Nerdfest 2022

Comic convention in Swedesboro, NJ

 

 

For my crew members who hate reading, grab the highlights:
  1. Event was super disorganized and messy
  2. The audience was either older men or small children (some exceptions)
  3. The vibe was 95% vintage/classics
  4. I left early, it was too stressful for me to handle (read more!)

 

My second convention was…an experience.

 Listen, I pull no punches.  I will be completely honest about my experience at Nerdfest 2022 in Swedesboro, NJ. 

It was terrible.  I hated it.  And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one…read on for details!

 

I showed up 15 minutes after set up started- which was apparently a smart move.

 At this event I had to bring my own table, along with many other people.  Since I know my set up is very small and quick, I wasn’t in a rush to get there and start setting up in the full 1.5 hr time frame that was given to vendors.  I rolled in about 15 minutes later than start, and apparently that was a smart move.  I ended up asking a vendor where they signed in- because the whole place was a mess of people, and there were no clear identifiers of who was staff and who was a vendor.  Thankfully the vendor got me to the right person pretty quickly, and they sat me down in a small ballroom with a bunch of other vendors who brought their own tables.

Oh yeah, and the AC was definitely off and we were all sweating our asses off. 

The vendor who was placed beside me (nice guy) lamented that he had been there for 20 minutes and just NOW got assigned a spot.  His set up was a lot more involved than mine, so I bet he needed that time!  Clearly, this was super disorganized and messy to start.  did I mention the AC?  Yeah, I know, I am still mad about it.  I was sweating out of my clothes (LITERALLY) before the AC was finally on.  Literally- what the hell?

 

The visitors were majority not my target audience, and were not interested in me at all

I was lucky (I thought) to be placed right in front of the entrance door- being the first table you see when you come into the ballroom.  Unfortunately, that didn’t do me much good.  

The majority of the visitors who first came in were older men who bee-lined to the vintage comic books being sold by retailers.  No shade to our mature kings, but that is not the audience my story is aimed to, so that was not something I was happy to see.  The second most common were families with small children.  Also not my target audience, but you never know!  My story is relatable to all ages! There were a handful of engaging people I talked to and checked out my comic, and that was nice to see :^) but honestly, a solid 95% were there for classic comic books, fanart of the classics, and old toys.  

There was one elderly woman who decided my table was a good place to put down her purse and block have my merchandise (why?????) and proceed to knock it all over (WHY????!).  How nice.

I felt a bit misled, I wont lie.  The headliners for this event were original comic creators, so I thought I would be more in my element.  I had high hopes for this event- which is not what happened AT ALL. I only netted two small sales before the final straw had me packing up and leaving 2.5 hrs early…

 

The Screaming cosplayer

 Starting the day in sweat soggy clothes was not setting  this event off on a good foot.  I was already irritated, uncomfortable, and not doing my best when it comes to outreach.  I was definitely more reserved at this event, but I engaged when someone lingered at my table.

And then…the screaming started.

If you aren’t familiar with the crisis in America regarding violence and such, then some random person screaming may not seem like the biggest deal ever.  However, if you’re from here… you know . The first shout/ scream had us all looking at each other warily.  The second one had us on our feet.  A man was shouting/screaming shrilly in short bursts every minute- and it was UNNERVING.  I felt my anxiety start to bubble in my stomach and work it’s way through my body.  I could see through the doors into the lobby that people were recording and smiling, so we determined that no one was in danger (but really, who knows?) But honestly, at that point?  I was DONE. BIG DONE.

As I started packing up my stuff to go, another vendor walked in to see us.  She stayed at my table for a while and I did my spiel, and I ended my talk with the fact I was packing up because I couldn’t take the stress from the disorganization and the screaming.  She let me know that there was someone cosplaying Black Panther, and he does this at every event- scream and make a show for people.  That seems incredibly tone deaf considering the current situation in this country- if you ask me.  If there was going to be some kind of LARPing moment or something, there should have been a warning from management, don’t you think?  If I knew someone was going to do some kind of interactive panel that involved shouting and screaming, I wouldn’t have panicked.  But this was just another example of how this whole event was a shit show.  The high stress/anxiety I was going through was not worth trying to recoup my losses from my table.

 

Final thoughts

This event was terrible. 

I really don’t have any good things to say about it.  From the set up, location, organization, and execution, it was not a good time.  Honestly, I do not plan to attend ANY event in the future that is organized by the people who did this one. 

