A Tale of Two Cons

As many of you know, I attended my first (and second) comic show(s) as a vendor this past month. I was at Olympic Collectables Expo in Silverdale WA and at Fantastacon in Tacoma, WA. I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on both the shows, so here are my thoughts and reactions as a first time vendor.

Olympic Collectables Expo – OCE

This show was actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be. Their website needs a clean up and a major update – which should have clued me in – but the in-person hype I heard made me believe this would be a sizeable show. Though it was smaller than I envisioned, the expo did not disappoint.

It started off a little rocky as I had trouble finding my table (the guy running the show had trouble finding my table), but everything got sorted with little stress. The expo consisted of two conference rooms that were packed with tables. In an effort to fit as many tables as they could, corner tables were set up in an L formation where half of one table was against the table perpendicular to it.

And I had a corner table.

Space was tight, and – needless to say – I was really uncomfortable having my back to the side of the artist beside me. Despite my cramped quarters, the setup was pretty great.

While I was tabling, I was approached by the organizer of Fantastacon and invited to table there the following week. A friend of mine paid the table fee, so I didn’t get the chance to decline — but more on that later.

Back to OCE. The environment at this expo was really positive. I was surrounded by some really chill artists. I walked out with twice the amount I paid for the table, so I’m calling my first show a raging success.

Now… Fantastacon.

Flying high from having rocked OCE – and essentially getting a table for free – I should have made Fantastacon my bitch. Well, as you guessed from the “should have,” that didn’t really happen.

Artist Alley was almost literally an alleyway. While expo vendors were inside the conference room, artists were left out in the hallway. People could see the line of tables if they entered from the north entrance. If the organizers had elected on a single entrance to the event, I’m sure I – and other artists/creators – might have fared better. But the main room saw many more people than artist alley did.

I made one sale the entire day – to another indie creator who, bless his heart, said he purchased a fantasy comic earlier even though it wasn’t his thing. Just so he could support another creator. I was also approached by an owner of a local comic shop who said he was interested in carrying some of my comics. So the day wasn’t a complete loss – but it paled in comparison to OCE.

The environment of Fantastacon – also – didn’t feel as positive as OCE. People kept to themselves. They just weren’t friendly. The organizer referred to Artist Alley as the “starving artist” tables – and that should have raised a flag, but I wanted another show under my belt before Jet City. Whoops. I also had a run-in with a man who tried to offer me lettering services by saying whomever does my lettering “doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.” Because that makes a creator feel good, right? I know this guy isn’t Fantastacon’s fault, but he’s a part of the overall feel of ugh that show put off.

It was also the same day as Girl Geek Con in Seattle. So I feel like we lost a lot of traffic due to bad timing. Also, the Facebook Event time didn’t match the time on the fliers. So did I pack up an hour early? I have no clue.

Between the two shows, I made some great connections, and I’m glad I have that experience going into Jet City Comic Show this November.

OCE

Location: 8/10

Size: 5/10

Date/Time: 9/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Would definitely go again. In fact, it’s already on my calendar for next year.

Fantastacon

Location: 5/10

Size: 4/10

Date/Time: 1/10

Atmosphere: 2/10

Probably won’t go again unless some major changes are made.

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