The following item is a re-post of a newsletter item by me cited at Wikipedia's page for the Alternative Press Expo (reference item #8). The direct link for the page is here. As noted below, this e-newsletter was sent March 26, 1996.
From: Randy Reynaldo
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 11:34:21 PST8PDT
Subject: WCG at APE III
The Alternative Press Expo (APE) III was an enjoyable show and, a success for WCG; I sold out of the ENTIRE stock of books I brought up with me for the show, thanks to sales to readers, a few retailers who bought back-issues for their stores, and Cold Cut Distribution who purchased everything I didn't sell at my table for their catalog. (They have been doing good business with me already; I believe they did this for many other publishers at the show as well.)
This year's show was once again held at San Jose, California on March 23, 1996. I have heard a few conflicting reports about the turnout at this year's APE (only the second I've attended), but although I have yet to see anything official, the show seemed to be busier this year - there seemed to be less "down time" than at last year's con. (Last year's show was further hobbled by the fact that it was raining and scheduled only about a month after WonderCon, another Northern California show. It was also Mother's Day. In contrast, this year's Con was moved from Sunday to Saturday, and to a date prior to WonderCon.)
Some of the more prominent participants included Batton Lash (WOLFF & BYRD), Mark Wheatley, Don Simpson (BIZARRE HEROES), Mark Lapham (STRAY BULLETS), Teri Wood (WANDERING STAR), BC Boyer (HILLY ROSE), and Paul Pope (THB). Attendees from Comics-Pro included myself, John Gaushall (WASTE L.A.) and Michael R. Meyer (Twist and Shout Comics) (please forgive any omissions which are entirely unintentional.) Other publishers in attendance were Jimmie Robinson, Marc Harwell, and Charles Brownstein.
Prior to the show, I was a little concerned since I had no new product for the show - the ROB HANES ARCHIVES trade paperback was not due for a couple of weeks, and ADVENTURE STRIP DIGEST #4 has only now just been solicited for a June 1996 release. (I had also sold out of ASD #2 prior to the show). Nevertheless, sales were fairly brisk all day. And Cold Cut, which told me to send fans to their table who were looking for ASD #2, sold out of that issue as well during the show!
The show confirmed the importance of going to these conventions, particularly for small publishers. While first-timers should not see this as a money-making venture, having a presence helps to create awareness and credibility. Having several issues under your belt also adds to this image. I have progressively made more money at every convention/signing that I have attended.
Many readers and fellow publishers came up to me saying that they had seen me and my book mentioned in various places; this was very gratifying. Also encouraging was the fact that representatives from both Capital City and Diamond Distributors came by to drop off their cards and to tell me that they liked my book and to keep at it. I hope to be able to strengthen these contacts in the future.
This year's show also surprised me in that it seemed well attended by entertainment industry types interested in licensing properties; while this has become a regular fixture at many of the big West Coast cons (particularly the San Diego Comicon), this was a bit of a surprise to me, although it certainly demonstrated the increased interest in comics and alternative comics as "licensable" properties. It's a little concerning in that shows like APE have always offered a nice, comfortable and intimate environment for small publishers to network with retailers, distributors and other publishers; on the other hand, the more the merrier I guess.
I very much enjoyed the pre-APE party (hosted by Brenner Printing) held on the evening prior to the show. Since I have been doing this for a few years now, I know more people and had a good time talking shop with these friends and colleagues. The after-show party (hosted by Quebecor) seemed even better attended, but unfortunately I needed to leave early since my companion was sick. I understand that there was also a party on Sunday afternoon hosted by Dan Vado and Slave Labor Graphics (who started APE, but have since transferred the management of the show to the San Diego Comicon organizers), but I have no idea what the turnout was like. I am sure that many people were unable to attend since they were returning home on this day.
As I said, this was a show that confirmed the importance of regularly attending these events: many people came specifically looking for me, including some retailers who had heard of my book and were looking for back issues to stock their stores with. The increased interest shown by retailers and distributors in ADVENTURE STRIP DIGEST was a significant change from past cons and is, hopefully, a sign that some of my dedication and hard work is paying off! It also hopefully augurs well for the 1996 convention season.
NEXT UP: WONDERCON!