Philly Comic Con Recap; Interviewing the Casual Fan

First, the Recap

Last year’s Philadelphia Wizard World Comic Con was my most successful convention thus far. Excited to say, I managed to beat my old record this year! While the crowds, especially Saturday, weren’t quite as vast, the people who were there seemed more interested in new comics and more willing to purchase something from me. I saw equal amounts of old faces and new intrigued probable readers… and the familiar faces were back to buy my new book, Zorphbert and Fred Volume 2 after buying the first collection last year! If that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is. Here’s some feel-good stories from the 3-day con, in bullet-point-form:

  • A father and young boy, Joe,  whom I met at Free Comic Book Day near Philly came to see me again here, and I got a piece of fanart for Z&F from him! Joe picked up a bookmark prior to FCBD at the comic shop and LOVED the comic on the back enough to come to FCBD and buy my book. Sometimes those bookmarks (with a comic on the back) work wonders.
  • On Sunday, a father came to my table and shook my hand.. said his 12-year-old daughter bought a Z&F book on Saturday and instead of watching some Tyra Banks show on TV like she does typically, she spent the entire evening reading my book! He wanted to thank me for getting her to READ, and was especially happy I was a female role model for her. Getting kids to read, at all, can make quite a mark on parents and the community.
  • Wizard World conventions are now doing “kids days” on Sunday too it seems,  and had a fun scavenger hunt game set up for them. On Saturday volunteers went around asking kid-friendly creators to be apart of this, and gave each of us a different colored stamp pad and stamp. The kids got blank passports, and a map with table numbers and names… and they had to collect all the stamps in order to win a prize (books). BUT, they had to wait until 4pm to pick up that prize… which meant a longer period spent at those tables browsing. I’d say half of those families that stopped by my table bought something! My kids book series does surprisingly well at comic cons, and on “Kids Days”, I do especially well… so just because it’s not a comic doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a demographic at a comic con!

As with any comic convention, at least in your first 10 or so, you learn something new each time. Or, you find what you THOUGHT was true, contradicts itself entirely. In the end, you never really have a perfect roadmap to conventions, they all differ somehow, but here’s some -you guessed it- BULLET POINTS laying out what I learned THIS convention.

  • Having more than one volume of comics to sell does.. *ahem* VOLUMES for your sales. It seems to gives your comic credibility, in that you have created enough to fill two books, so it must be pretty decent work. I had more “cold sales” than normal (people who knew nothing of my comic prior and bought books), and a portion of them bought BOTH collections! It’s a good idea to keep a very consistent look to the covers so they appear to go together. Polished and professional.
  • Saturdays may mean more people, but not necessarily more sales. Typically, I did best on Saturdays in the past… and Sundays were good if it was “Kids Day”. But this convention yielded different breakdowns. Saturday was my lowest earning day, and Friday and Sunday were about tied. You just never know.
  • Even if you don’t consider your artistic style to be “commission worthy”, you would be surprised how many commissions you could get. Don’t cheapen yourself because you don’t draw the “Marvel Way”…. charge for the amount of time you plan to spend on the commission. Some people spend a great deal of time doing a full color elaborate piece, but if you’re goal was the sell books and promote your comic, remember that the time you spend with your head down drawing means less time getting people to your tables to hear your pitch and see your work. Know your goals for the convention & plan accordingly.
  • People LOVE sales. I was selling BOTH Z&F volumes ($15 each) for $25 instead of $30, and the 3 Abby’s Adventures kids books ($10 each) also for $25 instead of $30. Those sales did very well…. especially when I mentioned that the book ONLINE were $20 or $25 a piece! It’s the classic “BUY NOW before it’s too late!” tactic, and it still works.
  • Bring a jacket ….yes, even if it’s summer. Convention centers will blast the AC, and you could get chilly fast if you’re just sitting behind your table. Also, bring a water bottle and STAY HYDRATED. Gum, mints, hand sanitizer, eye drops, band-aids… all a must.
  • Wear something that can attract attention or instantly connect with people. I always wear my alien antenna (Or “Bobble-dangers”.. “boppy-dingers”…. however the heck Ken says it) which makes people smile. I also tend to wear my favorite “Big Pop Culture Logo” shirts– such as my “Bazinga!” shirt which is a reference from the TV show Big Bang Theory. Passers-by will point and wave, and sometimes stop by to comment on my shirt or the show. Showing instant connections with possible readers breaks the ice and makes giving your pitch more friendly and open.

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Now, for the Interview!

