Convention Report: Chicago Comic Con 2013
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