I wrote a series of posts on my other website, www.AlbertTheAlien.com, about my convention experience at Wizard World Chicago. Check out the various sections below.
PART 1: Preview Night, which included a very hearty dinner with my good pal, Russell Lissau.
PART 2: The first official day, in which I moderated a panel with Dean Haspiel, Ali Cantarella, and Steve Horton.
PART 3: The biggest day of the show, where Channel Awesome paid me a visit and I met Jon Baily (Honest Trailers)
PART 4: The final day, where I had to say my goodbyes (by taking silly pictures with people).
July 4th is a time of fun, family, BBQ, and explosions in the United States. That’s right, it’s independence day!
But instead of celebrating my freedom in this country by blowing up a portion of it with loud / colorful devices of destruction, I decided to be productive and attend a convention instead! Hanging out with friends, fans, and selling comics…yeah, it’s not too far off from what everyone else was doing. Minus the selling comics thing, maybe. But anyway, here’s the weekend I had:
I had a half day working from home, so after I finished up my daily duties I grabbed my (ridiculously heavy) luggage and headed out to Rosemont. The blue line is a straight shot out there from my place, and after a short train ride I walked to the hotel to get my badges and drop off my stuff. The guests had space set aside for them against the far wall of the convention, and I quickly set down my stuff and ensured the comic guests could all be next to each other.
After that, I headed to the hotel room and started doing some sketch cards. I was premiering some new designs (Furiosa, and Spider-Gwen), and needed to put the finishing touches on them. After a little bit, my good friend and fellow comic guest Russell Lissau (OLD WOUNDS, THE BATMAN STRIKES) arrived and we grabbed some food and hung out at the bar. He was soon followed by Steve Horton (AMALA’S BLADE) and Steve Wallace (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD KOBALTS). The gang all hung out at the bar, and then retired to one of our rooms to catch up and hang out. I went to bed kind of early because I wanted to hit up the gym the next day.
An early morning work out is how I like to start my first day of a convention. It gives me energy, wakes me up, and keeps the adrenaline going from the night before. The gym is usually empty when I do a convention – I’ve noticed the gym is particularly barren at anime shows – but this time the gym had a handful of people.
After the workout and a quick shower, I met the comic guests downstairs for a hearty breakfast, and then we went to the floor to set up.
Table set up for Anime Midwest
The comic guests of Anime Midwest. From left to right: Russell Lissau, some creepy bald guy, Sean Lindsay, Steve Horton, and Steve Wallace
Fridays are usually strong sales days for me. I have a lot of friends and fans visit, but particularly this Friday I was selling the new Albert the Alien trade, as well as several box sets for some of my other series. It was a great strong start to the weekend, and exceeded my sales expectations for the day.
We broke down a little early before the floor closed, since we had panels to do. The guys regrouped at the bar for a quick drink while pizza was being delivered, but I spent the evening chatting with my friend Lauren (Geek Girl Chicago). I ended up having dinner with her instead of pizza with the guys – mostly because we were both talking about my favorite video games, and our favorite experiences in the Fallout games. We were both psyched for Fallout 4, and couldn’t wait for the game to hit!
After dinner, I headed downstairs for our first panel of the night – Writing Comics! We did it Q&A style, fielding questions from the audience. It was a well-attended panel, and the fans appreciated learning everything we could share about our experiences working in comics.
Russell, Steve, and Steve (and myself, taking the photo) doing a “Writing Comics” panel
After that panel there was a little more downtime before my final panel of the night, Self-Publishing 101. I took the panel solo, talking about how to make comics yourself. It was a fun time, another great opportunity for attendees to ask questions, and I even got topics about selling strategies and self-promoting / branding at a convention.
After the panel ended, it was time to relax in the room for a bit. I got a phone call from my buddy that was crashing with us this weekend that he had arrived, let him into the room and the group of us crashed almost immediately. It had been an exhausting first day, but also a great one!
Morning came earlier than any of us wanted, I think, but we got up and had some breakfast before opening our tables to the masses of the show. Traffic was a little light in the morning, but that was partly due to the fact that many attendees were up late at the dance the previous night (and also partially due to some movie premieres that were happening that morning).
During the slower period, I was able to hang out with my Albert the Alien artist Gabo, as well as our new artist friend Ali Cantarella (The Hasty Pastry). She loves baking, and made me a very tasty cookies and cream rice krispie treat! It was as delicious as it sounds.
Ali Cantarella made me a cookies and cream rice krispie treat. It was as delicious as it sounds!
At noon I had a panel called “Kickstarter for Beginners,” and I invited Ali to join me on the panel since her book was also funded through the platform. The two of us fielded questions and talked through our approaches to crowd-funding, and how we ran our campaigns. It was very insightful, and she had some great insights from her experience. People in the audience were asking about Kickstarter in general, but some wanted to know how to fund their own projects (and most of them were not comic related, which was interesting).