I had much higher hopes for this event- thinking that a comic centered event would be more my speed.  I was wrong, and that is fine, but I’m more frustrated with the management of it.  I thought I would be able to net a profit at this event, since the tickets were only $45.  I didn’t even get half of that back.  Uncle is getting frustrated that I am not breaking even at these events…which I don’t mind so much, since my main goal right now is to get seen…but he is starting to see this hobby of mine as a financial burden when we have other, important bills to pay.  If you are interested in helping me recoup my loses and keeping my project at net 0, visit my support page and learn how to help keep this project going.

 

I really hope that my next event goes better.

 

 

Puchicon 2022 Teaneck, NJ

How it went down~

 

 

 

 

Highlights

 A quick bullet point for my blue crew who hate reading blogs (relatable)

  • The event was organized enough, but seemed very much a “help yourself” moment. 
  • End of the day, I was $3 short of making my table ((with ONLY original work))- it was a success imo
  • The vibes were inclusive and welcoming, I didn’t feel like a misfit
  • The customers/visitors were polite and open to my marketing
  • Customers were there for fanart
  • There were some really cool people who I caught a vibe with (vendors and visitors)
  • I’m glad I went!
  • I likely won’t go to a Puchicon event again
Keep reading for the details…

Original Art vs Fanart :: 

 So as everyone here probably already knows- I do original work.  All of my free time goes into working on my web comic and the supporting materials for it (illustrations, a printed comic, etc etc…).  I walked into a fan based con fully well knowing that fanart is what people come to artist alley for.  But you know what? I didn’t do too bad!  I left the con $3 short of paying for my table, which is, in my opinion, a WILD success!  At least, in the setting I was in.  If I went to an original art/ original comics type convention and didn’t make my table I’d probably feel pretty shit.  

 My most purchased item was my comic book, which was what I expected (I only had ONE left at the end!!!).  I sold a few stickers and two copies of one of my Patreon only prints- oh, and one tote too!  I was really tickled :^).  I wasn’t worried about moving my products because I have two more conventions coming up soon, so I knew I’d be able to roll it over.  I didn’t mark down anything on the last day because, to be honest, I already have my items as cheap as I can sell them without taking a loss. I make everything myself at home, so I have a lot of things to consider when I price my items- not just the cost of having someone make it for me.

 I did a lot of research before going into the convention, trying to find out how to manage an all original works inventory at a fan based con.  I didn’t find any information, to be honest… so here’s some for the next person:

You can absolutely sell your own work at a fan con.  Will you make bank? Probably not. Not in my limited experience. But I did almost break even, and the “press” was worth it.

Meeting people face to FACE :: Marketing and networking

 The overall vibes at Puchicon of the customers and the vendors were certainly positive and inclusive.  I was worried about fitting in, which…I mean, I didn’t really *fit in* since the only fandom I am in is my own (lol?)…but it was an inclusive atmosphere where I didn’t feel left out for not being a weeb.  There were only a few visitors that I reeled in to my table (yes, I was fishing hard, hollering at everyone who made the mistake of looking in my direction) who were completely uninterested and didn’t want to listen to my spiel.  Most of them, even if they were just being polite, took a handout about my comic and said they’d check it out.  Hey, even if they don’t, they were polite and nice to me and I can’t ask for more.

There was a small subset of people that I met who were definitely picking up what I was putting down, and we had a solid creative connection.  Those folks signed up for my newsletter (mostly), asked thoughtful questions, told me about their own experiences as creatives, crafters, musicians, etc, and we had a very nice conversation.  It is always really cool to meet like minded people!  A handful of my visitors already knew my comic!!!! Imagine, I was sobbing internally. 

 The other vendors I spoke to were very kind and thoughtful!  There were many who already knew each other from previous conventions, but since this was my first one I didn’t know anyone.  They were very welcoming and talkative, giving me lots of advice and support.  Many of them came and supported my table, saying that they do original work too but don’t bring it to cons/ don’t have a lot of it in inventory because they are hesitant with the tiny audience that original art is attractive to.  I totally understand their hesitance, and if I had time I might do fanart too…but I don’t enjoy it- and as I tell anyone who asks, I have zero intention of making profit off my story…I’m just trying to break even, so I am not chained to the customers whims. 

 

Admin aspects of Puchicon

So…I had low expectations for the administration of this convention.  I looked up some reviews about previous Puchicon conventions, and there were complaints about poor organization, little to no help, etc.  Since this was my first convention I had nothing to compare it to… but, it was fine.  They told me where my table was, and that was about it.  I didn’t interact with the staff members much in a vendor/staff capacity.  I did hear the staff members ask other vendors how they were doing and if they needed anything…but they didn’t ask me, so, I can’t say anything about that.  But I had my table, I had my chairs, the room was locked overnight and when I arrived on Sunday it was still locked.  I asked if they could open it and the hotel folks came and did so quickly.  So, if you are self sufficient you’d be fine at a Puchicon convention.  If you need hand holding and whatnot, maybe not a good choice.  Other vendors told me this was the most organized they’d ever been, and it was still not at the caliber of other conventions.  I guess I’ll find out when I go to the next two events.  