A little back-story on this first though– I met Billy Wichterman on twitter a while back. We’re both Phillies baseball fans, so that was the common grounds as far as I knew. Eventually, I shared a baseball storyarc I did with Z&F with him, and he enjoyed it. I then mentioned the Philly Comic Con, as just a stab in the dark. Being the “sociable guy who’s up for anything”, he bought tickets online and, as he put it himself, “got myself geeked up for it!” Meeting him for real was a great pleasure, and the ice was broken so easily as we already knew each other on twitter and we’re both pretty true to our “twitter personalities”. I had his requested commission ready and waiting for him, which is now his twitter avatar– the ultimate compliment!

This was a unique experience I had to jump on. Rarely do we get to hear the opinions of the brand new comic con fan- how they perceive us “comic nerds”, what they think of webcomics in general, what it’s like to attend a convention as a “casual fan”. I invited him to do an interview, and being the “sociable guy who’s up for anything”, he had it back to me in 25 minutes. :0)

1. Q: I knew you on twitter as a sports fan, particularly of the Phillies. How much of a fan of comic books and comic strips would you say you are? How have comics in general affected your life?

A: I have to credit my Grandparents for saving the Sunday Comics in the Philadelphia Inquirer when I was a little boy. I feel comics help us all see the brighter side in life, even when things don’t go as we planned, I can often imagine them featured in a four-panel comic strip. Keeps me focused & centered.


2. Q: You mentioned this was actually your second trip to a comic con, but the first didn’t really count. Please elaborate on that. How was this convention better?

A: This year I actually planned to go, two years back a friend invited me as a guest & I was really not all that into it. Then again, I don’t think we ever walk through the Artists Row, we were only there for about an hour. This year, I spent nearly 4 hours & explored the whole PhillyComicCon corner to corner.. to corner to corner.


3. Q: Did you attend the convention alone or with a group? (It seemed you were alone) How does that affect the experience?

A: This year, I went by myself. I liked that, because I didn’t feel like I had to lead or follow. I had a much more relaxed, free-wheeling experience. Maybe next year I can drag a friend out. But it was great to meet a bunch of new friends (FB & Twitter) while there this year.


4. Q: Not knowing much about webcomics (comics published online, like Zorphbert and Fred) prior to finding me on twitter, what was your first impression of this division of the comic world?

A: Good Question! For one… I love the fact that I can visit a website & see every comic, in sequence. You really can’t do that in the newspaper. LOL! Other than that, I like that your site in particular, leads to other webcomics through your Webcomic Alliance.


5. Q: Assuming you saw a good chunk of the convention (more than I did, sitting at an Artist Alley table for 3 days straight), what was your favorite part of the Philly Comic Con?

A: Hmmm… this is tough. I like the independence of Artist Alley, where you can meet the artists themselves, but I gotta say I was quite surprised to see true replicas of General Lee & The Cop Car from Dukes of Hazzard. Not what I was expecting to see at a Comic Con. A good surprise.


6. Q: You had mentioned to me that you liked that I was one of the few creators in Artist Alley standing up behind their table (instead of sitting). How do you think this helps?

A: By standing up, you are presenting your work. You are welcoming, ready to greet & speak with those who stroll past your tables. When you’re sitting, especially behind an artist table of artwork, you may give the impression you’re too busy to speak with your guests. I understand that some artists take time to do commissions & work on fresh ideas, my observation here is simply based on human sociology.


7. Q: What did you purchase?

A: I purchased Z&F Volume 1 & 2, a commission (currently appearing as my Twitter pic (@iWIC3) and I also bought two bottles of Coca~Cola, oh… and four posters from a vendor there. I think that’s about it.


8. Q: How did the convention differ (if it did at all) from your previous perception of a typical “comic convention”?

A: Mostly, it was my preparation. I wanted to attend this one & had geeked myself up for it. HAHA!! Before, I found out the night before & ended up following my friend around for the hour we we’re there.

9. Q: What was your favorite costume/ cos-player you saw? 

A: Huh. Tough one… I gotta say it was either the dude walking around dressed as Marshmallow Man (Stay Puffed) from Ghostbusters (and his girl Esmeralda from a Disney movie I’m not that familiar with) or perhaps it was the trashy-looking Gumby. I high-fived him & he laughed.
10. Q: Would you attend this convention next year? How would you improve it, if you were in charge?
A: I plan to attend next year. I won’t be in costume… unless I’m trying to hide something here & surprise you next year… and considering I don’t know PA Convention Center policies, I don’t know what I would truly improve. Maybe have a bank sponsor it and allow ATMs on the floor? Just something I took note that there were none at all – not even in the lobby. 8D
You can follow Billy on twitter HERE, and friend him on facebook HERE! Remember, he’s a “sociable guy who’s up for anything” so go right ahead and add him!
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