After the panel, traffic had picked up dramatically and books were flying off the table. I sold through all of my box sets for @$$hole!, and also sold through all of my Killer Queen anthology books. I didn’t think those wold move, since they’re pricey books, but they flew off the table. People loved them!
I also started selling through copies of The Fan, my first horror book. A lot of people who bought it the previous day even came back to ask when the next one would be coming out (the answer: there’s no planned sequel, but I do plan to partner with artist Nicholas Ramio again soon).
Someone bought a box set. These sold super well throughout the weekend…until I sold out!
Towards the evening, traffic started to slow again as attendees started making their way towards panels or dinners. But since I was next to the Channel Awesome crew, it was a fun opportunity to goof around and make some funny jokes. The bulk of us were in a (not kid friendly) web movie called Dragonbored, about a guy so obsessed with a video game that he brings his character out into the real world. Think “Last Action Hero” meets “Conan The Barbarian,” but intentionally funny.
We started coming up with goofy story ideas for the sequel (and since the star, Doug Walker, wasn’t at the show – we decided it would be like a direct-to-DVD sequel with goofy cheesy story and focus on the supporting cast, instead). The story went something like this:
Worried about his friend, Malcolm downloads Karl from the Skyguard game on his mobile game app. However, he accidentally brings something else from the game back with him. Now the two must partner together to defeat this new game evil, and put everything right.
Scenes we discussed occurring included:
– Karl and Malcolm having to battle a giant off-screen monster
– Fard and Trevor, trying to fire each other
– Brian going back in time to find the programmer who disappeared in the post-credits scene, and deciding he never wants to come home again…until he discovers there are no hot pockets in the past!
– A phone call appearance by Rachel Tietz
– Somehow bringing the intro character (Rob Walker) back, possibly as a background character or cameo
Suffice it to say, we had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and taking pictures.
Hanging out with Fard and Karl – great guys, who’re super funny
Hanging out with the Channel Awesome crew (and somewhat of a Dragonbored reunion). From Left to right: Fard Muhammad, Malcolm Ray, me, Karl Custer, Brian Heinz, and Lewis Lovhaug
Dragonbored 2 fun: Malcolm downloads Karl from the mobile game app
Dragonbored 2 fun: Karl covers up product placement while Malcolm reacts to something off-screen
After the floor closed, it was time for a quick bite of dinner before running off to my final panel of the evening: An Evening with Trevor Mueller. This hour-long panel is an opportunity for me to relax with fans, have fun, and tell goofy stories for an hour. I told some fan-favorites (most of the audience were new faces, so that worked out well), and I topped it all off with showing some of the fake movie trailers we made for our wedding. Voice actor Eric Stewart caught the last 10 minutes or so of the panel, and opened his panel saying how funny it was. It was a great compliment, and left me feeling great for the rest of the evening.
After the panel ended, it was time for some late-night relaxation. I went to the green room and hung out in there for most of the night, catching up with fellow guests Spike Spencer, his wife Kim (and talking about her great new projects!), Eric and some of the 4Star guys. A woman named Highwire was our liaison, and she bar tended the room – making some very tasty peach flavored drinks. I even popped into the rave for a little bit, but didn’t stay too long. I did have another day of sales ahead of me, after all.
The final day of the show always starts with a slow morning. Not necessarily in terms of traffic (although, that was the case since the show was premiering another movie Sunday morning), but because Saturday was a late night and you’re typically pretty tired. It’s also a little bittersweet, because you know at the end of the day that the weekend is over and tomorrow you have to go back to the real world.
But I digress – we had a quick breakfast and headed to the floor for a morning of sales. I was mostly sold out by this time, but was able to move a few more books before packing it in for the day.
Come buy comics from this handsome guy
Overall, Anime Midwest was a really fun time. They had a killer guest lineup this year, well attended panels, and there’s always a lot of fun and energy!
This past weekend was C2E2, short for Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, and it was another incredible year of awesomeness! I had a bunch of buddies come in and crash with me Thursday night, so on Friday is when the real festivities began. I’ll start there….
In the morning we all got up super early (so early, in fact, that some of my guests had already left to go set up their table). We had a quick bite of breakfast and then headed over to the show floor where, much to my surprise, we didn’t have a table! This isn’t uncommon, as the 10×10 spaces don’t typically come with a table. Sadly, I had thought we were getting one, and hadn’t brought mine from home. But thankfully after a few quick calls and some paperwork, we had a table just in time for set up before people started streaming into the show.
The Reading with Pictures booth, in all it’s glory!
I started my day of sales, and sell hard I did. Thankfully, we had a few friends and volunteers to help out at the table as well. We were also doing a charity pub crawl, which we were promoting throughout the weekend as well. So there was much promoting going on – about the educational non-profit that is Reading with Pictures, about our books and initiatives, and about the other books we had on the table – namely, Albert the Alien!
