Oy, what a disaster today was. Thank you, snow. Where the fuck is global warming when you need it?!? It was in the 60's yesterday! I had a bad feeling when I was loading up the Angry Red Dragon this morning, and felt the wind picking up and getting stronger. That usually means a dramatic weather shift is about to occur. I got to the DuPage County Fairgrounds with a sinking feeling. Turns out I was right. The show turnout was okay, certainly bigger than the Tinley Park show, but certainly not big. A guy there was talking with me and said it was the weather. I was ready to dismiss that, until I heard everyone else saying the same thing. They'd done these shows before, and it was never this light of a turnout. One guy said the turnout was about 25% of what it usually was. So, was I on the right track picking this show to hawk my wares and there just wasn't the turnout this time, or was just it a bad idea? Don't know.
I mentioned that I couldn't see myself doing worse here than I did at Tinley, and for the most part, that was right. Mathematically, I did better. I sold one copy of Stress Puppy, one set of Sound Waves, and two Sound Waves #1's. I set the price point for $8 for Stress Puppy and $3.50 for each issue of Sound Waves. I might need to readjust the price, because just about every dealer said I was too low, I should up it. On the bright side, that means the lack of sales wasn't because I was pricing myself into oblivion. So there is that comfort, that it isn't economics that's the problem. This is also why I'm uncertain what would have been different with a regular crowd. In theory, there might have been more people with fun money. But if I go with established numbers, this means that the crowd as it was == one set of Sound Waves sold, so 4X's the size would have meant four sets of Sound Waves sold, which still wouldn't have been enough to make table. It does make me glad that I didn't go nuts and order a bunch of The Supremacy #1's, as those likely wouldn't have sold at all. At least I kept some cash in my wallet.
With the crowd so light, I spent most of my time talking shop with the others there or working on Sound Waves #9. I got four pages penciled and inked. On the bright side, I got a LOT more people looking at my stuff and at least thinking over if they wanted to buy the books. There was one guy I wanted to punch in the head. He was looking at Sound Waves, thumbing through the books, and raving about how he loved my art, my writing was great, the humor bits were genuinely funny. Why didn't he see my book in comic shops? I told him shops didn't want to carry it because Diamond wouldn't carry it and shops don't want to deal with multiple distributors. This is why I'm working for chump change at local shows. He kept raving about how great the comic was and how he couldn't understand why no shops would carry it. Then he walked away without buying one. And I thought, THIS is why they don't want to carry it. Enthusiasm is one thing, actual sales are another.
As I mentioned, some other pros were there. Russell Lissau, who writes The Batman Strikes! for DC loved talking with me. He thumbed through my books, and his favorite bits were the pantomimes I do, where the action takes place between the panels, using the similarities before and after to emphasize the humor, not the action. He especially loved the bit in Sound Waves #4 where Rhapsody gets spooked by an octopus and vanishes from one panel to the next. I apparently made a good impression with him. Connie Faye stopped by to say hi, be neighborly, and look at my books. She loved my art. Faye is a fantasy artist (she did illustrations while she was in the Marine Corps) with an ornate, detailed style, and she thought my character designs were wonderful. I don't think I'm every going to get used to that. The interaction with the most tension for me, however, was Art Baltazar. I didn't recognize him at first, which is a shame, the guy is really distinct. His artwork for Tiny Titans and Patrick The Wolf Boy is cartoony minimalism. In other words, if any comic pro would look at Sound Waves and think I was a chump, it would be him. But he loved the look and the style. He was apparently thinking of buying a set of Sound Waves from me, but I just gave them to him. I love his stuff, and it was a chance for me to sort of give back. He kept saying I was a "good man." All I could do was bow and say, "I try." Hey, I'm not a rotten misanthrope all the time.
Some people watched me work. One woman, I gave her a crash course in drawing chibi art because she just raved about how my characters looked. Turns out, she actually went to art school, so I don't think I really had the right to "teach" her anything, given my lack of formal training and how I completely disregard perspective when it suits me.
So, what next? Don't know. The very real problem is that most of the people who read my comics don't generally read comics. So I need to figure out how to get these people's attention, and I'm not sure I'll get it at a regular comic book show with the emphasis on superheroes. I'm not saying I'll never do another comic book show again, just that I need to do some thinking here....