A couple weekends ago I attended S.P.A.C.E.(The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) in beautiful Columbus, Ohio. Joining me on the trip were my friends/roommates/cable access collaborators, Tim Richardson and Brad Quinton. The goal of our journey was to sell some of my comics and to meet some very talented cartoonists. Did we succeed? Well, I guess you'll have to read the following to find out!
Friday (April 15)
Despite the fact that I was up fairly late stapling and assembling my bite-sized comics, I tumbled out of bed at a decent hour to tackle the tasks that needed to get done before departing for Columbus. After packing, I went to Ball State to pick up some comics from local screenwriter/friend John Oak Dalton. Besides being a great writer, John also creates his own comics and I offered to sell some at my table. After chatting a bit with John, I left his dank basement office with his Bad Eggs in my hands. As I walked across campus, I encountered the enigmatic Happy Friday Man. Riding his scooter with his blue cape flapping in the wind, Happy Friday Man bellowed out "Happy Friday!" as he whizzed by and then he disappeared amongst a crowd of co-eds. I nearly considered him a good omen for our trip, but then I realized I didn't really believe in omens, good or otherwise. However, I did believe in Happy Fridays so I took his words to heart.
After getting everything loaded up, we were on the road and out of Muncie by 3:00pm. While I drove, Brad served as navigator and Tim offered comments from the backseat. The way
to Columbus is fairly easy. Basically it involves staying on I-70 for a couple hours and then you're there.
Once in Columbus, we quickly found our hotel. After checking in and dumping all of our belongings in our room, we were back on the road as we headed to a pre-show gathering
at The Laughing Ogre, a great comic book store that seemed to have everything a comic book lover's heart desires. We had a little trouble finding the Ogre, but we eventually made it.
Once I stepped into the store, I was quickly impressed by the sheer number of books they offered. The Ogre had a mind boggling array of graphic novels, a ton of back issues,
all of the current releases, and some small press comics as well. It was the type of store I could easily fall in love with.
The crowd at the get-together was large, but the store didn't feel crowded. Though I saw a couple of familiar faces among the attendees, I mainly kept to myself due to my darn shyness. Fortunately, Tim and Brad don't have that problem so they met and talked to some interesting people while I kept gawking at all the Ogre's swag.
We stayed for about an hour. We ate some free pizza, we drunk some free drinks, we bought a few books, and then we were off once again. We stopped at a Steak'n Shake before going back to the hotel and had a pretty good meal there. Eventually, we found ourselves back in our hotel room, slightly exhausted from the trip and wondering what the next day may bring.
Saturday (April 16)
After a few hours of restless sleep, the alarm clock went off and it was time to get ready. I was a little nervous as I headed downstairs with my box of comics, but excited as well. I signed in and quickly found my table. There were two ballrooms and my spot was in the smaller one. Accepting the fact that I really didn't know what I was doing, I started to set things up.
My table was surrounded by some very talented folks. To my left was Michael Indovina (Satyr) and to my right were the people behind Icecreamlandia, Eve Englegos and Joshua E. Mountray. Just a couple tables down from me was writer and Pickle Press founder, Nik Havert. I used to work with Nik a long time ago at Munchies, a snack bar at BSU which no longer exists. Nik has been making a name for himself with his small press comics the last few years. It was great to see him again.
After organizing my books in various piles, Tim came downstairs to join me. Deciding the table looked as good as it was going to get, I left Tim in charge so I could go upstairs to change into my Arlo Wazzo costume. Since I had no actual display for the table, I decided I would dress up in my Wazzowear and become a living display! Of course, I ran the risk of looking like a king-sized doofus, but, if it got people to buy my comics, so be it.
The show opened at 10:00am and we were ready for the onslaught of consumers. The fact that not many of them came our way didn't bother us in the least. I tried to say "Hi!" to everyone who walked past. It often didn't led to a sale, but at least I tried to be friendly and approachable.
Every now and then, I left the table to purchase whatever book caught my eye and to meet some fellow cartoonists. It was so nice to finally meet Dale Martin, Larned Justin, and B. Winter in person after corresponding with them for the last couple of years. Besides being swell cartoonists, they were also great guys to talk to. I also got a chance to talk to the wonderful Pam Bliss (Paradise Valley Comics) and got a sneak peek of her newest series, Kekionga (which looks all-around cool!). In my most fanboyish moment, I had all of my issues of Street Angel signed by Angel co-creator and artist, Jim Rugg (who also was very friendly by the way!).
Walking around all the tables and looking at all the comics made me wish I had enough money to buy at least one book from everyone. Sadly, I didn't so I couldn't, but I did get a decent-sized stash of comics from the show which I'm still reading my way through.
Before I knew it, the show was over. It was amazing how fast those eight hours flew by. Soon we were packing things up and I was nicely surprised to see we actually made some money off my little comic books. Not that much mind you, but more than I ever expected.
After changing into my normal duds, Tim, Brad, and I went back downstairs to the hotel's restaurant. S.P.A.C.E,'s special guest Dave Sim (Cerebus) had generously bought dinner for all of the exhibitors and we graciously accepted the offer of good eats. Thank you for the chicken quesadillas, Mr. Sim!
A little later Tim and Brad crashed in our room while I went up to a drawing party that Dale was throwing a couple flights up. Dale was a gracious host and I felt at home amongst the small throng of cartoonists, drawing our way in and out of various comic jams. The legendary Matt Feazell (Cynicalman) even stopped by to doodle about and it was cool to say "Hi!" to him. After drawing a few panels and talking to Dale for a bit, things soon winded down and I was saying my good byes. Heading back down to my room, I realized the party was a fitting topper to a perfectly fun day.
Sunday (April 17)
Despite staying up way too late again and discovering the charms of Cheap Seats, we awoke up an hour before checkout time. There was some dashing about as we packed and sorted things out, but we were back on the road a little after noon. Before heading back to Muncie, we stopped at the fabulous Johnny Rockets for lunch. Tim and I discovered the charms of Johnny when we attended the Mid-Ohio Con a couple years ago and I was happy to find out my second visit there was as good as my first. Damn good food!
After a belly busting meal, we began to head west. Home was just a couple of hours away.
Going to S.P.A.C.E. was a great experience for me. I was able to meet some friendly people, learned some new ideas on how to sell my comics, and I was exposed to some interesting and exciting work that I never knew existed. Just being in a place full of so many creative and talented folk was inspiring to me. I definitely plan to attend next year!
I just wanted to thank everybody who stopped by the table and sampled my funnies. A bigger thank you to all the people who actually bought some! Thanks to Bob Corby for putting on such a fun show and the biggest thank you of them all to Tim and Brad for coming along and helping me out with my first con. You guys are the best!