Convention Report: Anime MidWest 2018
Convention season is in full swing, and for me that includes both comic and anime conventions. And while the largest anime convention in the country was going on the same weekend on the west coast, nothing beats a fun local convention like Anime Midwest.
I had the privilege of being a returning guest of honor to this incredible show, and not only was this year bigger and better than all previous years, but it was also an amazing fun time. So without further delay, let’s jump into the events of the weekend.
This year I stayed at home, so Friday morning didn’t start with a gym workout but instead a quick trip to the convention center, having packed my car up the night before. Knowing that my new set up requires a bit more time than when I only had books on my table (when I only had books, it took maybe 20 minutes to set up my table…now, it’s closer to an hour), I got there early and got the booth set up and ready to go.
Not long after the table was set up, I headed over to the main stage for opening ceremonies. I ran into Linkara and Brian, and we headed behind the stage with the rest of the guests. I got to see my buddies Chuck Huber, Greg Ayres, Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian, and many more, while we waited to be called and brought out onto the stage. I was the only comic guest who made it to opening ceremonies, so I pitched my panels and got the crowd fired up, and then headed back to my table just as artist alley opened to the public.
I ran into a lot of returning fans, people wanting the latest books, and even a few new fans while going through a stellar day of sales. Lots of cosplayers and staff stopped by as well, saying hi and getting autographs, photos, and buying books and art.
I closed up the table a bit early because I had to make it to my first panel of the weekend, Tabling at Conventions. I arrived on time, but the previous panel was running a bit over – featuring another guest who was a youtube celebrity. He was encouraging everyone in the room to skip the vendor’s hall and come meet him fr autographs in that area. I approached the stage as he was packing up, and he asked what my panel was about. “I’m teaching these kids how to make money in that vendors area you mentioned. Hope you have a great autograph session.”
The panel was well attended, and had people interested in starting a business in illustration, jewelry, seamstressing and custom cosplay, and more. The questions were engaging, and I had a lot of repeat visitors at the table throughout the weekend from this first panel thanking me for the advice; and a few who attended my remaining panels throughout the weekend, even though they hadn’t been interested in those topics. They just liked the way I talked.
After the panel ended, Russell and I met up for a quick dinner and we headed home. This had been a great first day of the show, but it was only the beginning…and we were not prepared for what the next day would bring us.
There’s a question among people selling in artist alley: to sell out, or not to sell out? I’m of the mindset that selling out, so long as you’re profitable, is not a bad thing. It means less to bring home, and for an away show that’s a cost saving measure (because shipping books home costs money). Others know selling out means you missed out on potential sales, which is also true – but I consider that a learning experience for what to pack more of the next year.
Well, Saturday blew my wildest expectations out of the water, and I ended up selling out of almost all of my books. More sales in a single day than I had at the show the entire weekend the previous time. It was overwhelming and amazing at the same time.
I carpooled with Russell that morning, having to restock a few items from the previous day (just to make sure I didn’t run out quickly), and we got our tables ready for the day. And boy, what a day it was. Foot traffic was through the roof, with rarely if ever a dull moment on the floor. Lots of visitors from the panel the previous night, and even more returning and new fans coming to buy books.
Across the isle from me was a good friend who has an excellent fitness Instagram (seriously, you should check her out), Kat, and we ended up making silly faces at each other all weekend. She also sells some amazing prints of original characters, and we both commented across the isle from each other about the volume of foot traffic.
Towards the end of the show, I closed up a bit early again since I had to run to a panel. I hosted a Crafting Fictional Worlds panel, which was standing room only. Wow, these fans really like their science fiction and fantasy world building. The questions were engaging, we had a lot of fun talking about world building and other topics related to story – setting tone and atmosphere, narrative exposition and how much (or little) to use, how to get characters to fit into your world (or vise versa), and many more topics were covered in this 50 minute panel. At the end, I thanked the audience and headed out with Brian and Linkara to grab dinner.
We headed to a local pub and ordered some food, chatting about social media and comics (they being comic reviewers for YouTube), and having a really fun time.
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel to see if anyone was hanging out in the green room (it was early yet, so no one was really in there yet), so I headed home soon after to see my family.
Saturday had defied all expectations for the show, but Sunday would really solidify this con as legendary for this year.
Sunday I carpooled with Russell yet again, and we set up our tables and began selling. I didn’t stay open too long, though, since I had a panel at noon: How to Make your own Comics and Manga. It’s intended to be a self-publishing panel, but a lot of the questions we got were about character arcs, storytelling, formatting, and a few questions about printing options and business budgeting. A fantastic panel, and a lot of people for a Sunday morning. I joked that they either are all morning people, or some of them had just not gone to bed yet.
After the panel, I returned to the table to end the day strong with sales. I had restocked most of my titles from the previous day, but it didn’t matter – by 3pm I had sold out of my restock of books that had sold out the day before. It was NUTS. And I mean that in a good way. I sold through what little stock I had left, and before I knew it the show had come to an end. Russell and I packed up our tables, and headed home.
Thank you so much to the fans, attendees, staff, and volunteers for having me back at the show, and for making that weekend so amazing and incredible. If you would like me to attend a con year you, please reach out to the show and request me as a guest. They listen to you, the fans, and I’d love to come meet you and hang out.
Did you attend the show? If so, what was your favorite part? Did you attend any of my panels? Which were your favorite?