(Photo by Stephen Yan)
Saturday, to be honest, was the slower of the two days, in terms of how much business I had. While I had a new book, and plenty of other product, the passerbyers seemed to always be in a rush, moving quickly through the aisles. I was surrounded on all three sides by illustrators who specialized in selling artwork based on popular characters from movies, cartoons, comics and toys: Batman, X-Men, Star Wars, Transfomers, etc.
I say this not to disparage any of the artists or even the customers. It's just my opinion that folks who came to the show that day were looking for the famous pop cultural characters, (icons, really). I've been doing these comic book shows for some 15 years, and every time you have different crowds of people looking for different things. Sometimes the fans are shopping for independent works, and sometimes not so much...
I also taught a 45 minute comic book workshop for kids, where I guided them to create their own one-page comic book story. It was nice seeing lots of the parents sitting with their kids drawing alongside them. Most kids even wore their Halloween costumes, so I had Batgirl, Hawkeye, Wolverine and others making a comic. Afterwards, one of the parents approached me and told me that he and his son saw me some years before at a signing. He said his son was only 5 at the time, and the boy looked to be must about 11. It's a trip to hear things like that, only because it really speaks to the years I've put into this whole comic creator career.
Lots of costumed fans walking around, which is one of the cool things about a comic book convention. I asked this kid's father if I could take a pic of the boy and the dad said "Yeah, 2 bucks"! Then he laughed...
Great MARS ATTACKS mask.
And of course, there's no shortage of friends you run into during a weekend at a show. Here's me with Mary Bellamy, fellow cartoonist and DIY publisher:
I split the table with my friend Ted Seko. Here we are exchanging our newest books:
Ted's comic, NO-BRAINER THE LIVING CADAVER, is an off-beat tale of mortality and the Great Beyond! Always glad to see his newest works. Here's a drawing he made for me, featuring DEAD DINOSAURIO in combat with MECHA-KONG:
Business picked up in the later part of the day. Perhaps folks saw all they had come to see, then decided to take more casual strolls through the Artist Alley sections? Usually when I'm talking to a customer, we end up having interesting conversations, so it's not just about making a sales transactions. Although, there are times that someone will pick up a book or a button, hand me the money, and be on their way. What I like about that is there wasn't any need for me to explain the book, they just liked what they say and took it.
I spend more time on Sunday walking around and visiting other artists when I could. Like Jamie Gambell, a writer and publisher of books he releases under his imprint Monkey Pipe Studios. Jamie also busts out his art supplies and draws a mini-comic from time to time. This time he was working on a Marvel Comic sketch cover:
Jules had a really nice page of original art on display, with some strong expressive brushwork. She balances that with some great digital coloring on her books. And she's also got a lot of moxie to go with her talent!
I was glad to run into the Cossin Brothers, Matt (left) and Mikey (on my right):
I became aware of their work online, then had a chance to meet them briefly at the Chula Vista Library a month or so back. In fact, I had asked Mikey to contribute a pinup to DEAD DINOSAURIO months ago when I was finishing up the book.
Matt and Mikey work on their individual comics, as well as collaborating on projects. Sharp guys, very friendly and interesting to talk to. And very good cartoonists!
All in all, the show just balanced out for to be profitable (after deducting the cost of the table). I had a great time with the workshops (actually did another one on Sunday), had some really nice encounters with the folks who bought my work, and had great fun talking to my friends and fellow artists. I was initially a little down the first half of Saturday, what with the seeming lack of interest in independent comics work. For a moment I even thought that I should try expanding my appeal by making prints of popular characters like Spider-Man, X-men and the rest. But I quickly realized that just wouldn't feel right for me. And I'm not even referring to the legal question of using copyrighted characters.
I'd rather use my talents to create my own works as much as possible. I grew up loving those old comics, and still enjoy looking through them. But creating my own characters and standing up for my own work, that's what I want to do, and why I continue to work hard at finding new audiences all the time.
Long Beach was fun, and I'm glad I did it. But mostly it was a reminder to me as to what I love doing, and why.