APE 2014 Thoughts and My Return from Inactivity

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That was the last update the comic world has seen from Alex or I in what amounts to almost one month of inactivity.  I kind of love that this was the last status update.  It would have been fitting if I just ended it all there.  Alas, here I am returning to you on the Day of the Dead.

Why did I disappear after the Alternative Press Expo? 

A lot of reasons, really.  First and foremost, I just moved.  APE took place the weekend after I moved, and the last month has been quite busy.  I’m now living in a city a couple hours away from where I had been living basically my entire life.  It is my first house I’ve owned, and let me tell you getting it all set up and getting my family acquainted with our new surroundings has been a lot of work.

Suddenly I’m a handy man changing bathroom sink faucets, fixing toilets, painting rooms, installing baby proofing devices, cleaning and maintaining a swimming pool, hanging curtains, and about a million other household chores.

Oh, and we threw a Halloween party to get to know our neighbors, plus decked our house to be the spookiest in the neighborhood.  And we have a house warming party to prepare for next weekend.

So that’s kept me pretty busy.  Not to mention still doing my full time internet consulting work.

But really, I probably could have still made some time for drawing.  I haven’t even unpacked my tablet yet.  Why, you ask?  To be blunt, I’ve been depressed since my abysmal showing at APE. 

As has become the trend, financial the con was a disaster, networking and entertainment-wise it was successful.  But that can only sustain you so many times.

This was my 5th convention, and it was my 3rd time at APE, so I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Plus I had taken my experience from previous cons to make this one the best.  I got Square so I could accept credit cards.  I got stands to nicely display the books.  I made prints to sell at the show.  I had the better 2nd edition version Two Drink Minimum ready to show off.  I was hopeful that things were going to go well.

I thought the table looked good.

Black Snow Comics booth at the Alternative Press Expo 2014

How did that turn out for me?  Really poorly.  I sold less than any other show.  Sales were incredibly poor.  I’ll just come out and tell you, because we’re close like that.  I sold one copy of I’m Famous! Volume 1 and one bottle opener.  That’s it.  No prints.  No copies of TDM.  No anything else.

It sucked.  I made $12.  That covered my parking…for one day.  It certainly didn’t come close to covering the $300 I paid for the table, and that was the discounted early bird price!  Plus the money I spent to make the prints and copies of the books.  Or all my valuable time I put into actually drawing all this stuff, then sitting around at this table for two days.

To put that in a little more perspective I generally charge $50 an hour to build someone a website.

I never expected to make a profit at the show, and I’ve always taken the approach that it’s really more about getting your name out there, but this time was particularly disheartening.

So it’s been hard to get back into the comics since then.  Which is not to say I didn’t have a good time at the show.  Despite my lack of sales I enjoyed myself and kept an uncharacteristically upbeat attitude.

I got to see a lot of the people I’ve met over the years at the con, and it was nice to feel a part of the community.  I also got a chance to catch up with my old high school buddy and fellow comic artist Ben Costa.  It was also a good bonding experience with my sister’s boyfriend, who helped me run the table for a day.  Plus it was very nice of my dad to join me for some of the second day.

And I got to see a bunch of cool, unique art.  I always go into these things as a fan, and this time was no exception.  I even got to meet a local artist whose work I really enjoy, Jason Shiga.  And I finally picked up Meanwhile, which I had him sign.

Jason Shiga autograph

And I had one really positive conversation.  I went over to the SLG table to see all the familiar faces I’ve met at the last two Free Comic Book Days.  To my shock, Jef Bambas, the editor in chief at Slave Labor recognized me immediately.  He remembered me from our prior meeting and my submission of TDM.

We had a really good talk about where my submission was at, what the concerns were, and how we could get things worked out.  I haven’t heard from him since the show, but he made it clear that there was a real possibility that SLG could be publishing not only TDM but the rest of the upcoming Black Snow graphic novels.

So that made me feel good.  I don’t view being published as the end-all be-all I once did, and I’m weary of SLG’s recent financial troubles, but I’d still be ecstatic if they do decide to publish us.  Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it!

Here are some of my pics from the show.

I did enjoy drawing those sketches and giving them out to people.  What did I not enjoy?  The periods of time when no one would come over to the table.  That is always annoying.  I was happy when people did talk to me and look over my work.  But I must admit I continue to be very irritated when people seem to really enjoy the books (and now prints) but don’t buy them.

I had someone tell me how much they loved Count Duckula as a kid, and I saw their sheer joy at being reminded of that when they saw the print.  A woman lit up when she saw my Milhouse and told me that she is always saying that quote.  Someone who had grown up in Detroit delighted in all the references they found in TDM.  An IT call center person laughed hardily as they leafed through Back Office.  I could go on, as similar events repeatedly occurred throughout the show.  Especially with the prints.

But none of those people bought anything…

And that’s the part that gets me.  Yeah, I’m happy I brought each of those people a little joy, but it sure would be nice to get a little monetary reward and know that some of my work was out their being appreciated.

I’m still depressed, but I know it’s time to get back to work.  I’m going to attempt to get Optimistically Cynical back on schedule.  Maybe I’ll make some more prints in a foolish attempt to prepare for the 2 cons I’m signed up for next year (Big Wow! ComicFest and Wizard World Sacramento).  Maybe I’ll just give up on cons after those two if they don’t go any better and I’ll just stick to doing my thing online.  Or maybe I can get into some of these cheap cons in the Sac area.

And I’ll try to get Alex to write the next Black Snow book.  Easier said than done.

So I’ll keep on keeping on.  Feel free to send me some words of motivation!


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