I’m back after my annual March and April blog sabbatical, that period of time in which I almost never post any no good blogs. The reason? Well, other than creative angst and/or spreading myself too thin? Cape Comic Con preparation, of course! Cape Comic Con took place April 26-28, and as always, it was a wild weekend. During the three or four months leading up to the convention, a lot of work goes into not only getting myself ready for the show, but also helping with convention planning, organizing, and marketing.
Now look. I’m not gonna kid you. The work I put in to Cape Comic Con is barely noticeable compared to the hours that Amanda, Ken Murphy (aka “Papa Ken”), Shane, and a number of other helpful people throw at the show every year. But, thinking rationally, I realized I made my fair share of contributions this year, as well, including:
- Website design and upkeep
- Poster designs for both Cape Comic Con and the accompanying CCW Supershow 3
- Social media graphics
- Keeping Amanda sane and within the boundaries of established law
- Vendor check-in and assistance
- Convention signage
- General gophering to make sure things are running smoothly
I also have the Big Skink Tales table at the show every year, which means I also spend some time being a vendor. So yeah! I’m pretty invested in the operation, and I wanted to take this opportunity to reminisce and talk about how jazzed I am about creating after this show every year.
The Show, Itself
I guess it went all right! If the numbers are accurate, this was the first year we cracked 5,000 attendees, which is a monster of a milestone—when I first started tabling at Cape Comic Con, attendance was somewhere around 800, I think. We’ve come a long way. There are always hiccups that accompany any show, but overall, our planning went well, our new vendor check-in and setup system seemed to run smoothly, and just about everybody seemed to have a good time. There are things we can improve as the show continues to grow, but it was a successful year.
The Big Skink Booth
Between being more involved with helping to manage the convention and taking a 16-month-old off the hands of my wife as much as necessary (see also “Keeping Amanda sane and within the boundaries of established law,” above), I was away from my table more than ever this year. Sales were not the best they’ve ever been, but since I had solid help at the table (who are better salespeople than I, particularly my 11-year old nephew), I’m going to contribute that to saturation of the market—I haven’t had any significant new product for a couple of years now, other than prints. I also didn’t do or advertise commissions this year, and I know I lost an opportunity for revenue there. However, remembering these two posts I did last year about Comic Con strategy, I’m trying to be less concerned about table revenue these days (though it’s still important), and focus more on marketing, drawing inspiration from other con exhibitors and attendees, and having fun. If you wanna talk hard numbers, I rarely make significant money at shows (or make money at all), but the experience makes the investment worth it. I’m sure in the eyes of some (or a lot), that makes me a failure, but whatever. It’s my hobby, certainly not my primary source of income, and I enjoy it, so I’m not too worried.
I had a blast moderating our writer’s panel this year. (And by “moderating,” I mean “asking questions and listening intently for my own personal gain, then making sure to kick us out of the room so the Godzilla 65th anniversary panel could start on time.”) It was proof that we have a deep roster of creative talent at Cape Comic Con every year, each with their own process and idiosyncrasies, and I should be absorbing as much creative knowledge from them as possible. They build habits, have routines, and write (or, in the case of our artists, draw) every day, which is something I still struggle to do consistently. One writer—I don’t remember who—said they write at least an hour a day, and try to write at least a thousand words. “A THOUSAND WORDS,” I thought. I’m lucky if I get a hundred words down in one sitting. Anyway, I was amazed by some of the tips and tricks I picked up. I developed a great admiration for the work ethic and output of these writers, and realized what an untapped resource they are for myself and others who are still more on the aspiring side of such endeavors. The experience really made me want to work much harder at being outgoing and unafraid to ask questions.
CCW Supershow 3
The role I play in Cape Championship Wrestling is small and generally out of the way (which is what I like), but that doesn’t make it any less exhilarating. Supershow 3 was our biggest show to date in just about every way—attendance, production value, the fact that it was our first show on pay per view, etc.—and it was amazing to be a part of it. I got to see thrilling matches up close, see my CCW friends (I am still pretty timid about approaching and/or talking to anybody, but I think I’ve gotten a bit better), got browbeat by Frankie Kazarian at ringside for having a “diary,” which was actually my book of match notes (he thanked me and shook my hand later and seemed like an extremely nice guy), got a taste of true terror when Rick Steiner started throwing stuff off the timekeeper’s table (and here I thought Scott Steiner would be the one who might try to kill me), and generally got to be a part of something that is special to me and a ton of people in the community. Pro wrestling is not something I thought I would ever actually be a part of, and even though my role is small, it’s the right role for me, and I am happy to be able to contribute.
Getting to See My Con Family
There are a lot of creators I’ve gotten to know through the local convention scene, but we are all spread just far enough apart and live disparate enough lives that conventions are really the only times we are able to get together. These times are important to me. I get to chat with all of them about the latest pop and nerd culture trends (well, maybe not the latest, since I’m at least a year behind on everything), ask them questions about their creative or marketing processes, swap stories both positive and negative, watch their kids grow up, share in an unhealthy weekend diet of donuts and nachos, and more. But when the weekend is over, they’re gone again until the next convention. Sure, there is always social media, text, the phone (*gasp*), but it doesn’t quite have the same impact. I leave any convention I go to with so much creative energy and so much appreciation for the people I’ve met through them. I’m not great at making friends. I’m not great at keeping in touch. Any time I get reasonably close to somebody, like to the point where I want to invite them over for dinner or something, the klaxons in my head start firing. Don’t bother them. They have enough going on their lives without you trying to get in. I’m also shy. But anyway, those klaxons don’t fire as loudly around most of the people I’ve met through comic cons. There’s a rare comfort level there. They’ve become our con family.
Cape Comic Con 2019 was a fabulous weekend. A busy, stressful, emotional, fabulous weekend. I’m always both sad and glad when it’s over—the work leading up to it is behind us and we can feel good in knowing we put on a decent show that a lot of people came to and enjoyed, but the anticipation and the thrill of being there are past, and we have to say goodbye to our con family, at least for now. Fortunately, there is always another convention waiting in the distance.
As a creator in the aftermath of the con, I feel confident and motivated, but also compelled to do a better job of keeping in touch with other creators and learn as much from them as possible. I don’t have all the answers, especially when it comes to marketing myself and working more thoughtfully and efficiently. Learning more from them gives me a great excuse to do that thing I’m not so good at: communicating.
Thanks for reading! See you next time!