Tag Archives: Arts

It’s hip to be square.

Comics are a big deal these days. Everywhere we look, pop culture tees, advertisement, both print, video and digital media, are bombarding the general populace. Plus, 2013 marks the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the best known super hero of all time, Superman. Of course, there have been other large milestones that have gone unnoticed. Characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage and other pulp heroes that spawned the current popular comic stars reached that 75th mark ages ago. But, in their own way, they were celebrated by the fans that cared. Dynamite Entertainment, just a few short years ago, obtained the rights to start printing The Shadow in comic form again which has been a huge success. So much in fact that the character has been guest starring in their other titles (Masks, Noir, The Shadow verses Grendel) and expanded the series into other ongoing books. Hence, the rights to Doc Savage were also obtained with a new series hitting comic book stores in December 2013. Sweet time for comic book fans to be introduced to the original characters! All this and more as the nerds and geeks have come to age to take over ruling the world. Businesses are jumping on the band wagon and commissioning their designers to make “comic book work” related advertising. Pop culture is very flush throughout our world. But how long with this resurgence last?

In the early to mid-nineties,  the comic book industry took a big hit due to distribution technicalities. We won’t go into too many details as anything dealing with the history can be easily Googled. The lapse in bad judgement actually caused Marvel (the company that owns The X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, ect) to declare bankruptcy and needed a boost from a toy company. Small comic book stores around the county had to close their doors as the bottom began to fall out. Comic book companies soon had to deal with a monopoly of one company, Diamond, handling all the distribution. Magazine companies (Wizard) began buying up pop culture conventions and then raising the prices for vendors to sell their wares as well as fans to enter through their doors with grandiose promises of getting their favorite actors, artists, and writers to attend. A balloon that seemed to have over expanded itself was deflating. Strange how things have changed in the past two decades. Or have they?

Diamond is still the major distributor for comic books and pop culture memorabilia (boosting that sales have been increasing of late, See Diamond Reports), Wizard still holds the market for the largest comic book conventions throughout the country and fans are still being gauged to not only attend but dish out not $1.00 for single issues of their favorites comic books two decades ago but $3.99 or more. Have things really gotten better for the nerds or all we all just deluding ourselves into thinking it’s okay? And to add salt to the wound, digital comics seem to be OUT SELLING their print editions and the comic book companies are making their comic book print editions OBSOLETE by releasing trade paper back editions of a collected series almost IMMEDIATELY after the series hits comic books stands. What’s really going on behind the scenes and why aren’t more people crying “wolf’? Because, it’s all about making the biggest profit. It use to be about producing good work. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great titles coming out with phenomenal art and stories. Of course, these people want to get paid a decent wage for their time and effort. We know that business is business and the whole point of being in business is to make profit. But how far do you need to go so you can edge out the fans that are just starting? (See Who Knew?)

It’s hip to be square in 2013 with comics now available instantaneously via your android phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. Sure it seems print sales are picking up, at least according to Diamond with them now allowing comic book stores to return unsold issues. This new news is actually a good thing for small comic book shop owners who are now contending with surplus and overstock of unsold comics.  What we here at IF Comics want to know is how long with this new balloon last? Will the sales still see a rise after another ten years or will the fad fade again as it has done in the past. When will the general public be bored with new television series like Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine, Gotham Central, Arrow, Flash, ect.? When is the shiny new penny going to wear out it’s shine and become tarnished by the new schmuck who wants it all? We hope the high keeps rising but we also hope that the people behind the scenes don’t pull the wool over their fans eyes and over saturate them too much. We’re already seeing it happen and it’s happening fast. Perhaps a little too fast. All for the love of money, merchandising, and fans?

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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.

collector_con