The second annual Denver Comic Con came and went this past weekend and I was there representing Creephouse Comics. Last years DCC was an enormous success so expectations were high. The con last year was one of the greatest weekends of my life. It was a blast to see Denver come out and embrace the culture so enthusiastically. I made some great new friends, talked with people about my comics and work all weekend and had the best sales I have ever had at a con. I was really looking forward to this past weekend.
This year we were in an even bigger hall at the convention center. Artist Alley (dubbed Artist Valley, for the geographical reference) was almost twice as large. It might now be the largest convention I have attended in artist alley. Set up was no problem as I knew what to expect from last year. Getting my badge and directions to the hall went smoothly and I was off to prepare for the show.
First off, there was a lot of attention being drawn to the fact that the fan reaction to this show was much higher and more people were showing up than expected. Lines to get in stretched around the convention center and it was taking people hours to get in. The organizers were quick to react but it is hard to blame them when that many people show up. The numbers indicate that this weekend attendance was over double for last year. I think near 50k people funneled through the convention center this weekend as opposed to last year there were around 25k. It is a sure sign of the success and excitement generated by the con.
With that many people the convention was slammed with people all weekend. I barely had time to get away from the table. Traffic was steady all weekend as people jammed into the hall. Leaving the table was a dicey proposition as I would inevitably get stuck in the hordes or trapped behind impromptu cosplay photo sessions (more on that later). My table was in the middle of artist alley, row G. I think it was a good spot as we were near the end of the artist alley but before the celebrity area so people had to funnel through us to get there.
Something else that got people around to tables was a contest we held. I am part of a local draw blog, Timberline Draw Blog and some of our members organized a scavenger hunt for the show. We each printed off 40 trading cards featuring our art and asked people to collect them all for the chance to win some art prizes. People seemed really into it and since all of our members participating were spread all over the hall it got people all around the alley.
The few times I got away from the table was for the panels I was scheduled to be on. Friday night, the Webcomic Pioneers put on another open forum style panel answering questions about the ins and outs of webcomic creation and business. The panel went well even with us being one member down due to a double booking.
Saturday afternoon I was on a Horror & Mystery Comics panel with Robert Elrod, Alfred Trujillo, Ben Templesmith and Brian Pulido who didn’t end up showing up. We had a heck of a time on the panel talking horror (and a little My Little Ponies) and it got a lot of people to come by the table and tell me how much they liked the panel and that they were interested in Creephouse Comics and my work. My girlfriend recorded the whole thing and if the audio holds up I will post it here.
Sunday William Shatner was there (as a replacement for the cancelled Stan Lee) and it was busy all day. Sunday ended up being my highest sales day which is unusual for a con. When the show ended, loading out was no problem.
Overall the weekend went well sales wise. Not as profitable as last year but I don’t consider sales the only mark of a good show. I was however a little down about the whole experience. Let me be clear I don’t think the organizers are the reason here. I know some of them and I know how hard they work to put on a great show and I commend them for it. I think they rocked it like last year. It was the attendees that bummed me out. Countless times this weekend I heard people say how they don’t read comics or aren’t interested in art. Not from behind my table but from walking around or from other people. I don’t understand that kind of attitude, or why you would express that to a person who is clearly selling comics and art.
The other thing was the cosplay. This year it was out of control. There were so many cosplayers there. I generally enjoy the cosplay and think what some of these people do is amazing but it seemed to just take over the con. They were everywhere. It became near impossible to get anywhere without having to stop every 5 feet because somebody is taking pictures of cosplayers. Which is fine and I expect that, when it is out of the aisles. Countless times over the weekend cosplayers would stop for a photo in front of my table which would then turn into a photo session because once one person gets the camera out, everybody around them does. This will inevitably shut traffic down to your table until they decide to move on. Numerous times people put there stuff on my table so they could take a photo or be photographed, which to me is not only rude as hell but unacceptable behavior. That is my work, my lively hood you so casually disregarded there. I started telling people it was $20 a minute to rent that space for their stuff.
I know I tread on thin ice here but I think this nerd empowerment thing may have jumped the shark. People seemed more interested in showing up and venting nerd all over the place in order for people to know they are nerds. At the Rock Con a full grown man damn near took out my girlfriend because they were throwing free comics into the crowd. Seriously dude? For a free issue of Justice League 4?
Again I don’t think the organizers are to blame for this, I think this is just a result of the boom in this culture and with more people there are going to be more jerks.
With that being said, the people who came by my table were very enthusiastic about Creephouse Comics and I really appreciate the support and it is was great to see people really enjoying our work. That is something that can’t be hurt by inconsiderate con goers or bad sales. It was also great to see all my friends and reconnect with friends I only get to see at the show.
I may have to rethink my con strategy yet again but I already booked a table for next years DCC. I am curious to see what it will bring.