Wondercon 2015: where's your table?

Yep, it's that time again. Well, it's not just time for my weekly blog, but it's the start of convention season with Wondercon Anaheim having just wrapped up their huge 2015 show. With every year, this show just keeps getting bigger and better. Unfortunately, this was the first show I had to back out of as a small press exhibitor due to financial problems. Instead, I purchased a badge for Easter Sunday to check out this year's show floor, and more importantly, support my many artist friends---and boy was everyone here!

Out of exhibitor habit (and because the golden state freeway generally sucks), I left my place in North Hollywood at 8:30 in the morning. I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center at about 9:45, and didn't have much trouble finding parking in the adjacent structure. While sunday had apparently sold out at that time, I must've arrived at just the right time before parking became a problem, if it ever did. If there was any negative side to the show this year, I didn't really care for the "attendee corral" used after everyone had already picked up their badges and program guides, and were herded like cattle into a makeshift line that was right next to an open space leading to the convention floor. I felt like I was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon where a wooden door is placed in the middle of an open desert. From an exhibitor perspective, it was a great business strategy though, as the floor entrance people were herded into was Artist Alley----which once again had HUGE crowds in their aisles. From my three year experience as a small press vendor at this show, there has been quite a tug-of-war between the "Small Press" and "Artist Alley" floor spaces at Wondercon. It seems that the "alley" gets more promotion (Artist Alley was advertised in the program guide) and premier placement than the "press." While that never affected sales for me at previous shows, as I sell more books and make more money consistently at this show than any other show I do, seeing the huge crowds in artist alley and then watching a lesser amount of customers walk through small press can be very discouraging to a press vendor. In the end, choosing which section to exhibit at depends on what you value more: space, more visibility, or price, as alley tables are $200 are 6 ft, and press tables are $300 for 8 ft with large back walls and curtains. I tend to like spreading out, so I always go with small press, which is what I will probably choose for next year.

Now, onto my experience walking the show floor. The main reason for the title of this blog is because this is the one question that was asked of all my fellow artist friends I visited: "So, where's your table?" As many times as I heard this throughout the show, it didn't annoy me one bit. It actually made me feel more a part of the indy comic vendor convention family. There were at least 15 artists there that I knew from previous conventions, past jobs, or comic professional meetings, so I'll mention as many of them as I can: There was 9-year old fan art prodigy Ethan Castillo (along with his father John), who was my artist alley neighbor at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con last year, Comic Arts Professional Society members Scott Shaw, Sergio Aragones, Lonnie Milsap, David Calcano, and Alex Thompson,  Tobias Geibhardt (a vendor neighbor from Long Beach Comic Con), Mark Rivers (a former co-worker with whom I shared artist tables with at conventions), Paul Jamison (who I met at Pulp Fiction Comics artist alley, and rode up to Tulare Sci Fi Con with), The Fanboy Comics Gang of Barbra Dillon, Bryant Dillon, Sebastian Kadlecik, and Sam Rhodes (who were my small press neighbors one year ago at Wondercon), Josh Hauke (another Pulp Fiction Comics Artist Alley neighbor), Madeline-Holly-Rising (who reviewed one of my books "Damn Tourists issue 1."), and JD Correa (who I just met at the last convention I did, San Fernando Valley Comic Con the week before). If I missed anyone I apologize, as there were just so many people I was talking too. All of them loved how the show went, and how big the crowds were, and most importantly, how willing they were to shell out money for new artwork and books. I even got to hang with my buddy Eric Wallace, who I met through friends at a concert back in 2010. It turns out that my CAPS buddy David Calcano is a fan of the band Eric and I saw live, british jazz-funk band Level 42, so it's definitely a small world.

After talking with my artist friends and hanging with Eric, I left the show about an hour before they closed at 5:00, but not without picking up some work from both fellow indy artist friends and some new vendors. Specifically, I purchased Madeline's book "Boston Metaphysical Society." It was overall a fantastic show that got me more motivated to finish all of my outstanding projects (freelance and my own), so I can return to Wondercon 2016 with brand new material at my small press table.

Oh, and speaking of next year's show, the big news (thanks to Paul Jamison first) is that Wondercon will be moving to the Los Angeles Convention Center downtown. Other details such as dates and if this move is temporary or permanent haven't been confirmed as of yet, but some news sources have said that this is just for a one year contract, as the Anaheim Convention Center is undergoing some renovations and Wondercon couldn't get their desired dates there. What does this mean for me? higher parking fees and perhaps a smaller convention floor, but a closer drive and a more central location that will attract more people. Only time will tell, but whatever happens, expect to see me behind the table once again come next year!  Next week, I'll get back to my "inspirations" series, so until then!