Tricks and Swag: A MicoCon Round-Up

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skills4bills

Here’s the equation: Guy walks into a comic book convention. He pays $7 at the door and spends 6 hours at the event, stopping to talk with each dealer and exhibitor along the way. At the event, there are 80 exhibitors and 40 dealers. Assuming this man has no refined taste and will read any comic whatsoever, how many gimmicks does a cartoonist need to part him from his money?

It goes without saying that there are financial risks and rewards to exhibiting at any convention — even at St Paul’s one-day-wonder MicroCon, which charges creators absolutely nothing for their tables and even feeds them lunch. I benefit tremendously from the generous Midwest Comic Book Association and their two annual cons MicroCon and FallCon, particularly since last weekend I sold books for a mere 25 cents each and spent most of my time walking around to interview people. Even on a bad day at MicroCon, Sarah Morean still leaves with a profit. This would not happen at any other show. I know this, and I understand that until I really sell myself, I’m never going to make enough money from my books to cover the after-con meal and beers I both seek and require.

I’m fine with the struggle, it keeps me motivated, but maybe you’re different. Maybe you want repeat customers and money to burn. A harem of colorists offering shoulder rubs between sketches. Notoriety confirmed at bigger shows like APE and Wizard World, where fans will navigate a treasure map full of artists just to see in-person what you’re working on next. Sounds lofty, but it can happen to you!  And I’m learning that it’s more likely to happen if you spread (and spend) a little blam and glam to make your table memorable, if not recognizable, for con-goers.

I talked with some indie creators last weekend who splurged on big billboards and gimmicks to achieve their big dreams, and asked what works and what doesn’t when it comes to dealing like a pro at conventions.

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