The con was a mixed bag. Here's my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly...
1) It's always such a pleasure and privilege to get to meet and talk to my readers. Several of them have visited with me at other events, tried my first book out, and wanted to get the other two books in the series. One reader even created a steampunk costume for his son, and on the back of the power pack, he put a little red dragonfly on it just for me.
Wow. That's so cool. I put that up there with a fan who made a customized action figure for me.
Meeting people who enjoy your work never gets old. It's what fuels me, actually. No matter how tough this road gets.
2) Eric Asher is just a cool dude. We laughed our asses off. It's always great to hang out with someone who has a similar sense of humor. The guy sells more in one day than I do in six months, and he's always full of knowledge and experience I try to tap into.
3) The cosplayers. Whoa. The costumes many of the con-goers create never cease to amaze me. If you want to see just a small sampling of my favorite ones, check out my Instagram posts:
|Mr. Freeze's helmet was fog-proof, I believe|
1) Don't get me wrong. I think Hayley Atwell (Captain America/Agent Carter), Rick Coswell (The Flash), Elvira, George Romero (Dawn of the Dead), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jason David Frank (The Green Ranger) are awesome. But lacking this year were the headliners who have come to WW Comic Con in the past like William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Matt Smith, or Adam West/Burt Ward.
2) The crowd stuck to the periphery. Photo ops and autograph booths were all around the outer edge of the arena. Artists row was in the middle. People pretty much kept to the huge booths at the entrance to the arena and all along the perimeter. There was no natural traffic flow through artists' alley.
3) It's always disheartening to see steampunk people walk on by. I know steampunk is a lot of different things to different people. It's fashion, jewelry, cool brass guns, goggles, etc. But steampunk is more than asthetics. Steampunk began as a literary movement, and it makes me sad that a vast majority of steampunks don't even stop by my table despite the obvious steampunk-ness of my banner, book covers, etc.
1) It was Memorial Day Weekend. Holiday weekends tend to be weak. Overall attendance was WAY down compared to previous years. When there was a celebrity panel going on, the arena became a ghost town. That was weird. Usually, this show has about 20,000 people come through. I'm sure it was well below that number this year.
2) With reduced attendance came reduced sales. Most of the artists all around me ended up losing money. The cost of just a table was $325. Add parking, meals, and lodging for many of us, and that spells RED. Luckily, I split the cost of my table, and I live in town, so I was able to reduce my risk and end up in the BLACK. But barely. After I pay sales tax, I might be even more depressed.
3) With many vendors having lost their shirts, there was a lot of negativity. It's easy being dragged down into despair when all that anger and frustration is around you. I tried to take a deep breath, and just be thankful for all the good stuff that I was able to experience.
So the show was a mixed bag, but in my mind, the positives outweigh the negatives. Even if I had lost money, I'd still be immensely happy that I got to meet some people who either love my work or are willing to give my strange Asian-Steampunk books a try.
I seem to do better at medium/smaller shows. The price of the table is a fraction of the cost, and there seems to be more readers at these less-than-huge venues. I probably won't go to Wizard World next year as an artist, although I wouldn't mind going as an attendee.
I've now been doing events and shows for one full year, and I'm still learning and trying to figure out where I belong.