Holy moly. I don't know how people do this over and over. Maybe it's like a marathon. The first one you do kills you, but as you do more and more, your body acclimates to the experience. Unfortunately the simile breaks down when you realize there's no way to "jog" in the morning to prepare for a convention.
The strangest, most unexpected thing to happen to me is what I call the "Con Hangover." You're trying your best to strike up conversations with as many people as you can, and inevitably you forget to drink water. I'm a caffeine addict, so once I'd get parched, I'd throw down a Diet Coke and keep talking. Which is fine for an hour or two, but for an entire day, leaves you dehydrated. So every morning, I'd wake up as if I'd had too much to drink the night before. Next time I need to get a hotel room next to the convention center so I don't have to drive home every night. That way I can get tanked each evening. If I'm going to have a hangover anyway, I might as well earn it right?
Overall, my perceptions of a con as a creator was overwhelmingly positive. I've only been to two conventions before (once in New York, and once at MegaCon in Orlando), but both times as just a comic fan/collector. As a creator you have much less time to enjoy the other exhibitions. Sure, you can get up and walk around, but while you do that you have the sneaking suspicion that you're needed back at the booth. You are looking at another cool indie comic (more on those later) and the thought runs through your head, "What if that one person who's willing to check out Tart walks by while I'm not there." So you divide your attention, and find yourself caught in the tractor beam that is your own booth.
The only time I felt negatively was Friday night. The crowd that came Friday was most likely people who had three day passes. I only guess this because they were very standoffish about even speaking to us. I sold two copies of Tart to daring and cool people, but was unable to tell many more people about the project. I found Saturday, when we sold 6 copies, that it wasn't the number of books we sold Friday that got me down, it was that people weren't interested in hearing about it. 6 books is not that many more than 2, but I probably introduced Tart to 100 people Saturday who may someday see it at their comic shops shelf and say "I think I've heard of that."
I'll be honest, that came as a surprise. Before the weekend, if you told me we sold 6 books on Saturday, and I'd be happy, I wouldn't have believed you. But it's all about exposure and getting people to understand the concept. Sunday and Monday were more like Saturday, with the con attendees really interested in hearing about the book, and willing to flip through it.
All in all we had 40 books, and with our presale which I signed for anyone who ordered, went through the entire print run (actually we are one short). So one of the people who gets the Trade Paperback will get it unsigned. Don't worry, I already know who it is, and it's probably not you. If it is you (Jobu), you were chosen because you already have a 1 of a kind painting from Ludo for your help earlier in the series). If you want it signed, I'm sure we'll run into each other soon enough in Tallahassee.
The other thing that made Saturday rock was that our models were there. Viktoria arrived to be the spokesmodel Tart. This is a bit fuzzy (had the camera on the wrong setting), but I wanted to show you the before/after or Clark Kent/Superman transformation:
Viktoria is a beautiful girl. But her strength as a person and as a spokesmodel for something like this is that she's fearless when it comes to talking to new people. And she's enthusiastic and engaging. With her in front of our booth we were able to funnel a much higher percentage of traffic toward the What The Flux Comics line of books.
And Viktoria wasn't the only person we had dressed as our characters. Amy Vitale and Mike Hammonds were both cosplayed up to support their books Red Angel and Sam Savage.
Now unlike Viktoria who was there doing me a tremendous favor, Mike and Amy actually ARE the characters from their books. Which is kind of a cool thing WTFC does.
We lost Viktoria on Sunday through a series of unfortunate events (don't worry her parents are still alive), so I had to trudge on without my ace in the hole. But the ball was rolling and we had a great day that day as well. The coolest part of Sunday was that my Mom was able to watch my daughter for the day, so my wife Janet came down to experience her first Con.
I was too busy to go with her, but she went to see the question and answer from Scott Adsit, who plays Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock. It's one of our favorite shows, and Scott is certainly an unsung, yet integral part to it's success. After the Q&A, Janet returned to our booth. She had this strange, embarrassed smile on her face.
I asked if she enjoyed it. "Yeah," she said. "Scott paid for me to get his autograph."
