Convention Review: Wizard World Chicago 2014
This past weekend was Wizard World Chicago, another local show for me and one of my favorite shows of the year – usually because, in year’s past, sales have been so high for me. I’m not a guest at the show, but it’s another fun opportunity to sell comics and interact with friends and fans. So without further delay, here’s the wrap up for WWC 2014!
Preview night has never been a strong sales day for me (plus, I work a day job during the week), so I left work a little early to head over to the convention center and set up (and hopefully sell something). Thankfully, I received a delivery the night before of a critical piece of product that was premiering this weekend at the show.
Reading with Pictures volume 2 arrives just in time!
I got off the train and started walking towards the convention center, and along the way realized I was following a man with a lot of luggage. He had white hair, a black t-shirt, jeans, and looked like he had more luggage than the average con-goer. I’m usually pretty good with identifying people by their posture, and I recognized his.
“Brent?” I asked. The man turned, and sure enough – it was Brent Spiner (Data, from Star Trek The Next Generation).
Apparently no one had picked him up from the airport, and he walked all the way from O’Hare to the convention center. I chatted him up a bit, trying not to fanboy out over meeting someone I had watched on TV (and then in movies!) for 1/3 of my life or more. Brent was pretty easy-going, a little germ-a-phobic (but I can’t blame him for that, since con-plague is awful), and generally pleasant to talk to. We parted ways at the entrance and I got my wristband and headed over to the table to set up.
My good friend and fellow partner in comics Russell Lissau was already set up and had sold a few books (I sold some to co-workers earlier in the day). I did a temp table set up, and sold a few books before it was time to break down.
I was staying with Russell for the weekend, and so we popped into his car and headed to a Chinese restaurant over by his house for dinner. My wife was swinging by later in the evening to drop off the rest of my stuff (it’s difficult to carry everything on public transit), so we took our time and enjoyed a tasty meal. Back at his place, we arrived at the same time as my wife and unloaded the stuff from the car. She had a chance to come in and chat for a little bit, but she had work the next day so she couldn’t stay long.
Russell and I stayed up until about midnight catching up and hanging out, and then went to bed in anticipation of selling boat-loads of comics the next day.
Friday morning we had a quick bite of breakfast, and then headed to the convention center. However, traffic kept us at bay. We didn’t realize the backlog of cars that would be trying to get to this thing, and so we had to detour around the area to find an exit and a way to get to the parking lot. Suffice it to say, we arrived late.
The new table set up – all ready to sell some comics!
The day was filled with a lot of pitching; a lot of trying to get the books in front of people. However, I received an objection I’ve never encountered before, specifically surrounding the new book: “Can I buy this on Amazon?”
Well, sure you can buy Reading with Pictures on Amazon (none of my other books are available on there, though). It’s published by AMP and they sell it on there. But, you’ll have to wait for it to arrive, pay for shipping, and it won’t be signed or personalized by myself or any other creators. Where as if you buy it from me directly, you’ll get all of these things and more!
Suffice it to say, it was an interesting day for selling. But sell we did.
After the con closed, we headed over to The Ram and had some burgers and drinks. It was nice to unwind a bit (and talk about some of the cosplays we had seen, or any celebrity sightings). After dinner, we went back home and chatted until late in the night before going to bed.
We left earlier this time, to try to beat a lot of the traffic. And it’s a good thing we did, because we still had to park way back in the lot. Which was fine, because at least we got in and set up in time for the start of the show.
A day of sales and commissions followed. I was approached by a few people for commissions – including a guy who was trying to get a bunch of puppy characters on a sheet from his favorite show. It was an amazing jam piece (and I would totally post the picture, if I could find it).
A super-awesome Chung Li cosplay (and she bought some books to boot, so bonus!)
Amy and Decapitated Dan stopped by the table to say hello!
After a full day of sales on the floor, the group went out to dinner after with several of our friends who weren’t even attending (or at least exhibiting) at the show.
Dinner out with friends. On the left: Chris, Tom, Alan; On the right: Jason, Wendy, Sean, Sara; At the head of the table: me; Taking the photo: Russell.
After dinner, we went back to bed for preparation of our final day of sales.
The final day of the show still had strong attendance numbers, and the family books sold well like they usually do on Sunday. We were all pretty exhausted, though, and starting to run low on books (although not necessarily the books we thought we would be running low on).
Rachael came back (in a stunning Star Trek cosplay) for more comics! Not only is she awesome at cosplaying, but she’s also been a great supporter of the work!
Having made back my table, I eventually decided to break down early. I was pretty tired, and wanted to have a chance to relax before going back to work. So in the afternoon I packed up, said my goodbyes, and headed for home.
This Wizard World was still successful, but less so than it should have been. I’ve been in several discussions as to why we think that is: higher attendance prices, more focus on celebrities, larger artist alley, etc. But with several new books on the table, there’s little reason as to why they weren’t moving the way I thought they should have.
While Wizard continues to be a fun show and a strong seller, the increased costs associated with it did hurt profitability a bit, but not the fun factor. I’m debating with my friends about doing the show again next year, but there’s a high probability that I’ll be back.