After a very trying last couple of years, things feel like they’re getting back to normal. Somewhat, at least. For me part of this normalcy is the return of comic book conventions. While many of them are not yet returning this year, there are several that are. In April I had tables at Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con and iMagicon in Minot, ND. They’re both small conventions but attendance was good. People seemed very happy to be back.
At the end of June I set up a table at the Casper, WY Comic Con. That was the first time I had attended. I think it was about the third time it had been held. I knew I was taking a bit of a financial risk but felt it would be worth it. It’s 700 miles from my home so it’s driving distance. A 1400 mile round trip does mean spending 20+ hours in a car so productivity would be affected somewhat. Also, I wound up driving for almost three hours at one point without seeing a gas station. It almost became an issue.
Attendance was good, thankfully. Just prior to the doors opening for the attendees on the first day of the convention, the organizer got on the microphone and said he was hoping that this year would be a lot better than last year. Apparently they held the convention in 2020. Not surprisingly, it sounds like attendance was light. For me, however, that got my a bit nervous as I don’t have any “good” years at this particular convention to compare it to. But, like I said, attendance this year seemed pretty brisk.
I didn’t sell enough to cover all of my expenses, but it was close. Sales volume was good overall, but I didn’t sell any of my higher priced original art. That will usually make it difficult to have a “great” couple of days of sales. That being said, I was able to get visibility of my work (and website, and comic, etc.) to many people that wouldn’t have otherwise known I exist. Plus, a few people have talked about getting some commissioned work down the line. If that works out, then the convention becomes profitable.
One of the stranger things I encountered during the convention happened during the first day. Like most (if not all) conventions these days, there were plenty of cosplayers. My background is in American comics. I also love Star Wars, Game of Thrones and a lot of other properties that are regularly represented at these conventions, but I still struggle to identify many of the costumes being worn. Especially when it comes to anime/manga. A couple of hours into the convention I noticed a young woman wearing what appeared to be a very well crafted costume. The colors struck me as steampunk but the design didn’t really say that. Because I didn’t recognize the character part of me wants to say it is from anime/manga but something about it doesn’t seem to fit there either. Perhaps it is a character of her own…or something else.
I noticed her walking past my table and she was clearly drawing other eyes because a few people stopped her to get a photo. I wasn’t paying very close attention but she seemed to remain quite expressionless and didn’t even appear to speak. Shortly thereafter, she walked to an empty booth in the same row as my table and proceeded to sit down on a chair. She barely moved for the next two or three hours. At one point she stood up and held out her hand as if she was presenting a business card or a pamphlet of some sort. I did notice her looking around a bit (and she noticed me looking at her once I believe) but for the most part her eyes were straight forward.
It was kind of unsettling. No one really seemed to engage with her while she was there. After two or three hours, she walked away and I never saw her again. Maybe she was really into the role she was playing and everyone else recognized the character. I didn’t ask anyone what they thought about the whole thing. I think it make for a better story if I don’t understand.
It’s another 1300 miles in the car this coming weekend as the Salina, KS Comic Con is taking place. Another two day convention (July 10 and 11). I anticipate it will be about the same size and attendance as Casper Comic Con. I am really looking forward to it. In August I’ll be at Planet ComiCon in Kansas City. That is a much larger convention and, I would have to guess, one of the first conventions of its size being put on in the U.S. since COVID. I have a few more smaller conventions through October as well. It should be fun. I bought a car in February of 2020 that was going to take me around the country to conventions. Happy that I can finally do so!