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Jun
06
2011

Heroes Con 2011 – Day 3

Sunday

My Sunday at Heroes Con started out with an interesting–if sparsely attended–panel: “Historical Comics” with Becky Cloonan, Chris Schweizer, Don Rosa and me. It made me wonder if maybe having the first panel each day start an hour (or half hour) after opening might be a good idea, since that would allow time for people to get onto the convention center floor as well as provide a little cushion time for them to decide what programming they want to attend. At any rate, it was a good discussion. Thanks to those of you who attended and especially to Chris who moderated.

The floor of Heroes on Sunday seemed a lot busier to me than it probably actually was. I had built up a small backlog of commissions Saturday afternoon that I had to bump to Sunday because of our Moebius panel Saturday afternoon and so I spent the first few hours of Sunday scrambling to catch up. Here’s one I did based on Marvel’s Godzilla #13:

Here’s the original cover, featuring Godzilla and “Flapjack-zilla” doing battle:

Herb Trimpe sometimes gets written off as being a “just cranking it out” cartoonist, but if he designed all the insane-looking monsters in this series, he’s 100% alright in my book. I should have taken a quick picture of the previous page in that sketchbook because it was a truly amazing Evan Dorkin drawing of the same creatures. Jim Rugg told me he did one as well but I never got a look at it.

Here’s a commissioned superhero mini-pinup I of Nova:

Finally, a quick Manhunter sketch card:

Once those drawings were wrapped up, I thankfully got a bit of a breather and took advantage of the laid back Sunday scene to actually meet some folks. In particular, it was great to meet a lot of the Sketch Charlotte gang, many of whom participate in the Animal Alphabet project. I’ve also been chatting a bit on Twitter/via email with Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko about possibly putting together an anthology pitch with them, so it was nice to finally see them in person. I teach some eLearning classes for the Savannah College of Art and Design and I was glad to be able to interact a bit in person with some of the “on the ground” faculty who had made it up for the show. Speaking of  funnybook schools, there were also a few CCS folks on the floor (although not as many as in some years past) I got to touch base with as well.

I also got to actually buy some stuff ! I’ve got a box or two still to unpack, but here’s the bulk of my haul:

So that’s:

1) Rocking So Hard – Shannon Smith

2) The Sketch Charlotte Anthology – various

3) Dharbin #1 & #2 – Collected Edition – Dustin Harbin

4) Rambo 3.5 – Jim Rugg

5) A feebie post card – Eleanor Davis

6) Untitled sketch mini – Eleanor Davis

7) Wysteria – Brad McGinty (note that this is a hand-assembled hardcover book!)

8) Diary Comics #2 – Dustin Harbin

9) Neatobots: Itty Bitty Sketchbook – J. Chris Campbell

10) Rashy Rabbit: Droppin’ Anchor – Josh Latta

11) Left-overs are Good Luck – Lena H. Chandhok

12) Sketchbooks - Chris Schweizer

13) Favorites (Team Cul de Sac benefit ‘zine) - Various

I’m really looking forward to digging into this stuff, but so far I haven’t really had a chance to catch my breath.

Sales

I had been debating whether to even set up a table at Heroes this year since I didn’t have anything new to hawk, but I sure am glad I decided to set up. I did moderately well book-wise, especially considering my lack of new product, but I sold a ton of original art. In addition to the commissions I’ve been posting daily, I sold a bunch of superhero mini-pinups, all but four of my Animal Alphabet originals, the original cover art to the Ameila book, the cover art to last year’s Wide Awake Press anthology, and a two-page spread from my Count of Monte Cristo sample pages. Here’s how it broke down:


As you can see, artwork accounted for an overwhelming 68% of my sales (and an even higher percentage of my profits, since I have to purchase my books from the publisher to resell at cons).

Overall

I’d have to do some digging to be absolutely sure, but I think this is the best year yet for me sales-wise at a Heroes Con. I’d attribute that partially to having made a real effort to have lots of original art available across a broad range of prices. Projects like the Animal Alphabet are great ways to build up a body of smaller stand-alone pieces for sale. I think also I’m doing a little better job making my presence known online via more consistent blogging and via Twitter (although I’m still Facebook-less).

Areas I could improve on for next year are, I think, being a little better about pricing commissions and of course having new books for sale. I tend to under-price commissions, figuring, “Hey, I’m sitting back here drawing anyway, so why charge much?” But, it’s getting to the point where I’m spending a ton of time doing them and I’m doing enough that they’re impacting my time availability for other things at the show. With the latter, there’s really no chance that Oyster War will be complete and printed by next summer, but I need to at least get back in the mini-comics game to have something new. Certainly the Animal Alphabet illustrations and my Tuesday night Twitter portraits would both make decent minis. I’ve also considered doing some sort of “deluxe edition” of Midnight Sun–maybe printed bigger, with sepia instead of gray toning, and perhaps with an included piece of original art, an original page from the book itself, or a print.

Show-wise, (and this is purely anecdotal) a number of folks seemed to think attendance was down a bit from previous shows. Possible reasons for this I heard bandied about: the general state of the economy, the several unfortunate last-minute cancellations of some big name guests, and/or the show happening while school is still in session (potentially making it more difficult to travel to a three day show).  If the show’s numbers were down, it certainly wasn’t reflected in my sales numbers and when I asked, for example, Gabriel Hardman whether the show had been worth a trip out from the west coast, he answered with a resounding Yes.

This was also the first year of the show (other than a one-off absence a few years back ) without creative director Dustin Harbin and given the size and complexity of a show like Heroes, I can imagine that could have presented some stumbling blocks. As far as I could tell, though, everything ran without a hitch. Heroes is known as one of the best-run and best-organized shows around and this year was no exception. A big tip-of-the-hat goes out to the folks at Heroes, in particular Rico Renzi, Andrew Mansell and all the volunteers (and of course Shelton himself!).

Speaking of volunteers, here’s something funny that you’re not gonna find at any other con: Unofficial Hereos Con photographer Vy Tran was on the scene with her camera as usual documenting things. She also, though, recently graduated with a degree in healthcare administration and this year kicked off her “Healthy Heroes(Con) Project” which involved distributing these little “stay healthy” goody bags to all the guests:

They were packed full of vitamin C, green tea, and sanitizing wipes!

Say… that gives me a great idea for a convention promo item:

6 comments

  1. Mark Sullivan says:

    I think you’re right about the earliness of that panel. I had to rush to get to the 11:30 discussion of The Outfit with Darwyn Cooke, and that had been near the top of my list of things to do. I”m not a morning person! Sorry I missed your panel, it sounds interesting.

  2. Ben says:

    @Mark – Yeah, I heard that the Darwyn Cook panel didn’t have a whole ton of people there either. I’ve been meaning to drop a Thank You email to the Heroes folk; maybe I’ll forward folks’ ideas about panels and starting times.

  3. Mike Rhode says:

    The first Richard Thompson panel at 10:30 am didn’t draw many people either.

  4. Ben says:

    @Mike – Interesting… I’ll definitely pass that info along next time I speak to any of the Heroes organizers.

  5. Josh Latta says:

    I love that deodorant. Make it happen.

  6. Ben says:

    @Josh – I believe you’re speaking for many a’ convention-goer when you say of deodorant, “make it happen.”

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