Convention Report: NYCC 2018
New York Comic Con (NYCC) is the largest comic convention in the country, this year having estimated attendance of 250,000 people! I really enjoy this convention every year, getting to see friends, celebrities, and a city I rarely get to see these days. But this year was something on a whole new level of special. This year was something truly amazing!
I flew in Thursday morning, after having spent the night holding my eldest daughter for most of the night (since she got sick, and wasn’t able to sleep). I hopped into a cab and headed to my buddy in Queens to drop off my stuff (since I was staying with him, to save on some dough – and to hang out, because he’s awesome!), and then jumped on the 7 train to downtown to set up. I arrived a little after the show had opened, and set up the table as quick as I could. I had packed light, since 1) this is an away-show for me, so I try to be conservative with my displays and inventory, and 2) this was the first time I was in artist alley in a long while, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But man oh man, did I under-estimate just how incredible this show would be for sales.
I was on my own for the bulk of the day, since volunteers didn’t arrive until Friday. Despite that, artist alley performance way above my projections from past year’s NYCC shows. Usually I’m in a booth in small press, a 10×10 space up stairs and away from indie publishers like myself. It’s a fine location, and I do very well there, but this year was a game changer in artist alley. It completely blew those projections out of the water. I sold through half of my inventory for the weekend in a single day, and it was “preview day.”
After the show ended, I closed up shop and walked with my buddy Josh Elder (Scribblenauts, The Batman Strikes) to the Lion Forge after party. It was great to see folks at this party and get to reconnect, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years, and others I see at all the shows but haven’t had time to really have a good conversation with in a long time. I stayed at the party much later than I expected to, and eventually made my way back to the train to Queens so I could crash. A much later first night than I expected, but an incredible night all around.
I headed to the convention center from my buddy’s place in Queens, grabbing the 7 train and headed all the way to the Javits. Unfortunately the train announced this would be the last day I would be able to do this, since the train line would be under construction during the weekend and the closest I could get would be 42nd Times Square exit (which was about 8 blocks from the convention center, so not terribly far).
I got to the show and met my volunteer for the day, a very energetic guy named Mike. His wife was going to wonder the city during the day while he and I worked the booth. I gave Mike the download on the table and offerings, and told him we could pace ourselves today since I had sold so well the previous day. It made for a more relaxing feel, and how I prefer to be with my volunteers. Pressure is no fun.
The day flew past in a flash, with Mike and I selling through all of the books before the end of the day. I had to figure out how to pivot, and decided to offer pre-orders (since we still had a preview copy of the books on the tables). We also promoted the organization and handed out bookmarks and freebies to the interested people who stopped by. The newsletter, too, was a popular sign up.
After the con closed for the day, I packed up and headed off back to Queens. I had been invited to a few after parties, but wanted to take my friends to dinner as a thank you for putting me up for the weekend. They were leaving for Japan the next morning, so this was going to be my last night to hang out with them. We went to their favorite local restaurant, a Himalayan place that has really good food. After dinner, we headed back to their place to relax on the couch, watch some funny cartoons, and get an early night.
I got up in the morning and headed to the train, transferring to the N to get a little closer to the convention than where the 7 would have dropped me off. I met up with my buddy, Eric Palicki (No Angel, Fake Empire), to grab some breakfast and catch up. He had just finished his second successful anthology Kickstarter, and since I had one live at the moment I wanted to pick his brain a bit. Eric is always full of great ideas, and I always enjoy hanging out with him (which isn’t often enough). With fuel in our bodies for the day, we hiked to the convention center and parted ways to set up our tables.
My next volunteer arrived at the show, Aliza, who had helped me out at C2E2 several years ago. That weekend had been a fun time, so I knew this weekend was going to be great as well – and I was not mistaken. Aliza knows her stuff, and fully throws herself into what she’s supporting. She was a machine when it came to talking about the books, the organization, and any of our initiatives. With her help, we were able to get a whole bunch of pre-orders for the books we had sold out of, and also had some fun conversation in booth to boot.
Aliza killed it, and the day flew past in record time. After the show ended, I closed up shop and headed to my airbnb to drop off my stuff, and then met up with my friend from high school for dinner and drinks. Her birthday had been a few days earlier, so I wanted to treat her and catch up. She also has two little ones under foot, both a little older than mine, so it was nice to get a bit of a glance into what the future holds for me in the Mueller house hold.
The final day of the con, and all the pressure had been removed days ago (since we surpassed our sales goals for the weekend). I jumped into a cab with Josh Elder and headed to the city, grabbed breakfast on the walk from the drop off point to the convention center, and met up with Aliza to set up the table for the day.
I had a short window to sell on this final day of the show, since I had a flight to catch (took an earlier flight to try to see my girls that night). And since we had already sold through everything, I also had the chance to walk around artist alley a bit and say hi to other creators, and snap a few photos.
After a few hours, I closed up the table and said my goodbyes, and headed to the airport for the long flight home. I want to thank the staff, volunteers, and attendees who made NYCC 2018 such an awesome and incredible show, and who helped us to sell out in record time. Next year, I’m going to have to plan for this kind of surge and have more books on hand for artist alley!