Thursday, 29 June 2017

Preparation is everything.

I've been asked to write something about 'Preparing for a Convention' from the perspective of an independent comic creator.
An interesting request.
Interesting in that we've been doing conventions for so long now, 15 years, that we kind of just get on with it.
I'll do my best though.

1) Booking the event to start with.
It's a challenge getting tables at a lot of Cons in the UK, so when the date for one is announced independent creators across the land hit their iphones and android devices. Only when they've successfully requested their table do they then sit back and look at where the convention fits in their schedule. 
It's useful to have a print out, on a page, of your convention season. There are a number of ways to avoid surfing the net for upcoming events. Sites like are becoming a useful hub for such things and if you're thinking or running your own Comic Event (and we've been tempted over the years) then that seems fairly straightforward too (Eventbrite's registration online page). Regardless of how you've come across the event before you push the 'submit' button consider the logistics of how you can get from the convention before it to the one you are booking, or from the one you are booking to the one that follows. Travel to and from a convention can take up the Friday and the Monday around the weekend that it's on. Another long trip the following weekend will be very draining. Another the weekend that follows may be just too much. Turning up exhausted at a Convention isn't great for sales and it isn't good for you.

2) Get your stock sorted we'll ahead of time.
There's nothing worse than finding out the week before the Convention that you've sold out of the middle issue in your mini-series. Keep an eye on stock levels. There's also nothing worse than looking out of your living room window the day before you travel, hoping that the latest issue of your comic is going to be delivered in time. This is sometimes out of your control a bit, as we all aim a comic at a particular Con, but try to give yourself a few weeks

3) Think about sketch packs, print packs and multi-buys.
If you're going to have some interesting incentive packs on your table then make sure you start pulling these together a week or so ahead of the Con. That way you have time to get comic bags, sellotape etc. Print some nice clear labels with the details and price information. It's nice, if you can, to take Show Specials, with the name of the Con on the labels. Makes it feel limited.

4) Take the right amount of stock.
It does make sense not to take too much stock. There's nothing more soul destroying than lugging a load of boxes of comics to your table at the beginning of a Con, only to lug most of them back to your car again afterwards.
Keep a count of the comics you sell at the Cons you attend. It gives you a feel for what's popular where (although this isn't something you can rely on) and more importantly a feel for how many you're likely to sell when you go back. We tend to take that number plus 25% or so, in the hope that things improve.
Selling out of a title towards the end of the event is not necessarily a bad thing, it gives you a buzz. Selling out an hour into the event however is not good. 
Having an idea of number you're likely to sell helps avoid both.

5) Tell everyone that you'll be at the Convention.
Use Twitter, Blogs, Facebook Groups... and anything else at your disposal to spread the word.

6) On the morning of the event...
Set your alarm clock...

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Belfast MCM.

Just back from another fabulous Con in Belfast.
This is a Con we never expect to make money on, the cost of flight and lodgings etc always mean we'd have to sell more books than we can possibly get into our 23kg luggage allowance, but we have such a good time it's always a Con we try to get to.
This year we nearly missed it as our friends, Steve Tanner and Paul Birch were organising a Con in Birmingham, but that fell through and we jumped at the chance to go back.
Arriving early Friday morning we took our time getting to the venue, spending the morning in the city, made easier by Colin's decision to hire a car this year.
We've got setting up the table down to a fine art, made even easier due to the reduced stock and lack of banners and other props. Gary Erskine was there already and had already planned out the weekend, which saw us that night sitting in a pub with a troop of 2000AD fans, most of whom were also involved in a Cosplay group (dressing up as Star Wars characters in the main I think). I know I'm getting old when I struggle to hear what is being said to me due to the noise... errr ... sorry .. music, but I was amazed to find many of the group were IT professionals and of a similar age.
A very enjoyable night that ended up with us chatting with Glenn Fabry and offering to chauffeur him to and from the event over the weekend. It's strange when you meet someone whose work you have admired over the years. You worry that you won't like him and that that would somehow make you see his work differently from then on. This was not the case with Glenn though, he's a really nice bloke and fun to be with.
Hopefully this is some kind of salute, acknowledging
quality and not them showing us where the door is.
Saturday saw good sales, and by mid day I'd sold out of all the copies of the WesterNoir Trades that I've taken. They are quite big books and I had to balance numbers of these with the other comics, a copy of the trade taking up the same weight as 5 other books.
This didn't trouble a number of people though as they still bought copies of issues 5, 6 and 7, saying that they'd order the trade through the post.
Colin would often wander off, I spotted him at one point
chatting to Gary Erskine at the other end of the
Comic Village.

Saturday night we caught up with Gary Erskine and Jenika Ioffreda for tea and chat, which is becoming a bit of a nice habit.
Sunday morning it was great to see a few customers who bought the trade on the Saturday rush over to the stall on Sunday to get the rest. We had one of our busiest Sunday mornings ever I think.
Sunday was as busy as Saturday and it felt to me that the whole event had a better attendance and more energy than last year's.
I caught Moon artist Steve Penfold admiring his own work....
All in all we had a great time.

Colin hadn't noticed his passenger...
Monday morning, following the fire alarm going off twice in the Premier Inn, was a slow start but we made it into the city again to find the Ulster Museum closed and The MAC art gallery changing all of its exhibits, so we went shopping and tracked down The Comic Guys great new store.

Yep, a really nice weekend. We'll be back.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

New WesterNoir art cards.

We've produced (well, Gary Crutchley did all the hard work) four sketch cards, from the covers of 3 issues already in print and one yet to be published, and it's not Issue 8.
Here's the first.