Some good looking’ guys at the Reading with Pictures booth. From left to right: Steve Horton, Alan Evans, and Trevor Mueller
Pizza face masks! We were giving these away as part of our pub crawl charity event
Because I was primarily helping out at the non-profit booth all weekend, I had been asked to try to make a lot of my personal sales for the weekend pre-orders. I talked to a lot of fans in advance of the show to secure commissions, book orders, and other revenue-driving items. I was worried this may not be a success, but much to my surprise people were really into it. In fact, some kept coming back to order more commissions over and over again. Here are some examples of what I did for the show on Friday….
A fan posed for a commission of him hulking out…
…and received THIS!
Posing with Rachel – who had a sweet sword!
Evil Kitteh commission of a fan’s boyfriend’s cat as a super villain
Chung Li vs Agent May commission (they were both played by Ming Na, who was at the show)
Spock sketchcard commission
The convention was a big success, with a lot of interest in the organization and in attending our pub crawl for charity. After a few hours I finally got a chance to break and walk around a bit. I had a great meeting with some publishers and editors, and got to shake hands with a few really cool people (my friends at Aspen, buddies at Penguin and Zenoscope, and a slew of others).
After a few hours, the floor finally closed and a group of us got together for our annual sushi tradition. Heading to my favorite sushi joint in the city, we all piled into cars and cabs and made our way to grab some affordable and delicious food! We were even joined by some new friends, which is great – you always bond best with people over good food.
Dinner at Niu with Blake and Carolyn Packard
John Bivens drops some hilarious jokes at dinner
After a nice long dinner, it was finally time to return home and get some much-needed sleep. We were all pretty tired and it was only the first day of the show. Tomorrow would be the biggest day of crowds and potential sales, so we all wanted to be on our a-game.
Saturday started off with a sprint and kept getting faster as it went. The pre-orderers kept coming by to get the stuff they wanted, or to get some books – the sales kept coming and it was awesome! I also got a slew of commissions throughout the day, including…
Harley Quinn commission
Goku God commission
…and many more!
Thankfully there was a little time to pull away from the table (since I had some handy-dandy volunteers helping us out at the table). Garret showed up in an Iron Fist cosplay, and we even got some of my friends and cosplay fans to help promote the charity events.
Even Buddy Christ was helping us out with the charity event!
But there was also time for fun and games, which is what helps us get through the long days at a convention.
Having fun with John Bivens between sales at the RWP booth
A slew of cosplayed friends stopped by the table, and some of their outfits were super inventive and awesome. I took a few pictures of the cosplayers (not something I normally do, but I couldn’t help it – they spend so much time on their outfits, the least I can do is take a picture and talk about it a little). Below are some of the cool ones from my friends who stopped by.
Slave Chung Li and Pimp Jabba
Mockingbird from Agents of SHILED (her Hydra outfit)
Captain America made an appearance at the table
Some more fun cosplayers – and good friends of mine – in their awesome outfits!
I eventually got a chance to step away from the table for a bit and go out to Artist Alley to see friends and colleagues. It always takes me FOREVER to get through artist alley because I know so many people. I think it took about 3-4 hours and I was only halfway through the hall. But I would have to return the next day, because at that point I needed to return to the RWP table and give some relief to our fine volunteers and helpers.
After the floor closed we all packed up and headed to ChinaTown where we enjoyed some fine food and good company. We were joined by the Walkers from Nostalgia Critic fame, as well as a bevy of other artists and writers from the show. The night ended late again, with us headed back to my place for much needed sleep. At this point I had started to lose my voice, so tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.
Sunday morning was a slower morning in the household, because one of my house guests had left the day before, and another was leaving for home right after dropping me off. The show floor was quiet as I walked in and started setting up, and chatted up a few folks I hadn’t had a chance to speak to previously. I even had a few friends stop by the booth with their kids.
Sunday is kids day, and for most creators that means lower sales. Unless, like me, you make a kid’s comic book. Then Sundays are awesome! I had kids running up to the table shouting “ALBERT! LOOK, MOMMY, IT”S ALBERT! I WANT ALBERT!” Such a great feeling!
Hanging out with the fine folks of Kiren Rise
Posing with Sera McClain, who has appeared in Albert the Alien!
The Judges approve of Albert the Alien!
After only a few hours, even though I brought another half box of books from home to some additional online pre-orders I had received, we were eventually sold out completely. I shut down the table, left a sign thanking everyone for their support, and went to walk the show floor and complete my run around artist alley.
The previous day I had only made it about half way through the alley, and this morning the traffic was a little easier to navigate (the other side of the show where I had been the other day was where all the big kid’s creators were, so I’m sure those isles were packed). I talked to some friends, exchanged some books with some people, and generally rubbed elbows, shook hands, and kissed babies (not really).
