If this is your first time to my website: welcome.
To those of you returning to the site after seeing one of my panels or meeting me at the anime show last weekend (or just returning in general): Welcome back.
Let’s talk about my favorite convention to attend, as an exhibitor or (and especially) as a guest. Anime Central, or ACEN as it’s known by the fans, is the third-largest animation convention in the country. It’s put on by volunteers and organizations who work for the Mid-west Animation Society, and it’s the most fun weekend I have all year. I have a lot of history with this show, and no more so than what happened this year….
After a long day at the office, I grabbed my 150lbs of merch and gear and headed off to the Blue Line to head out to Rosemont. Being the incredibly buff dude that I am, I of course stood the entire time (please note my sarcasm), and then waited for a pick up. The ride wasn’t coming fast enough for me and the hotel was only a block away (I walked further to get to the Blue Line), so I hoofed it and dropped my stuff in the room with Russell Lissau (Shrek, The Batman Strikes).
Thankfully I had some dinner before leaving the office, but there was food provided in the Green Room for the guests. Eventually Steve Horton (Superman Annual, Spinning to Infinity) and Alan Evans (Rival Angels) arrived, and the group of us went upstairs to say our hellos and drink the night away.
The first official day of the show was met with an early morning breakfast at O’h, the restaurant in the Hyatt. The group was joined by our very awesome convention staffer, Amy, who stuck with us throughout the entire weekend and put up with all our nerdy antics. She’s good people.
11am rolled around and I was once again the only comic artist attending opening ceremonies. This happened to me last year as well, and I had to follow a big voice actor on the stage. I had nothing prepped, and I told myself that this year I would have a speech ready. Ever since they announced my guest status, I started writing a 2-3 minute rabble-rousing speech for the group.
Since registration was having a few glitches, the crowd was a bit lighter than last year. And they were also kicking guests off the stage after about a minute. Suffice it to say, I had to cut the speech short – but the crowd still got excited.
After that it was pure sales until the webcomics panel I put on with Steve. We invited our good friend Alan, who’s had a long-running series and also does all of the work on the #1 wrestling webcomic series on the internet, Rival Angels!
We pretty much filled the Rosemont B auditorium with people, and put on a very informative – and highly entertaining – panel for the masses. I was getting people coming up to the table all weekend thanking me for the panel, and coming to my other panels throughout the weekend because of how well we put that one on.
After the panel I focused on sales until the end of the show for the day. Sales were strong for a Friday, but I had expected to do better the first day of this show. Last year, I only had a single book available (@$$hole), and this year I had three more (Reading with Pictures, Hope: The Hero Initiative, and Junkyard Chase). After the floor closed we met up with Beth and headed out to dinner.
After dinner, the group went to go see Pirates 4 at the Muvico. The theater was quite the experience, as we saw the movie not only in 3-D (skippable), but also with D-BOX seats.
D-BOX seats are gyrating seats, similar to a vibrating video game controller…but for your butt! When the boat sways, your seat sways. It was a very different experience, and one that would only work for action flicks, and I’m not sure I would pay extra for it on all flicks – but it was a very fun experience to have, for sure.
After the flick we went back to the hotel and up to the Green Room for more booze and socializing. Gyu, one of the staffers, brought out a very nice bottle of Highland Scotch, and Steve Yun and I had a few celebratory drinks to kick off the weekend.
Saturday was the big day. The day I had two panels, the attendance would be the largest, and people would be having the most fun. It was also the best day to get my sales goals above where I wanted them. Basically, I wanted to double what I did on Friday (and I came VERY close), but mostly I wanted to have a good time with the fans – and not lose my voice doing so.
After setting up the table, Beth and I started meeting the fans and selling the crap out of everything on the table. For some strange reason my Chocobo sketch cards I had spent the last two weeks slaving over didn’t sell so well…but I had a lot of interest in them. People were asking if they were stickers or magnets. But alas, they weren’t – so no sales there.
But the books were selling like hot cakes. People wanted a follow up book to @$$hole! like no one’s business. Unfortunately I had spent the last year writing other stories (and updating the website) instead of making another book for that story.
Next year, for sure. But I digress….
The first panel of the day was Reading with Pictures, where Josh and I fielded questions about the role comics can play in education. The panel went great, and people really got into asking some very good hard questions about literacy, overcoming objections, and why comics are better than text books – in some instances.
After a successful panel, I went back to the floor to continue my selling spree. Beth was a huge help, while I did things in the background like rubbed my banner’s head (for luck).
Around 6pm it was time for the fun panel – The Panel that Shall Not be Named! Last year ACEN gave me this panel to cover off on my book, @$$hole!, which they just didn’t want to repeat in polite company. However, there was no description for the panel. And no one could tell me what I was supposed to talk about. So I started telling goofy convention stories, and everyone had a blast.
They liked it so much, in fact, they brought it back this year. And it an almost-full room, to boot!
I can’t get into the details of the panel (you need to attend one at a show, though), but everyone had a blast and laughed their asses off. It was some of the most fun all weekend.
After the panel I started to sell copies of the books, which could run a little later since there wasn’t another panel immediately after mine. However, I ran out of copies of @$$Hole!, thinking that people would buy more than just that book. Thankfully, the people who didn’t get a copy were kind enough to follow me back to the convention floor, which was already closed. As a guest I was able to sweet-talk my way back in to grab three more copies for them, and everyone was happy.
After that, it was a bum rush to drop all of our stuff off at the hotel and make it to the restaurant in time for our 8pm reservations. We ate at Gibson’s Steak House, right across the street from the convention center. Last year we went here as well, and it was such a fun time we made reservations there again this year.
After dinner the group returned to the hotel, exhausted and stuffed. We split up for a bit, some of us going to the Green Room and some to the Presidential Suite where we enjoyed some homemade “adult” slushies.
The final day of a convention is always the most difficult. You’re exhausted, but the adrenaline won’t let you rest completely. Thankfully I didn’t have any more panels to give, so it was a restful sales day. Beth and I manned the table like pros, and eventually the convention came to an end.
As I said earlier, ACEN is by far my favorite show to attend – and especially be a guest at. The show is amazing because of the hard work and dedication of the organizers, staff, and volunteers – and also because of the awesome attendees they attract.
Seriously, a special thank you to everyone involved and who attended the show.