certainly come back next year.

Next stop: Free Comic Book Day at Level Up Entertainment in the Hamilton Mall (Mays Landing, NJ).

To be continued…

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