A friend of Albert the Alien artist Gabo had some really cute figurines on display, which I tried to text and convince my wife we needed in our place. She’s tolerated my collection of comics and movies, but she told me she draws the line at figurines. I think I can sway her eventually…
Chubby Batman is the coolest!
Hanging out with the very talented Eric Palicki!
After a few hours the show floor finally closed, and it was time to pack up and head home. I could barely keep my eyes open when I got home, because the weekend was so awesome. A very special thank you to all of the staff and volunteers at ReedPOP for another fantastic year of partnership between you and Reading with Pictures. Thank you to the ALA for being awesome partners to our non-profit, and for being great table neighbors throughout the weekend. And thank you to all of the friends and fans who supported me this weekend with your company (and your hard-earned dollars). You guys are why I do this too many weekends out of the year. And I love you for it!
Getting around to this one a little late, but unfortunately comic deadlines come first. As you know, Chicago Comic Con (or Wizard World Chicago, it’s sometimes called), is the only show I do in the year where I’m not a guest – but it’s somehow one of my highest sales shows of the year. So let’s jump right into it.
I left the office and headed over to the convention center to see my buddies (already set up), and check out the new hall. The show moved to the other side of the building this year, and the space was quite different than the previous year. For one thing, dealers and panel rooms were upstairs – which was a first. However, the hall was plenty packed with people (we later found out there was a Thursday night Groupon, making for a lot of first-timers coming in to check out their first comic show).
At 6pm I had a panel about creativity moderated by Tony Kim, along with David Chelsea, Dan Parent, and Rob Prior. I was the resident indie / webcomic guy, and everyone on the panel got along very well – and told some good, funny, and hopefully inspiring stories about the creative process. In fact, one con-goer called it “the panel they enjoyed the most” out of the show. We talked about the hurdles to being creative, and what motivates / inspires us to tell the stories or do the art that we do. I tried to throw in some typical humor, but also the motivational lines I’ve become known for at the shows. With a few new ones thrown in for good measure.
After the panel ended, I headed back out to the floor to hang out with Russell Lissau (The Batman Strikes, Strawberry Shortcake) and Jim McClain (Solution Squad). The two were selling in high spirits, and we all went out to The Ram after for a quick bite of dinner.
Russell took me back to his place, where he was putting up myself and our friend Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade) for the weekend. We had a few drinks, had a few laughs, and then headed to bed to rest for the next day.
The group got up early in the morning and headed over to grab some quick bagels before heading over to the show floor. We set up and started selling, and man oh man was there a lot of traffic. And a lot of families, which was great for Albert sales!
Spider-Man commission headshot for a young father, by Trevor Mueller
A few people signed up for some commissions, and the day went very quickly with the volume of people and sales. The only issue faced (and this appeared to be universal throughout the floor) was that credit card sales were unable to go through. Everyone lost bandwidth. They kept telling me it was because of the volume of people at the show, but ACEN had been held in the same hall several months earlier and had over 28,000 people in attendance. No one could come up with a definitive answer, but it did force us to direct some shoppers to the ATM machine. A few of them returned, but overall it may have hurt sales for anyone in artist alley who was less engaging with attendees.
Friday on the floor ended, and we packed up and headed out to a Chinese restaurant over by Russell’s house. The food was good, we had some hot sake, and then headed back to his place to catch the last hour or so of Wreck It Ralph – which I had brought for Russell’s family to enjoy. I knocked out some sketch cards, which have been selling like hot cakes at the last several shows I’ve been doing, and then we all went to sleep.
We got up a little later on this day, and hit a lot of traffic on our way to the show – clearly under-estimating the popularity of this event, and the amount of attendees who would be there right at the opening.
Note to self: definitely don’t under-estimate the ability of nerds to get up in the morning when there are sci-fi celebrities and comics involved!
Trevor, doing his sales thing
After finally getting inside, we immediately and quickly set up and started selling our hearts out. The floor was flooded with masses of comic fans, families, young shoppers, and people completely new to the world of comics. All of them ready and willing to buy, and eager to drink in the amazing things around them.
The credit card issue persisted today, but several people came back from the day before with cash – and we rewarded their return with discounts or free art. Thankfully everyone was very understanding of the whole situation, and clearly they wanted the books enough to come back the next day – and we like to reward that kind of loyalty.
Trevor gives Gabe the “bunny ears”
Traffic eventually started to slow towards the end of the day, and it was a good opportunity to walk the floor a bit and stretch my legs, and chat with some comic friends of mine. I talk to Andrew Kwan, a comic student in Toronto and my partner on one of the Top Cow Talent Hunt pitches I put in. The guy loves sci-fi, so we’re thinking of pitching a few sci-fi shorts this coming winter – to come out in 2014. Additionally I chatted up Chris Mitten, David Mack, and Talent Caldwell.
Talent and I have been friends for a few years now, and I’ve always loved that man’s art. They don’t call him “Talent” for nothing, and he spent the time working on commissions and making art so beautiful it makes me cry. Talent and I had a few conversations about Albert the Alien – which he totally loves – and some other projects we have in the works.
