Indy Comic Book Week at The Source in Minnesota

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indycbw_poster_01Last Wednesday I braved the cold just long enough to drive up to Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and take part in the Twin Cities’ chapter of Indy Comic Book Week. It was well worth the trip.

The event was held at The Source, a local comics and games store. The Source has a large back room that they use to host, among other things, gaming nights and Free Comic Book Day. This was the first time it was used for Indy Comic Book Week. “When I heard about the event, I thought it was a great idea,” said Burl Zorn, a Source employee with a gray ponytail and a long earring dangling from one ear. Zorn has been working at the Source for ten years, and plans to be here for many years to come. Zorn’s job requires him to wear many different hats, and he does it all with a smile. Throughout the night, I watched him interact happily with all the different attendees, restock the free chips and pop, and talk excitedly with the artists about their work.

In all, there were 17 local artists tabling at the event, and over 150 different local comics represented on the racks that usually house the regular sampling of D.C. and Marvel titles. (Some artists submitted multiple titles.) The event lasted from 5:00 to 9:00, with a steady crowd throughout. “Things usually die down an hour earlier in the winter,” said Zorn, “because it gets so cold and dark, and people want to go home.” But the Indy Comics event seemed to keep things bustling longer.

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Tricks and Swag: A MicoCon Round-Up

Categories:  Features
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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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