"I was in line to get his autograph, and I grabbed one of the pictures in front of him to get it signed, and one of the staffers said, 'You buy the photos over there.' I said, 'Ok,' and was going to get out of the line and Scott reached into his wallet and pulled out a five and gave it to the guy and said, 'It's ok.'
"I know. I had the five dollars ready. I just didn't know where to buy it. I told him it was alright. And he refused my money and told me he felt bad."
"Are you kidding me. HE paid... for YOU... to get... HIS... autograph?"
So we walked back over to his table and I tried to give him his five back by saying, "Listen, I know you bought the photo for her, but can we at least buy you a beer or a sandwich with this?"
And he blew us off and smiled. Dude, what a nice guy. And then we got this photo:
I think there's going to be a free copy of Tart sent his way as soon as I can get one. Actors that come to these are there to make money. It's accepted. Treating fans the right way is a testament either to how cool Scott is, or just to the fact that he doesn't yet realize he's supposed to squash us like bugs with his celebrity. Either way two people who were probably fans for life anyway, are cemented firmly in his corner.
Monday had a whole different feel. Half of the booths were empty and we moved into the center of the con which is often called Artist Alley. The artist who'd had the spot was on a plane home, so we got much better convention real estate. Many of the people that were left, were offering good deals on their product. And I was plumb out of energy.
Sure we pushed our books, but we got into a lot more full on conversations with people. There were fewer people to catch passing the booth, so we had more time to actually get to know the people that were there. Three young, very talented, artists came up to the booth and I ended up trading a copy of Tart to them for some of their prints. Check out their Deviant Art pages for some amazing stuff:
http://spikie.deviantart.com/art/ (my favorite of Spikie's is here. I pleaded with her to tell the story of how this character came to be who she is):
I'm only stealing one of their pieces of artwork for our blog, please check out the rest.
All three artists are just out of high school and off to college to pursue dreams in the art world. Meeting people like them was as cool, or even cooler than, actually selling my book to people. Ok, both things are very, very cool.
And another very cool thing that happened was, with our new, better real estate, we were right across from about six of the kids from The Hunger Games. Now I've read the books, but I haven't seen the movie yet, so this isn't that big of a deal to me. But I looked across and one of the young women looks amazingly like Tart. Well film and TV are not necessarily the goal of Tart (That goal is to make a kick ass comic book). But in order to make the comic as good as it can be, Ludo and I have a goal of being able to work on it, and our other creative pursuits full time.
Feeding and sheltering my family, (and for Ludo feeding himself, plus starting a life post-school) isn't cheap. So we both have to divert our attention away from Tart enough to bring in money to live. And if the right situation presented itself - one that allowed us the financial freedom to make art full time, but that also honored the story and character of Tart - we wouldn't be averse to seeing Tart in another medium.
The young actress who looks so much like Tart is Annie Thurman (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4114443/). I figured, it would take a couple years for Tart to turn into a property anyway, so I might as well give her a copy to read. If she likes it, and is still interested in acting when she's Tart's age (a little over 18 if you're wondering), then what the heck. If she doesn't like it, no harm, no foul. She was very nice and accepted it. I then left her alone. I really didn't want to be the weird guy. If it had been Sunday I probably would have sent Janet over to deliver it (and Annie might have paid her for the right to read it)
With a pseudo-introduction to the cast a few of the other actors came over to the table and we ended up talking and showing them Tart and some of the other WTFC comics we had to offer. The two actors I spoke with the most were Ethan Jamieson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3837100/) and Dakota Hood (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3037964/). They simply couldn't have been nicer. If anyone out there wants young actors who are going to be easy to work with on set, get your butts to these kids' agents and sign them now!.
The only problem is this: I haven't seen the movie yet. Like I said, I've read the book. Now that I know and like these kids, I'm going to have to watch them get killed. I've never had that experience with a movie before. I wonder what it will feel like?
Anyway, I've rambled enough (more than enough probably). The Con was amazing. Tart is out in the world that much more than she was last Thursday. And that's good enough for me.