At the end of March I went to ECCC and exhibited in Artist Alley. I was surrounded by some of my best friends… even though it was the first time meeting many of them in person.
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The best analogy I’ve been able to come up with for the times we live in is the only other way people have been able to call each other friends with never meeting in person before has been pen pals—and who writes letters anymore?!


I shared a table with Paul Westover from Woody After Hours.

Paul

And we were right next to Andrew from ARG! and his wife Lynn, who was dealing with being imaginary.

ARGandLEGS

There were several super friendly readers who stopped by the table and some of them came away with more than my undying gratitude for reading Zombie Roomie… some purchased prints, shirts, and/or stickers.

readers

Friday was nice and busy. People stopped by and talked and several bought something. I was expecting a very successful convention…

Then Saturday happened. I sold very little. It’s not like there wasn’t any people coming by… Saturday had more people on the floor than Friday, but they just looked and kept going on. They just weren’t there to buy… I can only imagine they were there for bigger names or celebrities, but it was a often repeated conversation with others as I’d walk around and talk with people in other booths.

Sunday was just as bad for me. I had a few people pick up some prints and sold a shirt, but nothing like Friday was.

The main thing I came away with is my merchandise selection wasn’t what people wanted. I had about a dozen different prints all based off Zombie Roomie characters. The majority were either parodies or homages to various things. This was because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any readers attending… But there was and apparently they were just part of the portion that doesn’t follow me on Twitter or the Zombie Roomie Facebook page as when I asked if any readers were showing up I got zero response. I figured that a parody or homage to something would be a way to draw someone into Zombie Roomie through what the parody was of. For instance, my Jaws movie poster with George and Zoey was a big hit due to that.
The non-parody print that was successful was a “Respect your Elders” print based off Cthulhu. That had the benefit of being Cthulhu at a comic convention… It was the only piece I brought that I sold out of.

Elders

At this convention, this year at least, my Shamblers shirts did very poorly. I sold two and gave away one to a friend. I had brought at least four of each size… but they just ended up being extra weight in my luggage. Going forward I’m going to bring fewer and if a size sells out, it sells out. I have a stock at home that people can order and I’ll ship to them… in the end it’ll be less frustrating at least on my part.

As a low cost to me item that could be added on or something I purchased two types of stickers. The first being the art used for my banners in an oval. These stickers were bright and colorful and people really liked them. The second type were circles with the same image used on the Shamblers shirts… these went over less well for some reason. A few people were really interested in them and I even heard that some of them were going to find their way onto the individual’s trucks. So it’s a good thing they were rated for outdoor use unlike the ovals.

stickers

So other than bringing less shirts, what did I learn?

First of all… I need to have a book.

All weekend people asked for a collection of Zombie Roomie. My friends told me that they I would do well with a book at the con—I figured I would but I’ve been incredibly anxious about pulling the trigger on getting said book printed. I have been very conservative with doing things other than creating the comic…. This October will be Zombie Roomie’s fifth anniversary and this was my first convention I sold anything at—I know several people that start much, much earlier in their comic’s life. But back to what I’m talking about… I didn’t want to risk a failed Kickstarter so I waited until I had a large enough of a readership before I really and truly decided to work on a book.

But what does this mean in regards to the learning experience? It means that by September I WILL have to have at least one book… as I’m thinking about doing Baltimore Comic Convention. Even if I don’t do the Kickstarter route, I will have a book done through CreateSpace or another print on demand service.. My buddy Ryan Hudson (Channelate) had his new book at this con and it was done through CreateSpace and it looked pretty damned good—their new option for matte covers was really, really nice.

You might ask about the “at least one book” remark… you caught that did you?

I have more than enough strips to fill three books and if I do the CreateSpace route I could potentially produce all of them and get closer to the current material. That is really important to me as the farther you go back in the ZR archives… the harder it is for me to read that material. I had a completely different mentality toward the way I drew the comic then. I wasn’t trying to draw the characters in three dimensions… they were designed around shapes. I’ve had several spurts of updates to their designs to move them into a world where they work in three dimensions. I have moved to heavily modeled and shaded strips instead of flat colors like at the start of the comic. I would much rather be able to have things with the current look available to people, but I know that there are tons of completionists out there that would require me to have the old stuff on the table too.

If I do just go for the traditional print run funded through a Kickstarter, I don’t think I can justify doing more than one book this Summer as that would be asking a lot of people to back multiple crowdfunding projects in a very short period. It’s something I have to look into and plan accordingly. Luckily, I can turn around and use the file created to make a book through CreateSpace for a full print run of books through offset printing.

Since this was my first con behind a table, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make back all of the expenses I had going in. And I’ll be honest, no I did not. Not even close.
Without a book to give people examples of the comic, most people didn’t know who the characters in the prints were. Sure there were some people who just liked them because they were adorable—trust me my stuff is adorable because I heard it many, many times over the weekend… but it was a hard sell to most people. The Shamblers shirts are designed  to be understated and that might have hurt their sales since most people just walked by them due to the shirts not having eye catching, bold colors. The example shirt was also placed very high—it wasn’t a problem for me since I’m six foot six inches tall… but I’m sure they were too high up for a lot of people to notice, especially without bright colors to draw attention.

But I did have fun.

I was able to hang out with people I’ve only talked with in Google’s hangouts. I was invited to dinner Friday and Saturday nights by Blind Ferret. Things got weird…

RKMSohmer

Friday and Saturday nights after dinner were spent at a bar my friends really like and we closed that place down at 2:30am (only to be up at the butt crack of morning to be back at the con).

huh

I stayed in Seattle Sunday night so I went to dinner with Denis from Corvink… it’s too bad I ordered the spicy curry as I was feeling it in my intestines the next day while flying.