What Really Happens in Artist Alley – Indy PopCon 2014
“Excited” would not be a word I would use to describe my feelings as I prepared for “tabling” at Indy PopCon- “terrified” would probably be a better word. While I am a teacher and spend hours each day in front of an audience (i.e. my class) I’m not very good at or comfortable with just talking to people. If you have known me for a while you might have forgotten that I hide in the corners of rooms and quietly add something to a conversation when I hear them. After a while I do come out of my shell, but for the most part, I’m fine hiding out and getting a feel for the crowd… its called “being an introvert.” So here I was setting up a table at a Convention that will have thousands of people potentially tens of thousands of people what was I thinking?!?
Set up began Thursday for the people who were bringing in lots of stuff (not me). I had about 70 copies of my book, about 350 buttons, 15 prints, a banner, an old cigar box, business cards, drawing supplies and a couple of pads of paper in various sizes. It almost all fit into a large box that fit in the boot of my MINI Roadster. I showed up Thursday evening to get things ready… because I’m that way. 15 minutes later I had everything set up and Sue was asking me if I wanted to put it all away so nothing would get stolen. I took the change out of the cash box, and went to look around the Hall which was huge and at the time fairly empty.
Indy PopCon is a strange beast, it seems the idea is to have a convention that embraces all forms of popular culture not just one. So as I walked around, I saw a wide variety of stuff in the booths that were setting up. The organizers had done their homework, put together a Kickstarter to help with initial funding, and visited the other new convention, the Indiana Comic-Con, which had been held months earlier with a few issues. Their communication was exemplary, keeping everyone informed. Being my first big con, I was very happy with everything I had seen so far. Still nervous, but I felt that with all the prep and changes they had made to accommodate more people it would be a fantastic success for everyone involved.
The first day of Indy PopCon coincided with the last day of school so since I had set up already I headed to school to say my goodbyes, and then head off to PopCon. I didn’t realize that there would be high school graduation ceremonies, a convention of Methodists, and the State Democratic Convention all happening around PopCon. I was in typical Con wear for me (my nifty comic Hawaiian shirt and my flying monkey fez. I arrived (early- this is the way I try to do things especially when I’m nervous) and rearranged some things sat down and started to draw. I wanted to have some samples of monkey sketch cards and a commission so the throngs of people would know what I could do. The nice thing was I was really close to some great comic creators (Little Guardians, Chris & Gin, Samantha Kyle, and Ron Braun) in case things did get weird… Hey! who brought that laser pointer?!?
I was able to complete a lot of work and avoid talking to people since most people do what I do when walking through Artist Alley the first time- they stay in the middle of the aisle and avoid eye contact. Those that stopped I talked about my comic “It started off as a biocomic and then I realized my life was boring (ha ha) so I added the evil monkey bent on world domination and his scores of clone minions that live in my basement to spice things up (ha ha).” I talk to kids much easier than adults, but since for many kids it was still a school day, it was mostly adults. Sales wise I sold mostly to my friends who stopped by to see how I was doing and be supportive (thank you all). I survived the first day without a mark on me, and actually was pleased with how things had gone. Saturday I wore my Star Trek Red Shirt, figuring that this was the day I would get pummeled with people and being new had little chance of survival. It actually was kind of nice. I made my typical jokes about this being my “Walking Dead” costume, and stuff like that. Not what I had expected, but what was great was drawing some more and talking to the friends who stopped by to check things out. Sunday I helped at a panel on Comics in the Classroom with Jim McClain and again enjoyed myself (dressed in my TARDIS fez and new TARDIS bow tie). As the con came to a close I was happy to have given it a try and enjoyed it (although I was exhausted).
How’d I do? I “made table” which to me meant I made enough money to pay for my table space. Being my first con I was happy with the result. Some people weren’t as happy, but they had more experience, and kept comparing to other cons. Was I swamped? No. Did get to be obnoxious yelling at people to “buy my stuff”? or “Hey! Look at me!” I hope not, I said “Hi” as people passed and went into my little talk if they stopped to look at things. I was a little surprised that the posters didn’t sell at all, but that’s okay. Mostly I had fun. I learned a lot from the experience and am looking forward to taking that knowledge to the next Con, whenever and where ever it will be. Some of the things I need to consider are how many of these things do I go to- I’m not really sure right now. For right now Indy PopCon is on my calendar for next year, along with a repeat visit to the INDYpendent Show. However my current priority is to get more comic strips drawn, tell more & better stories, and be ready to make “My Geek Odyssey” issue #2 before May of 2015!