No shade to the staff, they were polite. 

 

What I’d do differently

I think my table setup was cute, and I liked how it was clear and concise as far as what I had to offer.  I am not a fan of super crowded displays.  BUT, next time, I plan to have individual price cards to put near the items to compliment the full price list.  I think it was too hard for people to know at a glance what was for sale, how much it was, etc.

Also, I think I’ll make a sign that I take commissions.  I don’t think that was clear enough with just the commission section of my folder.  The folder mostly stayed open to the newsletter page.

 

What’s next for Blue Rabbit Comics?

 While tabling at a con is very challenging and tiring (especially when you’re hawking your own stuff and have to be super alert to grab every single person you can), I am very glad I went and I plan to do more conventions in the future (besides the ones I already signed up for).  There is something special about connecting with people on a more personal level face-to-face, and IRL marketing is harder for them to escape from (buahaha).  I haven’t checked my stats on my platforms yet, but I am hoping that my web comic will get a readership boost from this!

 Will I table at Puchicon again?  Probably not.  I don’t think so.  While it was a great experience to go to a convention, I wouldn’t say Puchicon is exactly my vibe.  It was very much fan based, fandoms/anime style.  I had no idea who half the cosplayers were, and most of the visitors were there for fanart. A few of them didn’t care for comics/ web comics at all (who doesn’t like web comics????)… I think that conventions that focus more on original works and stories, comic books, etc, will be a better fit for me going forward.  Additionally, I think the cost of the table wasn’t worth it since I barely broke even.  The cost x the general audience = not a good fit for BRC.

Oh yeah, and if you show up to one of the cons I’m at cosplaying as one of my characters, I’ll give you a free “teams” sticker for the character you cosplay ;^)  but you have to come up to me and tell me!!! :^D

 

 

Before the Convention

my thoughts, assumptions, fears, etc…

I’m seven days away from my first convention- and I am SO excited!! I’ve never been to a convention before, as a visitor or as an artist.  I am really interested to see what it’s like, how well organized it is, enjoy the cosplayers, and all the rest that comes with it!  Of course, I’m also a bit worried that I won’t have a great experience…

 

My biggest fear is that I won’t sell a damn thing. 

 That’s a pretty normal fear I think… but it’s really a big concern for me because I don’t draw fanart.  I am fully aware that fanart does better (usually) at conventions, online, etc…but that’s not me :^(.  I am not trying to make it as an artist.  That’s not my intention, which I express over and over again.  I don’t want to make a profit, I want to break even while I work on my passion project.  I’m gonna feel like a big ol’ dumb if I spend $500+ bucks getting tickets, driving there, paying tolls, getting the materials, all the hours and hours of work…just to be ignored at the convention.  It would feel like a WASTE!

 I would also be happy if I even get more readers or more people subscribed to my newsletter.  I just want to share my work!  I’m happy with what I make, and I know that I should let that be enough, but I think it’s very human to worry that I wasted money and time on this.  

 

I’m also scared I won’t fit in…

In all honesty… I’m not your standard “convention” person.  I’m not a huge fan of anime, I’m not a weeb (or whatever it’s called), I’m not a cosplayer, I’m not into the culture of anime and whatnot…I’m just not!  But I love the style and I love making my own stuff.  I like anime, manga, comics, etc, don’t get me wrong!  I’ve been watching spyxfamily religiously these days! And I am totally chill with people who adore it and go all out- love that for them.  But I’m worried I’m too much of a normie to be interesting at a convention…:’^) 

What if I look bad?

 I want to put my best foot forward- this is my first time representing my brand in the real world, with my own face!! I want my table to be pristine and professional, I want to have good interactions with people… I want to get the brand out there! But what if everything I do looks…bad?  Like, I don’t have much to compare to- I did a lot of prep, but what if it isn’t enough?  What if my table is messy and silly looking?  I’ll be so upset!!

 

 

 

But a lot of cool stuff could happen too!

  It is entirely possible that I will meet a lot of cool folks at this convention, artists, supporters, and others!  Maybe my table and content will be a hit- even if no one buys it! I guess we are going to see pretty soon, huh!  I’ll tell you guys all about it next week ;^).  If you’re on my patreon, you’ll get “lens”es all day showing how the con is going!

 

WISH ME LUCK

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