Convention Report: Anime Milwaukee 2013

 In conventions

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there’s no better way to start the convention season than with a show that has shown the growth (and has the fun factor) like Anime Milwaukee. I’ve been invited back to the show as a guest for the last 5 years, which you would think may burn some people out. However, I have so much fun at this show because of the staff, volunteers, and of course the fans! And this year was no exception.

The show invited yet another comic creator this year, my good buddy Russell Lissau (Shrek, Strawberry Shortcake) and so the two of us drove up to stay with our mutual friend / comic creator Alan Evans (Rival Angels). Alan, like me, has been a guest at the show for the last several years, and we always enjoy being invited back.

Russ and I arrived late, but we got to hang out a bit and chat with Alan before slipping off to bed early.

After stopping off at Brugger’s for some delicious bagel sandwiches, the group of us headed over to the convention center to set up. The show had positioned us in a prime location – right by the main entrance, in a circle of tables. Each of us got a table and a half, which was a nice set up for the amount of books and merch each of us brought to the show.

The table

I had two new books (for the show) in the Albert books, which were strong sellers throughout the weekend. Several people approached me asking about @$$hole! volume 2 (it’s coming, I swear…just been sidetracked working on launching the Albert the Alien webcomic series). And I had sold out of Hope by this time, so the table was a little different than in years past.

Alan and I were returning faces, but Russ was new to the show and had a fun time. The show gave us a handler who kept us hydrated, and we also had a block of panels in the same room at night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Friday was a decent paced sales day for me, but it always tends to be a little slower than the rest of the weekend. After the floor closed, we stowed the books and headed off to Opening Ceremonies where I got to catch up with Todd Hobbercorn, Chris Cason, and the rest of the voice actor guests. It was great to see them again, and we started coming up with hilarious fictional situations involving our opening ceremonies speeches. Parts of them tend to get incorporated into what we do, but it’s also a nice way to unwind before doing something stressful like public speaking.

Opening ceremonies

We went to the Thai place across the street for dinner, and then had to run across the street to our panels. Alan was first, with a Rival Angels panel which was attended by some fans with some great questions. After his panel was my Evening with Trevor Mueller panel, which drew quite the crowd. I told a bunch of new stories involving wedding planning, hitting on fans at conventions (back when I was single, of course), and some of the favorites from previous years. Russell brought the night to a close with a strong showing for his “Writing Batman” panel, which had a number of fans in cosplay attending – and asking some really great questions.

After the panels, we headed back to Alan’s and almost went straight to bed. The day had been exhausting, but a great first full day of the weekend.

Another fantastic breakfast at Brugger’s, followed by getting to the show to set up. Sales were high and heavy throughout the day as we sold our wears, chatting up fans from the panels the previous night. The day saw solid sales from the books, especially for Albert.

After the show ended we ran out to dinner with Alan’s wife, but unfortunately weren’t able to get into any of the places we wanted. Instead, we went to the other Thai place next to the convention – which was pretty busy. I had to cut and run from dinner to make it to my panel on time, where I talked about Albert the Alien – the origins, what inspired the stories, and the future plans for the character. After the panel, I sat in on Alan’s “Making Webcomics” panel, which we’ve often given together anyway. Panels are easier with other people, so it’s always a comfort to have someone else to fall back on or bounce conversations off. Afterwards, we joined Russell for the final panel of the night talking about “Breaking into Comics” – which saw a smaller but highly engaged audience.

After the show we ran out to Oscar’s to grab some ice cream, went back to Alan’s to hang out with the cats, and then headed off to bed.

The final day of the show, and surprisingly we all still had our voices. Another filling breakfast at Brugger’s, and we arrived quickly at the show to finish off strong. The group sold merch until just after the floor closed (of course, I escaped from the table for a quick minute to do a little shopping), and made some lasting friendships. After the show ended Russ and I hoped in the car and started off towards Chicago. We went back to his place to hang out with his family a bit, and then Beth came to pick me up – getting home just in time to catch the season finale of Downton Abbey season 3.

All in all, Anime Milwaukee is always a great show to start the convention season with, and sets the bar high for how they treat their guests. I love starting the year with this show, and have been honored to be invited back for the last several years as a guest of honor. I am always humbled and amazed by the support from the fans as well as the volunteers and staffers at the show. And the show has seen consistent growth (3,800 last year, and significantly more than that this year) year after year. I’ve been honored to be a part of that growth, and hope to continue to do so again.

If you missed Anime Milwaukee this year, you should make effort to attend next year. It’s a fun show, a profitable show, and a great way to start the convention season.

Albert helped sell books

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