So…C2E2 is done and frankly so are we. Speaking for myself, I think of this as my first real con behind the table. WonderCon would have been, but I was really only present for the first day. I got pretty sick on Day 2 and missed Day 3 entirely. So, C2E2 has been my first real taste of doing this for really real.
It was tiring.
Not physically so, because all we were doing was sitting, talking, and occasionally walking around. My exhaustion is almost spiritual, it’s so internal. You kinda have to be on ALL THE TIME in order to maximize this opportunity. Our booth was in the lowest part of Artist’s Alley, what they called their Webcomics Pavilion. (That is, of course, a misnomer, because some of the people in the pavilion were doing print or even animation. On the other hand, online comics’ big boys of the con, Hijinks Ensue, Questionable Content, Girls With Slingshots, etc., were deservedly in real booths.) We got our fair share of traffic, as it were very close to the floor proper, but people aren’t by-and-large looking for unknown projects. They were looking for George Perez and Bill Sienkiewicz and Shia LeBeouf (of all people, and he had an Artists’ Alley table the first day). So we had to continually try to make eye-contact and to engage people that hesitated long enough to indicate that the posters or banner or postcards had caught their eye.
We came up with pitch points and phrases with which to draw people in, all of which we repeated at least fifty times each:
- “If you like what you see, then you’ll probably like the comic.”
- “It’s hard-boiled fantasy. It’s Chinatown set in Middle-Earth by way of Samurai Jack.”
- “Let us know what you think. If you like it, tell all of your friends. If you don’t like it, tell them anyway.”
We’re luckier than most when it comes to this stuff. Both Will and I have put years into the service industry, and we’re accustomed to regularly engaging people that we don’t know. A lot of creative types are solitary by nature; in some cases, the expression “basement-dweller” sprang to mind. But for us, we were just substituting Hunter Black (and to a lesser degree, Planet Pantheon and Rocket-Girl and the Wrench) for burgers and beer. Of the people in the lower half of the Webcomics Pavilion, I felt like we were as strong as anybody in terms of keeping a presence at our booth. That was in large part to our restaurant training, so thank you Hard Rock Cafe.
Of course, the other big draw for us was the banner. Will’s artwork is eye-catching, and our stylistic similarities to Samurai Jack drew more than a few people in. We’re unashamed of what we’ve taken from the things that inspire us, so when people mentioned Samurai Jack or Genndy Tartakovsky to us, we proudly told them how much that influenced us, and we would go on to mention Darwin Cooke, Richard Stark, and Parker.
We sold some posters…although not one on Friday, which was the slowest day. We got quite a few requests for books and a few offers for printing services. We did a couple of interviews for podcasts which will hopefully be up soon, as well as provide links back to the comic.
Also, comics people are amazing. The fans were cool. We got several people who came to the booth and took the card, went home and read some or all of the comic, and came back to tell us how much they enjoyed it. We got to have some nice conversations, and get some useful advice, from some really cool and deeply established professionals. Gail Simone and her husband were amazing, Neal Adams gave me a piece of free advice that could really help us make some cash in the future, and I got to pick the brains of online comics studs like Danielle Corsetto, Jeph Jacques, and Battlepug‘s Mike Norton.
We ain’t hardly making money off of these things yet, but I feel like we’re attracting readers. If we manage to eke out some more positive press, and keep getting new ideas on how to proceed, I don’t imagine that the making-no-money part will be true for long.