Convention Report: Anime Boston 2015

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I was invited out to Anime Boston as a featured artist of the show. It was my first time at Anime Boston, and my goodness was it an amazing time! They do shows a little differently than how we do them in the mid-west, which isn’t a bad thing by any measure, and in fact actually resulted in some great fan interactions, amazingly attended panels, and yes – killer sales!

Thursday night after work my wife and I made our way to the airport to catch our flight to Boston. My wife was coming in from the north, and I was coming in from the loop – but somehow we arrived at the airport at the same time and met up in the security line. We didn’t plan this, I swear. 😉

My travel snacks!

After going through security and finding our gate, we grabbed a quick bite to eat (actual food, not just my travel snacks) and then waited for our flight. I typically download a movie or play a game while I fly (I would write, but I get motion sick if I write or read while in transit), and this time I enjoyed X-Men 5: Days of Futures Past.

We checked into the hotel, dropped off our stuff, and decided to have a little snack before heading for bed. Thankfully, the restaurant bar was open and the kitchen stays open late. We ordered some sweet potato fries, beverages, and had fun unwinding after our flight. We did have an early day the next morning, however, so we went to bed soon after.

I’m a sucker for sweet potato fries!


Our hotel room was on a corner of the building. Here’s the view from one side….

…and the view from the other side.

Super early in the morning we went down to the FedEx to grab our shipped boxes, and then went to grab breakfast real quick before heading to the convention for set up. For artists, you have to go through two registration processes: the general badge registration to get into the con, and then again in artist alley once you get in. This is a little different from what I’m used to, but I guess it makes it easier for security to identify who belongs where and when (because artists need to have access to artist alley prior to everyone else so we can set up). This process was pretty seamless, however, so no complaints about this change here – and if it makes security’s job easier, I’m all for it.

All set up and ready for business!

I set up with Beth’s help, and then she went to go have fun in the city and I stayed to work on selling books. I brought what I thought was going to be too many books, and was kind of nervous about being able to move this much inventory. But thankfully, I was greatly mistaken.

As the afternoon went on, traffic in artist alley came in fits and spurts. Since the dealer’s room was on another level of the convention center, I assume people kept going between the two or attending panels from some of the guests. There were the usual slow periods – typically around lunch or dinner – but the location of the convention is perfect because it’s attached to a mall. Attendees don’t have to go far to get a quick bite and then can come back to the show! This is another magical thing about Anime Boston.

So as the day kept going, it eventually came time for my first panel of the weekend: self-publishing 101. I invited my good friend Sean Lindsay (Spinnerette) to be on the panel with me, and together we hiked to the other side of the hallway for the panel.

Anime Boston also did a fantastic thing with their panels: they allowed for 30 minutes in between them so breakdown and set up. We walked in about 10 minutes early, and I approached a room I quickly questioned if the previous panel had ended yet. Why? Because the room was full of people. Like, “there was a line outside the room and they weren’t letting more people in because of fire code” full. The guy hosting the room breathed a sigh of relief when we showed up, saying, “I was wondering if you were going to show up.” We were 10 minutes early, and it took us only a few minutes to set up. I opted to start early, but then was quickly told that, no, we had to wait for the hour mark to start. Not a problem: I’m a professional. I told some jokes for a few minutes to keep people entertained.

My “Self-Publishing 101” panel attendance. Standing room only. They had to turn people away at the door.

When the time came we started the panel, and in my usual fashion it was a mix of entertainment, information, and then leaving time at the end for questions. It was also a great chance for me to be on a panel with Sean. Sure I’ve been on panels with him before, but usually with other people. This time I got to moderate a bit and ask him some things about his comic-making past and present, and take insights from that and apply them to the panel topic and each sub-topic. There was actually some coverage of our panel here, and after the panel I had a lot of people thank us for the great insight. If I come back again next year, I may do this panel again – and maybe some about Kickstarter, making webcomics, or another educational panel.

A sketch of Sean Lindsay and myself during the “Self-Publishing 101” panel

After the panel we sold for a bit, and then returned to our respective tables to continue selling on the floor. Anime Boston’s artist alley is open from 10am-10pm (12 hours! Which is a lot, compared to the usual 8 hour artist alley in the mid-west), but I must say by this point in the night I was pretty tired. And hungry. But I’m glad I stuck around until about 9:30pm, because half of my sales for the day occurred after the dealer’s room closed at 7pm.