After the floor closed, the group headed over to McCormick & Schmick’s so Russell could have his blue-cheese stuffed olives in a martini, and the rest of us could enjoy some tasty sea food. It was nice to sit down, relax, and just hang out with my friends and fellow creators. All good guys, all righteously funny, and all great company.
After dinner we headed back to Russell’s so I could work on more sketch cards, and we all watched some Evening with Kevin Smith – a hilarious laugh. Although, not so safe for the kids….
The final day of the show we did our usual breakfast stop, and set up nice and early for family day. Surprisingly, I think there were less families in Artist Alley this day than the rest of the weekend – which isn’t a knock on this particular Sunday, but a credit to the volume of families that had been attending all weekend.
Sales were pretty steady throughout the day, with a few dips in traffic to allow of us to walk the floor and chat up our friends a bit. I continued to sell out of copies of my books (and sketch cards, which have been flying off the table at record pace these last few shows).
Eventually I shut down the table a little early so I could wonder and say goodbye to some friends, and catch up / talk business with a few others. About an hour before the show was to end, Beth came to get me – which was perfect timing, because the traffic for the show had slowed quite a bit by that time.
After a fun but exhausting weekend of hanging out with great people, seeing amazing comics and art, and yes – selling a boat load of books – we had another highly successful convention on our hands. Love doing this show, and can’t wait to do it again next year!
Writers Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade) and Russell Lissau (The Batman Strikes, Strawberry Shortcake) stand in front of their booths
Last weekend was another awesome and amazing ACEN – this third largest animation convention in the country, and my favorite convention to attend as a guest. It’s also a very strong sales show, and has a very enthusiastic fan base. This was my 5th year as a guest at the show, and the experience just keeps getting better every year.
After work, I headed over to the convention center from downtown Chicago. During my walk from the train to the hotel I was recognized by several fans and attendees, all of whom were in good spirits for the impending fun that would occur this weekend.
Upon arriving at the show, I went to con ops to get my badge and room keys, dropped off my stuff, and headed to dinner with the other comic guests including Russell Lissau (Strawberry Shortcake, Shrek), John Bivens (Comic Book Tattoo, Reading with Pictures), and his wife, Mallory. Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade) showed up a little later. After dinner, we headed up to V to enjoy some drinks with the other guests and some of the ACEN staff. Then it was off to bed because – silly me – I decided working out in the morning would be a fun way to start the day on Friday.
Mallory poses with her delicious baked goods, celebrating Russell’s birthday
6:30am rolled around, and our alarm sounded. Since I’m in wedding boot camp, I’m trying to go to the gym 2-3x per week so I’m…less skinny for my wedding. Bivens was kind enough to join me, and we did a full arms and shoulders workout for an hour. We were joined by Jessie Pridemore, who handles the masquerade for the show every year – and has some amazing cosplays!
After the workout, we showered and headed to breakfast – and then headed to the floor to set up for our weekend of selling. There was some confusion on our location on the floor, but after a quick conversation with the appropriate people we were able to locate to the correct location – which totally rocked! Sales were extremely high on Friday, with volume 2 of my latest book selling insane amounts! Always a good thing.
Russell Lissau is ready for commerce, baby!
After the floor closed, we headed off for a quick dinner before heading to our panels for the evening. Russ and Steve had a Superman vs Batman panel, which was standing room only and had a line waiting to get in. During the panel, Steve’s wife showed up to celebrate their 10 year anniversary in front of a crowd of a hundred people. It was really cute, and I was glad to play a role in their special day.
After their panel ended, I headed to Bivens Drawing Comics panel already in progress. Gabe had joined him, and the two were having a great time giving an entertaining and educational panel about visual storytelling and pacing. After their panel ended, I had about 20 minutes before my Panel That Shall Not Be Named. This has been a convention staple, and usually has a full room. This year the show gave me a very large room for the panel, and it was pretty full for the entire duration of the hour. The panel was a ton of fun, and a great way to end the night on a high note.
After the panels the group headed up to V for more drinks and hanging out, and then headed off to bed.
Breakfast was the order of the morning, with some delicious gourmet buffet-style with fresh fruit and juice. A solid breakfast makes for a solid day, so after we headed to the floor to get to selling. Traffic on Saturday was record-breaking for ACEN, with a huge number of attendees coming in to shop and buy and check things out.
Between sales there’s always time to make silly faces
Friday sales had been so strong, Saturday seemed to lag a little – which was surprising. However, this was more than made up later in the evening after the panels. There was a lot of interest in the new books on the table, including the launch of the Albert the Alien webcomic series. Lots of new fans and friends were made as books were flying off the shelf – including my remaining copies of Reading with Pictures volume 1 (now out of print).
