Thursday, April 24, 2008

SUPER REAL NOTES - New York wrap up

Time for a recap from last weekend's New York Comic Con. Both my first time at the show and in the city.

The show ran 3 days, and I arrived Friday AM from a red eye direct flight via Jet Blue. Having got about 4 hours plus of sleep on the flight, I took a Super Shuttle (my preferred choice of airport to con/hotel transportation) to the Javits Center convention hall in the lower west side of Manhattan (overlooking the Hudson river).
From there I made my way, luggage in tow (all 3 heavy bags of gear) to the back right hand corner for artist alley and my 3 foot table space. Artist Alley's are generally in the back corners of cons, so nothing new there, but the double whammy of only getting a half table (I signed up for a full table, last June folks) and also being in the back corner, next to last row on an end, proved to be an unfortunate setup.

But before we sum up the weekend of the show, lets get to the fun stuff, more pictures!

We start out with a quick photo tour of midtown NYC, starting with Times Square, which was just a couple blocks from my hotel, the Hampton Inn on 8th and 51st...I've some nighttime pics of Times Square, but they're on my camera phone, I'll see if they're worth getting to the pc...
The MTV studios, you can't really tell, but they're taping (but they don't play music, so who cares)...
5th avenue as I head east on 42nd street, you can't really tell, but this is looking North, where the city just disappears into the horizon...Grand Central Station, with the Chrysler building in the background...
Grand Central should look familiar, as it was just featured in Will Smith's I Am Legend, and the scene where he loses it to one of his dummies...On approach, and just beneath the famous Chrysler building and it's art deco design...
...and finally, the Empire state looming on approach from Park Avenue. Manhattan pics, to be continued, once I get my disposable camera film developed... we'll see more shots of the Empire State Building, the subway, and Central Park!

And being out of film to show for the time being of NYC, let's get back to the con...

Undoubtedly, NYCC is a great show. Having continued to grow both in terms of size and attendance each of it's 3 years, it's quickly become the next best thing to San Diego Comic Con (the mother of all cons). This year, from what I've heard and been told, it grew in space and offerings tremendously. Also, from what I've heard, the attendance last year was around 50k, with reports for this year being in the 65 to 75k range (haven't heard an official number yet), which is about half or more of the 115k the SDCC did in '07. So, NYCC is growing, and chock full of cool people and cool things.

A sketch I did of Phontom Girl (form Legion of Superheroes) and for my good buddy Dennis Budd (Model Operandi creator and Super Real special alumni)...
Gnome with comic book luminaries; Fat Momma, Green Lantern, and Jugghead!

How did I do?
Not great.
Look, I'm a straight shooter, I don't lie or cherry coat. Exhibiting at shows is hard, mystifying, and a continual learning process. Just when you think you have things figured out, and get great results, the same shows yield let downs the following years. Or in this case, you got to a great show, but don't do as well as you should. Having heard repeatedly from others at the show and artist alley, that they were seeing the same thing, and having been in a terrible location (sure, any spot at a show this side is good, but really, I'm not kidding you or myself, the show on Sunday was nuts, but our corner of artist alley was dead, people didn't filter all the way back to our area, ask anyone by me), with the dreaded 3' half table, when I'm hard pressed to exhibit in 6' of space, there were a number of factors working against me. So, all things considered I did fairly well, and made back most of my air and table expense... but hotels are very pricey in NYC.

A half table is terrible, just awful. Not only do you have no room to work (sketching etc), or properly display (I have 9 books to offer, prints, sketch cards, etc etc), but perhaps the biggest danger is that you can blend into your neighbors. I can't tell you how many times on Saturday, people looked at my stuff, and then turned to my neighbor and asked him for a sketch or took his flyer. Now Julien was a great guy, and really talented, but he had nothing on his half table, nothing, just a flyer, and a rate card. I think it's safe to say, people thought he was part of my display. And hey, I did what I could, having my own table cloth, and signs etc. too, but Sunday, I moved stuff around, and seemed to mitigate that some...

But, those are the breaks.

So the show, sales wise, was a let down. But as always, there are other elements to a con, networking and meeting peers being paramount, and I met and caught up with plenty of cool people, and you never know what may come from any of that; jobs, friendships, connections, collaborators, the list goes on and on. Plus I got to pick up my copy of the Flash Gordon comic preview... which features the amazing art of Paul Green and looks pretty promising!!Outside the con, I was alone in the big city. I was able to catch up with some friends Saturday night and join their crew on a trip to an after party. Which wasn't all the great, but got to meet and spend time with some cool people... and then wound up walking home about 20 blocks. Walking around NYC on a Saturday night is kind of like walking Vegas, everywhere you turn there a people and places buzzing.

I didn't fly out til Monday PM, so I had Sunday night and Monday afternoon to check out the city, something I rarely get to do on con trips.

Sunday, I met up with an old family friend in the East Village who lives in Brooklyn but works in the city (delivering food, and other odd jobs)... but first I had to navigate the subway for the first time. He'd given me the perfect spot to catch a train right by my hotel, but I had some difficulty finding the right one and right direction. Seemed no matter which side of the tracks/street I came from, they were going the wrong way... getting off twice, once at the terminal, and once down the line after going north instead of south. Something about that station being a cross junction or what not.
But amidst that, had the nicest Australian girl asking me for help getting the right train to Queens, ha ha!

Once I got going the right way we met up, and caught up, first at an old Irish Pub with their own brew and sawdust floors. The place was packed, and they just seat you next to other folks at tables with open chairs. So after getting to know our new neighbors (a group of girls sending off their friend to the Peace Corps) we put back some beers and got to talking.
I've got to say, my evening, starting off with a night time walk through Times Square, and then to this point, had been pretty magical. Just fun as hell, full of sights, and great people. I was really impressed.

From there we walked to another pub/bar by NYU, caught some local beers, and then ventured a short subway ride to the Brooklyn Bridge.
What a cool bridge, no wonder it's so iconic, and a great place to view the city, and the financial district where the twin towers once stood. Even glimpsing the 1 inch Statue of liberty in the distance with it's tiny torch lit...

Having met up after 10pm, it was now approaching 2am, and it was time to catch a subway back to the hotel. Gotta tell ya, for a Sunday at 2am, the subway was more than interesting... yikes! Crazy stuff, one guy reading his lines, another talking to himself, and many other kooky passengers, but all things considered, not too bad. Especially when this train had a stop directly across the street from my hotel. How cool and convenient.

Monday afternoon I'd hoped to catch up with another friend, but that didn't work out. So I just took the walking tour of town myself, seeing Times Square again, the Chrysler building, Empire State, and then up to Central Park (all were amazing, some of which you see in the pics above, but check back for more pics to be added later).

Over all it was a good time, and under the right circumstances, I'd consider going back. It really is a great show, and even greater town!


Grant Gould said...

great write-up, man... definitely a show i wanna check out one of these years, if not only because i've never been to new york and it sounds like an experience. :)

sorry to hear sales were on the blah side (and the half table thing SUCKS).. i have a lot of shows like that where one year i'll make a lot of money, then the next year, i come home disappointed. it's almost like there's no rhyme or reason.

anyway, thanks for the report. hopefully the rest of the con year will fare much better in terms of space and sales.

dragonfuze said...

Hey, I love NYC, so I am glad you enjoyed the sights.

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