Ronald McJoker bought a box set!

I was exhausted, but really happy with the sales I had. Plus the fans I had met were super awesome! Anime Boston was off to a stellar start.

After 9:30pm, however, traffic slowed enough where I felt confident in being able to close down the table and then Beth and I went to dinner. We went across the street from the mall to a seafood place, and ate our hearts out with some of the best-tasting shrimp and fish I’ve had in my life. And it didn’t break the bank, either!

By the end of dinner it was going on midnight, and we had been up since 6:30am that morning. It was a fantastic first day of the show, but we were definitely ready for bed.

We got up and met the Lindsay’s for breakfast at a favorite spot of theirs, and then went to the floor to set up before the 10am start time. I’m glad I was there at the launch of the floor, because I immediately started selling. I’m sure there were some people for who Saturday was their first day, and you could tell from the eagerness and excitement in their eyes as they looked around the room. Artist alley was mostly prints, with a few artists selling books, but I don’t think anyone had the books display I did…and mine was starting to dwindle. Clearly my concerns about bringing too many books was unfounded; now I was concerned I hadn’t brought enough books!

Day 2 table set up: the stacks are noticeably smaller (because I was selling out of books)

Almost immediately once the doors opened, too, I sold my other box set (never thought I would move these at this show to a new audience, but again – Anime Boston attendees love new stuff!). I also sold out of my copies of KILLER QUEEN (the most expensive single book on my table), and that was the strong start to a great day of selling.

Another box set sold, another satisfied customer!

The afternoon got a little slow, but people kept coming by to look at the sketch cards. They weren’t finding a lot of the anime characters they wanted, so I reminded them that I do commissions on them. Upon checking my sketch card stash, however, I realized I brought illustration board instead of the regular bristol cards. I decided not to charge extra for this, and suddenly commissions started flying in.

Sketch card commission: a character from Fairy Tale

Sketch card commission: Sailor Jupiter

Sketch card commission: GIR

Sketch card commission: I can’t remember this character’s name….

Sketch card commission: Psylocke

I spent the bulk of the afternoon working on the sketch cards, while also moving books, and eventually sold out of even more books on my table! It was an incredible day!

Around 8pm I had another panel to do (my “Evening with Trevor Mueller” panel), and I left Beth to hand out the remaining commission cards to people who hadn’t picked them up yet. The panel room was “closed” because they were doing sound checks, which was unfortunate because apparently some people thought that meant the panel was cancelled and went away. Thankfully there were about 20 people waiting to get in, and I asked the room to let the people in to wait (they don’t care if they hear people say “test” into a microphone a bunch of times). We started the panel soon after that, and the audience was in stitches! Some of the stories I told were the tried and true fan-favorites, but no one in Boston had heard them before and they were having a blast listening to my embarrassing stories about myself, working in comics, and attending conventions as a guest. If you were there, you understand the hilarity that proceeded. If you missed it, shame on you – but you can probably catch it again next year. 🙂

After the panel ended I went back to the floor for a little bit to try to grab some last-minute sales, and also to wait for the Lindsay’s to finish up their day of selling before we all went out to dinner. They knew a local burger place nearby, and we all went and breathed a collective sigh of relief as our food and drinks arrived. We had all had an amazing day and a great weekend, and we only had one more day left to go!

Morning came quickly and we went back to the Lindsay’s favorite place for breakfast where we had a hearty meal, and then rushed off to set up the table before the floor flooded with the final day of attendees.

Breakfast…with a smile!

I was mostly sold out of books by this point, which was a great problem to have. And in fact I sold out of the remainder of my Albert the Alien trades before noon! With the bulk of my trades gone from the table, and most of my other series volume 1 already gone from earlier in the weekend, there wasn’t much left to do but talk to fans and hang out, shop a bit in artist alley, and plan to bring more books next year when I do this show (because I will be doing this show again next year).

Around 2pm, Beth and I packed up and said our goodbyes and headed to the airport to catch our flight home. Anime Boston was an amazing weekend filled with great fans, amazing volunteers and staffers, and fantastic sales! I highly recommend this show to people looking to attend an anime convention, because while they may do some things differently from the mid-west, that’s not a bad thing by any measure. And whatever they’re doing translates to happy attendees, amazing attendance at panels, and high sales on the floor! Thank you so much for the great weekend, Boston!

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