Trevor, selling some comics
However, Saturday was a ton of fun – with the group getting a chance to be goofy behind the tables, as well as checking out the fantastic cosplays people put together for the show. Some seriously artistic and creative people out there.
After the floor closed, we all headed to dinner – enjoying some 18 year old scotch and delicious food. We then headed off to our Making Comics panel – which was an all comic guest panel Q&A about making comics. Some excellent questions and hilarious jokes later, the panel was over and it was off to quickly moderate my next panel – Making Webcomics. The rooms for both panels were filled to the brim, and I used the panel as another Q&A format to help answer questions people had about their own webcomics – or the process in general.
After the panels, I headed up to V for a final night of hanging out with good company. I got to chat with Brad Swaile until all hours, enjoy some tasty beverages, and laugh until I had no voice.
Sunday saw a 9am press call, which was well attended and we got some great questions. The group all had specialties to focus on, and input to each of the questions. After the press call, it was time for our final breakfast together- followed by a bum rush to the floor for the final day of selling.
John and Mallory pose in front of their booth at ACEN 2013
Sunday is family day at shows like ACEN, and this is when Albert the Alien tends to shine. I almost sold out of my entire stock, some from families and some from panel attendees from the previous nights of the show. I sold out of Junkyard Chase and one of my Albert books before the end of the day. All in all, the show was fantastic.
After the show, Beth showed up to come get me and we packed the car and headed out to dinner with the gang. We were joined by Sean and Sara from Spinnerette and connected on how well they did during the weekend, on the next show we would all be doing together (Anime MidWest), and on how we can connect outside of the shows a bit more (Ravinia has Lord of the Rings the Two Towers in August with live orchestral accompaniment).
Once again, ACEN sets the bar high for a fun weekend and a great convention. I would like to thank the staff and volunteers for putting together a phenomenal show; the fans I’ve made who continue to support the work, tell their friends about me, and attend my panels; and my amazing friends, without their support I would not be able to do what I love so much. You guys all rock, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
Trevor stands by his books – figuratively and literally
On a sullen note, this was the very first ACEN I attended that my friend Kim was not there. For those of you who missed the post last year, my friend Kim first introduced me to ACEN and it was the annual opportunity to see her and hang out. Unfortunately, Kim passed away last year from epilepsy. It was difficult for me throughout the weekend not to reflect on her passing, but Kim would not have wanted the weekend to be tainted by her not being there.
When her mother commented on my Facebook page to say that Kim was there in spirit behind me saying “good job,” I knew that wouldn’t be true. Kim would have been running around the show in cosplay, soaking up the sights and having a blast! That’s the kind of awesome girl she was, and her energy and enthusiasm is what I will remember for the rest of my life.
I miss you, Kimby. You are loved!
Wow, so I’m finally starting to catch up on my blogging (only two weeks later, right?). Specifically as it relates to Wizard World Chicago this year.
Let me just put some historical context here before breaking it down by the day’s events. Years ago, Wizard World Chicago was the first large convention I ever attended (and by large, I mean over 10,000 attendees). And it was the first convention where I shifted by focus from being an attendee to being an exhibitor. And I did this slowly – by meeting creators and chatting them up and learning about the industry from the business perspective. What I really liked about the show was the networking – and the fact that, after the show ends, just about everyone hangs out at the Hyatt bar. So the networking never really stops. This is really the show that launched by professional comics career – and I met most of my comic friends at this show, so it holds a special place for me.
That said, let’s get into the events of the show….
I left work as soon as I could to make it in time for preview night, and made it there only an hour after it started. Unfortunately it sounds like the bulk of the business happened within that first hour. But I got set up and got to see some familiar faces all the same. WWC put most of the Reading with Pictures in a single row, so I got to hang out with many of my friends over the weekend. With us in the group were Russell Lissau (Shrek, Strawberry Shortcake), Steve Horton (DC Holiday Annual, Superman Annual), John Bivens (Comic Book Tattoo, Popgun), Steve Wallace (Binary Love, Omega Comics Presents), and Gabrielle Bautisa (The Spirit, Elephant Man). With us as well was my good friend Alan Evans (Rival Angels).
And visiting from Ann Arbor was my good buddy Scott, who was helping us all out throughout the weekend. Without Scott, I don’t know how we would’ve made it through this weekend.
After the floor closed, we all went back to the hotel room for some much needed pizza (and whiskey). It was a great start to what would be an amazing weekend.
The group awoke pretty early in the morning and went to the Hyatt restaurant for breakfast. Upon walking in we passed Nicholas Brenden (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and we all took our turns at the buffet. While eating, Felicia Day walked in and sat in a booth by us. Celebrities started filtering in throughout as we took off to get ready for the show. I set up the booth a little differently from how I’ve done it in the past, and I think it worked out for the best.
