Marc Alan Fishman: Pros and Cons
And with that, the dust settles on another convention… that being C2E2 2012. Unshaven Comics met its stated goal of 10% growth in number of books sold versus last year. Each of the Unshaven Lads met their specific goals as well. Matt completed all of his commissions by end-of-day Sunday (including a brilliant mash-up of Doctor Who and Breaking Bad). Kyle met his sales goals, and nabbed a swanky tee for a special someone.
I myself had a power lunch with an industry vet, a power diner with the same vet, and have since sent out a dozen follow up e-mails to various vendors and associates we met during the con… all to hopefully promote our site and company out on the interwebs. We ultimately sold 254 books to both returning fans and new ones; We officially sold out every copy of Samurnauts: Genesis we brought. Suffice to say, I’m left looking back at C2E2 2012 as a positive step forward for my little operation. Yet, here I sit, with a small knot on the back of my neck. The same knot that urps me after every con.
What is that feeling exactly? Well, it’s a complex one. In its essence, it’s the feeling that we’re only a single interaction (gained through perseverance, dumb luck, or both…) away from being discovered. It’s no surprise for those who know me that I am a people-person. I know when to interject the perfect joke to get a crowd roaring. I know when to shake hands, and follow up. Yet somehow, faced with people I truly want to talk to… I stammer, I mutter, and I plain come across like the dope I secretly think I am under the swagger and phony facade. Whether it’s true or not, I’ve always felt after a con that I’ve taken one step forward, and two steps back.
Case in point? Not 10 seconds after picking up our Artist Alley badges, Matt and Kyle were happily chatting with Scott Snyder. Here’s an author I’ve written more good words about than the bible does Jesus (so I think… I’ve not read the new testament yet, but I hear good things.), and the best I could get out? “I really like your stuff, man.” I mentioned I reviewed several of his books on this site and www.MichaelDavisWorld. He looked back at me, and shyly admitted “Wow, that’s cool. Didn’t see those…” And off he went into the sunset. In my mind? I hit him with a great joke. He laughs. We talk about plotting, and characterization. We swap e-mail addresses and phone numbers. “What are you doing tonight, Marc? I thought maybe we could continue this at dinner or something?” Flash forward, and I’ve made a new friend. Maybe he’ll take home one of our books, and let those big wigs he knows that “these kids know what they’re doing.” And with that, my Scrubs fantasy ends.
How about another instance? Dan DiDio, Bob Wayne, and several DC editor-types at one point or another walked past our table in Artist Alley. Kyle, ever fearless, jumps right into the pitch. Every time, our book is handed to them. A page flip. Then another. Kyle finishes his pitch. We look on, with pupils glassy and wide like kittens. “Thanks. But, uhh… we’ll have to pass.” A knowing smirk is shared between the titans of industry, and seconds later they are at the next table, shaking hands, laughing boisterously. Kyle shrugs it off, and pitches on. With the next fan that joyously says “Hell yes! I’ll take it!” Kyle has already forgotten the previous encounter.
Meanwhile, I sit and stew in my own juices like a pot roast in the slow cooker. For every fan that came back to us ready to buy their next book, or new fan who couldn’t wait to throw down their cash – even before the pitch was finished – I can’t help but feel like we missed the big fish. The book was in their hands. Before them, the blood, sweat, and tears of all our Unshaven nights, and weekends laboring. And it obviously wasn’t good enough.
Today on Facebook I was messaging a friend who writes for another comic site with aspirations of his own on “getting known” and “making it.” I asked him how his weekend went. “I had dinner with Scott Snyder, and then with some Marvel editors the next day…so, pretty good I guess.” All that, and he’s younger than me. Color me green. It’s been that childish chase since the very first con when I clutched all three ashcan copies of my first (terrible) book, waiting to be discovered… to today, from behind my own table where I hope our ever-growing fan base will one day hurtle us forward. And here it feels like everyone else around me is so much further along.
Now, before you start up your comments on what a negative nelly I’m being, let me be clear: I’m elated at the success I’ve enjoyed thus far. Since truly pursuing this industry as I have now… I’m a columnist at a great site, alongside industry veterans and legends alike. Furthermore? I’ve dined with those same legends. Multiple times. My company has seen increased sales in our books every year we’ve been in business (suck it, DiDio.). We successfully launched a kickstarter that bore us a live-action Samurnaut to walk the show floor, which has created real brand awareness. All that, and I’ve maintained friendships with my two brothers from other mothers for 20 years, with no sign of stopping. And our next issue will be done in a handful of weeks.
I know that the future is bright for Unshaven Comics… even if I’m dragging a storm-cloud of doubt over my head.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander