Thursday night I headed out to Rosemont to attend Reactor 2009, a smaller convention that has been very anime-related in the past but this year had a little more diversity. I had been encouraged to attend by my good friend Russell Lissau (Batman Strikes!, Hope: New Orleans), and our friends Josh Elder (Batman Strikes!, Mail Order Ninja) and Steve Horton (StrongArm, WebComics2.0) were also in attendance as guests. This convention was also the premiere of the first @$$hole! collection, which sold pretty well considering the size of the con and the location that guests were placed.
Friday was the official start of the con, and usually it’s the slowest day for sales. I was sharing a table with Russell and Josh in the dealer’s room, and while traffic was pretty light the sales were pretty high. The crowd tended to be a bit younger, so budgeting may not have been on the mind – instead, they were buying up what caught their eye the first day. Many people bought the book based on the title alone, which saved me the effort of putting together a pitch for it the first day. Russell was giving me some excellent advice throughout the entire weekend, not only on table running and pitches, but also writing in general and con etiquette on the “other side of the table.”
After a fairly strong first day, we had dinner in the Green Room and then went to a panel and performed Mail Order Ninja for the attendees. Panel attendance seemed a little light at this convention overall, but there are several reasons why this may have been the case:
1) The convention rooms were in the basement, past the viewing rooms and dealer room
2) Many attendees were participating in cosplaying, and there may have been competing cosplay programs going on at the same time
3) Many attendees were hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, playing games or enjoying their new merch acquired from the day of shopping
4) Or the attendees just were not as interested in panels at this show as they are at other shows.
Whatever the reason, people still showed up to all of the panels and I greatly appreciate that.
Friday night a friend that I met at NYCC stopped into the convention. Melissa was planning to come into town to visit people anyway, and stopped in before hand to have a drink at the bar and catch up. It was great to see her again, since we had had so much fun hanging out at NYCC and while waiting for the plane after the show. Josh and Russell both knew her too, and we all had a great night chatting and catching up.
Saturday was the longest day of the con, and also had the lowest sales of the weekend. There are a few reasons this may be, such as the fact that I was on 3 panels that day, but I also think that many of the attendees were hanging out in Artist Alley that day. I had a few friends with tables in AA and they experienced the opposite of me in terms of sales: Friday was slow, but Saturday was strong.
My panels that day started at 1pm with a State of the Industry panel. Russell, Steve, Keith, and myself all talked about many of the changes happening within the comic and manga industry – many of the questions we fielded were related to distribution and the future of where comics and anime are going. It was a 2 hour panel with some excellent attendance.
After that, we had a quick bite of lunch before I attended my Writing for Comics panel with Steve. Since Steve literally wrote the book on writing web comics, we decided to make it more about the web. Which was great, since many of the attendees were interested in starting their own web comics or making their current comics better. Immediately after that panel, I attended my Sci-Fi / Fantasy: The Art of Crafting Your World panel. I had some great in-depth questions during this panel based on the stories that people were crafting, and I walked them through my process and success stories from having worked on The Temple of a Thousand Tears for so many years. Steve Yun (Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles) even walked in at the end of the panel (since I ran over and he was waiting for a projector for his next panel), and asked a few questions.
After the panels were done, I went to the table to try to sell for the last little bit that was left of the day, and then we packed up. We had a quick bite for dinner and went to the pool with Russell to relax before the night’s activities. Russell and Steve lead a heated game of poker with some of the other guests, while I was invited to GameWorks with many of the ACEN people in attendance at this show.
We had a few drinks at the bar, and then filtered out to play whatever video game caught our eye. Steve Yun and I played several shooting games together, one of which was constantly glitching (so bad that I’m impressed that we were even able to play the thing). Eventually the night ended and I got a ride back to the hotel where I promptly passed out.
Sunday I only had a single panel, and sales started to pick up a little. Especially for Russell, who out-sold both myself and Steve. Russell’s been doing this a lot longer than we have, and had some great tips to ways to improve our salesmanship. My panel was called “The World of an @$$hole!,” and it was all on the new book that I had just published. As for the other panels, attendance was light and some of the questions were really engaging. I very much appreciated everyone who showed up. After my panel, Steve had a panel and since attendance was also light for him, we all had a round-table discussion on comics and projects we were working on.
After the panels, we went back to the tables for the last few hours of the con, and then packed up and went to have lunch at a local diner. Russell was kind enough to drop Josh and myself off at the train, and then we all parted ways.
Reactor was a fun convention experience and a great place to premiere the book, especially with the help and advice of Russell. It was also a great chance to catch up with old friends that I don’t get to see a lot, and meet some new friends as well.