It seems that just about every week in the U.S., there’s at least one comic convention going on, often two or more. Let’s face it – the money that can be made through these events has just GOT to be tremendously tempting to folks in the comics industry, particularly those who manage local shops and other organizations.

Well, not only comics pros are noticing how profitable comic cons are these days. Some people with access to significant meeting space to fill are also anxious to get their facilities being used by cons as well.

NOT EVERY CONVENTION IS A SUCCESS

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been helping out Richard Rivera with his Stabbity Bunny comic, and that includes working at convention booths he arranges to sell his stuff.

While we were recently at the Tampa Bay Comic Con, we were approached by a few people who were starting up their first comic convention, and it would be located not far from the town we live in. (Please note that the names of the people involved and the event itself are being excluded.) The best part? Since it was their first con and a small one, they were offering free vendor tables to people like Richard! Well, that was just way too tempting to pass up, so he signed up right away. Since cosplay was going to be a big part of the event, he also introduced those folks to our local Star Trek club to see if they would be interested in attending. Unfortunately, the club’s annual beach party was going on during part of the convention, so they weren’t able to attend.

Conventions, comics, Stabbity Bunny, Richard Rivera, Tampa Bay Comic Con, Florida, Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, Google Plus, publicityWe set up the booth on Friday night, then discovered another convention friend had a table there as well. If he was there, then it looked good from where we were!

When we arrived on Saturday morning, we found the parking lot at the building pretty much empty. That concerned us. Normally at conventions, even small ones, there’s a line formed by the time the dealers arrive.

Games, toys, comics, you name it … it was all ready to go when the con opened its doors. But it didn’t take long for all of the vendors to notice that one thing was missing – customers!

As the day went on, some programming took place, but we only saw maybe 20 people there the entire day. And Saturdays are normally the biggest and best days during an event like this!

When it hit 4:00 p.m., several vendors starting packing up. They hadn’t said anything to the con organizers, who approached them only to learn they were leaving and not coming back on Sunday. Richard had come to that same conclusion, but had decided to stay until the vendors’ room closed on that day.

The organizers began talking with the rest of the vendors, and they convinced us to stay through the next day. After all, we reasoned, we did agree to a table on both days.

Sunday was no better, sadly. The vendors spent most of the time talking with each other since we had about the same number of people there. I have to give all the dealers credit – everyone resisted the temptation to rush or call over those few people who did come in. Believe me, though, it was tough to resist!

We were told we could pack up on Sunday at 4:00 p.m., so we gathered our things and left. Over both days, we had sold one comic book and one poster. Yikes!

WHAT HAPPENED?

batgirl-38-panel-mainThe post mortem for this event began on Saturday a few hours after the doors opened.

It turned out that there had been several committees organized to make this con take place. Many of them followed through and brought it to reality, except for one – advertising. Several groups of people had signed up and quit before the con happened.

It was that old question: What if you threw a party, and no one came?

Of course, the folks in charge were disheartened by what took place, but they still want to make great cons happen, so they’re going to try again in January. This time, they need to be sure to get the word out!

The Tampa Bay Comic Con had apparently advertised everywhere within a reasonable distance, even on radio stations in Orlando and other locations. They had a terrific turnout, so this is something for this group to consider!

THERE’S A LESSON IN ALL THIS FOR ALL COMICS CREATORS

The toughest part of any project is to make sure people know it’s coming or available. When episodes of my podcast are posted, I get the word out through several social media outlets (including Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon and Google Plus) so people will hopefully be drawn to listen! I try to do that for other podcasts here at MajorSpoilers.com whenever I can, too!

I know, I know – comics creators want to create, after all. Publicity can take hours and hours of valuable creative time, particularly if you’re an independent comic person. But if this past weekend is to be of value, we all need to learn that people simply won’t show up or buy what you make if they don’t know what’s going on. A simple fact, I’m sure, but one that bears repeating.

I’m reminded of David Petersen from Mouse Guard telling me during an interview that every once in a while, he’ll do something like a drawing session on Facebook “so people know I’m still alive,” he joked since it takes time for him to write, draw, color and letter his book. Sage advice!

If you’re a store owner, a comics creator, a podcast producer, a convention organizer, a review writer or doing anything associated with comics, please take this away from my weekend – invest the time you need into letting people know what you have to offer! You’ll seriously benefit from it!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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