Sunday, July 29, 2007

Countdown to San Diego IV (364 Days to Go)

I've just arrived safe and sound from the Comic-Con International in San Diego. Fortunately, the traffic back to Los Angeles seemed lighter than last year. Though the 5 and 405 freeways were heavy at the usual bottleneck points (starting in Carlsbad), unlike last year when it often slowed to an unbearable crawl or came to a dead stop, this evening at its worst the freeway moved at a steady clip of about 30-40 MPH. Which meant I got home in only about two-and-a-half hours (I think it took me more than three last year). Believe me, it was a treat compared to last year, and a pleasant trip. The Beatles and Ben Folds Five kept me company.

I'll be posting my usual annual Comic-Con report shortly, but a few quick impressions:

  • Apparently, the sales pattern I experienced was mirrored by many other exhibitors at the show: namely, as reported in The Beat, that sales were "disappointing for Friday and Saturday, as thousands of people stood in line to get into Hall H or get bags or just gawk at girls in skimpy costumes." (Saturday sales for me were quite strong, but not until very late in the day—the first part of the day was a complete wash!) Overall, I was satisfied by the sales at my booth, even though as I mentioned it was uneven throughout the show.
  • For the first time ever, all 4-day passes and all single-day passes for the convention sold out in advance. As a result, the traditional "slow" days of the convention—Wednesday's preview night, Thursday, and Sunday—felt just as crowded as a Saturday. (Those days actually seemed MORE crowded). I can vouch for that personally—navigating the convention floor was truly a daunting experience.
  • It was nice to learn that I'm not the only one trying to deal with what continues to be a challenging market for small independent comics. One colleague and prominent fellow publisher flatly told me that he thinks the traditional retailer model is dead. Though I'm not quite sure I agree with that entirely, I understand the reasons for such sentiment. Many people are hungry for a new distribution model that will enable more diverse work to be seen in the current environment.
As this quick overview shows, I caught up with a lot of fans, retailers, and fellow pros. In particular, I received some good feedback that will help me in promoting the series. And despite some of the more sobering assessments mentioned above, I still found the show to be greatly energizing; the comments, feedback and expressions of support I received, particularly from longtime fans and retailers, were deeply appreciated—it's humbling and a thrill to know that my work continues to entertain and excite readers. My thanks to everyone who stopped by!

(Stay tuned for a full report shortly!)

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