The feature of the show was Reading with Pictures, which has been nominated for two Harvey Awards – one for best anthology, and another for best kid’s book. I had two editions: the softcover trade, and the limited edition hard cover. Next to it I always placed Junkyard Chase, which I consider a companion since it includes a script and kind of works as a template for young creators. After that was Hope: The Hero Initiative – another strong book that supports a great cause. In the middle were my sketch cards and free bookmarks. And bringing up the end were the few copies of @$$hole! I brought to the show.
Around 1pm I had to step away from the table for an hour to present some research I had done for work, so I retired to the hotel room (which was quiet). About an hour later, I came back out to the floor to keep selling and sell hard. Beth was at the table with me by this time, having a half-day at the office, and together we had an extremely strong Friday.
Scott only tried to steal my table once.
After the floor closed we all headed to The Ram for burgers. It’s one of our favorite places to unwind after the show – especially since they can take a party as large as ours. After dinner we all went back to the hotel for some pre-party in the hotel room, followed by heading down to the Hyatt bar to mingle. Upon getting down there we were met by fellow webcomic creators Tom Brazelton (Theater Hopper) and Gordon McAplin (Multiplex).
The treat of the evening for me was getting to hang out with Talent Caldwell (Fathom: Killian’s Tide, Superman: Godfall). Talent and I have hung out a bit at past shows, but tonight there were less people to distract us from good conversation. He caught me up on some projects he’s working on, and I did the same.
All in all the night ended later than I intended, but it was an amazing evening.
To save a little money we decided to have breakfast at the restaurant attached to the convention center. Since this was the big day of the weekend, we all decided to sport our RWP t-shirts. This may have helped to bolster sales, because Saturday was the highest sales day I’ve ever had before. In fact, I sold better on Saturday alone than I’ve sold at my last two shows combined – and I did extremely well at those two shows. Beth was helping at the table the entire day, and despite a small fit of allergy attack (in the middle of the pitch to a customer, no less), the day went incredibly smoothly. I even sold out of @$$hole! about half way through the day, despite bringing triple the amount of books that I sold through last year.
There weren’t a lot of cosplayers at this show, but the costumes that were in the audience were pretty awesome.
Saturday was a very long but extremely profitable and fun day. And as a reward, the group went to McCormick and Schmicks to celebrate. After dinner, the group went to pre-party in the hotel room, and then back down to the Hyatt bar for some fun and networking. I ran into familiar faces, met some of the actors from the Boondock Saints, and hung out with Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother, Beasts of Burden). After a few drinks, the group retired for the night for the final day of the show.
The final day of the show and the entire group was feeling pretty good about the weekend. But as always, you want to finish strong, so we didn’t slow down the sales. And sales did not slow down. In fact, I finished stronger on Sunday than I’ve done during an entire weekend at some shows.
As the floor closed we all said our goodbyes and packed up. We were too exhausted to get together for a final meal of the weekend, but I think it was an accomplished tired. Beth and I went home, ordered some food, watched a flick and passed out. Overall, Wizard World Chicago set a new benchmark for sales at conventions – one that will be hard to meet or beat. Until next year, at least.
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.
Anime Central is this coming weekend, and it’s my favorite show to attend. I’ll be a guest again this year, which is excellent. I had such a fun time at this show last year, I can barely contain myself.
ACEN has always been an interesting show for me. Even before I was a guest, it held a lot of unique experiences. I went for the first time in college with my friends (who still attend), and met a whole bunch of celebrities, ate a lot of pocky, bought more manga than I have room for on my bookshelves, and also saw a girl get arrested for “prostitution.”
I’ve also met some of my greatest friends at this show, including comic writers Russell Lissau (The Batman Strikes, Shrek, Strawberry Shortcake) and Josh Elder (Mail Order Ninja, Starcraft, Reading with Pictures). These two have been extremely encouraging of me in my professional comics career, and have been great friends outside of the field as well.
Last year I did several panels (I was scheduled for 3, I think I ended up doing something like 9), had an absolute blast, and met a bunch of new friends and fans.
There’s even a video of me addressing opening ceremonies – about 2,000 people. And I had to go on stage after the star guest of the show, so no pressure. This year, though, I’m more prepared for my opening ceremonies speech.
I was so nervous. Not because of the crowd, but because I had to follow Vic on the stage. The man’s a entertainer by trade. I just sit at home and write comics while trying not to get clawed to death by my cat.
They haven’t announced my panels for this year yet, but I’m sure it’ll be on some fun and entertaining / semi-educational topics. And no doubt another panel about funny conventions stories (of which I could tell for HOURS).
The show’s in Rosemont, Il this weekend, and I hope to see you all there!
The show finally announced a tentative panel schedule for me this year. I’ll be doing the following:
3-4pm: Webcomics: The good, the bad, and the ugly
3-4pm: Reading with Pictures
6-7pm: Trevor Mueller and the panel that still won’t be named
Please note these panels, days, and times are all subject to change. But will hopefully have the final panel list soon, since the show is this weekend!
