Back From SpaCon

It was a long and busy weekend for Cirsova Publishing. Not a particularly successful one, but a long and busy one, nonetheless, where some important lessons were learned.

The folks running SpaCon did a pretty great job, all things considered, what with it being their first year and all, and I don’t want anything I say to be construed as a slight against them, but…

I don’t think we’ll be doing any more anime conventions, at least not until we get the Leigh Brackett Light Novels finished. Fun as they are, small anime conventions are more a place to see and be seen, strutting your cosplay stuff or seeing what other folks have to offer. Most people aren’t there to buy merch, much less books. As a consequence, the lady next to us doing Henna tattoos was killing it both days, while the other small crafts vendors didn’t get much traffic.  Even the bigger toy and comic sellers seemed to be doing fairly light business compared to River City (fewer people seen with swag-bags).

There were a few things that raised an eyebrow, however. We were the only fiction publisher. No one was really selling books, though the local library had a small shelf of cheap SF books along the lines of what you’d expect to see at a normie’s flea market booth (Star Trek books and a few well known thriller authors). While there were a couple people selling comics, no one was selling manga or DVDs of anime.

We were much more successful at River City Comic Expo, and while the cheaper table price and lack of two hour round trip commute didn’t hurt, the biggest factor was that it was more of a vendor driven event. People were there to buy things, and a few of them even bought stuff from us. The other pulp publisher in AR wasn’t at SpaCon, which was too bad, because we could’ve benefited from the synergy or, if nothing else, I could’ve maybe picked up the new volume of Bombay Sapphire.

The Tortured Earth folks were there, and I talked to one of them for a bit; I wish I’d had a chance to actually run the game with them at one of their demos to test out their claim that it was compatible with B/X (or see if it was in the same ballpark). One thing that’s a drag about having a table is that the most you can really do to engage at the con is check out the booths doing a quick circuit; you don’t have the opportunity to check out any of the panels or do any of the activities.

It wasn’t all bad. Our booth was on the end with a direct view of the main stage, so we had a bit of entertainment. I ended up buying a Master Grade 1/100 scale GM and a run of Batman and the Outsiders, including several issues beyond the end of collected volume I’d read. My one strike-out over the weekend was getting a Katana action figure. Out of all the McDonalds I hit between home and the con, none of them had a Katana, so I ended up having to buy her on eBay–I went ahead and bought two; I’m going to leave one as-is and the other I’m going to try to paint using her original costume colors.

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Also, the flea market that had closed down re-opened a few miles down the road in a new location, and the guy I’ve started buying pulps from since I cleaned the other place out has moved with them. I’ve added this one to the pile.

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Of the people who stopped by our booth, most were disappointed that the Simpsons comic my girlfriend was reading wasn’t for sale or that I hadn’t drawn/written/published it, had been bummed to find out that we weren’t a comic book, or lamented they didn’t have money but promised to check us out online. Hopefully some folks reading this now are in that last category; we enjoyed talking SFF with you guys!

As much as it pains me to say it, we’re going to have to hold off on doing cons for a bit unless we find some really good deals. We’ve got big plans and con tables are a gamble that haven’t really paid off.  I can totally see now how folks have squandered big chunks of their kickstarter money getting booths at cons thinking it will make them more money and in the end contributes to the tanking of their project and failure to deliver on the promised goods. Well, we aren’t in that shape and we’re not going to fail at delivering anything, but we’re no longer going to be taking risks with low reward potential.  If there are cons that are specifically sci-fi or fantasy, we might look into it, because people at those might be more ready to pick up new stuff to check out, but for now, you probably won’t see us at any more anime cons.

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Monday Morning and I am Exhausted: River City Comic Expo Decompression Post

My first con was okay, I guess. I sold 4 things the first day. The second day was a bit better, but mostly because I was giving stuff away for free and had a tip jar out.  I got rid of several of the records and CDs that have been cluttering my spare bedroom for years, but I’ve still got hundreds left. Next time, I’ll bring fewer boxes. If I pretend like the tips I got were sales, and I don’t count the CDs/LPs which I really just kind of want to throw away, I ended up moving the magazine at a not-unreasonable per issue discount.

One of the surprising things was at least a few of the people who grabbed CDs/LPs actually knew who the STDs were; “They’re making a documentary, you know.” “Yeah, I’m probably in it.”

There was a panel in which “gamergate” was mentioned in the description which I skipped (busy at a booth, don’t ya know), but would be moderately interested in seeing if there was any video of it.

The only comment anyone made on my Chuck Tingle Legends of Science Fiction was a strange elderly man stopped me to point out that the list was missing Bradbury and Heinlein.

It was fun people watching, especially with all of the cosplayers.  Best cosplayer, hands down, was this guy who was wearing a big flip-top trashcan with pictures of anime girls taped to it and a banner on the front that said “Your Waifu”.

I didn’t meet (I kinda hate fanboying), but I did see Neal Adams and Nichelle Nichols.  At 83, Nichelle still looked great and seemed to be having a good time. I did get to give Sara Frazetta a copy of issue 2 with Ku’s cover, so that was neat.

The real highlight of the convention was finding out that there’s a pretty prolific pulp publishing company based out of the small town I went to college in.  I need to get to know those guys better, for sure.  I talked to Tyree Campbell, one of the writers on their imprint who was from De Moines, during setup the day before the con started.  I picked up one of his books to read through at my table, and liked it so much that when I’d finished it by 2 on Saturday I picked up the second one.  I hope the gin company doesn’t try to clamp down on him, because I’m really digging “Bombay Sapphire”.

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To anyone considering doing a booth at a con, my advice is get a con-buddy.  My girlfriend thinks she didn’t help out any, but being able to stretch your legs and use the bathroom without having to take your cashbox and register tablet with you is priceless.

The bad news is, I was an unlucky 3rd car in a pretty bad accident just before loading into the con on Friday.  The good news is, all I need is a new front bumper and a bad scuff polished out of my hood.  It just sucks that I’ll have to do the whole run-around on actually getting everything taken care of and all the paperwork dealt with.  At least this time I won’t be without a car for any length of time, but cash on hand may be a bit stretched until the claim is settled.  Also, kitty cat had already been dropped off at home before we were hit; she got a shot and the butt thermometer and was pretty miffed, but after her course of painkillers she’s back to her crazy, bouncy, tear up the curtains self.

Thanks to those who have pledged to the Kickstarter over the weekend and those who’ve had good things to say about the first issue.  Also, Frisky Pagan’s review of Thune’s Vision was a nice pick-me-up during the many long dull spells at the con.  We’re getting pretty close to our initial goal for issue 2.  I’d like to get up to some of the stretch goals for illustrations – folks who thumbed through the issues seemed rather disappointed there weren’t illos, and one kid and an adult (at different times) were sad it wasn’t a coloring book, but illustrations are high cost content.  If we get enough people who are willing to buy and read for the stories, I will better be able to accommodate people who would buy and read for the pictures.