Yesterday was the third annual Gem City Comic Convention in Dayton, Ohio at Wright State University. As always, Gem City is the most comfortable convention there is as guests are treated to cushy, executive-style office chairs. The independent creators’ room is in a conference room off the main dealers’ room. The show has gotten bigger and bigger each year. While the dealers’ room has always been hopping, what started as about ten creators in a small room, has turned into a couple of dozen small-press creators showing their wares. Out in the solarium/hallway is a great mix of old-time professionals (Marv Wolfman) and newer artists (Billy Tan).
PANEL represented at the show. Andy Bennett was a featured guest out in the solarium. Dara Naraghi, Tom Williams, Craig Bogart, and I kicked it in the independent creators’ room where, according to a disembodied voice over the PA, “the cutting edge of comics was occurring.” Molly Durst wasn’t set up to sell comics, but was there (and scored a sweet set of fuzzy dice, polyhedron style). Luckily, we got there early to set up since the tables, for some reason, are first-come, first serve. While it wasn’t a problem for the most part, there were some creators who showed up later after the tables were all taken; they were forced to take hastily set up tables shoved in the middle of the room. Maybe next year, the indie room will end up being two rooms.
There seemed to be a decent amount of traffic for a Sunday show on the nicest weather day of the year so far. There were the normal lulls in traffic at the beginning and end of the day. But while there were a lot of people in the room, it didn’t seem like many people were actually looking at the books, and they definitely weren’t buying.
I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but sales were way down, especially compared to the last two Gem City shows. Even people who were familiar with the PANEL books and had bought them before didn’t pick up the new anthologies. In fact, if it wasn’t for Matt Feazell buying three Class of 2006 books for a dollar (and trading a Cynical Man for my Pyramid Story), I would have been totally skunked on the show. I blame the economy. We need to have another show after the economic stimulus checks come through.
Having said that, I did have a good time at the show. I was able to make a good bit of progress on a freelance editing job, so I technically didn’t lose money on the show. It is always good to sit down and chat with the PANEL guys, and the show is only about 45 minutes from my house. The big pile of comics that Craig got from Bell, Book and Comic were fun to look through.
Even though my sales were low, I’m not ready to give up comics, just rethink some strategy.
No Bankies for the convention, but here are a few quotes:
Dara: “Are we going to Chipotle for lunch?” trying to continue a PANEL con tradition, but we didn’t know where the nearest one was.
Young kid: “Is this appropriate?” while pointing at Craig’s newest Ineffables comic.
Sean: “What Sandman are you drawing, the Gaiman version or the gas mask version?”
Craig (with contempt): “The Ditko Sandman.”
Did I miss anything else?