Sorry it’s a little late (I was updating blogs about making comics, fer goodness sake), but finally here’s the entry about C2E2.
After a long hard day at the office, I headed home to meet my friends at the apartment. As always I provided dinner for the guests, and had a great assortment of friends: Joe Dun and Phil Chan (www.digitalpimponline.com), Russell Lissau (Batman Strikes, Shrek), Steve Wallace (Binary Love), and Alan Evans (www.rivalangels.com). After a long night of catching up and hanging out, we all went to bed to get ready for the long weekend ahead.
Steve and I had to run to the post office to get some items that had been shipped but not delivered. We didn’t have any problems getting them – but the post office was in the other direction from the show. However, only a little bit after the show started, we arrived and started to set up the table. Professional hours were from 10am-1pm, and so it was a good chance to walk around and say hi to familiar faces, meet some new creators, and chat with editors. However, after the pro hours ended it was time to sell.
And sell we did.
Junkyard Chase sold very well, especially when paired with Reading with Pictures. Steve and I were table mates and had a great time. Positioned in the same isle as many of the top DC all-ages creators, so there were plenty of people who liked what we had to buy. The new banner made it’s premiere and met with positive response.
After a strong day of sales the group went out to one of my favorite sushi restaurants in town, called Niu. Everyone had a great time, and after we went back to my place for much needed rest.
An early morning and a strong sales day. Steve and I were on fire all day, and with only a few Reading with Pictures panels to keep me away from the table, most of it was able to be spent meeting and mingling with friends and fans. As a bonus, my girlfriend Beth was in attendance and she got to tour the show with some of her friends, and eventually even hung out at the table with Steve and I.
After another long day at the show, the group went out to a local burger joint in my neighborhood, and then went back to my place to hang out and enjoy our last night of the weekend.
Sunday morning we all went to a local breakfast hub, and then headed off to the show. It was kind of a slow day for me sales wise, but still a fun time. Eventually everyone left the show, Alan being kind enough to take Phil and Joe to the airport. All in all it was a great weekend, spent with amazing friends. Looking forward to the next show.
I woke up a little later in the morning on Saturday, and in my sleep deprived state I made my way to the elevator. I was joined by one of the Japanese voice actor guests, Kaori Nazuka (Fruits Basket), who speaks more English than I speak Japanese. we said good morning and rode the elevator up to the green room. Muffins and fruit were the order of the day, and I headed out to the floor to set up before going to my 10am panel.
The 10am panel was interesting, because I didn’t think anyone would actually show. The panel was called “Trevor and the Panel that Shall Not be Named,” and there was no description in the brochure about it. I spoke to the woman that scheduled the panel, and she said that she had just been told that I needed to be in another panel – but no one had told her what it should be on. So she didn’t give it a description. And 5 minutes before the panel actually started, I didn’t even know what the heck I was going to talk about.
And that’s exactly what I opened with.
I turned the panel into a funny story panel, and even talked about some of the origins for the gags in @$$hole!. People tend to enjoy the stories of how Susie came to be a regular character, why I decided to make her a barista, and all of the other crazy things that have happened in the 3+ years that I’ve been updating that comic. I had a pretty sizable crowd, and they enjoyed the stories. Even so much that many of them stopped by the table after and chatted me up, and bought copies of the book. It was a great panel, and I love sharing personal stories like that with a great group of people.
I even had a few friends in the crowd from college. And I think it’s safe to say that I made a few more that morning.
Lunch was waiting for me at the table when I got back, and I spent the day selling and meeting people at the show. A fantastic day, as I sold more than I have at any two shows to date. And the people I talked to were some of the nicest – even when they didn’t buy anything.
Jeenie Breeden (Devil’s Panties) stopped by the table, since the day before she had forgotten who I was. We had met very briefly last year at a convention, and she sees so many faces that I didn’t surprise me that I hadn’t left a lasting impression. Her and I chatted up for a while before she went back to her table.
As the floor was closing up, Josh asked me to be on the East vs West panel with him and Steve. We went to the panel room and I put on the persona of The West. I said a lot of things that I didn’t actually agree with, but did it for the comedy and the entertainment of the crowd. The panel went well, and was followed by Russell and Josh’s Batman Strikes! panel. The room was full, and people asked very insightful questions about the writing process.
The panel ended and we went back to the green room only to find that all of the food was gone. We were invited by the American voice actors to go to Gibsons for steak. We ordered a jumbo lobster for an appetizer – 38 ounces! It was larger than my leg from hip to knee, and fed 7 people. Then we ordered the main course. If you love red meat, you need to go to Gibsons – they do it right.
We returned to the green room after midnight, our bellies full of great food. We drank and stayed up way too late, and then went to bed for the final day of ACEN 2010.
The weekend had been great, not just because of the great sales but also because of the great people. Tomorrow would bring a bitter-sweet end to the weekend. Only because I was having so much fun, and all good things have to come to an end eventually.
To be continued….