Attending Conventions? Are they worth the time and energy?

Dan Con
Drawn by Tony Maldonado and colored by Dave Punk

It would be wrong of me not to mention two comic book conventions that are coming up in the next two months. First up is DanCon 2013 part II on September 21st, 2013 in Orland Park, IL. Dan and his lovely wife both run this con and are great hosts. If you are interested in seeing a large group of indie creators collected together under one roof, check out this con! The price is $3 for adults and $1 for children under 12. This is the first year that they have done two small one day shows (Spring and Fall) in a single year. The first half, which took place in March, was fairly successful for those who attended. It is important to note that this con is in ILLINOIS and not FLORIDA if you have seen an ad for this con in Previews. It has been recently discovered that they have no editors on staff as they typed and “F” instead of “I” for the state. They also seem to think that St Louis is in New Jersey. Doubt me?

Check out a picture of this post we found on Facebook. Preview Error

Aside from some problems with advertising like being told by local comic book store owners (I am not going to name names but they start with the name of a CRACKER) that this con is not a “real” convention like Wizard World or C2E2, they have a decent attendance record for a small comic book convention. It’s in a high volume area, next to a major mall, and easy to get to and from. Excluding the traffic, of course.

Honestly, Wizard World is no longer a “real” convention in our opinion. A real convention wouldn’t charge it’s fans $40+ a day to attend. This does not count the money you need to pay for parking, food, and OH, what if you actually want to BUY something from someone? You’re already a minimum of $40+ in the hole before you even step into or driven to the front door!

For an average fan to attend a big name convention these days averages a minimum of $100 a day. That figure is being EXTREMELY nice! Here is a downside as an artist. To buy a four day table to exhibit your art or wares, the average amount for an 8ft table with two chairs is $300-$400. Let’s say you think this is fair and decide to exhibit. So, you have invested money to print or publish your work whether it be prints of your art, a sketch book or some other publication like a graphic novel or comic book. That could easily be in the hundreds of dollars if you decided not to sell ads to cut printing cost. Add this price to the table price. If you do not live in the state the convention is taking place, add gas and mileage or plane fare to that price. There’s a few more Benjamin Frankin’s out of your pocket. Then, you’ll need a place to stay as you would like attend all the days of the convention, right?  Now add in hotel rates and fees. Let’s say $90-$120 a day. Where are we at in terms of price? I don’t know about you but we are bordering on close to $1000 at this point and we still haven’t even gotten into the convention door yet. Ok, are you alone or do you have someone to help you with the table? If you are going to be manning the table by yourself, guess what? You can’t leave! All this isn’t even factoring in time and energy spent creating your work. By this time you are probably getting my point. You, as someone who thinks they are fairly decent artist, writer, whatever, have dropped down a car payment or more to attend an over priced comic book convention. What is the guarantee that you will even break even? Think I am full of BS and want a second opinion? Check out this blog by Sun Bros Studios about their recent encounter with Wizard World Chicago 2013.

The Three Phases of Post-Con Letdown by Wesley Sun

I feel so bad as these guys are super stoked about their new project. I’ve thumbed through their book and it’s decent enough. Had they asked us ahead of time, we could have saved them a lot of time and energy. This price gouging has been going on for decades and naive and inspiring artists think this is the way it should be. WRONG! It didn’t use to be this way 20 years ago but they are all too young to know the truth. DO NOT TAKE THIS ABUSE! You’re time and energy is valuable and so is your artwork.

Do small art shows to get started and then if enough people start buying your work, consider exhibiting at a “big” named convention. I guarantee that you will do better in an environment where you can hear and actually talk at a normal talking level with your fans than at some big convention hall where the fans are overwhelmed by the vastness and over abundance of pop culture.

That is the biggest complaint that we have received from fans. TOO MUCH STUFF! How do you expect to compete with a thousand other vendors at a big con? You can’t. So you get lost in the awe and deer headlight looks of the fans as they drool past your table. It’s not that they can’t see you. It’s that they have no money via the entry fee. By the time they get to Artist Alley, the big named conventions have hiden you in the back like your are some kind of shameful bastard child. The irony is that the artists in Artist Alley are doing more creative and visually appealing work than anything you’ll find in mainstream these days. And where do the mainstream comic companies find the new fresh talent? OUT OF ARTIST ALLEY! The “big” conventions are literally shooting themselves in the foot by screwing over their future fans of the up and coming artists and writers. Where’s the logic?

We have attended many different show since the late 80’s through the early 2000’s. Our best shows have always been small intimate shows that allows us to talk with our fans, answer their questions and allow them to get to know us. We are all artists in some way whether it be through the written word of through visuals. We love to talk about our work. And we love to be engaged by OTHER people asking us and talking about our work. Talk to your fellow artists and ask them about other conventions and their experiences. It could save you a lot of hard ache, time, money, and energy.

Last but not least…

Check out Collector Con on October 13th, 2013 in Kankakee, IL.



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