Convention Report: Mid Ohio Con 2012

 In conventions

Mid Ohio Con is a show I look forward to every year. Not because it’s my highest sales show of the year (although this year sales were pretty high), but because it’s just so much fun.

In anticipation for the show, I was working with the printer to get my next book out. I was honestly expecting it to arrive the week after this show, however they e-mailed me and said they could do a rush job at no additional charge.

Because of this, I started hinting at a super secret project I might have coming out for the show. I posted the below teaser images to my social networks….

A mysterious box appears at the office….

A hint about the contents of the mysterious project I’ve been talking about for weeks….

If you’re wondering what it is, you guessed it: the newest Albert the Alien book, which officially premieres at NYCC 2012 (Oct 11-14). But I digress….

This was the first time Mid Ohio had a preview night, extending the show to a three day event. Because of this, I left Thursday morning to make the 8 hour drive to Columbus, OH.

My good friend Alan Evans (Rival Angels) and his wife have always been kind enough to pick me up on their way, so I just crash in the back seat and we spend the drive catching up and telling funny stories – or filling each other in on our mutual comic projects.

We arrived at the show and dropped off our stuff while the Wizard staff continued to set up the space. The venue was the same (the Greater Columbus Convention Center), but we were in a new hall. It was kind of a return to form, with the space being open and very warehouse-like. You know the space: it’s like most comic shows.

It was a little jarring because last year we were in such a cool space, even if we were a bit jammed in there. There was natural light, cool lights in the ceiling, and carpet beneath our feet. It was luxurious compared to normal convention settings. However, again, this year was a return to the norm. Which isn’t bad…they just set the bar high with the previous year.

We headed over to our good friend Lora Innes (The Dreamer) who has put us up at the show every year since we started going. Her and her husband Mike are the most gracious hosts in the world, and they set the bar for me every year in how I treat my friends when they crash at my place for shows.

Mike had to work late, so we went out to grab some pizza and drinks and caught up, and then headed home for more drinking and socializing with Mike in attendance.

Sleep followed soon after, since Mike had work the next day and we had the show starting in the evening.

With the day pretty much free, Lora decided to take us around the Columbus area. We checked out a bookstore in German Village with 32 rooms of books (it was awesome), had some confection at a local chocolate shoppe, and also tasted what Lora said were “the absolute worst pickles” she’s ever had. They were salty, but I think she may have over-hyped them to me.

We met up Mike for lunch at went to a place called Fresh 50, an Asian fusion / buffet place. We walked off our lunch by going around the downtown area, walking by the river and taking in the sights.

Eventually Mike had to return to the office, so we got back in the car and headed over to a park so Lora and Alan could work on gesture drawings.

Lora Innes and Alan Evans talk about quick sketches and gesture drawing in the park

After a few hours hanging out in the park, we went to the convention center to set up and prepare for Preview Night.

Preview Night was only 4 hours, and my expectations were low. I’ve never done very well on Preview Night for previous Wizard shows, but I figured if it was slow I could at least walk around the floor and say hi to friends exhibiting.

I was pleasantly surprised, and landed quite a few sales the first day – many of which were for the complete Albert the Alien package. A solid start to the weekend.

The set up, complete with the new Albert the Alien books

After the show we went out for dinner with the larger group, joined by Paul Storrie (various titles), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), Comfort Love and Adam Withers (Rainbow in the Dark), and Meg (One Question). We went to a local sandwich shop, which was pretty tasty.

After dinner, several of the group went to Jenni’s for some ice cream (typically a post-show treat), and then headed home to hang out late in to the night.

Paul brought some delicious bagels from a bakery over by his house, and we all headed over to the show for the big day of sales. Or what should have been the big day.

Having three new books on the table this year, my sales were very good compared to previous years. However, just like with Wizard World Chicago this year, the sales required a lot more work. I went on pitch streaks for hours before landing a sale. However, working hard and not giving up allowed me to surpass last year’s sales for the entire weekend by the afternoon, and I kept going.

My neighbor was a talented artist named Mark Dos Santos, and he was selling commissions and gorgeous poster prints as well. The sales in our section seemed to be pretty high.

After the show ended that night, we rushed back to the Innes house for some BBQ. Mike made burgers, sausages, grilled corn, and several other items. It was a veritable feast of delicious goodness.

Dirk Manning (Nightmare World) showed up with Eric Palicki, a buddy from Sequential Workshop (a professional comic forum I belong to), and we drank and told jokes late into the night. Dirk was so funny, in fact, he left to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Sunday is the day that’s normally hit or miss for me. With the plethora of all-ages books on the table, I was hoping for a very strong day. I was a little shy of my sales goal, but also left the table for about 20 minutes to walk around the floor.

Traffic was quite a bit lighter, but the kids in costumes were abundant. There was a kids costume contest, apparently, and a few panels from the celebrity guests that stole some of the traffic. But as with the previous day, sales required a lot more work than they have in previous years.

After a solid day of engaging with attendees, the show ended and we packed up and headed off to Jenni’s for some ice cream.

Jenni’s unique menu of items

If you’re not familiar with Jenni’s, they have very strange and obscure ice cream flavors – but everything is delicious and amazing! We go as a group every year when we come to this show, and it’s a great way to unwind from the convention and enjoy our last few hours hanging out.

I ordered a combination of Strawberry Buttermilk and Goat Cheese and Cherries.

After the ice cream we all parted ways. During the ride home, Lora and Mike kept texting us – discussing whether or not we believed post-con depression was real or not. I think it is. I definitely feel sad after a show ends. However, it’s my friends and fans that I miss.

Mid-Ohio was another great time for me. I had stellar sales, I met some awesome people, I was treated very well by the volunteers (who kept checking to make sure I had plenty of water throughout the weekend), and generally had a great time with my friends.

I even had a very polite guy tell me when he found out I was coming to the show, he immediately volunteered to work the show just to have a chance to meet me. Very flattering.

I highly recommend attending Mid Ohio next year, and plan to be back myself to sell more new books last year. Again, it took a lot more work to sell the books this year than it has in the past, but it was successful overall and a very rewarding experience.

And also, “swivel boy” has become the new joke among the group. Hilarious.

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