It's about that time of year again to get ready for Comic Con in the Austin, Texas area, which kicks off my season of comics reading, if there can be such a thing. When you're a 26 year old girl who likes things that baffle most soccer moms, my relatives tend to err on the side of caution and just buy me books from my Amazon wish list when my birthday and Christmas roll around.
So I like to think of Austin Comic Con as good scouting ground for new artists to pick up and larger collections that I'll add to that wish list. But with any large event there are always ups and downs.
Where the heck are all the comics artists and vendors?
It's true in most larger cons that the focus now has been driven away from actual comic books. The events planners figured out that if you lump a bunch of nerdy things together you can still call it a comic convention and have three to four times as many people show up.
There is still some reserved space for comics that you'll find at the larger cons like San Diego, most people are there for panels from pop culture icons or big movies and tv shows.
Great deals on comics
While there is a trend of focusing less on comics, it should be said that the comics that ARE there tend to be a great deal.
Not only do local vendors rent out space, but also the massive stores such as Mile High Comics, which now only attends events to sell off their massive inventory of Golden Age to current comics.
A good tip to keep in mind is that the marked down books will usually be discounted an additional 10-50% on the last day of the con to help get rid of stock people will have to tow back to their stores.
New talent and new comics
Online marketing is a harsh mistress. It takes hours and hours just to build a website to post your comics or pictures of comics that you are working on (if you only deal in hard copy) and it can be difficult to really know how many people visit your site of blog any given day or week online.
But with a con, there are potentially thousands of people that will walk by your small Artist’s Alley booth. It's throwing the dice to depend on a Google search of "Zombie Cow Comic" that will point people to your site. But at a con, you should have fliers to hand directly to potential customers and pages of art for them to flip though.
I’m not saying you can build your whole career on con appearances in today’s world, but pressing the flesh never hurts an aspiring comic creator.
Celebrities can be very sad and very funny
At many cons, signing booths now compete with Artist’s Alley. B list celebrities that have been in one hallmark sci-fi movie or an extra in Star Trek or Star Wars will sit all day in their booths offering to sign glossies for $20 a pop.
It’s a great opportunity for a mega-fan that really needs that Nicki Clyne autograph to complete his full wall chart of the Battlestar Galactica cast photos. Most of the time it's very sad to see an empty line all day.
But sometimes you get people like Billy Dee Williams, who makes cracks at his own expense. He knows how to work his fans and doesn’t come off as begging or having an enlarged ego (well, it is Billy Dee.)
So while there are pros and cons of any large gathering of nerds, it's definitely worth the time and money to check them out.
You might find a new comic you like or get to meet one of your favorite TV characters. A quick Google search will point you in the right direction of the next and closest con in your neck of the woods. If it’s a bit of a drive? ROAD TRIP!